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Lobbyist Money Help  
NewsBook:  Missouri Government News for the Week of February 22, 2016

A Cole County circuit judge issued an order Thursday prohibiting a former lobbyist, David Poger, from entering the Capitol Building or coming within 1,000 feet of the building.

The order was filed in response to a petition filed by the chief counsel of the Missouri House alleging Poger had harassed interns.

David Welch's petition was filed in the name of the General Assembly and contained affidavits from staffers citing instances in which Poger made repeated unwelcome requests for dates.

One affidavit was from an intern who recounts numerous contacts initiated by Poger despite the intern telling him she was not interested.

The other affidavit is from a House staffer who recounts complaints from two female interns about unwelcome comments from Poger including repeated comments about one intern's appearance.

Welch's petition charged that Poger had "harassed numerous individuals, employees, and interns of the General Assembly."

Poger could not be reached for comment.

It is unclear why he frequently was in the statehouse. He has not been registered as a lobbyist in more than four years.

He was registered as a lobbyist for less than three months during the legislature's special session in 2011 that was dealing the governor's proposal to provide tax breaks for an air freight project in St. Louis.

The University of Missouri Board of Curators voted 4-2 to fire a faculty member who called on students to physically block a student from video recording students at a campus protest.

The vote was taken Wednesday night, Feb. 24, during a closed-door meeting, not made public until the following day.

Melissa Click had been charged with assault for her actions calling students to provide "muscle" from other students to obstruct a student from recording the protesters after their demands had been met for the resignation of the university president, Tim Wolfe.

In their decision to fire Click, the curators also cited her earlier activity when she was involved with black protesters who blocked the motor vehicle of the university president during the fall homecoming parade.

"The circumstances surrounding Dr. Click's behavior both at protest in October when she tried to interfere with police officers who were carrying out their duties and at a rally in November when she interfered with members of the media and students who were exercising their rights at a public place and called for intimidation against one of our students, we believe demands serious action," said the president of the curators, Pam Hendrickson, reading from a statement.

Hendrickson actually was one of the two board members to vote against the motion to fire Click, but she did not respond to questions about the reasons for her vote against Click's dismissal.

The Curators actions come after a majority of Missouri's legislature had signed a letter demanding Click's dismissal and after House plan was presented to cut the university's budget in retaliation.

Earlier this year when the curators voted to suspend Click, the Columbia campus faculty's executive board urged the curators to present the Click issue to the faculty process for review of a complaint against a faculty member.

The four-campus organization of faculty was even more critical of the curators and called for Click's situation to be addressed by a faculty-committee process provided for in regulations adopted by the Curators for tenured and tenure-track faculty.

Lobbyists would have to complete the sexual harassment training under a bill filed in Missouri's legislature.

Rep. Gina Mitten, D-St. Louis County,  sponsored a bill that would require lobbyists to complete Missouri Ethics Commission Training on sexual harassment within 90 days of their registration.

Mitten's proposal was endorsed by one lobbyist. "I believe this is a common practice in most fields of service and professions that workers undergo some sort of training," said lobbyist Colleen Coble who represents the Missouri Coalition against Domestic Violence.

Earlier this year, the House required members and House staffers to complete harassment training.

The measure was filed a few days before legislative staff took action to bar a former legislator from the statehouse complex because of complaints about sexual harassment.

A Cole County circuit judge issued against David Porger from being in the grounds of the State Capitol on the basis of two complaints of sexual harassment from two unnamed  interns.rt, David Poger.

"This building is full of registered lobbyist the interact with all of the staff members and members of the General Assembly, so why shouldn't those folks have to be subject to the same training?" Mitten said.

Government agencies would be required to divest from companies with contracts with governments that support terrorism under a measure approved by Missouri's Senate Thursday, Feb. 25.

The state of Missouri and its retirement system would not be allowed to contract with or invest in companies who have active business with governments that support terrorism as listed by the U.S. State Department.

Senate Democratic Leader Joe Keaveny, warned the bill could force the retirement system for state government to divest from investments in one of the state's largest businesses -- Boeing aircraft.

Boeing has expressed interest in securing a contract to produce aircraft for Iran Air which had entered a contract with Airbus to build 118 new aircraft.

