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Missouri Government News for Week of Sept. 8, 1997

Senate leader stops action on partial-birth abortion.

The top leader of Missouri's Senate has blocked legislative action on partial-birth abortion.

Senate President Pro Tem Mike McKenna said he will not allow any action on the issue until the majority of the Senate agrees on a bill the governor can sign. The Jefferson County Democrat conceeded he was not terribly optimistic about his chances of finding a compromise.

McKenna has refused to assign the bill to committee. That effectively blocks any action.

Meanwhile, the governor who vetoed the original partial-birth abortion bill called on lawmakers to pass his version while the sponsors of the original bill said the issue should be postponed until January.

Both sides deny playing politics.

We have a package of several stories that can provide more detail:

Tax breaks for business legislation moves forward.

The House Commerce Committee approved for full House debate Friday the package of tax breaks for developers that is the central issue of the legislature's special session.

Were it not for the late addition of the partial-birth abortion issue, lawmakers could have finished all the work of the session by Friday.

The other major issue for which the special session originally was called, renewal of the Branson tourism tax, is awaiting final action in the Senate.

Before the abortion issue was added, legislative leaders had hoped they could finish the special session by Friday, Sept. 12 or, at the latest, Saturday.

Attorney General offers another school desegregation plan proposal.

Attorney General Jay Nixon unveiled a $304 million plan to resolve the court-ordered desegregation plan for St. Louis schools.

But his plan ran into immediate snags. The NAACP attacked his proposal. The the coordinator of a court-appointed group to resolve the case complained that Nixon had gone around that process.

In addition, special funding for appropriations has not, so far, gotten much support in the legislature.

Conflicting anti-abortion bills introduced into the special session.

Within hours after the governor expanded the legislature's special session, two conflicting bills were introduced to prohibit partial-birth abortions.

One is identical to the bill the governor vetoed last spring. The other includes the exemption the governor demands that would allow the procedure when necessary to protect the woman's health.

Both bills, however, are given limited chance of reaching the governor's desk.

The Senate President Pro Tem has refused to assign the bills to committee and says he will not assign them to committee until there's agreement by a majority of the Senate on a bill that the governor will sign.

The Senate sustains the govenror's veto of a partial-birth abortion ban.

By a one vote margin, a motion to override the governor's partial-birth abortion ban was rejected by the Missouri Senate.

Seven Democrats and one Republican who had voted for the bill last spring, switched and voted to sustain the veto.

Within minutes of the override vote, the governor's office said the on-going special session would be expanded to let lawmakers take up a revised partial-birth abortion bill.

The governor said he supports the ban, but wants an exemption in cases when the doctor determines the procedure is necessary to protect the health of the mother.

For more information, see:

Senate anti-abortion sponsor says he has the votes for an override.

On the eve of the legislature's veto session, Sen. Peter Kinder said he had the Senate votes to override the governor's veto of Kinder's bill to ban partial-birth abortions.

In the meantime, the top leader of the Senate -- a Democrat like the governor -- said he would support the override motion.

A veto override will require approval by 23 of the Senate's 34 members. The bill originally cleared the Senate last spring with 28 votes.

Tax breaks for business approved by the Senate.

Developers in Missouri could get millions of dollars in tax breaks under an economic-development bill approved by the Senate.

The bill is the major issue before the legislature's special session. It received prelinary approval Tuesday night and final Senate approval Wednesday morning -- sending it to the House.

On Tuesday night, the Senate rejected repeated efforts to impose tighter restrictions on the tax breaks. One Senate critic called the bill corporate welfare. But supporters argued it would boost economic development in the state.

See our radio story on the historic preservation tax break.

Also see our radio story on the provision to create a task force to study a new stadium for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Kelly will not seek reelection.

State Auditor Margaret announced she will not seek reelection in 1998.

Kelly, a Republican, made her announcement in an interview with Associated Press. She has been State Auditor since 1984.

Although elected three times to the office, efforts to reach higher office failed. In 1996, she was the unsuccessful GOP candidate for governor.

Lawmakers return for their special session.

Missouri lawmakers return at 4pm Monday to begin a special session.

So far, the govenror has put only two issues before the General Assembly -- a sales tax for Branson that was struck down by the courts and portions of an economic development bill from the last regular session that Carnahan had vetoed.

The session can consider only those topics raised by the governor, but the governor can add additional topics at any time.

It takes a minimum of five days to pass a bill -- so special session will not adjourn until the end of the week at the very earliest.

That assures the special session will run concurrently with the veto session that begins on Wednesday. A veto session normally lasts just two days.

Carnahan defends veto in newspaper ads.

In newspaper ads across the state Sunday, Gov. Mel Carnahan defended his veto of legislation to ban partial birth abortions.

Lawmakers meet Wednesday to consider bills vetoed by the governor. The partial birth abortion bill passed both chambers earlier in the spring by margins far above the two-thirds vote that will be needed to override the veto.

Carnahan said he vetoed the bill because it did not allow the procedure to be used when the doctor determined it was necessary to protect the health of the mother.

Supreme Court chief justice not ticketed for running into a car.

The Kansas City Star reported in its Sunday edition that Supreme Court Chief Justice Duane Benton was not ticketed after hitting another car.

The paper reported Benton ran through a red light and that the driver of the other car was taken to a hospital.

The accident was investigated by Kansas City police. Benton said he told the officer he was a member of the state Supreme Court, but did not ask for any favors.