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NewsBook:  Missouri Government News for the Week of May 4, 2015

Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed only one wording mistake in approving the legislature's $26 billion spending plan.

There was not one dollar in spending reductions.

"The budget provides recording funding for the best economic development tool there is -- public education," the governor said.

The governor's approval comes after he suffered a series of overrides to budget-spending cuts last year.

This year, the legislature's Republican leadership accelerated the budget process to give them the opportunity to override any vetoes before their May 15 adjournment.

During the course of the year, Nixon has revised upward his estimate of how much revenue the state would collect to fund the budget.

The budget Nixon signed contains stronger provisions designed to prevent the governor from raiding agency funds to finance the operations and staffing of his own office.

Missouri Democrats vowed to slow down the legislative process in the final week while Republicans threatened to hold off a vote on a major welfare-spending bill if Democrats block votes on key GOP issues.

"I wouldn't define it as slow, I would define it as deliberative," said Senate Democratic Leader Joe Keaveny, D-St. Louis. "This time of year, this is when bad things sneak into bills."

Keavney's comments came after long-winded questioning by Democratic members prevented a final vote on a bill that includes a package of various tax breaks.

Republicans recessed the Senate to caucus and emerged threatening to not take up a bill to continue more than $2 billion in federal funds for Medicaid that provides health care coverage for the lower income if Democrats block votes on their priorities.

GOP leaders cited as priorities for getting to a vote in the final week of this year's session a measure that would prohibit requiring workers to join unions to keep their jobs and a measure to require a government-issued photo ID to vote.''

"You know what, there's priorities on both sides of the aisle. If mine don't make it, nobody else's is going to either," said Senate Republican Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin.

Asked if he was hold the medical funding bill hostage, Richard was blunt.

"We're going to do our stuff first, which is my stuff, which is 'Right to Work.' That's first," Richard said in reference to the bill to ban requirements for workers to join unions or pay union fees.

With only a week left in the legislative session, the Senate discussed the issue of increasing the fuel tax again. Although the Senate gave first-round approval to one bill that would increase the fuel tax a week ago, the issue was not brought to a vote again.

Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff, called on the Senate to take action.

"We have got to get our head out of the sand and get a transportation policy moving forward, or we're going to be talking about this a lot," Libla said.

Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, said increasing the fuel tax isn't the only solution for fixing Missouri's roads and bridges.

Republicans are split over the issue of increasing the fuel tax. 11 Republicans voted "yes" last week and 13 voted "no."

The House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would lower the amount of money that cities can make from traffic fines and court fees.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-St. Louis County, would cap revenue from traffic fines at 12.5 inside of St. Louis County. Everywhere else in Missouri, the cap would be 20 percent.

With bipartisan favor, the bill passed through the Senate with huge support on Wednesday.

House Speaker John Diehl, R-St. Louis County, supported the restrictions, criticizing the way St. Louis municipal courts have operated.

"Government ought not to exist and fund itself by fining and imprisoning its citizens to collect money," said Diehl.

Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Louis County, also favored the bill.

"It's going to be a little painful for some of our municipal courts," said Colona. "But it's not going to be that difficult for municipal courts that are doing business the right way to make the adjustments."

Some lawmakers aired concerns about the disparity between St. Louis County's cap and the cap for the rest of the state. But ultimately, the bill passed through the House by a vote of 134-25.

The bill will now move onto the governor's desk either to be vetoed or signed into law.

Some lawmakers are saying Gov. Jay Nixon did not uphold a promise he made in his State of the State address in January.

In the address, the governor promised to have more of a presence at the Capitol.

"Now, I’m willing to do my part," Gov. Nixon said. "Rumor has it that I don’t spend enough time on the third floor. I hear you ... and I’ll be coming around more often."

Sen. Paul LeVota, D-Independence, said he "hasn't see him at all" and that Nixon "hasn't been very involved."

"In fact, even when things came up to override, I haven't heard from him like 'Please don't override' or 'Thanks for not overriding' or anything like that," LeVota said. "So, I think he has continued his very hands off approach to the legislature."

He said Nixon's absence is making lawmakers' jobs harder.

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, spoke along the same lines, saying he hasn't seen much of the governor either.

