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NewsBook:  Missouri Government News for the Week of December 1, 2014

Ferguson Rally in the Rotunda

More than 200 people gathered in the rotunda of Missouri's capitol building on the afternoon of Friday, Dec. 5, to protest the death of Michael Brown Aug. 9.

The rally marked the culmination of the seven-day Journey for Justice march, led by the NAACP, in which protesters walked from St. Louis to Jefferson City.

The rally was originally going to be held in front of the governor's mansion. It was later moved to the capitol building due to rain.

Gov. Jay Nixon was not present for the rally.

Scott Holste, the governor's press secretary, said Nixon would be in Joplin and Kansas City on Friday. However, Nixon met with NAACP leaders in Jefferson City on Wednesday.

NAACP leaders, local religious leaders and some of Michael Brown's family members also attended the rally.

"We're here to ask the government and the governor to live up to what we expect him to do for the people of the city of St. Louis, of the state of Missouri. We're all citizens," said Lesley McSpadden, Brown's mother.

When marchers gather in Jefferson City Friday, Dec. 5, to protest recent events in Ferguson, Gov. Jay Nixon will be in Kansas City and Joplin.

"The governor will, is not here, but it was very important to him," said Scott Holste, Nixon's press secretary.

Nixon instead met with NAACP President Cornell Brooks and other NAACP leaders in his Jefferson City office Wednesday, Dec. 3, according to a statement issued Friday by the governor's office.

"I was honored to meet with the leadership of our nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization during the march from Ferguson to the capital this week," Nixon was quoted as saying in the statement.

The march, led by the NAACP, is scheduled to arrive in Jefferson City around 1 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 5.

Former Sen. Maida Coleman, director of the Office of Community Engagement, will address the rally on behalf of Nixon at the Capitol today, according to the statement.

Newly elected legislators to the House of Representatives met at the Capitol building to learn more about their duties as a public official.

Rep. Tracy McCreery, D-St. Louis County, served in the General Assembly from 2011-2013 and was elected as a result of the Nov. 4 elections. She said she is learning a lot and is eager for session to begin.

"We've been learning about the legislative process, we've gone through the rules book page by page and it's just a lot of really helpful information that will help us hit the ground running when we get started in January," McCreery said.

The newly elected representatives will meet with the rest of the General Assembly on Jan. 7 to begin the 98th session.

McCreery said she wants to change people's perceptions of politicians and show to her constituents that she doesn't fit the typical politician mold.

"When I was going door-to-door during my campaign, I often heard from people about their frustrations with government and with people from opposite parties not being able to get along," McCreery said. "So one of the things I'm really committed to is trying to figure out how to work well with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle and this training is actually a really good first step in that regard because I'm getting a chance to meet a bunch of people in the other party, so it's been a good, a good entrÚe."

The orientation for freshman representatives began on Dec. 1 and went through Dec. 5. Next week, representatives will board buses for a tour around the state. New senators met for orientation on Dec. 2 through Dec. 4.

Missouri Republican leaders filed a motion to intervene in a Jackson County court decision recognizing same-sex marriages from other states.

House Speaker Tim Jones, R-St. Louis County, and Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles County, filed the motion.

Jones said they were concerned that Attorney General Chris Koster would not appeal the court ruling and their motion to intervene would allow them to appeal the case.

"If he basically drops the ball we would be allowed to provide our own pursuit of the matter. We would become parties in the case," Jones said.

However, Koster has appealed two other state and federal court rulings striking down the state's same-sex marriage ban.

"He's made several statements and comments about his personal beliefs which I think may cloud his vigorous and passionate defense of our constitution," Jones said. "Let's remember this constitutional provision was actually voted into law, into the Constitution, by a large majority of Missourians not that many years ago."

Dempsey was not immediately available for comment.

The Missouri Supreme Court heard an argument Wednesday, Dec. 3, to allow the dissolution of same-sex marriages performed in other states.

A voter-approved provision of Missouri's Constitution bans state and local government bans the recognition of gay marriage in the state. But that provision makes no mention of divorce, according to Drey Cooley who represented one of the parties seeking the divorce.

"Our argument is also based on the fact that the court doesn't have to recognize, validate, affirm or approve the marriage," Cooley said. "They need to recognize another state did."

The couple in question, who would only be identified by their initials in order to protect their privacy, were married in Iowa in 2012 and sought a dissolution of their marriage from the St. Louis County Circuit Court.