"We have a major manufacturer in St. Louis," Keaveny said. "Apparently Iran is going to upgrade their airline fleet. If they [Boeing] bid on that contract and get it, then all of our state pension funds are going to have to divest themselves from this company if this passes," he said in a question the bill sponsor -- Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-St. Louis County.

Schmitt said the bill ensures the state does not implicitly support terror.

"We are not supporting state sponsors of terror that are held on the State Department's website, one of those countries being Iran," Schmitt said.

The right of the Missouri Senate to ban video recording of committee hearings by the general public came before the Missouri Supreme Court Wednesday, Feb. 24.

The issue before the court pits the constitutional power of the Senate to govern its own proceedings against the state's Sunshine Laws that allow members of the public to record government meetings.

A liberal advocacy group, Progress Missouri, has been blocked from video recording some Senate committee sessions.

"We assert that the Senate believes they are above the law," said Laura Swinford, Executive Director of Progress Missouri. "We disagree."

But Jeremiah Morgan, defending attorney for the Senate argued to the court that the Senate is allowed to make regulations regarding who is permitted to record because it is a self-governing body.

Members of the media that are part of the Missouri Capitol News Association generally are permitted to record committee meetings, but the Senate maintains the right to restrict recording access.

At least twice in recent years, Senate committee chairs have blocked video recording by television news reporters.

Christopher Grant, attorney for Progress Missouri, said joining the press association would require groups like Progress Missouri to relinquish their advocacy abilities.

He said joining the press association should not be a requirement for access.

"I think the Sunshine Law here is very clear and it's very broad," Grant said. "It says it shall allow and it grants no special privilege to the institutional press."

Senate Communications records committee meetings for distribution upon request, but Grant said the Senate was unable to provide complete recordings for several committee meetings.

Morgan said the Senate has the Constitutional right to determine the rules of their own proceedings and can make decisions about who is granted access.

He said Congress has similar regulations that allow media outlets to record but block recording by advocacy groups.

"[Progress Missouri's] argument however is that because some media can record and some can't that it is therefore a violation of the Constitution. Actually it's not," Morgan said. "The plaintiffs are not media. They have not alleged that they are media."

Although the House also has the constitutional right to determine rules for its proceedings, Swinford said Progress Missouri has had no problem recording in House Committees.

The Missouri Senate postponed a vote on a bill that would criminalize lobbyists giving gifts to legislators.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers argued Tuesday, Feb. 23, that the measure approved by the House went too far.

The measure approved by the House would ban a lobbyist from providing virtually anything of value to an individual legislator or statewide elected official. The only exception for an individual official would be a plaque or similar honor so long as the value was $50 or less.

The only other exception if the gift or meal was provided to the entire legislature or the entire group of statewide elected officials.

A lobbyist who violated the law could be punished by up to seven years in prison, with some exceptions.

"If we happen to have someone that comes by our office, unknowingly leaves an ink pen or a sticky pad, if that person is unaware, are they still criminally liable?" asked Sen. Jamilah Nahseed, D- St. Louis.

"I might cut my finger and need a Band-Aid." said Sen. Dave Schatz, R- Franklin County. He added that he could come up with numerous things a long the same lines that could be misinterpreted as lobbyists giving what would then be illegal gifts. "I'm concerned about that."

After three hours, the Senate sponsor put the bill aside, delaying a vote on the measure.

Earlier this year, the Senate removed a House-passed provision in another bill that would prohibit a legislator from becoming a lobbyist for one year after leaving office.

Under the Senate version, the only restriction would be for a legislator who resigned before the term of office had expired. In that case, the former legislator could not register as a lobbyist until the term for which the person had been elected had expired.

JEFFERSON CITY - The House Economic Development Committee spent less than five minutes on a measure to deny tax cuts for the now-departed Rams football team.

The bill sponsored by Rep. Anne Zerr, R-St. Charles, would prohibit any professional sports team owner that abandons a publicly funded facility any government incentives or local funding from Missouri until all expenses of the facility are repaid before Missouri Legislature.

"The state of Missouri is on the hook now until 2021 for between $10 and $12 million per year", Zerr said at the committee hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 23. "It's a lot of revenue we lost."

