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NewsBook: Missouri Government News for the Week of October 30, 2006

. Missouri's leading stem-cell research opponent suggests another legislative fight. (11/07/2006)

Sen. Matt Bartle says if Missourians reject the proposal to create a constitutional right for stem cell research, he'll renew his legislative efforts to restrict stem cell research.

In 2005, the Jackson County Republican had sponsored legislation to ban some forms of stem cell research.  A Senate vote, however, was blocked by a GOP filibuster.  In addition, the governor's office warned that Matt Blunt would veto the measure if it cleared the legislature.

. The attorney general attacks the state takeover of a gambling casino. (11/06/2006)

Attorney General Jay Nixon criticized the Gaming Commission's decision to take over operation of a riverboat gambling operation in southeast Missouri.

The commission approved the takeover to assure continued operation of the casino until the new owner can get a gambling license.

In a letter to the governor, Nixon called the decision a "perversion" of the commission's law enforcement and regulatory functions.

. Missouri's Secretary of State faces a photo ID requirement. (11/06/2006)

The Associated Press reported Monday that Robin Carnahan was asked for a photo ID for absentee ballot -- despite the Missouri Supreme Court decision striking down the photo ID law.

Carnahan told AP she was asked three times for a photo ID, despite the state's chief election official explaining to the election official that a photo ID was not required.

. Republicans determined to finish strong before midterm elections (11/06/2006)

With time winding down before the Missouri midterm elections, the Missouri Republicans tried hard to finish their voter outreach campaign. 

While volunteers focused on spreading Republican stances, just getting people out to vote became more important as time went on.

. The Secretary of State's Communication Director says voting should go smoothly. (11/06/2006)

Some voters will see new equipment in the voting booths. 

New touch screen machines will help people with disabilities.

People could see longer lines, not because of new machines, but because of the no straight ticket voting law.

. Democrat Party optimistic about results of election says party spokesperson. (11/06/2006)

With the election nearing Missouri Democratic Party spokesperson, Jack Cardetti, says grass root efforts are paying off.

He says the parties thousands of volunteers will now focus on getting voters to the polls instead of campaign issues.

Cardetti points out the parties three main goals in the upcoming election.

. Party leaders will be decided next week (11/03/2006)

Next week's elections could determine more than just the political make-up of Missouri's General Assembly. After voters' decide who will represent them in Jefferson City the legislators will vote for leadership positions within the caucuses.

Sen. Maida Coleman has confirmed she is seeking re-election for the minority floor leader in the Senate. One possible opponent is Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia. Graham will not confirm if he is seeking the position.  

. Democratic Party optimistic about picking up seats in General Assembly, Republicans not worried (11/03/2006)

The spokesperson for the Democratic Party says that although the Democrats may not retake the House and Senate, they should make up ground from the 2002 midterm election.

The Republican Party spokesman points out recent successes in policy and election gains as indicators that Missouri voters agree with what Republicans are doing.

. Amendment 2 gives voters the opportunity to constitutionalize stem cell research (11/03/2006)

The Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative on the November ballot will allow any stem cell research in Missouri that is permitted by federal law.

Amendment 2 is the first stem cell initiative to appear on a state ballot in the country.

In Missouri, nearly 40 million dollars have been spent on the campaign.

Get the radio feature.

. Amendment 3 gives voters the option to increase the tax on cigarettes (11/03/2006)

Amendment 3 would increase the sales tax on cigarettes by 80 cents a pack-or four cents a cigarette.  The Committee for a Healthy Future, which sponsored the ballot measure, says the money generated will go toward anti-smoking programs and health care.

Opponents of the amendment claim the tax will hurt small businesses and put the state at an economic disadvantage to neighboring states.

The tax increase is estimated to generate $351-$499 million annually.


. A possible buyer of the state's college loan assets has been called a predatory lender. (11/03/2006)

The charge has been made against Sallie Mae -- the nation's leading source for college student loans.

Once a non-profit organized, it has changed to a profit-making company.

Since it's conversion, it has come under attack from a national organization that charges is assesses excessive rates on defaulted student loads.

. Missouri plans to stick with their abstinence education plan. (11/01/2006)

The federal administration for children and families changed its language on Title V, the program that funds states for their abstinence education programs.

The administration wants abstinence to not only target teens, but also adults up to the age of 29.

Missouri wants to continue educating teens.

. MOHELA seeks attorney general's office removed from lawsuit (11/01/2006)

The Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority wants the attorney general's office disqualified from a lawsuit filed against the loan agency for violating the state's open meetings law.

The attorney general sued the loan agency claiming it violated the state's open meetings law when it was discussing the governor's plan to sell some of the agency's assets for capital improvement projects for Missouri universities and colleges.

Attorney's for the agency want the attorney general's office disqualified because it has a conflict of interest. Attorney's for MOHELA claim assistant attorney general represented MOHELA. Nixon's office denies the claim. 

