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NewsBook: Missouri Government News for the Week of August 28, 2006


. Missouri's govenror is rejecting calls for an independent financial review of the college loan sale idea. (08/31/2006)

The rejection was issued by the governor's chief spokesperson, Spence Jackson.

Several months ago, the MOHELA board had said it intended to conduct a financial analysis on the impact of selling some of its assets to finance the governor's building-construction program.

Since then, private negotations had come up with a new plan that Jackson says does not require another review.

Several Democrats, however, have questioned the legality of the administration's latest proposal that would by-pass the state legislature.

. Missouri's governor makes more changes in the college-loan sale plan. (08/31/2006)

The Associated Press and St. Louis Post-Dispatch report that Gov. Matt Blunt has come up with a new, smaller plan on how to spend some of the assets of the state's college load program, the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA).

The new proposal trims $100 million from the administration's building-construction list -- down to $350 million.

Non-public negotiations and discussions apparently have been going on for some time with legislators, the governor's office, higher education officials that would get the money for construction projects and MOHELA that would have to sell some of its assets to come up with the money.

Democratic legislators, the state Attorney General and State Auditor have questioned the legality of the plan to sell the assets without legislative approval.

. Missouri's Ethics Commission admonishes two Democratic candidates. (08/30/2006)

Two statewide Democratic candidates on the November 2004 ballot were admonished by the Ethics Commission for not reporting all their campaign finances.

The two were Robin Carnahan, running for Secretary of State, and Claire McCaskill, running for governor.  Carnahan won, McCaskill lost to now-Gov. Matt Blunt.

The complaints were filed by the state GOP after the Democratic Party had filed complaints against Blunt.  That complaint has not yet been decided by the Ethics Commission.

. Rainy days provide temporary relief to Missouri trees (08/30/2006)

Recent precipitation has provided much needed relief to Missouri trees stressed from drought conditions. 

In addition to the increase in rainfall, meteorologists are anticipating an El Nino condition heading into the winter season. 

A weak El Nino condition would result in increased precipitation in the fall.  Conversely, a strong El Nino condition would result in very little rainfall. 

An increase in rainfall could help trees to have the ability to fight off disease and insects, which would improve their long-term health. 

. Governor approves nearly $1 million in tax credits to not-for-profits (08/30/2006)

Governor Matt Blunt approved $981,770 in tax credits to five Missouri not-for-profit organizations. The credits are made possible through the Neighborhood Assistance Program, which enables not-for-profits to raise funds for community improvement projects.

The organizations that will receive the tax credits are The Grace Hill Settlement House in St. Louis; Christmas in October, The Community of the Good Shepherd and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation in Kansas City.

The Boone Hospital Foundation in Columbia will receive $250,000 in tax credits to go toward a new community center.

. MO college tuition continues to increase as state tuition assistance decreases (08/30/2006)

An audit released Wednesday by Missouri State Auditor, Claire McCaskill, found that public universities tuition rates continue to rise above inflation.

The audit also found the state's annualized tuition for 4-year public institutions was the highest across Big 12 states.

. A 90-year old veteran's widow was the first recipient of a new program by the State Treasurer. (08/29/2006)

Georgia Phillips was presented a $1,500 check Tuesday by the State Treasurer under a new program designed to find the military-veteran owners of unclaimed bank assets.

Missouri's Treasurer is the custodian for bank deposits and safety-box property when the original owners cannot be found.

This year, the Treasurer launched a program to search the names of Missouri veterans to discover potential owners of those bank assets.

. A Missouri legislative committee heard proposals to promote wind as an alternative energy source. (08/28/2006)

The presentation was made by the Natural Resources Department to the Missouri Energy Task Force.

But the idea wind as a significant energy replacement was questioned by members of the task force, headed by the chair of the state's utility-regulating agency, the Public Service Commission.

The task force took no action on the issue.

. Missouri hospitals plan to ban smoking outside their buildings later this week. (08/28/2006)

Hospitals across Missouri will implement bans on tobacco use on campuses beginning Friday, according to the Missouri Hospital Association.

The ban is in preparation for a mandatory ban on smoking outside hospital buildings that will take effect in July 2007 that will restrict tobacco use on hospital grounds including parking structures and green spaces.

. Missouri sees major drop in July unemployment claims (08/28/2006)

A report released August 22 said that Missouri experienced a dramatic drop in filed unemployment claims in July.

The report, issued by the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, said that the number of new unemployment claims filed in July 2006 was 29,086--down 30 per cent from July 2005. The new claims in July 2005 were 37,708.

While spokespeople for the Department of Labor and Department of Economic Development attribute the decrease to "a positive business climate," Research Manager Bill Niblack says the drop has more to do with Missouri automakers.

. A new plan emerges for selling a portion of the state's college loan assets. (08/27/2006)

The Associated Press reported Saturday night that legislative leaders and the college loan board had come up with a new plan to implement the governor's plan to sell part of the board's assets.

The governor has been pushing for the sale in order to generate about one-quarter of one-billion dollars for building projects across the state for higher education and medical research.

The latest plan would not require legislative authority, although the college loan board's director wrote in a letter last spring that their lawyers had advised legislative authority would be required for the board to sell off its assets.

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