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NewsBook: Missouri Government News for the Week of January 22, 2007


. The Senate's Transportation Committee chairman is proposing a sales tax increase for highways. (01/26/2007)

Sen. Bill Stouffer has proposed submitting to Missouri voters a 1-cent sales tax increase to finance widing I-70 and I-44 to eight lanes throughout the entire state.

But other legislators warn there is little chance Missourians would approve the tax-hike idea.  A package of sales and fuel tax increases for highways was rejected in 2002.


. Cops and firefighters would again be exempt from overtime requirements under measures filed in Missouri's legislature. (01/25/2007)

The proposition approved by Missouri voters in Novmeber to raise the minimum wage also removed an exemption from the overtime requirements for certain workers like firefighters, police and emergency medical technicians. 

Senate Business Committee Chairman John Loudon, R-St. Louis County, said he plans for his committee to take up next week meausres that restore the state's overtime pay rules back to what they were before Proposition B passed in November.


. First audit by new State Auditor finds First Steps program inadequately funded (01/25/2007)

An audit released Tuesday claimed the First Steps program is unable to support many of Missouri's special needs toddlers because of funding and staffing issues.

This was the first audit released under the new State Auditor Susan Montee.


. A penny sales tax is proposed to expand Missouri's Interstates. (01/25/2007)

The chairman of Missouri's Senate Transportation Committee has proposed a one-cent  per dollar sales tax increase for highway construction.

The proposal would require statewide voter approval to take effect.  If approved, the funds would be used to expand I44 and I70 to eight lanes.


. Senate confirms two new members of UM Board of Curators (01/25/2007)

The Senate confirmed two new members of the UM Board of Curators Thursday despite controversy about the partisan role of one of the nominees.

The party affiliation of Democratic nominee Judith Haggard was under close consideration because of donations she had made to two Republicans.

Under Missouri law many committees, such as the Board of Curators, can not be dominated by a single political party.

Get the newspaper story.


. Gov. Blunt delivers State of the State (01/24/2007)

Gov. Matt Blunt delivered his State of the State speech Wednesday night. The governor spoke for nearly an hour on topics such as health care, education funding, tax cuts and crime protection.

Blunt said his highest priority this yeas is increasing resources for Missouri schools. He called for an additional $214 million to be invested in elementary and secondary schools, and an additional $40 million for state colleges and universities. He also urged the legislature to approve his proposed sale of assets from the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority.

Blunt also proposed that college tuition should not exceed the rate of inflation.

Blunt also outlined his Missouri HealthNet proposal which, if approved, would completely replace the current Missouri Medicaid system.

Two hours before the governor delivered his speech, state Democrats had already issued their response. Attorney General Jay Nixon, in an address posted on the Missouri Democrats' Web site, criticized Blunt on both health care and education funding.


. Nixon responds early to Blunt's state of the state (01/24/2007)

Two hours before Gov. Blunt's State of the State address Wednesday night, state Democrats had already released their response. 

In the response, which was released on the Missouri Democratic Party's Web site, presumptive gubernatorial candidate Jay Nixon primarily addressed the issues of health care and education, stating his opposition to many of the governor's proposals.


. Third year for student curator bill (01/24/2007)

For the third year in a row, Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, has proposed to change the role of students on the UM Board of Curators.

Graham's bill, if passed, would replace the current non-voting student curator with a voting member. The Senate Education Committee heard testimony on the bill Wednesday.


. Missouri's House votes to reject pay raises (01/24/2007)

The House rejected the pay-increase package recommended by the Salary Commission by a margin of better than two-two one.

The raises for judges, legislators and statewide officials will take effect automatically unless both the House and Senate approve a resolution rejecting the package by greater than a two-thirds vote by the end of January.

The Senate's majority leader predicts the rejection resolution will fail in the Senate, letting the raises go into effect.


. A right-to-die bill is filed in Missouri's legislature (01/24/2007)

A retired firefighter has filed a bill in the Missouri legislature that would allow emergency medical workers to let people die.

Under the proposed bill emergency responders would be able to comply with do-not-resuscitate orders.


. A compromise on digital cable for AT&T is announced for Missouri's legislature (01/24/2007)

The president of the Missouri Cable Telecommunications Association announced an agreement with AT&T on the fight over statewide digital TV distribution legislation.

AT&T has sought legislation that would block local communities from imposing special franchise restrictions on the phone company's digital TV services because of local franchise agreements with CATV systems.

The issue stalled in Missouri's Senate last year. 

Under the agreement reached between the two sides, a statewide franchise process would replace the local franchise agreement process.


. The state officials pay raise issue is sent to Missouri's House (01/24/2007)

The House Rules Committee sent to the full House a resolution rejecting the pay raise package for state officials, legislators and judges recommended by the state's Salary Commission.

The pay raises automatically take effect unless rejected by a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate.  Even if the House approves the resolution, Senate Republican leaders have suggested the resolution will fail in the Senate.


. First Steps Program found to be inadequate by State Audit (01/23/2007)

An audit of the First Steps Program found that the program's restrictive criteria keeps many special needs children from getting the support they need. State Auditor Susan Montee said the program was designed to reduce the number of children accepted through it's criteria.

Special needs children under three are eligible for the program if they have 50% disability. Montee said Missouri ranks 45th in percentage of children served who are younger than three.


. Proposed seat belt bill includes racial profiling language (01/22/2007)

Under the bill, proposed by Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart, Missouri police officers would be able to pull drivers over for simply not wearing a seat belt.

Roorda added language that would prevent police departments that have violated state racial profiling statutes from enforcing the law.


. 2006 made a new record in Missouri for having the most declared natural disasters. (01/22/2007)

There were seven declared natural disasters in Missouri last year. 

Two weeks into the new year there was another one.

The Missouri government is now looking into using a federal grant to fund a pre-disaster mitigation fund that will help shelter residents.


. House Democrats seek to expand DNA database (01/22/2007)

The Missouri House Democratic Caucus announced that they intend to introduce legislation that would allow law enforcement to collect DNA from people arrested, as well as juveniles who have been convicted of a felony in the adult criminal justice system.

The bill will be sponsored by state Rep. John Burnett from Kansas City.