If this bill is passed, Stan Kroenke, as owner of the Saint Louis Rams would be denied any new tax cuts in the state of Missouri until the stadium's construction fees are fully paid.

Nobody testified in opposition of the measure.

After the hearing, the bill's sponsor acknowledged the measure had little chance of clearing the legislature.

The committee did not take an immediate vote on the bill.

Hundreds of aspiring political candidates spent up to two hours waiting in line on the opening day to file for the August primary.

Filing opened at 8am on Tuesday, Feb. 23. The deadline to file will be 5pm March 29.

Those filing on the first day are assured their names will be above others who file for the same office later.

There is a belief among candidates that some voters are more likely to vote for a person whose name is high on the ballot list of names for an office.

The Secretary of State's website shows 335 candidates filed on the first day.

The process to file is not simple.

First, the candidate must pay a filing fee to the candidate's party -- $200 for a statewide office down to $50 for a state House office. Then, the candidate needs to get a notarized statement that the candidate is not delinquent in state taxes. Only then can the actual filing process begin.

The candidates who filed for governor offered conflicting thoughts about whether the process should be changed.

Republican businessman John Brunner gave a positive response to the crowed, time-consuming process.

"What I like is the personal interaction," Brunner said. "A chance to meet, shake hands, visit with friends and have real camaraderie with both parties, because we're all in this together. It's like the days of getting a real letter in the post office. It has a personal connotation, you connect with people and you shake their hands. I wouldn't change the process, I think it's fantastic."

Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder disagreed, saying digital filing would make the process simpler.

"To facilitate matters, it would seem that we could do this online," Kinder said. "It would be a lot easier on everyone."

Former Speaker of the House Catherine Hanaway said the process already has been simplified from the days she first ran for office.

"If you file on the first day, we're all random," Hanaway said, referring to current law that assigns a randomly-selected placement on the ballot for candidates who file for an office on the opening day for filing. 

Previously, placement was determined by who was at the front of the line that would begin to form the day before under the assumption higher placement on the ballot garnered more votes. It led to candidates -- or their surrogates, showing up the day before to secure a spot in the line.

Before adoption of the system for random placement of names on the ballot, some candidates or their representatives would spent the night sleeping outside the secretary of state's office to hold a spot line.

Although Hanaway was among the early filers, she noted her early appearance did not affect ballot placement.

"The only reason to get in line early is to save some time in the course of your day," she said. "If you file tomorrow, then you're after everybody today."

Hanaway commented as she stood in line with her two children.

Two of the persons who filed for the office of governor declined to give an opinion.

Former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens, who filed as a Republican, was cut off by campaign manager Austin Chambers when responding.

"We would love for you to send us the information on that, but it's not something we have any information on right now," Chambers said.

Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster also declined to comment on the issue.

"I would leave that to Secretary Kander," Koster said. "I don't know the best way to do this. It would be easier if we could do it over the internet, but I have no suggestions for Secretary Kander on that."

Little disagreement emerged  during the latest debate among the Republican candidates for governor

Three of the four Republican candidates for Missouri governor attended the Monday, Feb. 22, debate in Jefferson City that lasted less than one hour.

Former Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and businessman John Brunner were involved in the debate and none of them strayed from party lines.

Though the candidates had different answers to the questions prompted, they all had similar views on the issues brought up.

Medicaid expansion, gun control, abortion and cutting taxes were all topics of discussion.

"I'm running for governor because I know that governors are the last line of defense against the federal government," Hanaway said. "I'll oppose Obamacare, I'll oppose medicaid expansion, common core and whatever kooky idea they come up with next, including importing a bunch of refugees from terrorist countries, into our state."

The candidates were also asked to talk about what they would do regarding the University of Missouri and its board of curators.

"It cast a shadow across our great state, and it all comes down, my friends, to leadership," Brunner said. "No leadership in our governor, no leadership in the board of curators, no leadership in the administration."

Hanaway said it was time to end the lawlessness at the University and Kinder said he would look for curators that would turn the college around.

The candidates in attendance did not attack each other, but focused on attacking Democratic candidate and Attorney General Chris Koster.

