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NewsBook: Missouri Government News for the Week of September 11, 2006

. Missouri letting FDA handle Ecoli cases (09/15/2006)

The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning yesterday about fresh bagged spinach carrying E. coli. 

There were 50 cases reported in 8 states as of yesterday; however, cases have been found today in Ohio and Kentucky.

A spokesman for the Missouri Dept. of Health and Senior Services said the FDA is dealing with the issue on a national level and Missouri has not been apart of the investigation.

. Missouri's Voter ID law is tossed out. (09/14/2006)

A Cole County circuit court has tossed out the law passed earlier this year that requires voters to present government-issued photo IDs to be able to vote.

Circuit Judge Richard Callahan held that the requirement imposed a burden on women and the poor who would have to get photo IDs because they did not have driving licenses.

Callahan's decision was criticized by the Republican governor, but praised by the Democratic secretary of state who had been a leading opponent of the proposal.

No immediate word from the attorney general as to whether he would appeal the decision.

. Sandra Thomas still the winner in Republican state auditor recount (09/13/2006)

Sandra Thomas was declared the winner in a ballot recount for the Republican state auditor primary Wednesday. The result was announced by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.

The recount was requested by Rep. Jack Jackson (R-St. Louis County) after the Aug. 8 primary resulted in a difference of only 0.6 percent of votes between he and candidate Sandra Thomas. Thomas led the primary by 1,844 votes. State law allows the runner-up to request a recount if the margin of difference is less than 1 percent.

Thomas gained 28 votes in the recount process.

Get the newspaper story here.

Get the radio story here.

. Voter ID ruling yet to be handed down. (09/13/2006)

Cole County Circuit judge says he hopes to have a decision on the Voter ID case at the end of next week.

Rachel Bunning has more from the state Capitol.

Get the radio story here.

. Columbia Little League team receives yet another honor (09/13/2006)

The Daniel Boone All-Star Little League team received recognition from the state House and Senate for their participation in the 2006 Little League World Series.

The team is only the second team from Missouri ever to participate in the international competition. 

Get the newspaper story here

. Blunt: "Stop playing politics" (09/13/2006)

Governor Blunt met with university presidents from all over Missouri to discuss the Lewis and Clark Discovery initiative.

Among the more than 20 attendees was UM system President Elson Floyd.

Get the radio story here.

Get the newspaper story

. Tax Formula to be Reformed (09/13/2006)

Chief Financial Officer for Clayton School District says property tax formulas in use since the 1930s need to be reformed.

Senate Pro-tem Mike Gibbons says current methods are complicated and need to be restructured.

. For the first time in recent memory, Missouri lawmakers will not have a single non-budget veto to discuss at their annual veto session. (09/12/2006)

Besides a few items in the state's budget, the legislature will not have any vetoes to discuss on Wednesday during the annual veto session. It's the first time in more than two decades that a governor has signed every single bill passed by the legislature.

The only vetoes from Gov. Matt Blunt were "line-item" veto cuts in the budget.

Blunt's spokesman, Spence Jackson, says the lack of bills vetoed this session speaks to how well the legislature works with Blunt.

Leaders in the state's Democratic party disagree, and say Blunt and the Republican leadership should have gotten more done this session.

Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, says the veto session should be used to pass legislation authorizing the sale of college loans and a bill to create a work program for people with disabilities.

Get the radio story here.

. Nixon says MOHELA board members should refrain from voting (09/11/2006)

Attorney General Jay Nixon told reporters those who were members of MOHELA's board and the Cordinating Board for Higher Education should recuse themselves from voting on the governor's latest MOHELA plan.

The Board will meet to go over the plan and vote on September 27th.

Get the radio story here.

Get the newspaper story here.

. Gov. Blunt commemorates a solemn anniversary (09/11/2006)

Gov. Blunt was the keynote speaker for an event held at the Capitol honoring those who lost their lives in the World Trade Center attacks. 

Speeches were also made by officials from the Missouri National Guard and the Department of Public Safety regarding advancements made in the protection of Missourians. 

In addition to extending his gratitude and condolences to families, Blunt also used the oppertunity to reaffirm America's efforts in the global war on terror. 

Get the newspaper story here.

. The Senate Education Committee chair says a state takeover of St. Louis schools is not top priority (09/11/2006)

Sen.Gary Nodler, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said that although the St. Louis School District needs help to get back on track, a state takeover of the district was not the state's top priority.

In a provision of the 1999 desegregation settlement, the state has the authority to establish its own transitional governing body over the district if it fails to meet state academic standards for two consecutive years.