. No "straight ticket" voting for Missourians this November (11/01/2006)

Under a provision tied to the Voter ID bill, Missourians will no longer be able to vote for an entire party's candidates with the check of just one box.

Instead, Missouri voters must now vote for each candidate and ballot measure individually.

. Missouri's Rx program is Expanding (10/31/2006)

Brian Hauswirth, Inteirm Communications Director for the governor, says Missouri's pharmacy program will add an additional 60,000 Missourians.

Hauswirth says the program assists low-income seniors and disabled Missouri residents.

Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder says open enrollment for the program begins November first and remains open indefinitely.

. New division director at Missouri's Social Services Department pushes for full national accreditation. (10/31/2006)

New director Paula Neese of the Children's Division at Missouri's Social Services Department is pushing the state's child welfare practice to meet national standards.

Neese says full national accreditation is one way to increase professionalism and transparency in the division.

She also says she wants to encourage community inputs and involvement of other departments in child abuse prevention and treatment.

Get the radio story.

. Voting guide for Catholics was released today by Catholics United for the Common Good (10/30/2006)

Catholics United for the Common Good released their voting guide today for voters nationwide.  The guide is available online and includes the official stance of the Bishop's Conference as well as the respective positions on those issues by Talent and McCaskill.

Executive Director of the organization says that they do not endorse any candidates.  The Bishops Conference does not endorse the Catholics United for the Common Good.

. Minimum wage and what it means to you (10/30/2006)

A minimum wage raise is one proposal Missouri residents can vote on this November 7th. 

A pro-minimum wage raise group say a higher wage will help those low-wage workers cope with the higher cost of living.

The group against a wage raise say a wage that is always increasing will definitely hurt Missouri businesses.

. A war of the words as emerged over the ballot description for the stem-cell research proposal (10/27/2006)

The language of the 100-word summary that is set to appear on the Nov. 7 ballot is the point of contention for the opposition to the initiative.  Proponents say the amendment bans human cloning while opponents say the amendment does not. 

The truth lies in the definition of "human cloning."  The Amendment allows for cell cloning, not reproductive cloning. 

. Governor Blunt adds education representatives to Regional Homeland Security Teams (10/26/2006)

Governor Matt Blunt signed an executive order to add education representatives to each of Missouri's nine Regional Homeland Security Teams.

Jessica Robinson, the governor's spokeswoman, says this will actively engage schools in the security  planning process.

. Amendment 6 would give veterans' organizations a tax break (10/25/2006)

If passed in November, Amendment 6 would changed the Missouri Constitution and make veterans' organizations exempt from real and personal property tax.

The resolutions' sponsor says some veterans' organization would not be able to pay property taxes.

. MOHELA ex-director gets large severance deal (10/25/2006)

The fired executive director of the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority will received over $800,000 by the agency until October 2007. Michael Cummins has been receiving a $13,461 check every two weeks.

Members of the board wanted Cummins fired over his opposition of the governor's plan to sell the state's student loan program.  

. Emotion stem cell ad features an actress (10/25/2006)

An emotional ad featuring a college aged student describing what she claims is her own experience donating eggs to a fertility clinic is an actress.

The ad, sponsored by the Vitae Caring Foundation, makes claims of adverse health effects resulting from the procedure, side effects that a fertility specialist said are extremely rare.


. State Capitol Chandelier Gets a Lift (10/24/2006)

The 9,000 pound chandelier that hangs in the state capitol rotunda is currently sitting at eye level.

Contractors are replacing the chandelier's main cable.

The chandelier should be back up by Monday.

. Missouri business lobbying group opposes Proposition B (10/24/2006)

The Associated Industries of Missouri says Proposition B is bad for the state of Missouri.

AIM says Proposition B would drive companies out of business and cause unemployment for Missouri workers.

. Candidates for state auditor differ in their approach to the role (10/24/2006)

The November election will determine Missouri's next state auditor.

Republican Sandra Thomas says she wants to put aside politics and focus on regularly auditing places that spend large amounts of the state's money.

Democrat Susan Montee says there is a misperception between politically driven and politically responsive audits. Her approach includes performance audits, which extend beyond the traditional audits by evaluating the efficiency of government spending.  

. Blunt unveils updated sex offender site (10/23/2006)

Governor Blunt showed off a more comprehensive sex offender registry.

The list can be viewed online and under a court decision only lists those offenders convicted since 1995.

. Amendment 7 would take pensions away from convicted officials, give more power to compensation commission. (10/23/2006)

The first part of the proposed Amendment 7 reads simply: should elected statewide officials, legislators and judges forfeit pensions if they are convicted of a felony that occurred while in office, or removed from office due to impeachment or misconduct?

It's the second part of the amendment--the part regarding the Citizens' Commission on Compensation for Elected Officials--that has some Missouri lawmakers' opposition.