"I can be trusted to beat Chris Koster and to carry our banner proudly this November, because of my record and because that record has been crammed with success in three statewide elections," Kinder said.

Last Week

Missouri's Senate stripped out of a lobbyist-restriction bill a House-passed provision to impose a "cooling-off" period for state officials becoming lobbyists for one year after leaving office.

The Senate voted Thursday, Feb. 18, to limit the delay in registering as a lobbyist until after the official's term had ended, meaning an official that completed a term could become a lobbyist the next day.

The House-approved version would impose a one-year delay after the term expired before an official could register as a lobbyist.

The sponsor of the Senate amendment to restrict the House-passed "cooling-off" period charged the House approach did not address a real problem.

"It's not a problem, it's a perception issue and we're trying to solve a perception issue that really doesn't  exist," said Sen. Dave Schatz, R-Franklin County. 

"I do not agree on the basis of personal freedoms and liberties, restricting someone's ability of someone to earn a living," Shatz said.

During the two-day Senate debate, several other senators members complained about imposing restrictions for moving from government office to lobbying.

"Hocus pocus" was the term used by Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield.

"Not one of the ethics, so-called ethics bills on the calendar [the list of bills before the Senate] will solve or address any of the things that occurred in this building last year, or last -- no, this week," Dixon said of the resignations of two legislators last year after allegations of inappropriate behavior with female college interns and the unexplained resignation of a House member one day before the Senate's action.

Dixon was the only Senate member to vote against passage of the bill.

The measure now goes back to the House for review of the Senate changes.

During Missouri's Joint Committee on Education Thursday night, Sen. Paul Wieland said he was considering filling a complaint against former head football coach, Gary Pinkel. This comes after Pinkel chose to stand by his players decision to not participate in the BYU game until former MU system President Tim Wolfe stepped down.

While the hearing was going on Wednesday night, Wieland sent a staffer to file a complaint against Professor Melissa Click. The formal complaint states that Click violated the University of Missouri Systems Rules and Regulations HR 500/505 on October 10th, 2015 by yelling profanities at police and on November 9th, 2015 in a confrontation with a student photographer when she called for "muscle" to have him removed from a public space.

As of Thursday afternoon, Wieland has not yet decided if he will continue with the compliant against Pinkel.

"I'm going to take at least two weeks to investigate and decide if Pinkel did anything wrong," Wieland said.

The Missouri House approved a bill that would require annual signed approval by a government employee before a portion of the worker's salary could be withheld to pay union fees.

The bill would prohibit a labor organization automatically withholding a portion of a government worker's salary to pay union fees without signed approval each year

Rep. Delus Johnson, R-Andrew County, was a firefighter and was required to pay union dues.

"We have come up with this insane concept, that requires you to pay dues to an organization when you do not believe in the leadership's values and that leadership is not representing your values, especially on a political basis," Johnson said during the House debate Thursday, Feb. 18.

"Over and over again, my money went to candidates that I strongly opposed. Say we require every Democrat in this state to join a union and pay dues to support the National Rifle Association, I think some Democrats would have a problem with that"

The bill sparked a lengthy labor union debate between Republicans and Democrats.

"This legislation, throughout the country, is designed to limit working families' participation in the political process by singling out unions for burdensome restrictions," said Rep. Joshua Peters, D-St. Louis.

One Democrat voted in support of the bill --  Rep. Courtney Curtis, D-St. Louis County.

He said workers in union workplaces would not be asking to avoid paying dues if the unions treated their workers better.

"To say that, 'if we don't force people to do something [pay dues] then they're not going to do it, that means that you either don't have good people or you're not doing a good job," said Curtis.

The bill does not apply to emergency personnel, such as firefighters.

Sen. Paul Wieland, R-Jefferson County, has taken the step to launch a MU faculty driven review of suspended professor Melissa Click.

Wieland filed a formal complaint against Click during a joint committee hearing with top University of Missouri officials Wednesday, Feb. 17.

"Would you do me a favor, I'm gonna send my staffer down, I'm giving you a complaint tonight that you can pass on to the provost," Wieland said at a heaing of the Joint Committee on Education.

Until the hearing, MU Interim Chancellor Hank Foley said to his knowledge no complaint against Click had been made.

