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Missouri Government News for Week of Sept. 21, 1998

EPA imposes tougher air quality rules on Missouri.

The federal EPA imposed on Missouri and 21 other central states tougher restrictions on ozone designed to reduce down-wind pollution of northern and eastern states.

The tougher restrictions can be met by either more severe restrictions on auto exhaust or power plants -- altough EPA says power plant restrictions would be cheaper for consumers.

Missouri environmental officials say the regulations are unfair to Missouri because some of the pollution attributed to the state actually comes from other states up-wind from Missouri.

The state had argued that EPA's objectives could be met by imposing the rules on just the eastern one-third of Missouri rather than the entire state.

Republicans accuse the state administration of playing politics with tax refunds.

The chairman of the state Republican Party complains that the state Revenue Department is bragging too much in Hancock tax refunds that are being mailed out.

Each refund includes a notices that states, twice, that Missouri tax payers have gotten or will get about $1 billion in Hancock refunds.

A news release from GOP state chairman Woddy Cozad called the notice "propaganda."

Opposition to boats-in-moats meet in Columbia church

Officials from statewide United Methodist Churches met in Columbia to discuss strategies to oppose boats-in-moats in November's general election.

See our newspaper story for complete details.

Retired Supreme Court justice appears in pro-casino ad

Former Justice John Bargett says he didn't get any money for his role in a gambling industry campaign commercial. Bardgett appears in a television ad sponsored by Missourians for Fairness and Jobs.

Bardgett's law firm now represents two floating casinos. He said a gambling lobbyist suggested he film a television spot to tell voters about the proposed Constitutional amendment involving "boats in moats." In the ad, Bardgett says he believes the casinos have every legal right to continue operating. He told Missouri News he thinks people currently misunderstand the legal questions involved.

Bardgett retired from the Court bench in 1982 after serving 12 years.

See our package of radio stories for details.

The state Supreme Court denies child custody to a lesbian mother.

The Missouri Supreme Court has upheld a lower court decision that denied a lesbian mother joint custody of her three children.

While the state high court held that homosexuality did not automtically disqualify a parent for custody, it was a relevant factor in judging what was in the best interests of the children.

"It is not error," according to the decision, "to consider the impact of homosexual or heterosexual misconduct upon the children in making a custody determination."

See the Missouri Supreme Court decision.

Gambling opponent calls casino ads misleading

Republican Representative Todd Akin (R-St. Louis County) says that the latest round of gambling advertisments bend the truth. Missourians for Fairness and Jobs has sponsored one radio and one television spot that ask voters to support casinos on this November's ballot.

Akin says the ads are misleading. He says they imply the legislature has already supported gambling in moats. But Mike Brown, a spokesman for Missourians for Fairness and Jobs, said the ads are factually accurate and are designed to educate the public, not mislead them.

See our package of radio stories for details.

State reaches agreement with Blue Cross on profit-making plans.

Missouri's Insurance Department announced it has reached agreement with Blue Cross/Blue Shield of eastern Missouri on its efforts to convert to a profit-making corporation.

Under the agreement, the company would donate 15,000,000 of its shares for a non-profit health-care organization.