"I think I had two meetings with him, which is probably two more meetings than I had with him over the budget last year," Schaefer said. "But, he really hasn't been that engaged other than the past two days."

Governor Nixon's office did not respond to a request for comment.

A Missouri senator said he would filibuster any appropriations bill that would allow Gov. Jay Nixon to issue bonds for the construction of a new St. Louis Rams Stadium.

Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, stated he would stop any bill that would allow bond money to be given to the stadium in St. Louis if it was not first voted on by the legislature or the people of Missouri.

Schaaf specifically called out Gov. Nixon, Jim Shrewsbury of the Regional Sports Authority, David Peacock a member of Gov. Nixon's task force on stadium reconstruction and others.

"This is my statement to anyone who is listening," Schaaf said. "If all those people think that they can reissue bonds to build a new sports stadium in St. Louis without either the vote of the people or a vote by this general Assembly or a succeeding one, as long as I'm here and as long as I, myself can stand up I will filibuster the payment of those bonds."

Another bill that would prevent Nixon from extending any existing bonds to build a new stadium without first having the approval of the legislature or a vote of the people has been passed by the Senate, but is now stalled in the House's Select Committee on Budget.

Schaaf said by extending existing bonds, Gov. Nixon puts the state more and more into debt.

Schaaf also asked Sen. Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, if he would join him in his promise to filibuster.

"I personally would not be supportive of making that payment either," Silvey said. "I'm not saying that I would stand here today and commit to filibuster two or three years from now should it happen, but I'm also reserving that right."

Missouri's governor vetoed a measure that would reduce unemployment compensation coverage during periods of high employment.

Currently, an unemployed worker can get up to 20 weeks of benefits after losing a job.

The measure that cleared the legislature would reduce the maximum number of weeks if unemployment fell below nine percent with one week less of coverage for each one-half percentage point below nine percent.

The maximum reduction in coverage would be capped at 13 weeks if unemployment reached six percent or less.

In his veto letter, Nixon charged the measure would harm both unemployed workers and the economy.

"Unemployment benefits not only provide a safety net for workers, they also provide an important boost when the economy is struggling, as those workers buy food, clothing and other essentials," Nixon wrote in his veto letter.

In a statement criticizing Nixon's action, the state Chamber of Commerce noted that Missouri is the only state that has had to borrow funds from the federal government because unemployment compensation claims had exceeded payment businesses are charged to cover the program.

Nixon vetoed a similar bill last year. An effort to override that veto was defeated in the House.

This year, passage of the bill fell short of the two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate that would be required to override the veto.

Senate passage came after a lengthy and emotional Senate debate about whether the measure helped children in unaccredited districts or drained public education funds for educational businesses.

The main provision of the measure would restrict students from transferring out of unaccredited schools to other districts. The unaccredited Normandy School District in St. Louis came close to bankruptcy last year because of the legal requirements it pay tuition to schools where their students had transferred.

The measure also includes provisions designed to improve educational services for students in the unaccredited districts.

"It is no longer acceptable for us to turn our backs on those students and just to say that's too bad that through the unluck of being born in certain zip code that the students are destined to be in a district that has failed them," said Senate Education Committee Chair David Pearce, R-Warrensburg.

But critics attacked provisions that would allow school district funds to be diverted to online virtual courses run by private companies and charter schools.

"It's exactly what it was designed -- kill the public education system, let the profiters come in and have their for-profit business with their charter schools," said Sen. Paul LeVota, D-Independence.

Sen. Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City, complained the measure would allow diversion of education funds to charter schools in Kansas City area districts that are not unaccredited.

"It's going to siphon off the money that we use that's 92.5 percent accredited," Holsman said.

"This is more to me more of a charter-school expansion, virtual school expansion bill," said Sen. Jill Schupp, D-St. Louis County.

Last year, Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the unaccredited school bill citing a provision that could have led to unaccredited school district funds helping pay the tuition for students to attend private schools.

The latest measure now before the governor would switch state accreditation from an entire district to schools within a district. A student in an unaccredited school would not be allowed to transfer out of the district if there were an accredited school within the district.

Also, the measure would give accredited school districts rights to refuse to accept students from unaccredited districts based on class-size limits.

Missouri's House approved Tuesday, May 5, the final version of a bill that would restrict students in districts with unaccredited schools transferring to other districts.

