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The Legislative Session Ended

May 14, 2004
By: Missy Shelton
State Capital Bureau

Missouri lawmakers ended their regular legislative session last Friday .

Missy Shelton has a wrap-up of what did and did not pass the legislature.

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And with that, the House adjourned last Friday, ending this year's regular legislative session.

Many lawmakers said passing a budget that increased funding for education was their biggest accomplishment this year...That happened a couple of weeks before the end of the session.

Lawmakers approved an education budget larger than the governor's recommendation without any of the tax increases he proposed...They said they were able to do that because of the improving economy.

But at his press conference after the legislative session ended, Democratic Governor Bob Holden criticized Republican legislative leaders for failing to put more money into education.

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By the time the clock struck 6 P-M last Friday, lawmakers had dealt with a wide range of issues.

One of the high-profile bills that passed changes the state's foster care system.

The fate of the bill seemed tenuous late Friday when Democratic Floor Leader Ken Jacob appeared to fillibuster the bill.

He eventually did allow the bill to come to a vote...He explained his strategy for taking up so much time.

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Among other things, the foster care bill would expedite and open court proceedings for children in the state's custody.

The bill sponsor, House Speaker Catherine Hanaway says that will benefit abuse victims.

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The governor vetoed a similar bill last year...Governor Holden says he'll have to review the measure but hopes to sign the bill this year.

Beside the foster care legislation, lawmakers sent the governor bills toughening criminal penalties on those who violate the state's open records law and people who destroy evidence in securities fraud investigations.

And lawmakers voted to put a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage on the ballot.

There's already a ban in state law but supporters say it must be in the constitution to ensure courts don't overturn the law.

The sponsor of the proposal is Republican Representative Kevin Engler.

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The governor will decide when the proposed constitutional amendment goes on the ballot.

This session, there were hundreds of bills and issues that didn't pass.

One of those bills would've banned vaccines containing a mercury preservative.

Democratic Floor Leader Ken Jacob blocked last minute efforts to get the bill passed in the Senate.

Supporters of the bill say it's unhealthy to inject babies and children with the mercury preservative.

But Jacob says he's gotten letters from pediatricians who oppose the bill.

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Jacob told the bill sponsor, Springfield Republican Norma Champion he would not allow the bill to move.

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Before the last day of the session, lawmakers sent the governor a bill banning billboards for sex shops and strip clubs, legislation requiring insurance companies to provide the same level of coverage for mental and physical health, and a proposal requiring police officers to record the race of drivers they pull over...Current law only requires they record the race of those they ticket.

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