So far, the state has created an advisory committee to investigate the school district and its shortcomings.

The state's education commissioner recently suggested a state takeover was possible.

Get the radio story here.

. Judge sets Monday as ruling date for tobacco tax increase measure (09/08/2006)

A Cole County judge said he would rule on Monday whether or not the proposed tobacco tax increase will be on the November ballot. The measure would increase the state's cigarette tax to 97 cents.

Attorneys in support of the measure say the secretary of state wrongly rejected  over 1,000 signatures.

Get the radio stories. 

Get the newspaper story here.                

. MO Department of Transportation plans to improve 800 bridges by 2012 (09/08/2006)

Governor Matt Blunt in partnership with Missouri Department of Transportation announced a plan to improve the poor condition of 800 bridges throughout Missouri on Thursday.

The Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement plan is slated for completion by 2012 and is expected to cost between $400 million and $600 million. The majority of funding will come from existing federal bridge replacement funds.

"MoDOT is evaluating the state's bridge system to identify the 800 bridges that most need to be improved," Transportation Director Pete Rahn said in a press release Thursday. "Bidders will have until 2012 to get these bridges in good condition, then keep them that way for at least 25 years."

A winning bidder for the project will be approved by the summer of 2007 and a list of bridges in need of repair will be completed later this year.

. Missouri's public safety director urges people to report schoolyard bullies (09/07/2006)

Mark James, the state's director of public safety called upon students, parents and school officials to make use of Missouri's School Violence hotline.

Jennifer Hunter supervises the call center. She says the hotline fields an average of 500 calls per year. Once a call is received, dispatchers relay the information to the law enforcement agencies and school where the incident occured.

The hotline is funded by a federal government grant, and was created in 2001.

Get the radio story here.

. Voter ID ruling to be issued next week (09/06/2006)

With less than ten weeks before the November elections, a judicial decision on the fate of the state's new voter identification requirements was put off until next week by a Cole County Circuit Judge.

A federal lawsuit against the new law was also filed Wednesday in St. Louis.

Get the newspaper story. 

Get the radio story here.

. Nixon urges MOHELA board to reject sale. (09/06/2006)

Attorney General Jay Nixon sent a letter to MOHELA's board urging them not to accept the governor's new proposal. 

In the letter, he reminds MOHELA of its responsibility to Missouri students.

Get the newspaper story here.

Get the radio story here.


. No special session planned for Missouri (09/06/2006)

The Associated Press reported that a special session will not be held in Missouri this year.

Earlier this summer Blunt said he would call a special session if legislators couldn't agree on a Medicaid fraud bill and a bill to restore Medicaid coverage to disabled residents.

. Three former Natural Resources Department directors endorse the KATY Trail lawsuit. (09/05/2006)

The three former directors have joined a lawsuit that seeks to block the administration's plans to give up ownership of the KATY bridge in Booneville.

Among those filing an amicus brief is the DNR director during the administration of Missouri's last GOP governor, John Ashcroft.

The administration has argued that the old KATY railroad bridge in Boonville is unsafe and too expensive to repair.

. A state program to warn pregnant women of the dangers of alcohol for their unborn is being translated into Spanish. (09/05/2006)

The Missouri Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Rural Awareness and Prevention Project  is in its final phase of translating intervention brochures and fliers into Spanish.

The Spanish brochures and fliers are part of the larger intervention scheme that Missouri has undertaken to prevent fetal alcohol syndrome.  The state program is funded by the the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to promote awareness among women of ages 18-44 in Missouri.  

Fliers and brochures are available at various locations including clinics and community centers in 71 rural counties along and south of I-70, excluding St. Louis and Kansas City.

The state program recently received an annual grant of $425,000 from the CDC. 

. Missourians urged to look out for Forest Pests (09/05/2006)

Missouri's Conservation Department says that the Emerald Ash Borer and the Gypsy Moth can potentially damage Missouri's forests and  affect it's ecosystems.

Emeral Ash Borer kill Ash trees by eating their inner bark and the Gypsy Moth caterpillars feed on the leaves of Oak and other trees.

Emerald Ash Borers are spread in firewood travelling accross borders from several North Eastern States and the Gypsy Moth eggs attach to solid surfaces. Therefore, hitchhikes on trailers and campers entering Missouri through other states.

Missourians are encouranged to buy local firewood and burn firewood from other states immediately. And, travellors entering Missouri should check their belongings for egg masses and scrape them off if found.  

. Missouri's governor 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.