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NewsBook:  Missouri Government News for the Week of January 26, 2015

State Auditor Tom Schweich told a crowd of supporters at the University of Missouri-St. Louis on Wednesday, January 28 he's challenging former House Speaker Catharine Hanaway to be the Republican Party's nominee for governor in 2016.

Schweich, who previously worked for Sen. Jack Danforth and the US Mission to the United Nations, went after Hanaway shortly after entering the race, criticizing her for accepting almost $1 million from Rex Sinquefeld.

"[Sinquefeld] is trying to buy a governor," he said told the crowd. "These are not Republicans, they're Rex-publicans."

In a statement released not long after Schweich finished his remarks in St. Louis, Schweich asked Missouri voters to support his push to make state government more accountable.

While Schweich's decision to run sets up a Republican primary battle next year, Attorney General Chris Koster remains the only Democrat in the race.

The director of the Missouri Department of Revenue came under fire Thursday as members of the Senate Appropriation Committee said businesses had to wait too long for business licenses.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Kurt Schaefer said it can take weeks for businesses to receive their business license. Businesses are unable to operate without a license.

Schaefer, along with other members of the committee, urged the Department of Revenue to streamline the process for issuing business licenses.

"I think the department needs to implement a program that is appropriate for a quick turn around time," said Schaefer, R-Columbia. "Even if they need to charge a premium for somebody that needs that license turned around faster, that's an option. But not having the ability to get some of these licenses turned around faster, it is not acceptable and it is creating a very bad business climate."

The former director of the Department of Revenue says he is unsure of what the cost would be to speed up the process.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Jan. 29, Gov. Nixon discussed economic benefits to trading with Cuba the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Richard Fordyce, the president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, Blake Hurst, and other agriculture leaders in the state.

Nixon began the conference by thanking members of the federal government for working towards lifting the current trade embargo.

"The great state of Missouri is ready to lead the way," Nixon said.

Nixon also announced that he will travel to Havana, Cuba with members of the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba March 1-4.

"In a competitive world, we cannot ignore 11 million potential customers for our products just ninety miles from our shores," Nixon said.

Leaders of the Missouri Corn Growers Association, Missouri Soybean Association, Missouri Beef Industry Council, Missouri Pork Association, Missouri Agribusiness Association, Missouri Poultry Federation, and the Missouri Rice Council were also present at the conference.

A bill introduced by Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Greene County, that exempts data processing centers and fitness facilities from sales and use tax if they meet certain requirements was met enthusiastically by senators Thursday.

The proposal was presented to the Senate Ways and Means Committee and Dixon said the data processing part of the measure is personal to him.

"Springfield was actually one of the finalists for [the Yahoo] data center," Dixon said. "We narrowly lost."

Dixon also stressed this is the more narrow version of the data processing bill that was passed by the legislature on the final day of the 2014 session and was subsequently vetoed by the governor.

Lawmakers did not override the governor's veto in the September veto session.

The other part of the bill helped lawmakers focus their ire on the Department of Revenue (DOR) for the way they estimated how much the bill would cost Missouri.

DOR estimated the bill could cost the state more than $14.5 million by fiscal year 2018, but they estimated the fitness center portion would cost more than that.

"DOR officials assume the exemption for fitness facilities would reduce Total State Revenue by an amount up to $19 million," the fiscal note reads.

Dixon scolded them for that number.

"That doesn't seem to add up," Dixon said. "I'm concerned that the people at the Department of Revenue may not be able to add."

Dixon later added, "They can probably add, I don't think they can subtract."

A company who sets up a data processing bill in Missouri would have to invest a minimum of $37 million and create 30 jobs.

Dixon said he would work to reduce those requirements before the committee votes on the bill.

The bill also exempts people from paying sales tax at a fitness facility, dance studio, or other similar venues for classes they sign up to participate in.

The committee took no action on the bill and it must receive a vote in committee before it has a chance of reaching the Senate floor.

Sen. Rob Schaaf

Legislators, statewide elected officials and judges will not be getting a pay raise.

After an unusual tactic that split Republicans, two Senate Democrats stopped their filibuster on the resolution to reject the pay raises.

On Wednesday, the sponsor of the resolution had dropped his motion.

But the next day, Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Jospeh, placed on his desk a written motion to shut off debate.

It needed four more signatures. After five members walked up to add their names -- including one Democrat -- the Senate went into extended breaks for backroom discussions.

Eventually, the two Democrats said they would stop filibustering in order to avoid creating future problems of collaborative efforts within the Senate.

With that, the resolution killing the pay raises easily cleared the Senate 31-3.

The raises, recommended by the Commission on Compensation, automatically would have taken effect if not rejected by the legislature before the end of January.

A week earlier, the House had approved the resolution.

The Senate Education committee heard testimony on four bills that would restrict the rights of students in unaccredited schools to transfer.

Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed similar legislation months ago.

