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NewsBook: Missouri Government News for the Week of January 12, 2004

 


. Lawmakers push for lower test reporting standards for Missouri children (01/15/04)

JEFFERSON CITY - Lawmakers from both parties and both houses of the legislature say the state MAP test, which tests elementary and high school students' knowledge, should have lower standards. A Republican senator has introduced a bill to do just that.

Missouri's testing standards are higher than they're required to be by the federal government. The problem, educators say, is that Missouri students can be doing well and still recieve a failing grade because the state's standards are so high.

Republican leaders say they plan to fast track the bill, and they expect its easy passage.

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    . House approves bill to increase identity theft penalties (01/14/04)

    JEFFERSON CITY - Identity theft penalties would be increased from six months in jail to a possible class A felony under a bill initially approved by the Missouri House on Wednesday.

    The measure faces one more vote before going to the House. It becomes the first measure taken up by the House for the 2004 session.

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    . Matt Blunt announces his campaign for governor. (01/14/04)

    JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's GOP secretary of state announced his long anticipated campaign to unseat the state's Democratic governor.

    Blunt stressed education funding in his announcement news conference in his home town of Springfield.

    The Democratic Party quickly fired off releases questioning Blunt's qualifications.

    One release raised anger from some veterans by asking when Blunt, a Navy veteran, was going to "grow up."

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    . A bill introduced in the Senate Wednesday would require more information to be gathered from businesses who receive government subsidies. (01/14/04)

    JEFFERSON CITY - Missourians would learn more about businesses that are getting special tax breaks under a plan to be proposed in Missouri's Senate.

    The measure follows the recommendations of a joint committee that found cases of fraud in the state's tax credits designed to foster economic development.

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    . Missouri's chief justice calls for increased diversity in legal system (01/14/04)

    JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronnie White, the state's first black chief justice, called for increased diversity during his State of the Judiciary address to the legislature on Wednesday.

    White was appointed to the state Supreme Court in 1995. Nomination to the federal courts was blocked in the U.S. by John Ashcroft when he was a Missouri Senate.

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    . The House Rules Committee votes to kill the governor's union fees order (01/13/04)

    JEFFERSON CITY - In a party-line vote, the House Rules Committee sent to the full House a resolution to block the governor's order allowing unions to collect fees from non-union state government workers.

    The rule had been suspended by a joint committee late last year. The legislature has until March to make that suspension permanent.

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    . Jacob offers deal for SMSU name change (01/13/04)

    JEFFERSON CITY - Sen. Ken Jacob, D-Columbia, who filibustered a bill last year to change Southwest Missouri State University to Missouri State University, offered his support to a bill that would combine the name change and $200 million in bond proposals slated to go to the University of Missouri system.

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    . Columbia-area legislators out after this year (01/12/04)

    JEFFERSON CITY - This year begins the final year in Missouri's House for three Columbia-area legislators, and their circumstances are hardly conducive for going out with a bang.

    Boone County's state senator and two of its representatives to be outsted by term limits find themselves in the minority party, with limited power to push their legislation onto the top of the legislative agenda.

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    . Missouri school buses exempt from seat belt laws (01/12/04)

    JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri school buses don't have seat belts, largely because they'd cost too much.

    Putting lap belts in buses can cause more head and neck injuries in minor crashes, and putting shoulder harnesses in would require a major redesign of the buses. The Missouri seat belt law specifically exempts school buses from needing school buses.

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    . Cole County judge Callahan to hear school suit (01/12/04)

    JEFFERSON CITY - The former executive director of Missouri's association of prosecuting attorneys will be the first judge to hear the lawsuit against Missouri's school funding system.

    Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan has been assigned to hear the mammoth school funding lawsuit filed late last week.

    Before his election as a circuit judge in 2002, Callahan had been the county's prosecuting attorney while also serving as the top official of the association of county prosecutors.

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    . Committee releases tax-credit overhaul plan (01/12/04)

    JEFFERSON CITY - Legislation will likely be introduced Wednesday that would increase the oversight of business tax subsidies.

    The Joint Committee on Tax Policy adopted a report at a hearing Monday recommending more accountability from tax-credit recipients, including annual audits detailing the public benefit provided by the businesses participating.

    The committee said currently not enough information is gathered to determine whether tax-credit recipients are providing the benefits for which they are receiving subsidies.

    The committee did not, however, recommending capping credits or ending any of the state's more than 50 programs, including the Rebuilding Communities program which is under investigation by the attorney general for fraud.

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