Cooley argued divorces can be granted even if a state does not recognize the marriage, since documentation is the only thing needed for a court to grant a dissolution.

This principle holds true with common law marriages in Missouri, which can be dissolved within the state even though they are not recognized, Cooley said.

In an unusual twist, there was no attorney arguing before the court in defense of the Missouri ban on same-sex marriage recognition.

Often, the state's attorney general defends state laws.

But Attorney General Chris Koster announced in October he would not appeal a Kansas City area state court decision that held the state had to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

Missouri's highest court spent nearly two hours listening to arguments about the legality of towns and cities using automatic photographic systems to catch speeders and persons who run red lights.

The cases involve St. Louis city's red light camera system and two St. Louis-area communities-- one with a red-light enforcement system, the other using automatic photographic systems to catch speeders.

For two of the systems, fines for violations are assessed against the owner of the violating vehicles without any proof as to the person who actually committed the offense.

Attorneys for owners argued the approach taken by St. Louis City and St. Peters violates constitutional rights because there is no proof that the owners actually were the drivers.

Attorneys defending the systems responded that cities have a number of ordinances in which owners rather than drivers are fined, such as parking violations.

Judge Richard Teitelman echoed that idea.

"If you don't keep your yard in order, the grass is too tall or something, then the owner of the house is charged with that crime," Teitelman said early in the hearing.

But attorneys for the two cities told the state high court that the actual violations involve owners failing to assure legal operation of their vehicles.

That, however, raised a question from Judge George Draper as to whether an owner actually is responsible for what is done with an auto. "Let's say a young man, maybe not myself, maybe I did or didn't, snuck the car out after his parents were asleep...and my father gets a ticket because the car's in my father's name."

Shortly after the decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson on charges of shooting and killing Michael Brown on Aug. 9, some Missouri lawmakers filed bills that would restrict the use of force by police.

St. Louis-area Senators Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-St. Louis County, and Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, put forth bills that would clarify the language in Missouri law that dictates the use of force.

Right now, Missouri law states that deadly force can be used if police officers reasonably believe that the suspect is trying to escape by using a deadly weapon or could cause death or injury unless apprehended.

Under the bill filed by Nasheed, a police officer could only use deadly force if all other means of apprehension were tried, a warning was issued to the suspect and the officer believed the suspect was trying to escape while possessing a deadly weapon.

"The reason that my bill is very, very much needed is because as the statute stands today, it's too broad and it's too vague, and what I mean by that is, there's a portion in that provision that basically says when police immediately feel it is necessary, they can use lethal force-- immediately necessary," Nasheed said. "What does that mean? I mean, how has that been defined? It's not been defined. And, what we have to do is define when a police officer can use lethal force and that's what my bill does."

The bill also includes a provision stating that when a police officer uses deadly force on a person 20 feet or farther away the officer must be suspended without pay until a full investigation is complete.

"If we want to stop what happened in the Michael Brown incident, then this is how we do it," Nasheed said. "We change the policy when it comes to lethal force. If a police officer feels that it is immediately necessary, or if a police officer feels that if a felon that's fleeing or committing a felon then they can shoot to kill-- again, that's way too broad. And if we don't want to replay the incident like what happened on Aug. 9, then we're going to have to change the policy."

Under Chappelle-Nadal's bill, a police officer can use deadly force only when the officer believes the suspect is a danger to the officer or any other person. Similar to Nasheed's bill, when deadly force is used a special prosecutor must conduct a full investigation.

The General Assembly meets on Jan. 7 to begin the legislative session.

On the first day lawmakers are allowed to pre-file bills for consideration in the 2015 legislative session, Rep. Bill Lant, R-Pineville, filed 2 bills reviving so-called "right-to-work" legislation.

He said the legislation is necessary to make Missouri more competitive.

"I personally feel like Missouri is ready to become a right-to-work state," Lant said. "In every state that has gone to right-to-work, union membership has increased and that's simply because businesses have moved into the state, there's more jobs, there's more opportunity for union workers."

Lant did admit states that have recently adopted right-to-work have seen a slight wage decline, but the long-term gain is worth it.

"In the states where right to work was passed recently, the hourly rates may have dropped 2 to 3 dollars an hour, but the amount of days per year that the workers actually got to put in on the job increased dramatically," Lant said.