The House passed a compromise conference committee report even though a little more than 25 percent of Republicans voted against it.

Rep. David Wood, R-Versailles, sponsored the bill and said this year's bill is much better than last year's bill which Gov. Jay Nixon had vetoed because it provided a means by which public education funds could be used to pay tuition for students in private schools.

"When I stood here [last year] and spoke on Senate Bill 493, there was a lot of it that I truly believed in, but there were some things that I still had issues with," Wood said. "This year as I stand here, I can say that I believe every part of this will work. It may not be the best solution, it may not be the easiest solution, but we have a pathway for this to work."

This year's bill, however, has provisions by which public education funds could be used for charter schools and online virtual education courses provided by private companies.

Rep. Bob Burns, D-St. Louis County, said the bill is the beginning of the end for an American institution.

"Charter schools and virtual education are the downfall of public education," Burns said.

The bill allows a parent to enroll his or her child in a virtual school if the child has attended at least one semester in an unaccredited school, or attendance centers in unaccredited or provisionally accredited schools in Missouri.

Rep. Mike Lair, R-Chillicothe, argued against the concerns by school administrators about diversion of public education money.

"You are responsible to the children of this state," Lair said.

Another provision of the bill is to accredit buildings schools by building, but not by district.That provides a means to keep a student within a district with an unaccredited school rather than requiring the district pay tuition for students fleeing to districts with accredited schools.

The bill divided Republicans with 33 GOP House members voting against the bill. The bill passed by an 84-73 vote and heads to the Senate.

    By a near party- line line vote, the Missouri House voted to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of a bill that will impose restrictions on one of the state's major welfare programs, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF).

    Nixon said the cuts would throw more than 3,000 familIes off the program starting in January 2016.

    Rep. Diane Franklin, R-Camdenton, handled the bill in the House and said the bill sets out a plan to get people off welfare.

    "It provides a structure for personal responsibility, a plan that can be developed to empower participants to achieve their goals and experience positive performance," Franklin said.

    The bill would reduce the time recipients of TANF can receive the funds from 60 to 45 months.

    Democrats said the bill was an attack on the poor.

    "This is once again this body and this legislature passing on some of its members moralistic judgment of families who struggle to take care of their loved ones and family members," Rep. Genise Montecillo, D-St. Louis County said.

    Rep. Mike Moon, R-Lawrence County, said the bill is a way to help people.

    "The whole bill in and of itself is a direction that we need to go to let people know that we want to help, but they do have a responsiblity to help themselves by looking for jobs and I think jobs are available," he said.

    The House's override of Nixon's veto comes just a day after the Senate overrode his veto by a straight-party line vote.   

    By a straight party-line vote, Missouri's Senate voted to override Jay Nixon's veto of a bill that would impose cuts in the welfare program Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

    The measure would cut the life-time limit for the program from 60 months to 45 months. It also would require recipients to have jobs, be in school or participate in programs to get jobs.

    In his veto message, Nixon wrote the measure would cut 3,155 families from the program in January 2016 -- affecting 6,465 children of those families.

    But the bill's sponsor -- Sen. David Sater, R-Cassivlle -- said the program was broken.

    "Right now, this program is actually causing more of a dependency on government. And I want to stop that. I want to see families own their own self-sufficient."

    Democrats charged the cuts would hurt families and their children.

    Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, questioned her Republican colleagues why they gave tax breaks for dairy farmers in the same year they voted for welfare cuts.

    "Make me understand how we can give $3.2 million to dairy subsidies and say we don't want to subsidize the poor," she asked. Nasheed warned that cutting lower income off welfare could force them to engage in crime.

    Nasheed argued the bill would drive some kicked off of welfare to crime. "If they have to go rob, shoot, kill, that's what many of those individuals may do," she warned.

    If the House goes along with the Senate, it would be first veto of the Democratic governor overridden in 2015.

      The House Criminal and Civil Proceedings Committee heard testimony on a Ferguson-related deadly force bill that would tighten restrictions on when law enforcement officers can use deadly force.

      The law would only allow officers to use deadly force if a suspect poses a serious physical injury, attempt to escape by using a weapon or pose a serious threat to an office or another person.

