NewsBook: Missouri Government News for the Week of May 1, 2006
|.||Four more ballot issues are filed with the state. (05/07/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The four issues filed Sunday brings to six the total number of initiative petitions that have been filed with the Secretary of State.
Filed Sunday were proposals to increase the tobacco tax, raise the minimum wage, ban eminent domain for private development and impose a state spending cap. Filed earlier were proposals to restore cuts in Medicaid and provide a legal right to engage in stem cell research.
The Secretary of State has until early August to determine if the proposals have enough signatures for the statewide ballot.
If approved, the measures would go on the November ballot.
|.||Eminent domain restrictions clears Missouri's legislature. (05/05/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's legislature sent the governor legislation to impose additional requirements before private land can be condemned.
The bill was in response to last fall's U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld the right to condemn land for private, profiting-making economic development.
The Missouri bill still allows condemnation for economic development by private interests.
|.||The Missouri governor's higher education building plan has died in the Missouri legislature. (05/05/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - House leaders refused to allow a final vote on the building construction plan after a Senate filibuster killed a companion bill to increase college scholarship funding.
The legislature's constitutional deadline for passing the budget was 6pm Friday -- ending the issue for this year unless the governor calls a special session.
The House speaker and speaker pro tem argued that if the state was going to fund new college buildings from student-loan profits, the state also should provide benefits for students in the form of expanded scholarship programs.
But the scholarship bill ran into Senate opposition from members who argued that provisions in the bill designed to assure scholarship funding increases would take money away from university operating budgets.
The governor was unavailable for comment. One of his staffer said they now would try to get the college loan board to give money to higher education for building construction without legislative authorization.
|.||Serious glitches threaten MOHELA plan (05/04/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The governor's plans to use the profits expected from a college loan sale ran into a couple of serious glitches just one day before the state's deadline for approving a final spending plan.
A proposal that would cut into the budgets of public colleges and universities has been tied to the passage of any that would distribute proceeds expected from the college loan sale. Another proposal to authorize the agency to transfer the funds to the state was also derailed.
|.||House passes voter ID bill (05/04/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri House passed a voter ID bill that would require Missourians to have a state or federally issued photo identification card to vote.
The bill that originally passed the Missouri Senate will go to a House-Senate conference committee to iron out issues.
|.||Senate passes sex offender legislation (05/04/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Legislation sponsored largely by Senator Matt Bartle (R-Lee's Summit) was passed today in Missouri's senate.
Provisions in the bill revamp the Missouri Sex Offender Registry, which supporters say makes it more accurate.
|.||Eleventh Hour for MOHELA Bill (05/04/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - A conference committee met Thursday to discuss details in the house and senate versions of the MOHELA bill.
Friday at 6:00 pm is the constitutional deadline for budget bills for the spring session.
|.||Missouri's budget clears the legislature with lawmakers complaining about welfare spending. (05/03/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The state's welfare budget got jabs from both sides of the aisle before the Senate gave final approval to the state's operating budget for the fiscal year that will begin July 1.
A leading Republican conservative complained that dispite the cuts in Medicaid made by the legislature last year, state spending on welfare will increase by greater than 10 percent next fiscal year.
On the other side, Democrats complained the Republican-controlled legislature had not tackled welfare fraud.
|.||Missouri lawmakers say they are doing their best in preparing the State for bird flu (05/03/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - According to a letter by President Bush, the worst case bird flu scenario is it will infect 50 million people and kill 2 million.
Bush says it will also have a devastating affect on workers, putting 40% out of commission.
Some state legislators voice concern that the state is not prepared.
|.||Audit of Dept. of Corrections finds inadequate follow-up procedures (05/03/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri State Auditor Claire McCaskill reported the findings of a test Wednesday regarding Board of Probation and Parole field officers not contacting offenders at the required level.
The report indicated that as the level of supervision increased, compliance rates generally decreased. Only 34 percent of home visits of offenders were conducted from 2003 to 2005.
|.||Missouri legislature passes appropriations for public higher education (05/02/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri legislature passed legislation that would appropriate more than $899 million toward public higher education in the state.