The 2015 legislative session convenes on Wednesday, January 7.

Gov. Jay Nixon's office announced Monday afternoon that he was dropping his plans to call a special session to provide additional funding for public safety costs associated with Ferguson.

On Saturday, Nixon sent a letter to all legislators indicating he would be calling a special session "to provide critical funding for the ongoing operations for the Missouri National Guard and the Missouri State Highway Patrol in Ferguson and throughout the St. Louis region."

But Nixon's call came under swift attack from legislative leaders who issued a statement Monday morning declaring the budget contained enough money to cover the costs.

Just a few hours later, Nixon's office issued a statement conceeding he agreed with the legislative leader's interpretation of the budget and calling off plans for the special session.

The legislative leader's statement had attacked the governor for not communicating with them and announced a legislative investigation into Nixon's actions involving Ferguson.

After Nixon abandoned his call for a special session, House Speaker Tim Jones questioned the governor's motivations.

"Have we caught him red-handed in some sort of really mean-spirited political stunt?" Jones asked. "Was he calling for a special session to repair his incredibly damaged image? Was he using the brave men and women of the National Guard as props in this whole tragedy?"

"At this point, to say I'm incensed at the governor is probably is an understatement," Jones later added.

Last Week

Mercy Hospital in Jefferson County evaluated a patient for a potential case of Ebola Thursday.

The patient, a nurse, had recently been to West Africa. A vial of the patient's blood has been transported to a testing laboratory in Jefferson City. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has approved the lab for Ebola testing.

"The Department of Health and Senior Services has been working closely with Mercy, the local health department and the CDC to coordinate an effective response to this potential case," Health Department spokesperson Ryan Hobart said in an email.

Hobart's email also said results of the blood test can be expected to be completed Thursday night.

The Health Department denied repeated requests for an interview.

Rep. Mark Parkinson, R-St. Charles County, said he opposes the proposed pay increase for state officials and lawmakers.

An 8 percent increase was approved by the Citizens' Commission on Compensation for Elected Officials for most statewide elected officials - including the secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, attorney general and the governor. The increase would be included in paychecks beginning in fiscal year 2016 and would increase again in 2017.

Parkinson said he opposes the pay hike and will do whatever is necessary to see that it does not go into effect.

"My constituents didn’t send me to Jefferson City because they felt I needed a comfortable living, nicer clothes, or a bigger house," Parkinson said in a news release. "They sent me to Jefferson City because I promised to make the same responsible choices with our state budget that I would make with my own household budget. Our state has a number of priorities that need to be funded every year. Finding over $1.3 million dollars so that we can give pay raises to our statewide elected officials and our legislators is not one of those priorities."

The commission's recommendations automatically go into effect unless two-thirds of both the House and Senate vote it down.

The panel also suggested a $4,000, or 11 percent, increase over two years for lawmakers and $9,500 for the lieutenant governor.

Missouri judges, in addition to all of the positions, would get more compensation for daily expenditures and mileage reimbursement to match the federal rates.

Attorney General Chris Koster announced new transparency rules to reduce the appearance of conflicts of interest in political contributions.

Koster's announcement followed a New York Times article reporting that contributions from companies led to better investigation outcomes for companies.

"These new restrictions are the strictest conflict-of-interest provisions of any elected attorney general in the United States," Koster was quoted as saying in a statement released Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Koster's new policies will ban contributions from companies, or their legal representatives, currently under investigation or whose investigations ended less than 90 days before; contributions from anyone employed by the attorney general's office; or gifts of any value from registered lobbyists.

Mike Wolff, Dean of St. Louis University's law school and former Missouri Supreme Court chief justice, said Koster's new policies "raise the bar for ethics in our state."

Koster's new policies are not required by state law.

Gov. Jay Nixon released the names of members on the Ferguson Commission, which must issue a report before Sept. 15, 2015.

All 16 members are St. Louis-area residents according to a statement from the governor's office on Tuesday, Nov. 18.

Rev. Starsky Wilson, CEO of the Deaconess Foundation and Rich McClure, the former president and COO of Unigroup, will co-chair the commission.

Other members include business leaders, educators, activists, religious leaders and lawyers, as well as a detective from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and the director of the Department of Public Safety.

"Committed and thoughtful citizens must identify necessary actions to take and policies that have to change," McClure was quoted as saying in the statement. "Then, our state and our region must pursue their implementation vigorously."