Throughout the hearing, legislators criticized university administrators for the administration's actions taken during the racial unrest on the Columbia campus last fall.

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, asked MU's interim chancellor, Hank Foley, why action against Melissa Click has taken so long.

"So whether it's Melissa Click, committing third degree assault on a student, yelling at a police officer, setting the worst image for the University of Missouri that I think anyone has ever seen probably in the entire history of the university on public display, or it's a pedophile, a faculty member that's a pedophile," Schaefer said. "I mean, what does it take?"

Schaefer mentioned the video of Click’s actions at the MU Homecoming Parade released over the weekend in which Click is shown cursing at police as protesters blocked the university president's car in the parade.

An earlier video showed Click calling on student demostraters help block a student student from video recording the protest. She was charged with misdemeanor assault, but prosecution was suspended pending community service and no further criminal charges for one year.

"I'm assuming even if it is a written contract there are provisions for cause," Schaefer said. "For the university as the employer to take adverse employment action against her for cause. And if there's one thing I see in both of those videos, the one from October and from November, it is more cause than I have ever seen in an employment situation in my life and 20 years as a lawyer."

Foley said that under MU Collective Rules and Regulations there is a due process for faculty members of the university.

Foley explained the process requires someone to file a formal complaint against Click, and that complaint would have to be adjudicated by a faculty committee before making a recommendation to the chancellor.

The chancellor then makes a decision regarding the faculty member.

Wieland said he also plans to file a complaint against the former Missouri football coach, Gary Pinkel, for his support of black football players who vowed not to play in a scheduled game unil the university president resigned.

Other questions raised by the legislative committee included a decline in donations and enrollment.

Foley said the university is on track to meet their goal for donations this year, but enrollment is declining.

"In terms of enrollments I have more concern there," Foley said. "Right now we're looking at applications being down and we are projecting that based on just demographics within Missouri we might have been down by about 300 students, we're thinking we might be down as many as 900 students in the fall."

Foley said he is talking with students, parents and alumni to get advice on how to fix the problem.

In regard to student demands, Interim UM President Michael Middleton said the university system is doing everything possible to move the issues forward and that the kind of cultural shift demanded takes time.

A member of the university Board of Curators, Pamela Henrickson, said the board expects to have a new, permanent president by the fall.

Rep. Courtney Allen Curtis, D-St. Louis County, said the administration representatives should take their roles seriously.

"Take the leadership role seriously, lead on that, and we can be leaders of the nation, we'll never have to be here again," Curtis said.

The hearing ended after two hours of discussion.

A St. Louis County House member resigned without explanation after the House Speaker said he asked for the resignation.

The circumstances leading to the resignation were not disclosed, although in a written statement House Speaker Todd Richardson made reference to the resignations of two legislators last year after allegations of inappropriate behavior with female college interns.

Rep. Don Gosen, R-St. Louis County, sent a two-sentence letter to Richardson declaring his resignation on Wednesday morning, Feb. 17. The letter provided no details as to the reason.

Shortly later, Richardson issued a statement that he had requested Gosen's resignation.

"At the beginning of this year, I said that the actions of this body would not be defined by a few. I was serious then, and I am serious now. That's why when I was made aware of the situation, I asked him to resign last night," Richardson was quoted as saying in a statement issued by his office.

Richard's statement did not explain the "situation" to which he referred.

Republicans held a closed-door caucus later in the day, but Richardson continued to refuse to describe what prompted him to seek Gosen's resignation.

Richardson became House speaker last year after the resignation of House Speaker John Diehl, R-St. Louis County, following reports of sexually suggestive text messages with a female college intern.

A few months later, Sen. Paul LeVota, D-Independence, resigned after allegations he had sexually propositioned two female college interns in recent years.

Those two incidents led to new House rules restricting private relationships between legislators and interns.

Rep. Bob Burns, D-St. Louis County, commented in support of Gosen.

"I was always taught that you support your team, and I supported Don Gosen and I still do. All I've heard is rumors," Burns said.

Burns also said a team should be more supportive of their members rather than taking them down.

"I think particularly his team and the speaker should be more supportive of their members rather than just kicking them while their down throwing them away like a worthless piece of trash," Burns said. "I don't believe in that. I believe in loyalty. I believe in our country."

