Martin is a senior print journalism major and political science minor from Minneapolis, Minn. He's the Liberties beat reporter for Missouri Digital News and the Columbia Missourian. This is Martin's first semester reporting from the Missouri statehouse, but over the past three years he's covered politics on the city, state and international level. In 2008, Martin interned with Reuters at the news agency's bureau in Brussels, Belgium. He also reported for the Columbia Missourian during the past two summers, and in 2007 interned with Press Publications--a group of newspapers based in the Minneapolis area.
Posted 04/19/2010: The House gave first-round approval on Wednesday to a bill that would require voters to present a government-issued photo ID when casting their ballot. This would be required for general elections and also primary elections. However, there would be some exemptions, said Rep. John Diehl, R-St. Louis County, such as for religious reasons or financial hardship. In that case, voters would be asked to sign an affidavit that states their reasons for objecting to the identification requirement.
The legislation wouldn't go into effect until 2012, Diehl said, which would give voters enough time to get the appropriate documents.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee heard a bill on Monday that would relax restrictions on Missouri's bingo halls.
Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, said he sponsored the legislation on behalf of the American Legion chapter in his city. Although the chapter's existed for 14 years, he said times are difficult.
"It's just tougher and tougher for them to stay in business," he said.
Allowing bingo events more frequently would help generate more money to the organization and help it be more competitive.
Read the full story.
Coverage Level UM Premiums MCHCP
Employee $396 $482 to $507
Employee + Spouse $875 $1,178 to $1,231
Employee + Child(ren) $671 $821 to $852
Family $1,145 $1,517 to $1,577 "
According to the university, "UM medical plan costs would increase $55-$62 million per year."
However, some, such as Sen. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis County, said they think the numbers projected by the UM System in regards to MCHCP costs might be higher than they actually are.
"It's an important part of our process in Missouri," he said of the ability of residents to modify the constitution through petitioning for a ballot initiative.
A citizen's referendum or initiative can get caught up in any of these offices under current statute. For example, it's quite easy for an opponent of a petition to stall the sponsor from gathering the amount of signatures needed to get the referendum or initiative on the November ballot--Anyone who opposes it could just file a lawsuit, which could target several parts of the petition.
"Usually it has to do with the title not being clear," Lembke said. "So it's really challenging the title, or you know, maybe challenging the fiscal note, or any aspect. The point is that an opponent is all they have to do is file a lawsuit and then they tie the thing up."
The other problem he said is that sometimes it takes a long time for the secretary of state's office to get through with the final wording, which takes away from the time petitioners have to gather signatures. And for whatever wording is used, even the most minute detail changed would void all signatures.
"Because under current law," he said. "If that ballot language changes one comma, one word, those signatures that you gathered under, during that time or under that ballot title are void."
He says by fixing the process, "voters won't be disenfranchised."
Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Jackson County, was the only member of the Senate Elections committee to vote against passing the bill. She said the process does need to be changed, but says some details and direction need to be reexamined.
Read Monday's story about the bill here.
At the hearing, Administration and Accounts Committee chair Kenny Jones, R-Clarksburg, said one way to cut back might be to reduce the amount of journals representatives receive each day. He said a copy is placed on his desk and in his mailbox, and inquired as to whether there is a way to just receive one.
Cutting back on the number of journals might be tricky, Chief Clerk Adam Crumbliss said, because their distribution is historical--the House cannot conduct business until every member receives a copy.
Committee members also discussed the possibility of foregoing free water and coffee. Jones said he's seen a lot of beverages wasted during hearings. Every committee hearing has a water dispenser and carafe of coffee, which often remains full at the end of the day but needs to be thrown out. Only two of the legislators at Wednesday's hearing had any beverage in front of them, and neither was one of the free choices provided.
Jones also joked about saving money on water utilities if people drank less coffee, since people would use the bathroom less.
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