      Currently, officers in Missouri may use deadly force if they believe the force is necessary or suspect is suspected of committing a felony crime.

      While no one testified against the bill, Sarah Rossi of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri said she had concerns about the bill.

      "A police officer has to believe that the person fleeing with probable cause is going to cause serious bodily injury or death to a member of the public or the police they can't just commit a violent felony."


      State Sen. Mike Parson, R-Bolivar, announced Thursday, April 30, that he is running for the GOP nomination for governor.

      Parson had been one of the most outspoken critics of a radio advertisement making fun of the appearance of State Auditor Tom Schweich that was aired shortly before his suicide.

      Parson said that his opposition to negative advertising was a factor in his decision to make the race.

      "Part of the reason is that I want to change that, the way we do business in Missouri," Parson said in an interview before his announcement. "When you start trying to destroy people or trying make false accusations about people, I don't think that who we are as Missourians."

      Parson is a third generation farmer and a former sheriff of Polk County.

      Parson was an unsuccessful candidate for Senate GOP leader in 2012.

      He gained statewide visibility in 2011 when he negotiated a compromise that changed the voter-approved measure regulating animal breeders to address concerns raised by the agriculture community about some of the provisions.

      After hours of debate, the Senate approved Thursday, April 30, a bill that would increase fuel taxes without approval of Missouri voters.

      Under the bill, the tax on gasoline would increase by one and a half cents per gallon and the tax on diesel fuel would increase by three and a half cents.

      Supporters said it would raise about $50 million per year in additional revenue for state highways and bridges. But that is far less than the nearly $500 million the Transportation Department has indicated in needs to maintain the existing system.

      But the the amount raised by the Senate plan is low enough that it does not trigger a constitutional requirement to submit the increase to Missouri voters for approval.

      Proponents said that Missouri's deteriorating roads and bridges are a major issue facing the state. The bill's sponsor -- Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff -- questioned the ramifications of not implementing a larger fuel tax.

      "What are we really doing here? Are we going to make things even worse where people can't get to work?" Libla said. "Are we going to have companies not wanting to come to Missouri or expand in Missouri because they can't get their freight moved, they can't get their employees to work? What about our school districts when we start having buses that can't get across?"

      Senator Ed Emery, R-Lamar, opposed the bill. He suggested bringing the issue to a vote so that Missourians could decide for themselves whether or not they wanted an increased fuel tax.

      A majority of Republicans in the Senate voted against the tax hike, but it passed with full support from Democrats.

      The measure requires one more in the Senate before going to the House.

      In that chamber, the House Transportation Committee defeated a similar gasoline tax increase earlier this month.

      As part of the Senate compromise to end a filibuster, the measure includes provisions by which some state highways could be operated and maintained by a private company. However, the Senate added a provision that any toll road used by the company to generate revenue would require legislative approval.

        The filibuster has historically been used to delay or even kill legislation that a senator does not like.

        One senator who is fond of using the filibuster is Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph.

        He says he uses it for multiple reasons.

        "Sometimes, I might use the filibuster to to drive [the legislation] to a compromise or sometimes I might have a principle that I just don't want to violate and just to stop legislation," Schaaf said.

        Rep. Kevin Engler served as Senate Majority Leader during his time in the Senate and he laments how the filibuster has changed over the years.

        "It used to be you filibustered when you were trying to get a bill altered or changed," he said. "Now, the tendency is if you're against the bill and you're going to vote no, instead of voting no, you try to filibuster."

        Phill Brooks, who is the "webmaster" of this news operation, has seen quite a few filibusters over his 40-plus years covering the Missouri legislature.

        None, however, compare to a 1971 filibuster on an income tax hike.

        Sen. Earl Blackwell led the filibuster against the income tax hike after "The governor of the state of Missouri at the time Warren Hearnes had inflated the state budget to the point the state was literally going bankrupt," Brooks said.

        Blackwell, the Senate President Pro Tem at the time, led a referendum to overturn the tax hike the legislature passed. The effort was successful, but Hearnes called a special session and Blackwell filibustered.

        Brooks says this put fellow Democrats in the position of having to get rid of their leader in the Senate in order to vote on the increase.

        Brooks recalled how that filibuster had ramifications for years to come.