Burns said he believes the speaker did not have the right to remove Gosen and that it should have been up to the people who elected him to decide whether or not Gosen stayed.

"The speaker does not have the ability to remove him. They can censure him. But to tell him he should leave that's not his place either," Burns said.


Lesley McSpadden (left), Michael Brown's mother, testified in support of SB 628 with the bill's sponsor, Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis County (right).

The mother of Michael Brown, testified before a Missouri Senate committee in favor of a bill that would require the police departments of cities with 100,000 residents or more to wear body cameras.

Lesley McSpadden said a video recording of what transpired before her son was shot to death by a Ferguson police officer would had helped bring closure.

"It has been 557 days and I'm still left with the mystery surrounding what happened to my son," McSpadden said at a hearing of the Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee Wednesday, Feb. 17.

However, a couple of members of the committee questioned the cost required for the body cameras and also voiced privacy concerns if video recordings were made public.

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis City, the bill's sponsor, told the committee and reporters that body cameras would increase accountability among police officers.

McSpadden touched on cases across the country, including recent incidents in Chicago and South Carolina, in which body camera footage acted as evidence in cases of officer-involved shootings.

The senator whose district includes Ferguson -- Sen. Maria Chapelle-Nadal, D-St. Louis County -- told the committee she supported the bill, but wanted to make sure the footage from body cameras didn't leave victims vulnerable, including in cases of domestic violence.

The chair of the Missouri Legislature's Joint Committee on Education said a hearing scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 17 with UM System officials is not meant to rehash past issues.

"I'm not terribly concerned about the events of the past and how they happened," said Committee Chair David Wood, R-Versailles. "But, I am concerned about what we're doing to correct those situations to where they don't happen again."

Members of the UM Board of Curators, interim UM System President Mike Middleton and interim Chancellor Hank Foley are expected to attend.

Wood said he would not be surprised if members of the group Concerned Student 1950 attended Wednesday's hearing.

The students of Concerned Student 1950 held protests and demonstrations on the University of Missouri's campus before and following the resignation of former UM System President Tim Wolfe.

Other members of the joint committee said their focus will be on ensuring the UM System becomes a more diverse and welcoming system of universities.

Courtney Curtis, D-St. Louis County, said he is most concerned with the university being, "an inclusive place, and that diversity is welcomed, and that we respect all individuals that are members."

Wood said the committee will discuss the situation surrounding Melissa Click, an MU communications professor who was filmed trying to block a photographer and videographer from covering protests on the campus in the fall.

Click was also filmed by a police body camera cursing at a Columbia police officer during the university's homecoming parade held Oct. 10.

Click had intervened when members of Concerned Student 1950 formed a line in front of Tim Wolfe's car and stopped his caravan during the parade.

The body camera footage was obtained and released last week.

The Missouri Senate Commerce Committee heard a personal plea for lawmakers to delay state implementation of the federal plan to cut power plant emissions of carbon.

"I'm a mom of three and ever increasing energy expenses are going to hurt families like mine." Rachel Peyton from Americans for Prosperity said when speaking in support of the bill at the committee hearing Tuesday, Feb. 16.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Gary Romine, R- Farmington, would require the Natural Resources Department to delay for two years submitting a carbon-reduction plan for the state to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA has adopted a rule requiring states to present plans for reducing carbon emissions from power plants, although the U.S. Supreme Court halted implementation of that plan in an order issued Feb. 9.

Romine said his bill would suspend the activities of the Natural Resources Department from going into action before the courts have made their decision.

Heather Navarro from St. Louis spoke in opposition of the bill, saying that "slowing down this process does not serve the people of Missouri." Navarro says she is an "energy efficiency proponent" and says that if Missouri doesn't get it done on time the federal government will "get it done for us."

Ewell Lawson from the Missouri Association of Municipal Utilities spoke in support of the bill, but when Sen. Ed Emery, R- Lamar, asked him if he had actually "seen the catastrophic impact of climate change" Lawson responded by saying he was "not here to discuss science."

Several witnesses speaking in favor of the bill presented the idea that by not allowing an extension, Missouri would be spending money and resources that could be spent in ways more economically sound. "If more of the paycheck is going towards energy, just to keep the lights on, that's money that is not going into the Missouri economy." Peyton said.