Nixon charged the commission with the task of studying issues underlying recent protests in Ferguson and proposing specific policy solutions.

"Change of this magnitude is hard; but maintaining the status quo is simply not acceptable," Nixon was quoted as saying in the statement.

More than 300 applications and nominations were received for the commission.

The unemployment rate in Missouri dropped to its lowest point since June 2008 as the holiday season gets underway, according to the Oct. 2014 jobs report.

The report, released by the Department of Economic Development, showed the unemployment rate dropped four tenths of a point from 6.3 percent to 5.9 percent.

Missouri's unemployment rate was still higher than the national average, which was 5.8 percent in October, down from 5.9 percent. Amy Susan, the director of communication for the Department of Economic Development, said decreasing unemployment rates is a national trend.

"Across the country, we're starting to see unemployment rates go down, we're starting to see a lesser need for unemployment claims, those are the benefits people receive if they have been laid off due to no fault of their own, so we're starting to see companies regain that momentum and find ways to be more profitable so that they can hire people and provide good paying jobs, so we're starting to see that again nationwide," Susan said

In October, the state's non-farm payroll added 2,400 jobs, increasing the total growth of non-farm payrolls to 48,400 jobs during the past year.

Employment in financial activities expanded by 1,500 jobs, while transportation, warehousing and utilities added 1,200 jobs, according to Susan.

She said the growth in employment was partially due to the increase in investments in Missouri.

"In Missouri, we've actually experienced our best year in economic development ever in the state for our history in Missouri, so that's a big deal for us investment-wise and job numbers, this has been a great year for us, so we're starting to not only maintain our business community here but we're also recruiting and attracting the investments from businesses around the country and around the world," Susan said.

The last time the unemployment rate increased was in March 2014, when it rose to 6.7 percent. Since then, it has slowly shrunk almost a full percentage point with the largest decrease in October.

More than four hours after issuing his statewide state of emergency and activating Missouri's National Guard, Gov. Jay Nixon held a telephone conference call with reporters.

Nixon said his action activating the National Guard was "part if our ongoing efforts to prepare for any contingency."

Nixon refused to discuss the details of how many National Guard would be called up or where they would be deployed in Ferguson.

But he suggested that as with the Guard's role when they were called out for the initial protests, they would not be confronting protestors.

"The National Guard is well suited to provide security at command posts, fire stations and other locations freeing up law enforcement officers to remain focused on community policing and protecting constitutional rights."

"I'm not going to get into any operational details other than to say that the various duties and responsibilities and places are being viewed and the commanders will take care of that...I just don't want to get into operational details."

Earlier in the day, Nixon's various public safety agencies also refused to provide details as to how his forces would be used including the National Guard, the Public Safety Department and the Highway Patrol.

In his telephone conference call with reporters Monday night, Nixon stressed the difficulty in finding a balance.

"Our goal here is to keep the peace and allow folks' voices to be heard and in that balance I'm attempting, you know I am, using the resources that we have to marshal to be predictable for both those pillars," Nixon responded when asked if the "buck ultimately stops with you."

There is a shortage of turkeys harvested all across the country this year.

However, because many Thanksgiving turkeys can be frozen for up to a year before being sold to the public, this will not affect Missouri sales this year.

Diane Olson, promotions and educations director for the Missouri Farm Bureau, said the reduced number of turkeys will not affect this year's Thanksgiving dinner.

"I think the issue is that many of the flocks have been reduced over the past few years," said Olson.

Olson said the prices for turkey are not rising this year.

"We found that turkey prices were really very reasonable," Olson said. "Ranging from 78 cents a pound to $1.69 a pound."

Turkey farmers have had to decrease their flocks due to an increase in feed and transportation prices.

Rep. Dave Hinson, R-St. Clair, agreed with Gov. Jay Nixon's decision to declare a state of emergency and activate the National Guard in anticipation of the grand jury decision in Ferguson.

Hinson is also a paramedic and said a proactive approach like Nixon's is the best course of action.

"I think he's doing a good thing by being proactive leading up to the possibility that the verdict comes down and there's no indictment and that we do have violence that takes place," Hinson said.

Hinson also said it is unfortunate that Nixon had to make this decision.

"You would think that people would be law-abiding and respect the decision of a jury, but depending on how it goes, I don't foresee that happening," Hinson said.

