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NewsBook: Missouri Government News for the Week of September 10, 2007


. MoDOT Recieves $2 Million Grant to Study I-70 Truck Lane Expansion (09/13/2007)

The Federal transportation department will fund the study that will look at a 750 mile stretch of the Interstate across Missouri and 3 other states.

If it is decided that Missouri needs the 4 truck only lanes, the estimated cost is $3.5 Billion.


. Growing Armadillo Population Poses Threat to Missouri Drivers (09/13/2007)

The next time you go for a drive, you might want to watch out for armadillos.


. St. Louis Plant to Investigate Possible Hazardous Wastes Release (09/13/2007)

The threat of hazardous wastes emitted by a St. Louis plant has provoked an investigation.

Sigma-Aldrich Inc. and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources entered into a Letter of Agreement to begin investigation of the facility.

The agreement will research whether or not cleanup is necessary.


. Bob Barker's turn to come on down! (09/12/2007)

The price was right for Bob Barker Wednesday as it was his turn to come on down as he was inducted into the hall of famous Missourians at the State Capitol.

In a building filled with serious business, the unveiling of a bust of Baker was a bit of fun.

Before the unveiling Barker, sporting his trade marked tan, peeked under the sheet and said he hoped the bust would look 15 years younger than he is now.

"I'm hoping that I'm cute," Barker said.


. Republicans select Ron Richard as the Speaker-elect of the House (09/12/2007)

Joplin's Ron Richard is the Speaker-elect of the House of Representatives.

He will fill succeed Marble Hill Republican Rod Jetton in the 2009 legislative session.


. Blunt firm in support of chief of staff (09/12/2007)

Governor Matt Blunt continued to stand behind chief of staff Ed Martin in spite of calls for Martin's resignation from members of the Hispanic community.

Hispanic Rep. Timothy Flook also gave his support to Martin, saying he did not feel Martin's remarks were racist. 


. Nixon's campaign prepares to return over limit funds, Blunt yet to decide. (09/12/2007)

Jay Nixon has decided to return any and all over limit campaign contributions in compliance with the Missouri Ethics Committees decision and the State Supreme Court's ruling.

The Court reinstated campaign limits that had been done away with and ordered all over limit contributions already collected to be returned unless a hardship could be demonstrated.

Blunt and his campaign have not decided whether they will show the committee grounds for a hardship or not.


. Judge denies halt of MoHELA funds (09/12/2007)

A Cole County Judge denied student's request to halt the transfer of $350 million to the state from the higher loan authority.

The student's, who have filed a lawsuit and are seeking class action status, claim the transfer does not adhere to Missouri statute about the role of MoHELA.

Judge Richard Callahan said the plaintiffs failed to prove that their case had the likelihood of succeeding.


. Missouri's Ethics Commission meets behind closed doors to decide candidates may have to return campaign funds. (09/11/2007)

After a one-hour closed-door session, the commission adopted a resolution that candidates might have to return excess contributions unless it created a hardship.

The commission's action follows a state Supreme Court decision that threw out legislation that had repealed voter-approved limits on individual contributions to candidates.  The court left it to the commission to decide whether the decision should be appeal retroactively -- covering millions of dollars collected by candidates during the months before the court's decision.

The commission instructed its staff to advise candidates that the excess contributions "may be in violation of the Campaign Finance Law."


. Missouri's Supreme Court chief justice defends secrecy in the process of picking appellate-level judges. (09/11/2007)

Justice Laura Stith appeared before the state Senate Rules Committee whose chairman has attacked the Appellate Judicial Commission for secrecy in its proceedings to select nominees for the latest Supreme Court vacancy.

Stith told the committee that publicizing the names of all the applicants would discourage some lawyers from applying.  But the committee chair -- Senate GOP Leader Charlie Shields -- said openness would give the public a stronger voice in the process.


. Civil rights activists call the dismissal of the governor's chief of staff. (09/10/2007)

The calls come in response to comments about Hispanics by Ed Martin that critics charged are racists.

"Every frigging developer can figure out who is illegal, and when he says - like he told them - there's a bunch of Mexicans out there, I guess some of them probably are not legal," Martin was quoted as saying at a state Housing Development Commission meeting.

A commission official who had wrote the governor to object to the comments subsequently resigned.  "I am extremely proud of my Mexican heritage, culture and especially my family and I will not let anyone demean or degrade it, least of all Mr. Martin," Jim Torres wrote before his resignation.

At a news conference in St. Louis, Blunt defended his often outspoken chief of staff.


. Cyclists from across the world begin racing in Missouri Tuesday. (09/10/2007)

Fifteen teams are included in the 600 mile race with six stages that begins in Kansas City and ends in St. Louis.

Drug testing will take place after every stage of the race, according to lieutenant governor's office which is coordinating the event for the state. The leader of each stage along with two random cyclist will be tested. 


. Missouri Guard to gain two battalions, 890 soldiers. (09/10/2007)

The Missouri National Guard announced the creation of one new infantry battalion and a new medical battalion.

The infantry battalion will be stationed at various locations throughout the state, and the medical battalion will be headquartered in Jefferson City.

The new infantry battalion is the first in the state since 1974.


. New GOP leaders to be decided on Wednesday (09/10/2007)

Missouri House Republicans will decide on new leadership behind closed doors on Wednesday.

Rep. Allen Icet R-Wildwood and Rep. Ron Richard R-Joplin are both contending to be named the new Speaker of the House.

The current Speaker is Rep. Rod Jetton R-Marble Hill.


. Lawsuit seeks injunction in MOHELA sale (09/10/2007)

A lawsuit by student loan holders begins Tuesday asking a Cole County Judge to bar the state from financing the MOHELA building plan.

MOHELA voted Sept. 7 to go ahead with the sale despite the lawsuit and the recent passage of student loan legislation at the national level.


. 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 MySpace.com pages.

Nixon said in a news release that MySpace.com 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.