It would increase funding for the University if Missouri System by 2.7 percent.
|.||Eminent Domain bill set to pass (05/02/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The Senate nearly finished with eminent domain after multiple ammendments and other changes to the bill.
Senate sponsor Republican Chris Koster breathed a sigh of relief when it was done.
|.||Senate debates eminent domain (05/02/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's senate debated Tuesday over eminent domain.
A bill currently before the Senate is being called "the Homeowner's Bill of Rights".
|.||House and Senate approve education budget for 2007 (05/02/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Both the House and Senate approved a finalized version of the 2007 fiscal budgets for higher and secondary education in Missouri.
The state will spend 215 million dollars more than last year.
|.||Senate agrees to amend eminent domain bill (05/02/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Despite objections that the language will not do enough to halt eminent domain abuses, the Missouri Senate passed an amendment to ban eminent domain for "solely" economic development purposes.
Critics wanted to ban eminent domain for "predominantly" economic development purposes.
|.||One of the Missouri administration's welfare cuts is thrown out. (05/02/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - A Kansas City federal judge has ruled unconstitutional an administration plan passed by the legislature in 2005 to reduce adoption subsidies.
The program provides subsidies to parents who adopt foster children.
The state announced its intention to appeal.
|.||Missouri's Mental Health Department director announces his resignation. (05/02/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports in Tuesday's edition that Dorn Schuffman will leave office on the first of July.
Schuffman told the newspaper that he had not been forced out.
The resignation announcement comes as the Mental Health Commission has begun hearings in recent allegations of abuse and neglect at the state's mental health facilities.
|.||Stem cell research petition signatures submitted. (05/02/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - More than 280,000 signatures were submitted Monday to Missouri's Secretary of State to put on the ballot a proposal to establish a legal right to condut stem-cell research.
The measure has been pushed by a number of business and medical interests.
On the same day, U.S. Sen. Jim Talent issued a short statement announcing his opposition to the proposal.
|.||Missouri's Senate passes its version of a spending plan for college loan assets. (05/02/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - In an early morning vote, Missouri's Senate approved by a margin of better than two-to-one a bill to spend $472 million that would be raised by sale of some of the assets of the state's college loan program
Like the House, the Senate plans spends much of the money on higher education buildings for medical research and business partnerships. Also like the House, the Senate version would spend some of the money to pay off the state's debt.
The Senate rejected proposals to increase funding for college scholarships and to refund to the taxpayers much of the sale assets.
The bill now is expected to go to a House-Senate conference committee to work out the differences between the two chambers before the 6pm Friday deadline for passing budget bills.
|.||Higher boat registration fee would go towards higher salaires for water patrol offices (05/01/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The Water Patrol Fund bill would increase boat registration fees which will in turn increase water patrol officer's salaries.
The sponsor of the House bill says $3.1 million is expected to be generated a year from the increased fees.
|.||Immigration Bills Focus Punishing Businesses Which Hire Illegals (05/01/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Massive worker walkouts shut down some businesses across the country.
But legislation in Missouri would fine businesses that hire illegal immigrants
|.||Debate over MOHELA continues (05/01/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Matt Bartle (R-Jackson County) is considering proposing an amendment that would take about 230 million dollars from the MOHELA sale and put it into a reserve fund for future fiscal emergencies.
He says this is in response to an unpredictable economy and the rising costs of Medicaid.
|.||AP cites a former fee office agent saying she had been contacted by the FBI (04/29/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - A former Revenue Department fee office contractor told AP she has been contacted by FBI agents several times asking about transfer of her office after Matt Blunt became governor.
The contractor asked that her name not be used, AP reported.
Fee offices are managed private contractors, selected by the administration. They frequently are awarded to supporters of the governor or his party.
The offices provide a number of Revenue Department services for which a private contractor is allowed to charge an extra fee to customers.