Nixon's decision comes in anticipation of a grand jury's decision whether or not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

House Speaker Tim Jones, R-St. Louis County, said he is glad Gov. Jay Nixon is being proactive with his state of emergency declaration in Ferguson in anticipation of the grand jury decision on whether to indict police officer Darren Wilson for shooting and killing Michael Brown.

"I am very pleased to see the governor actually paying attention to this issue," Jones said. "He's had plenty of time to prepare for it, but at least this time, he's focused on Ferguson."

However, Jones added that this state of emergency is not like any other.

"I am just a little perplexed as to him calling a state of emergency before anything has actually occurred," Jones said. "I'd be interested to see if that's ever been done before in our state or other states."

Nixon's order activated the National Guard to help local police deal with any protests that may occur as a result of the grand jury announcement.

The state of emergency expires in 30 days.

Gov. Jay Nixon activated the Missouri National Guard and declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the St. Louis County grand jury’s verdict.

Nixon’s executive order, announced on Monday, Nov. 17, called on the Guard to support local law enforcement should there be unrest following the grand jury’s verdict on Officer Darren Wilson.

Missouri's governor can declare a state of emergency for specific areas within a state, but Nixon’s state of emergency covers the entire state.

The date for the grand jury’s decision is unknown but is expected sometime during mid- to late-November.

Rep. Courtney Allen Curtis, D-St. Louis County, attacked the governor’s decision.

“I just think at this point that it’s unnecessary had the governor taken other precautionary measures earlier on,” Curtis said. “So to do it now, he’s working on cleaning up his legacy it seems to me.”

Curtis, who represents part of Ferguson, was not told about the state of emergency in advance.

The executive order did not mention how many members of the Guard would be called up or how they would be mobilized.

But St. Louis City Mayor Francis Slay said in a news conference shortly after Nixon’s announcement that the National Guard would not be on the front lines of possible protests.

Slay called Nixon's decision a precaution.

"We would not have the Guard on the front lines, interacting with, dealing with, confronting protesters," Slay said. "Many of them don't have experience with protests and peaceful protests like our police officers do."

Nixon cited past violence in Ferguson following the shooting of Michael Brown. The grand jury is expected to reach a decision on whether to indict Wilson in mid- to late-November.

Rep. Dave Hinson, R-St. Clair, chair of the House public safety committee and a paramedic, said it was a good thing for Nixon to be proactive.

"I think he's doing a good thing by being proactive leading up to the possibility that the verdict comes down and there's no indictment and that we do have violence that takes place," Hinson said. He also said it was unfortunate that the National Guard might be necessary at all.

Following the August shooting of Brown, local law enforcement was criticized for its militarized response to protests.

Slay said they would avoid the appearance of militarization in the future.

"Our police officers in the city of St. Louis will be wearing their police officer uniforms," Slay said. "They're not going to have...riot gear on and things like that unless, of course, a situation would occur which would require to do that to protect themselves."

Following Nixon's announcement, no one in the governor's office was available to comment.

Calls to the Missouri National Guard, Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Department of Public Safety were directed to the public safety department’s communications director, Mike O’Connell.

O'Connell did not immediately answer any calls, but an email to O’Connell received an automatic response stating that he was “out of the office on business” and not available for calls or emails.

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis City, also disagreed with Nixon’s decision.

“I think that the state of emergency was ill-advised,” Nasheed said. She also criticized the governor for his lack of communication in regards to his failure to notify Curtis before the announcement.

The state of emergency will expire after 30 days.

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis City, criticized Gov. Jay Nixon for issuing a state of emergency in Ferguson in anticipation of the grand jury issuing a decision in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

"I think that the state of emergency was ill-advised," Nasheed said.

When asked about Rep. Courtney Allen Curtis, a Democrat who represents part of Ferguson, not being told about the state of emergency in advance, Nasheed said that is not unusual, but Ferguson is different.

"I do believe that at a time when we are in a major crisis, the last thing you need is a lack of communication," Nasheed said. "That doesn't fare well with many of the elected officials that have been on the ground each and every day."

Nixon's declaration activates the National Guard to assist local police in any protests that occur as a result of the grand jury's decision.

Neither Missouri's Public Safety Department nor the state's National Guard would provide immediate information on how they will implement the governor's emergency declaration in response to fears of violence in Ferguson.

