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Missouri Government News for Week of Sept. 15, 1997

The House trys again Friday to pass the economic development package of tax breaks for developers it defeated Thursday.

The multi-million dollar package of tax breaks for development projects was rejected by the Missouri House Thursday. It fell just half-a-dozen votes short, but with 39 members absent.

House leaders plan to try again Friday. House defeate came after the Senate narrowly passed the economic-development measure without one vote to spare.

The measure came under attack from several Republicans who called it "corporate welfare," St. Louis lawmakers who said the existing tax-break law has been abused by developers in their area, from rural lawmakers who said the bill would allow tax breaks for gambling-related projects, and from black lawmakers who complained that provisions to benefit low-income Missourians had been stripped from the bill.

Supporters argue the millions of dollars of local and state tax breaks will promote economic development.

For more information, see:

Missouri's Insurance Department offers assistance to Holocaust survivors.

The State Insurance Department has offered its assitance to relatives to obtain unclaimed insurance benefits for Holocaust murder victims.

The department's director sits on a national panel that meets this fall to study ways states can coordinate insurance restitution efforts.

See our radio story and newspaper story for details.

Partial-birth abortion legislation declared dead for the special session.

The Senate President Pro Tem declared Wednesday he will not allow partial-birth abortion legislation to come before the Senate in the special session.

Sen. Bill McKenna said he had not been able to find enough support for the Senate to pass a bill that the governor would sign.

The Jefferson County Democrat said it would be a waste of time for the legislature to pass a version that the governor simply would veto again. The governor had recommended a limited ban on partial-birth abortions after the Senate upheld his veto of a bill that would have banned all partial birth abortions except in cases in which the mother's life is at risk.

Both sides in the dispute concede they cannot cite a single time that a partial-birth abortion has been performed in Missouri.

For more details, see our newspaper summary story on Wednesday's developments in the legislature's special session.

Health coverage requirements removed from the legislature's tax cut bill.

The House-Senate conference committee working on the economic development bill removed a requirement that developers getting tax breaks provide health insurance coverage for their part-time workers.

The requirement had been added by the House in a near party-line vote with Republicans opposing the requirement.

The committee also removed langauge that would have made it easier for court review of areas designed for "TIF" tax breaks.

Legislative leaders are planning to take the final version of the bill up on Thursday.

For more details, see our newspaper summary story on Wednesday's developments in the legislature's special session.

State lawmakers return to debate abortion and economic development.

Missouri lawmakers return Wednesday to continue their special session.

Lawmakers are facing two major items -- tax breaks for developers and partial-birth abortion.

A House-Senate conference committee meets Wednesday morning to hammer out the final version of the economic-development, tax break bill.

The Senate President Pro Tem had said last week he would decide by Wednesday whether allow Senate debate on the abortion controversy -- depending on whether he could find sufficient votes to support a bill the governor could sign.

For more details, see our radio story on business opposition to a provision in the tax-break bill that would require companies getting economic-development tax breaks to provide health coverage to part-time workers.

PSC gives Southwestern Bell more control over its phone rates.

The state's utility regulating Public Service Commission effectively gave Southwestern Bell Telephone power to cut its rates without approval from the PSC.

The so-called "price-cap" regulation was established under a telephone deregulation bill passed by the legislature in 1996.

Under the PSC order, the PSC set a phone-rate cap on Southwester Bell that cannot rise for the next two years. The phone company can lower, but not raise those rates.

A quarter million-plus Missouri cars didn't carry liability insurance in 1996

More than a quarter million Missouri cars and light trucks failed to carry basic liability insurance in 1996, according to state records from the Missouri Department of Insurance (MDI).

The actual percentage of uninsured cars, however, dropped from 7.7 percent in 1995 to 7.2 percent last year. The statewide uninsured rate is determined by comparing auto insurance policies annually reported by companies with the Revenue Department's vehicle registration records.

Beginning next year, a new law will require proof of insurance when applying for your annual vehicle license plate or tag.

See our radioand our newspaper story for details.

Governor signs Branson tourism tax.

Gov. Mel Carnahan signed his the first bill of the legislature's special session -- a measure to reauthorize a sales tax imposed by the town of Branson that had been struck down by the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, a House-Senate conference committee is scheduled to meet Wednesday on the economic development bill that includes a package of tax cuts for developers.

On Friday, the House tacked on a provision requiring that any business which gets a tax subsidy from the bill would have to provide health insurance coverage for their part-time workers.