        "The legacy of that lasted for years! More than a decade," Brooks recalls. "There were Democrats...who were angry at Warren Hearnes, angry at Democrats who supported Warren Hearnes."

        One way to get around a filibuster is to move for the previous question (PQ).

        It is a tactic that is not allowed in some states, but is allowed in the rules of Missouri's Senate.

        The move is usually orchestrated by the leadership on a measure they want passed and it requires five senators to sign their name on a sheet of paper.

        Once the paper has five signatures, the motion can be made and a vote can be had on the stalled legislation.

        Engler says the move should be used only rarely.

        "I think the PQ should be used rarely," he said. "It has to be the exception and it should only be done when the vast majority of the people want something done."

        University of Missouri political science professor Peverill Squire says senators should be mindful of when they move the previous question and shut off debate.

        "When the is that you're allowed to debate as long as you wish, most members come to value that and so they're reluctant to impose the use of the previous question," he said.

        Squire also says a filibuster can be used most effectively when time is running out in the final days of a legislative session.

        Last year, Kansas City Democratic Sen. Jolie Justus filibustered a gun bill in the final hour of session and as a result, the bill did not receive a vote.

        Two weeks are left in the 2015 legislative session as the legislature adjourns Friday, May 15 at 6 p.m.

        The House passed a measure Thursday, April 30, that expands who can use deadly force on private property.

        The bill sponsored by Rep. Joe Don McGaugh, R-Carrollton, allows a person who is on another person's property to use deadly force if necessary if they have permission from the property owner.

        McGaugh defended his bill against attacks that it would allow more guns into society.

        "What this bill does is a common-sense expansion to say, 'if I'm not the owner of that property, but I've been given the authority of that property owner to protect my family and my property, that they can act in the same manner in what the public policy of the state of Missouri is now,'" McGaugh said.

        Opponents said the bill is unnecessary.

        "My [constituents] are not saying the answer to gun violence is more guns," Rep. Jeremy LaFaver, D-Kansas City, said.

        The bill passed the House by a 112-34 vote and now heads to the Senate.

        A bill that would cut the lifetime limit for recipients in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program was met by Gov. Jay Nixon's veto pen.

        Nixon announced his intention to veto at an event in Kansas City on Thursday, April 30, saying the bill is unfair.

        "Senate Bill No. 24 is a misguided measure that punishes poor children in the legislature's zeal to reduce reliance on government assistance," Nixon is quoted in saying in his veto letter to lawmakers.

        The bill passed by lawmakers on April 16 cuts the lifetime limit on TANF benefits to 45 months.

        Another provision of the bill Nixon objected to is requiring those who want TANF benefits to participate in finding work or work activities.

        Nixon said this provision hurts children.

        "There are ways that the legislature could ensure that parents are held accountable for their decisions while at the same time protecting kids -- for example, by providing benefits through a responsible guardian,” Nixon said in a statement explaining his veto. “But again, legislators left children unprotected. They say they’re trying to crack down on adults, but they’ve made kids the collateral damage.”

        The measure's sponsor -- Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville -- expressed disappointment with the veto.

        "Instead of embracing the Legislature's proactive reform of our welfare system, the governor is sticking to the status quo; a broken welfare system that discourages work and needlessly creates welfare dependency," Sater said.

        Sater said he has the votes to override the governor's veto. In both the House and Senate, the measure had been approved with more than the two-thirds vote that will be required for an override.

        A bill that would keep Missouri from being pushed further into debt has yet to be voted on.

        House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, gave no commitment on whether there will be a vote on the bill before session ends.

        The bill prohibits Gov. Jay Nixon from using bonds to pay for a new football stadium for the St. Louis Rams without legislative or voter approval.

        Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, says if the bill is not passed the legislature will not pay for the issued bonds.

        "If the Governor goes and manages to get bonds issued and go into debt to build a stadium without the vote of the legislature, we're probably not going to pay on those bonds," Schaaf said.

        Schaaf says it isn't right to make Missourians pay for something they never asked for.

        "My concern is that the people of Missouri won't be on the hook for paying for bonds that we didn't ask for," he said. "We are the legislature that represents the people. If they go and issue bonds, just don't expect us to pay for them."

        The last day of session for the Missouri General Assembly is May 15.

        The Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill that would allow companies to add sales tax to their products rather than collecting it separately from customers.

