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NewsBook: Missouri Government News for the Week of September 3, 2007

. MoHELA votes to turn over $230 of its assets to the governor's building program. (09/07/2007)

By a 5-1 vote, the college loan program board agreed to transfer the funds the building program promoted by the governor and approved earlier this year by the legislature.

The loan board's vote came just a few days before a circuit judge will hear arguments in a lawsuit challenging the authority of the program to transfer its assets to purposes other than college student loans.

. Missouri's governor picks a supreme court judge (09/07/2007)

Gov. Matt Blunt announced Friday his selection of Patricia Breckenridge for the court vacancy.

Blunt picked the appeals court judge from a panel of three named by the state's court nominating commission.

The selection comes after a heated attack by some Republicans against the nominating commission and the non-partisan court plan.  The governor had demanded all three of the nominees answer more than 100 questions. 

. Tour of Missouri to Travel Across Dangerous Bridge (09/06/2007)

Next week's Tour of Missouri bicycle race is set to race across a bridge designated for repairs following the Minnesota Bridge Disaster.

The winner of the Tour De France is set to compete.

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. Advertisements for Foreign Owned Auto Companies Being Sent with Driver's License Renewals (09/06/2007)

Advertisements for the Toyota Tundra are being included in license renewal forms.

Minority Leader Jeff Harris sent a letter to Governor Blunt Thursday expressing shock that the State of Missouri would advertise a product that directly competes with Missouri-made Trucks.

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. An appeal of Missouri's education funding lawsuit is predicted (09/05/2007)

The chief attorney for Missouri school districts who have challenged the state's system for funding public schools predicts there will be an appeal.

Last week a Cole County circuit judge rejected the main argument of the school districts that the system violated the U.S. Constitutional right of Equal Protection because of differences in per-student funding levels among school districts.

About one-half of the state's districts had filed the lawsuit against the school funding system.

. Missouri Veterans Honored at State Capitol (09/04/2007)

The first Commemorative Vietnam Veterans Medallions were awarded.

Governor Matt Blunt honored twenty-one Missourians in the State Capitol Rotunda.

. Ticket scalping legalized as part of the business tax-break bill signed by the governor. (09/04/2007)

Ticket scalping will become a legalized practice in Missouri beginning in early November thanks to legislation Governor Matt Blunt signed Tuesday afternoon.

The governor said it was Missouri's sports teams that originally asked for the measure.

The general assembly hopes the statute will bring in ticket vendors from Illinois and Kansas.

. Attorney General gives Highway Patrol names of sex offenders (09/05/2007)

Attorney General Jay Nixon provided the State Highway Patrol with 169 more names of convicted sex offenders who have pages.

Nixon said in a news release that deletes sex offenders accounts and sends the account information to Nixon's office.

The release said Nixon has now forwarded 439 names to the Highway Patrol.

. Governor signs tax break bill (09/05/2007)

Governor Matt Blunt signed a tax break bill Tuesday which was vetoed over the summer and reconsidered in last weeks special session.

Two parts of the bill, expanding the state Quality Jobs program and providing tax incentives for developers in low income areas, took effect immediately.

The law also legalizes ticket scalping and provides a tax credit for cattle ranchers who fatten beef inside the state.

. House Passes Governor's Economic Development Plan (08/30/2007)

The Plan gives tax credits to land developers.

The plan brought mixed reaction from members of the Missouri legislature as some fear the plan only helps certain parts of the state.

. MODOT finally gets what it's been wanting for over a year. (08/30/2007)

The Missouri legislature passed the bill that allows the 800 bridge project.

The plan gives a team of contractors 5 years to fix over 800 bridges and 25 years to maintain them.

. The recently turned Democrat Senator Chris Koster shares his idea on his plans for the next legislative session. (08/29/2007)

Koster explains his agenda plan remains the same as a democrat from when he was a republican.

Medicaid will continue to be his number one priority.

. Senate passes a bill to deal with the state's bridge problem. (08/30/2007)

The Senate went into night discussing a bill that would attempt to fix 802 bridges in Missouri. 

. Cole County Judge upholds school funding method (08/29/2007)

A Cole County Judge rejected claims by almost half of Missouri's public school districts that the state distributes money unfairly.

The lawsuit, which has lasted for three years, argued the equation used to determine how much of the state's yearly budget is spent on public education is unfair.

State public schools are funded partially through the state and partially through local taxes so budgets can vary by district.

Judge Richard Callahan said the state constitution does not require equal funding throughout the state.

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. Ticket scalping legislation to be heard on Senate floor (08/29/2007)

The Senate is set to discuss the statewide economic bill, including ticket scalping legislation.

Under this provision, ticket scalpers would be able to resell tickets for events at prices more than face value.

Sen. Matt Bartle is sponsoring the amendment.

. Missouri's latest anti-abortion rights bill is blocked (08/28/2007)

A Western District U.S. judge issued a temporary injunction enforcing a law passed earlier this year by the state legislature that Planned Parenthood says could close abortion facilities in Columbia and Kansas City.

The law would require abortion clinics to be licensed as ambulatory surgical centers.

The abortion regulation law also prohibits Planned Parenthood from providing sex-education materials to public schools.  It is one of dozens of laws that took effect Tuesday.

. Missouri's Supreme Court punts on a decision on campaign contributions (08/27/2007)

The Missouri Supreme Court passed off to the state Ethics Commission responsibility for deciding whether political candidates will be required to refund contributions in excess of a prior state law.

In the 2006 session, the legislature had repealed those limits on contributions to candidates.  But earlier this year, the court held that law to be unconstitutional.

The court had been asked whether candidates had to return excess contributions the collected before the court's decision.  The court refused to rule on that question, pushing the issue off onto the Ethics Commission.

Among those with the biggest stake in this issue is Gov. Matt Blunt who would have to refund nearly $4 million he collected when the contribution limits were not in effect.

. St. Louis Senator Skeptical of City Development Plan (08/28/2007)

Democratic Leader Maida Coleman expressed concerns about a provision in the Governor's economic development bill .

The Senate will consider the bill Wednesday as part of this year's special session.

. Senate convenes to discuss economic development bill (08/27/2007)

The Senate will convene Wednesday to discuss an economic development bill, which includes provisions that would set up tax credits for developers and businesses.

The bill also contains provisions legalizing ticket scalping, and sets up broader restrictions on tax increment financing projects.

. Blunt unveils new illegal immigration policy (08/27/2007)

Governor Blunt wants state and local law enforcement to get involved in cracking down on illegal immigration.

Under his new plan, the immigration status of individuals presented for incarceration will be checked.  If the person is an illegal immigrant, they will be detained.

Blunt cannot mandate local law enforcement policy, only encourage.

. Bill passed by Senate Transportation Committee to rebuild 803 Missouri bridges. (08/27/2007)

A single consortium of contracts would get responsibility for maintaining more than 800 bridges in Missouri under a plan approved by the Senate Transportation Committee Monday.

The bill provides a 30 year plan that includes an initial five year construction period and twenty-five year maintenance period.

The measure -- one of two issues for which the governor called the legislature into a special session -- was approved by the House last week.

. The Senate Economic Committee approves the governor's tax breaks for business. (08/27/2007)

Without opposition, the committee approved the package of tax cuts for businesses and developers.

The House had approved the measure last week.  It is one of two items for which the governor called lawmakers into a special session.

In addition to tax breaks for development, the proposal also would legalize ticket scalping for athletic events.