Gov. Jay Nixon's state of emergency order activating Missouri's National Guard left it up to the Guard to determine how many troops would be called up and how their equipment would be mobilized.

But the state headquarters for the guard referred questions to the state's Public Safety Department. There, all calls were directed to the department's public information officer, Mike O'Connell, who did not answer his phone.

An email to O'Connell received an automatic response stating that O'Connell was "out of the office on business" and that he did not have immediate access to calls or emails.

A bit more detail was provided by the St. Louis City mayor, Francis Slay.

At a news conference shortly after Nixon's order, Slay defended the governor's decision to activate the National Guard as a precaution.

Slay said the state's military would serve a secondary, backup role.

"We would not have the Guard on the front lines, interacting with, dealing with, confronting protestors," Slay said. "Many of them don't have experience with protests and peaceful protests like our police officers do."

Slay also told reporters they would seek to avoid the appearance of police militarization that was the subject of widespread criticism during the initial protests in Ferguson.

"Our police officers in the city of St. Louis will be wearing their police officer uniforms," Slay said. "They're not going to have ... riot gear on and things like that unless, of course, a situation would occur which would require to do that to protect themselves."

Rep. Courtney Allen Curtis, D-St. Louis County, attacked Gov. Jay Nixon just minutes after he declared a state of emergency.

"I just think at this point that it's unnecessary had the governor taken other precautionary measures earlier on," Curtis said. "So to do it now, he's working on cleaning up his legacy it seems to me."

When contacted by MDN moments after the announcement came in an email from Nixon's press secretary Channing Ansley, Curtis said he and Rep. Sharon Pace, another lawmaker who represents part of Ferguson, had not been contacted by Nixon.

"I wasn't directly consulted, nor was Rep. Pace, and I'm just bewildered to death that Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal wasn't either given that this directly affects our constituents," Curtis said.

In a written statement, Nixon justified his state of emergency declaration and activation of the National Guard in response to the possibility of violence in Ferguson when a grand jury issues its decision on whether to indict the police officer who shot Michael Brown.

Activation of the National Guard was just one of a series of steps in a formal order declaring a state of emergency in Missouri in response to the possibility of violent protests in Ferguson.

Nixon's executive order cites past acts of violence in Ferguson after the police shooting-death of an unarmed suspect and the expected decision of a grand jury investigating the police officer's actions.

"As part of our ongoing efforts to plan and be prepared for any contingency, it is necessary to have these resources in place in advance of any announcement of the grand jury's decision," Nixon was quoted as saying in a news release issued by his office.

Nixon was not available for immediate comment.

The governor's executive order warns that "regardless of the outcomes of the federal and state criminal investigations, there is the possibility of expanded unrest" as a justification for a 30-day state of emergency.

While putting the National Guard into "active service," neither Nixon's order nor his news release indicates how many members of the Guard would be called up.

Instead, the state of emergency order leaves it up to the Guard's adjutant General to determine how many are called into active service and what equipment would be employed.

Various public safety officials in Nixon's administration were not available to answer questions for clarification.

Missouri saw the largest monthly drop in the country in the number of children enrolled in a federally-subsidized, child-care program this year.

According to a report by the Center for Law and Social Policy, 12,300 fewer children participated in the Child Care and Development Block Grant program in Missouri each month in 2013, more than any other state.

Proportionally, Maine had the largest monthly drop at 44.4 percent, compared to a 25.7 percent monthly drop in Missouri.

However, between 2006 and 2013, Missouri saw a net gain of 2,000 in the number of monthly enrollees, according to the CLASP report.

The Missouri Department of Social Services administers the subsidy program, which offers child-care subsidies to low-income families.

Rebecca Woelfel, the social services department's communications director, wrote in an email that the department cannot "speculate on trends in benefit usage."   

To qualify, families cannot earn more than 123 percent of the poverty level, Woelfel wrote in the email.

Glen Koenen, "an advocate for the hungry," told the Post-Dispatch the drop in child-care subsidy enrollment may be a result of the Social Services Department's reorganization of its Family Support Division, which oversees the subsidy program.

The Post-Dispatch said some attribute the drop to lower unemployment numbers.

Ruth Ehresman, coordinator of the St. Louis Family and Community Partnership, told the Post-Dispatch that low-income families tend to be employed in low-wage jobs, so that as employment rises, so would child-care subsidies.