        The bill would also allow companies to advertise to costumers that they pay the tax for them.

        Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph was the only senator who opposed this part of the bill.

        Schaaf said this bill causes desensitizing and deception for customers when companies say they will pay your tax for you.

        "They're paying the tax, but it is just buried in the price that you're charging them," Schaaf said. "I want people to know every time they purchase something that the government is sucking away certain amounts."

        Sen. Will Kraus, R-Jackson County, the bills holder, said most people already know there's a sales tax.

        "We're in the 21st century, everyone is used to paying it so I don't think it's necessary anymore," Sen. Krause said.

        Kraus also said the amount of the sales tax would still be listed on the customer's receipt.

        "I saw this as more of a freedom issue that was enabling merchants to pretty much do what they please in terms of how they sale their product," said Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar. "So if they want to sell their products as tax included and promote them that way it gives them the opportunity to do that."

        The bill is now headed to the Senate Government Oversight and Accountability Committee.

        Get the bill.

        A bill given first round approval in the House would make red light cameras illegal.

        According to bill sponsor Rep. Paul Curtman, R-Union, studies have shown that red light cameras have led to an increase in traffic collisions.

        Currently courts decide if movement caught by a red light camera constitutes a moving violation.

        "This is absurd and it serves as a perfect illustration of why people distrust their government in some cases," Curtman said.

        Rep. Bryan Spencer, R-Wentzville, said camera companies based outside of Missouri and the United States are the ones profiting from these tickets.

        "Usually the camera tickets is about $100, $40 of that goes to the municipalities and $60 goes to the camera company," Spencer said.

        Other comments made pertained to the way the cameras punished the car owner, rather than the driver of the car at the time the image was taken.

        Although the bill was approved, it was met with opposition.

        "I think what we're doing here is micromanaging for our communities. This is an issue that should be decided by the local communities," said Rep. Margo McNeil, D-St.Louis County.

        The Public Service Commission approved a proposal Wednesday allowing Ameren Missouri to increase rates for nearly 1.2 million consumers while giving Noranda, a St. Louis aluminum company, a lower rate as a way to keep the company's Southeast Missouri smelter open.

        Noranda said in November 2014 they would lay off 200 people at the plant if they could not get a deal on their electric bill. The company is Ameren's largest customer.

        PSC Chairman Robert Kenney said the deal would actually save consumers money. If Noranda left the state, it would lead to an increase greater than what the PSC approved.

        "It's pennies versus dollars, it's cents versus dollars." he said. 

        The acting director of the Office of Public Counsel Dustin Allison, added the deal is good for consumers.

        Opponents of the deal said the new rates are equivalent to deals typically approved by the economic development department or the Legislature.

        The Senate gave first-round approval to impose restrictions on when a police officer could use lethal force against a fleeing felony suspect.

        Current law authorizes lethal force against a fleeing suspect.

        The bill would add a requirement that lethal force against a fleeing suspect would require a belief the person has attempted to commit a felony "involving the infliction of or threatened infliction of serious physical injury."

        The bill's sponsor -- Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Dixon, R-Green County -- said the measure would bring state law into conformity with a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

        But the Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, argued there could be times when lethal force was justified when actual physical injury was not involved.

        Theft, he argued, could have consequences as severe as physical injury.

        "In the pioneer times, they would hang horse thieves," Schaaf told his colleagues. "You know why they did that? It was because if you stole a man's horse, you stole his ability to support his family."

        Schaaf's argument brought an emotional rebuke from Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-St. Louis County.

        "Perhaps you're selling a cigarette and it's illegal, do think that you deserve death," she asked Schaaf. "Do you think if you're playing with a toy gun, do you think that you deserve death," asked Chappelle-Nadal, one of the Senate's three black members.

        The debate comes less than a year after the fatal shooting by a Ferguson police officer of unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson after he was reported to have been involved in a strong-armed robbery shortly before his police encounter.

        In the subsequent events involving the death of another black suspect in Baltimore, the Senate debate got pointed during Chappelle-Nadal's debate with Schaaf.

        "Do you recognize that there is a genocide happening in the United States right now? It's an authorized genocide."

        The measure faces a second roll-call vote in the Senate to be passed on to the House.

