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NewsBook: Missouri Government News for the Week of February 19, 2007

. Hunters to be banned from using lead shot ammunition (02/23/2007)

Beginning next week, the Missouri Conservation Department will ban hunters from using lead shotgun ammunition at 21 of the department's conservation areas.

The ban starts March 1.

John Smith, assistant director for the Conservation Department, said the ban comes after years of studying how lead affects bird populations. Studies have shown that lead shot is so prevalent that birds pick it up when foraging for food.

Birds poisoned and killed by lead shot include quail, turkeys, shorebirds, mourning doves and several species of raptors.

. The House votes to block courts messing with government budgets. (02/22/2007)

Missouri courts would be blocked from ordering tax increases or adding government budget spending requirements under a constitutional amendment approved by Missouri's House.

The measure now goes to the Senate.

It would require statewide voter approval to take effect.

. House approves retirement benefit tax cuts (02/22/2007)

The House gave final approval Thursday to a retirement benefit tax cut bill, but its sponsor, Speaker Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, said it would likely be scaled back as it moves to the Senate.

Despite being approved by an overwhelming majority in the House, the bill was attacked by some Democrats who said the state should instead be restoring Medicaid coverage.

. Bill to replace Medicaid proposed in Senate (02/22/2007)

Sen. Majority Leader Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, unveiled a bill Thursday to revamp Missouri's Medicaid program that would aim to provide coverage for all eligible Missourians by 2013.

Democrats say the bill falls short because it does not restore coverage to those who lost benefits under 2005 budget cuts.

. Bill would requires doctors to offer anesthesia for aborted babies (02/21/2007)

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Gross, would also require doctors to advice mothers that the fetus could experience pain during the abortion procedure.  

In Senate hearing, the bill raised questions about the experience of pain in fetuses.

. Report shows voucher proponents support children's health care cuts (02/21/2007)

A report by the Missouri Citizen Education Fund compares votes by Republicans on voucher bill and Medicaid cuts.

MCEF's director speaks about mixed messages sent by House Republicans who claim to support low income children.

. A Missouri bill pushes to implement a five-star rating system for child care providers. (02/21/2007)

The rating system will look at several aspects of the child care system.

The Department of Social Services and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will give the ratings.

. Senate seeks to make sex offender registry retroactive (02/21/2007)

Missouri voters might be called upon to vote on whether or not the state's sex offender registry should be made retroactive to include offenders before 1995. 

A Senate joint resolution would allow for an amendment to the state constitution, which currently prohibits applying any law retroactively. 

. Missouri's House votes to cut the power of courts over government budgets. (02/21/2007)

The House gave preliminary to a constitutional amendment that would block courts from ordering tax increases or government expenditures.

The rejected an amendment that  would have given the courts budgetary powers in cases of violation of the state Constitution.

The House vote comes as a lawsuit challenging the state's school funding system is coming to a close.  That lawsuit has been filed by about one-half of the state's school districts.

The state had lost the last school-funding lawsuit 15 years ago.  But in that case, the circuit judge simply told the legislature to fix the unequal levels of funding among schools.  He did not order either a tax increase nor a specific budget expenditure.

. Missouri's Senate votes to deregulate cable television. (02/21/2007)

The Senate passed and sent to the House a measure strongly pushed by the cable industry that would let cable firms and digital video services get statewide franchises.

The measure prohibits any regulation of cable TV by local communities.  The Senate earlier had rejected a proposal that the state's utility regulating PSC be given authority to regulate the industry and enforce consumer protections.

. Missouri's Senate votes to restrict automated calls. (02/20/2007)

A bill requiring solicitors using automated messaging to adhere to Missouri's do-not-call list was approved by the state Senate Tuesday.

Beyond being restricted by the do-not-call list, solicitors would be required to identify who paid for the message or give their name within the message.

The measure faces one more Senate vote before going to the House.

. Supporters of Death Penalty Moratorium Rally at Capitol (02/20/2007)

About 40 people came to the Capitol Tuesday to support a bill proposed by Republican Representative Bill Deeken.

The bill would create a moratorium on the death penalty until January 1, 2011.

A committee would study the current system and recommend changes to capital punishment laws.

. Moratorium Now backs bill to stop death penalty (02/20/2007)

Fifty supporters of the group Moratorium Now gathered in the Capitol Tuesday to support a bill sponsored by Rep. Bill Deeken, R-Jefferson City, that calls for a death penalty moratorium. The bill also calls for a 10-member commission to review the state's death penalty.

But many legislators oppose such a moratorium. Matt Bartle, R-Jackson County, said he, like most Missourians, supported the death penalty and was unsure what benefit would come from studying the issue for four more years.

. The owning of large carnivores are in the cross hairs of the legislature (02/20/2007)

A bill discussed in the Senate Agriculture, Conservation, Parks & Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday would outlaw in Missouri owning large carnivores, such as lions and bears.

Supporters are concerned about the potential dangers involved with harboring such animals, but other groups think it is too restrictive of individual rights.

. Senator want to prevent the state from becoming route of choice for radioactive waste (02/20/2007)

A central Missouri senator is seeking to prevent the state from becoming a pipeline for radioactive waste.

A bill, sponsored by Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Saline County, would charge companies $1,800 for each trucking container of high-level radioactive waste that enters the state. The state would charge companies $1,300 for the first railroad container holding high-level waste, and $125 for each additional rail container.

Stouffer's bill would also charge companies a $125 fee for shipping low-level radioactive waste through Missouri.

. Governor's MoHELA plan loses support (02/19/2007)

A major proponent of Gov. Matt Blunt's plan to sell of some of the assets of the state's higher education loan authority withdrew his support Monday.

Rep. Jeff Harris, D-Columbia, said in a letter to the governor he dropped his support because the governor's third party consulting firm, Liscarnan Solutions, LLC, last week said this plan could raise interest rates for students taking out MoHELA loans.

. House approves Republican defensive force bill (02/19/2007)

By a vote of 143-4, the Missouri House of Representatives approved two bills that broaden and clarify the use of defensive force against intruders entering their dwelling, residence or occupied vehicle. 

The bill states that Missouri residents have "no duty to retreat" and "the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force" in case of an intrusion.