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NewsBook: Missouri Government News for the Week of February 5, 2007

. Former Lt. Gov. Harriet Woods passes away. (02/09/2007)

Missouri's first female statewide office holder passed away late Thursday night after a year-long battle with leukemia.

Harriet Woods had served as the state's Lieutenant Governor from 1985 to 1989.  She was the first woman elected to a statewide office.  The first woman to hold a statewide elective office was Margaret Kelly who had been appointed a few months earlier to fill a vacancy in the State Auditor's office.

Prior to her election as Lieutenant Governor, Mrs. Woods served two term in the state Senate from St. Louis County.  She sponsored bills on drunken driving, nursing home care and cutting elderly taxes.  She also was one of the legislative leaders in the unsuccessful fight for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

She twice ran as the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for U.S. against Republicans John Danforth and later Kit Bond. 

After leaving state politics, she became president of the National Women's Political Caucus.

. World Series Trophy Comes to State Capitol (02/08/2007)

The Cardinals' World Series trophy was on display in the capitol Thursday for the first time since the Cards won the title last October.

The Senate passed a special resolution congratulating the Cardinals and their fans.

. St. Joseph Senator testifies about Education funding in Cole County Court (02/08/2007)

Sen.  Charlie Shields R- St. Joseph testified in Cole County Court Thursday about whether the formula Missouri uses to allocate public education funding.

The 2.7 Billion dollar budget requires schools to spend about $6,100 per student annually.

. Governor Matt Blunt gave his response to the MoHELA vote (02/07/2007)

 The Governor said he was glad to see his proposal move forward to the Senate floor.

He said he still is pushing for funding to the six buildings that the Education Committee dropped from the proposal.

. Insurance tax incentive bill passes committee (02/07/2007)

Three representatives want Missourians to buy their own long-term care insurance. 

The representatives have proposed a package of bills to provide incentives for Missourians to do just that.

. Senators skip the State of Transportation address (02/07/2007)

Nearly two-thirds of Missouri's Senate skipped Wednesday's joint session of the legislature held for the annual State of Transportation address by the director of the Transportation Department.

Some of the absent senator said they thought it was improper to single out just one department with the right to have a joint session.

Last year, the Senate passed a bill to eliminate the transportation address.  The bill, however, died in the House.

In his address, the Transportation Department director praised his agency's accomplishments, but said it needed more money.

. The Senate Education Committee stripped stem-cell research buildings from the governor's MoHELA plan. (02/07/2007)

A straight-party line vote Wednesday approved the governor's proposal to sell off some of the assets of the state's college loan program..

The approval, however, came with the removal of six building projects -- two life sciences buildings, two business incubators and two technology centers.

The measure also includes provisions to limit tuition increases at universities and to give the Higher Education Department more authority.

. Quality Jobs Program tax cap would be increased under bills (02/07/2007)

The Senate Economic Development Committee heard legislation Wednesday that would double the tax incentives provided to businesses under the Quality Jobs Program.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. John Greisheimer, said he would like to further increase the cap to $75 million and many business leaders testified that the would like to see the cap eliminated.

A separate bill that would double the tax cuts was approved Wednesday morning by a House committee.

. Missouri's House gives first round approval to a tougher law on Medicaid fraud. (02/06/2007)

The bill would make it a felony to make false statements about cases involving fraud.

The bill also states that any person who offers original information used to prosecute Medicaid fraud will receive ten percent of any money recovered by the attorney general,

Last year, legislative efforts to go after health providers for fraud died in a House-Senate standoff.

. News Conference on possible Illegal Immigration policy change. (02/06/2007)

Senators Chris Koster and Tim Green held a press conference on Tuesday concerning "Missouri's Omnibus Immigration Act."

State and local law enforcement agencies would work hand in hand with Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices.

The act would deny illegal immigrants jobs, housing, higher education, and access to non-emergency welfare benefits.

. Senate explores state-issued video service (02/06/2007)

Senators began debating a bill Tuesday that would give the state virtually sole power in regulating Missouri's cable television industry.

The bill, proposed by Sen. John Griesheimer, R-Washington, would make the state the only franchising authority for the cable television service.

. House committee debates resolution to adjust stem cell research amendment (02/06/2007)

The House Health Care Policy Committee heard testimony today about a proposed resolution that would ban somatic cell nuclear transfer, a procedure enshrined last fall by the passage of Amendment 2 to the Missouri Constitution.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis, said that the procedure is tantamount to cloning and that voters were unaware of this when voting for the amendment.

But opponents to the resolution argued that somatic cell nuclear transfer is not cloning and that passage would undo the will of the voters and cut off promising research that may result in cures for various diseases.

. Democrats propose a new preschool program for low-income families (02/05/2007)

Democratic Representative Clint Zweifel is the sponsor of a new preschool program.

The program will allow students with family 200 percent below the Federal poverty level to attend for free.

. Statewide liscensing for private investigators is proposed (02/05/2007)

Private investigators could be subjected to statewide scrutiny if a bill proposed by Sen. Harry Kennedy, D-St. Louis County, passes.

On Monday, the Senate Financial Committee heard Kennedy's bill, which would create a statewide board to license and regulate private investigators throughout the state.