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Missouri Government News for Week of Sept. 1, 1997

Taxpayers finance legislative trip to top resort in the world.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporteed Thursday that the Missouri House was picking up the tab for sending several members to a conference of women legislators being held at a resort in Hawaii that's ranked as one of the top resorts in the world.

Also attending is House Speaker Steve Gaw, but his office says he's paying for the trip with his personal and campaign funds.

See our radio story for further details.

Missouri's new Highway Patrol chief spends Labor Day on the road.

Missouri's new Highway Patrol Superintendent Weldon Wilhoit spent part of the Labor Day weekend patroling in mid-Missouri.

Just before the weekend, Gov. Mel Carnahan appointed Wilhoit as superintendent to replace Col. Fred Mills who retired on Sept. 1.

Wilhoit said all uniformed officers were expected to help patrol the roads during the holiday period.

Twelve people were killed in highway accidents during the three-day period -- two fewer than last year.

Dead-beat parent penalties delayed by the state.

Missouri has delayed implementing tough new penalties against parents who fall behind in child support payments.

Passed by this year's legislature was a law that gives the state's child support enforcment agency power to take from a dead beat parent almost every license issued by the state -- including hunting and fishing licenses, professional occupational licenses and driving licenses.

The law was passed to bring the state into compliance with federal law. But the state's child support enforcement agency says the computer systems are not in place to implement the law -- although it took effect in July.

See our radio story for complete details.

Compromise rejected to avoid a legislative effort to override the partial-birth abortion ban veto

The legislative sponsor of the partial-birth abortion bill passed by lawmakers in the spring has rejected the governor's offer to include a milder version in the legislature's special session.

In vetoing the bill, Gov. Mel Carnahan argued there should be an exception when the physican determined the procedure was necessary to safe the life of the mother. Carnahan said he was willing to include that idea in the special session that begins Sept. 8.

But the Senate sponsor says the governor's compromise is unacceptable and that he will make the override motion during the Sept. 10 veto session.


Witness immunity law used within minutes after it takes effect

Within minutes after it took effect at midnight on August 29, Cole County's prosecutor put to use the new witness immunity law passed by lawmakers earlier in the spring.

Rich Callahan ordered the arrest of a suspect in a 1995 hit-and-run accident that Callahan said he had not been able to prosecute before because witnesses had refused to testify on grounds it might incriminate themselves -- invoking Fifth Amendment rights.

The new witness immunity law gives a prosecutor authority to ask a judge to compel testimoney in return for a grant of immunity from prosecution.

As head of the state's association of prosecutors, Callahan had lobbyied extensively for the new law.

See our newspaper story for further details.