        The Senate discussed a bill that would modify the sales tax structure for the St. Louis area. If passed, it would change the allocation of sales tax revenue between municipalities. This would cause St. Louis County to lose approximately $800,000 in revenue.

        "I believe its only fair that each municipality be allowed to keep at least half of the sales tax generated within it's borders," said Sen. Dave Schatz, R-Franklin County. "In the rest of the state its 100 percent."

        Schatz, the bill's sponsor, also said the change would encourage municipalities to develop their commercial districts.

        Several senators from St. Louis County filibustered the bill.

        "You take away this pool tax and the burden is going to be heavier on St. Louis County," said Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-St. Louis County.

        Sen. Gina Walsh, D-St. Louis County, is also against the bill.

        "It totally upsets the well-balanced approach to the distribution of sales tax in St. Louis County that has worked well for all but one city for decades," Walsh said.

        Nicole Galloway announced Tuesday, April 28, that she will appoint the Republican state auditor's director of state audits as her deputy state auditor.

        Named as the top deputy is John Luetkemeyer, a veteran of the auditor's office for more than two decades under both Democratic and Republican state auditors.

        Under Schweich, Luetkemeyer had served as the director of state audits.

        "John has a record of outstanding work in the auditor's office. His professionalism, experience and knowledge of the work we do is invaluable," Galloway was quoted as saying in a release announcing Luetkemeyer's appointment.

        Just one day earlier, Democrat Galloway had announced the resignation of Republican Schweich's deputy, Harry Otto.

        The Missouri Senate unanimously passed a bill that would require school districts to follow stricter anti bullying policies.

        The bill would require schools to print their anti bullying policies in their student handbooks and they are in charge of publicizing the policy.

        “As we send our kids to school and they're there for eight hours a day, at least there's a comfort in knowing that a school district has developed a policy so that they have the ability to learn without the fear of harm,” said Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-St. Louis County.

        The Senate adopted new amendments to the bill, one of which would allow teachers to take a two-hour suicide prevention training course.

        Many of the Senators who spoke said they support the bill because of events that have occurred in their school districts.

        “While not trying to micromanage we are giving a bare minimum of policy saying you have to at least do these things because this is an important issue that shouldn't be ignored,” said Sen. Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City.

        The bill also adds cyber bullying to the schools’ anti bullying policy.

        The subject of cyber bullying has been discussed in the media since 2006 when 13-year-old Megan Meier of St. Charles committed suicide after being harassed on the Internet.

        In 2008, lawmakers amended Missouri’s harassment law to cover electronic bullying and stalking.

        The bill creates a definition for cyber bullying and requires schools to discipline students who participate in it.

        The bill will now be sent back over to the House for the Senates’ changes to be reviewed.

        Nicole Galloway sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Russell

        Nicole Galloway announced during her inaugural remarks that cyber-security would be a priority for her office. 

        The former Boone County Treasurer was sworn in as Missouri's new state auditor by Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Russell Monday, April 27 in a ceremony held in front of the auditor's office.

        Galloway succeeded John Watson, who was appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon following the death of Republican State Auditor Tom Schweich.

        Schweich died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in February.

        A month after Schweich's death, his spokesperson, Spence Jackson, shot and killed himself.

        According to a note found in Jackson's apartment, he could not face unemployment again.

        Galloway asked attendees to keep the Schweich and Jackson families in their prayers.

        She said one of her main priorities as auditor will be to improve cyber security for Missourians.

        "It's something that's really going to effect all Missourians, Missouri families. You know it affects me, my children and my grandparents," Galloway said to reporters when asked what prompted her putting an audit emphasis on cyber security.

        "Think of all the the large companies that have been hacked, the emails that have been hacked. We're all at risk of that."

        Galloway would not talk in detail about the circumstances that led to the departure of the office's deputy state auditor who had served under the deceased GOP auditor, Tom Schweich.

        "He resigned his position and I wish him the best of luck," Galloway said.

        Asked if she had asked him to remain on the job, Galloway responded "No, he resigned."

        The last audit issued by the Republican deputy auditor. Harry Otto, had strongly criticized Democrat Nixon for taking for Nixon's own office funds that had been appropriated to other agencies.

        Nixon had announced his intention to name Galloway as state auditor shortly before that audit was released. 


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