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Missouri Government News for Week of Mar. 29, 1999

Sec. of State expects 1 in 4 voter turnout

A 25 percent turnout at the polls on April 6 would still be fewer than a million voters, but Secretary of State Bekki Cook says that's an unusually high number for an April ballot. She says Proposition B is fueling interest in this election, and that turnout will be higher in rural areas.

Voters decide on cell-phone tax

Missourians decide whether cell-phone users will pay a monthly tax for an upgrade in 911 service. The money would fund a new 911 system for cell-phone users so that emergency calls would be sent to the nearest dispatch center.

U.S. Senate Kit Bond calls for a Justice Department investigation into department officials campaigning on concealed weapons.

Missouri U.S. Senator Kit Bond has written the U.S. Attorney General asking for an investigation into actions of Missouri's two U.S. Attorneys and their use of department funds to campaign against the concealed weapons ballot issue.

See our newspaper story for details.

Off-track horse-race betting wins first-round Senate approval.

Missouri's Senate gave first-round approval to a measure that would legalize off-track betting on horse races.

The idea as been pushed for several years. Proponents say without off-track betting, there is not a sufficient profit assurance to develop a horse race track in the state.

See the Senate roll call.

The governor announces a central system for checking out child-care and elderly-care workers.

Gov. Mel Carnahan has established a central site and WWW form for checking various government files on potential child-care and elderly-care workers.

The check would include records such as child-abuse reports along with a criminal background check.

However, the check requires the notorized, signed approval of the person to be checked and, for a criminal background check, a $5 payment.

See our newspaper story for details.

The House votes to keep homosexuality a crime.

The House rejected, overhwhelmingly, an amendment that would have decriminalized homosexual acts.

Current state law includes same-gender sexual intercourse under the state's deviate sex crime statute.

See the House roll-call vote.

The Senate Health Committee rejects the House-passed ban on parttial birth abortion.

By a tie vote, the Senate Health Committee defeated a ban on partial-birth abortions that had passed the House by a margin of better than two-to-one.

As a result, bill supporters began gathering Senate signatures to strip the bill from the committee -- an action that has not been taken in the Senate in 20 years.

For more information, see:

Concealed weapons supporters outspend opponents 3 to 1

Campaign finance reports filed Tuesday indicate Missourians Against Crime raised $2.2 million this campaign season, two million of that bankrolled by the NRA. The anti-concealed weapons group, Safe Schools and Workplaces, raised about $750,000.

Although campaign observers had expected Missourians Against Crime to outspend Safe Schools, the $2.2 million total was smaller than most had anticipated.

For more information, see:

The House votees to allow further prosecution of sex offenders

The House approved legislation that would allow prosecutors to try sex offenders in civil hearings, even if they have already served their time in prison.

Springfield Democratic Representative Craig Hosmer says the bill is aimed at sex offenders who are mentally incapable of changing their behavior.

The Missouri Senate rejects a GOP proposal to stop social promotion in schools.

Missouri Democrats blocked a Republican amendment to a remedial reading program bill that would have stopped social promotion in schools.

The amendment would have required the state to fail students who were two years behind in reading skills.

Democrats argued the decision of what to do with those students should be left to local schools.

See our package of radio stories with digital audio.

A newspaper poll shows the concealed weapons ballot issue comfortably ahead.

A statewide poll published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch shows the concealed weapons ballot issue leading among those surveyed -- 53% yes to 34% no with 13% undecided.

On the other hand, by a margin of almost two-to-one (40% to 23%) respondents said they would feel less safe if people were allowed to carry concealed weapons.

The concealed weapons issue, Proposition B, appears on the April 5 ballot.