Sen. Wayne Wallingford, R- Cape Girardeau, added that "a lot of people can't afford energy at today's prices."

A package of bills that would make acts of terrorism illegal were heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, Feb. 16.

The three bills, which are all sponsored by attorney general candidate Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), would punish terrorism when committed and stop its influence.

The first bill would make a murder committed as an act of terrorism a capital offense.

An act of terrorism is defined as, "committed for the purpose of, or in the manner of intimidating or coercing a civilian population, influencing the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or affecting the conduct of a government," said Schaefer who is running for the Republican nomination for attorney general.

A lawyer for the ACLU of Missouri, Sarah Rossi, cautioned that the bill is unclear because it does not include the full, federal definition of terrorism, which ends with, " mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping."

Another bill would require prison volunteers to be screened for terrorist tendencies by the attorney general's office.

Schaefer said that the bill is necessary because only criminal convictions are considered by the state corrections department in background checks.

However, Rossi argued the measure is too invasive in the private matters of volunteers.

"It raises a lot of first amendment issues for the ACLU because asking people for their social media account information will have a chilling effect on speech," Rossi said.

Schaefer's final bill would make any act done to intimidate or influence citizens or the government illegal.

He said the legislation would treat any act of terrorism causing serious physical injury similar to a first-degree assault charge, which has a maximum sentence of life without parole.

"Your behavior can be intended to affect the conduct of government without being terrorism," Rossi said. "If there is an altercation that happens during a protest that causes serious physical injury, I'm not sure that should be considered terrorism."


The House General Administration Appropriations Committee voted to cut $12 million out of Missouri's budget for next fiscal year promised to the Regional Sports Authority.

The committee's decision came after the Rams football team left St. Louis, abandoning a stadium with bond payments still due.

Missouri still has 5 more years of payments left to the St. Louis Authority until they can can completely pay back bond holders of the Edward Jones Dome.

The chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Robert Ross, R-Yukon, said he reached out to the Authority to testify at the hearing for cutting the money from the budget, but they did not attend.

"They could not make time to come before the General Administration Appropriations Committee," Ross said. "But they are now going to come before the full budget committee, and there are a series of questions and documents they should produce at this point, and we're gonna have a discussion about it."

Ross said voiced objections to Gov. Jay Nixon's original plans to extend the bond issue to build a new stadium in an effort to keep the Rams in St. Louis. And he voiced concerns that although the Rams have abandoned Missouri, the administration's prior position still leaves open the possibility of extending the bond debt to build a new facility. 

A bill that would require concussion training for coaches of youth sports was presented to the House Committee on Emerging Issues in Education on Monday, Feb. 15.

The bill applies to coaches of any organization that hosts a youth athletic activity for which an activity fee is charged.

The bill's sponsor -- Rep Paul Fitzwater, R-Potosi -- said the bill is designed to expand upon current law.

"Now, these key aspects of Missouri's current law are intact in House Bill 2388, and basically this proposed bill, it just expands the coverage to protect more youth," Fitzwater said.

Rep. Dave Hinson, R-St. Clair, asked Fitzwater, a retired school teacher who had been both a coach and referree, about concussion training for referees in youth athletic activities.

"Do you think that maybe we should do something, because you guys are literally are the closest to the action," Hinson asked.

The bill's first witness, the executive director of the Brain Injury Association of Missouri, Maureen Cunningham, said the intention was to limit the requirement.

"The thought was to keep the removal of play with the coach who is responsible, or with the licensed athletic trainer on the sideline of the contest," Cunningham said. "So that's the reason that the game officials were not officially listed initially."

Fitzwater said he would not be opposed to adding an amendment that would require officials to undergo concussion training as well.

The committee expressed concerns regarding the cost of the training and who would pay for it.

The head athletic trainer at Hickman High School in Columbia, Stefanie West, said much of the training is free and online.

"There's already training available on several sites and Maureen touched on that," West said. "Through the brain injury association, MSHSAA has a good site, MoATA has already been talking about, if this passing maybe developing something specific for youth athletes."

There were no witnesses to testify against the legislation.