Democratic Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal from St. Louis County stressed other provisions of the bills that would improve troubled schools and said it's costing tax payers a lot of money.

"It's costing us in jails around this state, it's costing us when it comes to Medicaid, it's costing us an enormous amount of money of not educating people who deserve to be educated," Chappelle-Nadal said. "And if we don't do something this year, shame on us."

Committee chairman Senator David Pearce said he hopes there will be a vote on the bills next Wednesday.

Both Missouri's House and Senate debated and approved an issue that would establish a college scholarship for dairy farmers.

The Missouri Dairy Revitalization Act was finalized Wed., Jan. 28.

Rep. Bill White, R-Joplin, brought up his concerns with providing subsidies.

But Rep. Jay Houghton, R-Martinsburg, said White's concerns were unsubstantiated.

"No one is going to get rich using this program," Houghton said.

Another issue with the measure is the gap between an academic and hands-on education when it comes to dairy farming.

"[Farmer's children] graduate high school or graduate college and go to distances far beyond and find they make more money with less effort off the farm than they can on the farm," said Rep. Mike Moon, R-Lawrence County.

Moon said that for some farmers, hands-on learning may be the best way for them to learn rather than in a classroom setting.

Representatives also discussed at which colleges and universities students could utilize the scholarships.

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The House Democratic leader told reporters Wednesday that House Speaker John Diehl, R-St. Louis County, had restricted committees from holding meetings in the future outside the Capitol building in Jefferson City.

The action comes after the House Telecommunications Committee held a formal dinner meeting at the members-only country club in Jefferson City at a session that came under severe attack by Democrats who boycotted the session.

Reporters were allowed into the session, funded by a lobbying organization.

Diehl was not immediately available to confirm or explain the order banning such meetings in the future.

The chair of Utilities Infrastructure Committee chair said that a Wednesday night meeting of his committee at the country club had been moved to the Capitol building.

House Democrats held a news conference Wednesday criticizing the practice of using outside, lobbyist-funded locations for committee meetings.

The announced filing of a bill that would prohibit legislative committee meetings outside of the Capitol.

A filibuster by a couple of Democrats Wednesday blocked a Senate vote on a resolution to block automatic pay hikes for legislators, statewide elected officials and judges.

The salary increases, approaching nearly 11 percent for legislators, had been adopted by the Citizens Commission on Compensation.

Unless the legislature votes to reject the increases, they automatically take effect.

Last week, the House overwhelmingly approved a resolution to reject the pay hikes.

But when the idea came before the Senate, Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-St. Louis County, and Sen. Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City, launched their filibuster.

After less than two hours and indicating no intention to stop talking, the Senate handler of the resolution put it aside.

The deadline for the legislature to vote to kill the raises is the end of January. Thursday will be the last day the Senate is scheduled to meet this month.

A Lobbyist-Funded Dinner at the Country Club for a Legislative Committee

Members of the House Telecommunications Committee held a meeting Tuesday evening at a county club rather than rooms set aside in the statehouse for committees.

The committee held an informational hearing with telecommunications lobbyists at the Jefferson City Country Club. 15 people attended the hearing, including state representatives, lobbyists and the media.

The hearing was conducted over drinks and dinner and held in a private room, complementary of the Missouri Telecommunications Industry Association, or MTIA.

Richard Telthorst, President and CEO of MTIA, led the meeting with a speech about the time line of Missouri policy in the telecommunications industry.

"We wanted to provide some context to these legislators regarding the telecommunications laws that went forth and passed in past years," said Telthorst.

Committee chairman Rep. Bart Korman, R-High Hill, said it was important to hear the history of telecommunications policy to know how to go forward with future bills.

The Utilities Infrastructure Committee is holding a similar information hearing Wednesday evening at the Jefferson City Country Club.

Rep. Keith English, D-St. Louis County, announced Tuesday he was dropping out of the Democratic Caucus to formally become an independent.

English said his decision came after the House Democratic leader repeatedly refused to name English to any House committee.

English had been been the sole Democrat to vote to override the Democratic governor's veto of the income tax cut bill last May.

English's vote provided Republicans with the vote needed to override the Democratic governor's veto.

One day later, the House Democratic leader stripped English of his all his House committee assignments.

"I'm still a Democrat at heart," English said after announcing his decision to resign from the House Democratic Caucus so he could be appointed by the Republican leadership to committees.

"I'm still voting the same way I had before. My labor-friendly Democrats don't have to worry."

English said his decision came after three weeks unsuccessfully seeking to get the House Democratic leader to name him to committees.

The Democratic leader -- Rep. Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis -- charged many Democrats had grown to distrust English.

"The distrust in Representative English stems from the fact that he hasn't always been honest about his intentions to side with Republicans on issues of importance to House Democrats," Hummel was quoted in saying in a statement issued by his office.

English becomes the second Democrat to abandon the Democratic Caucus for the 2015 legislative session.

Shortly after the November elections, Rep. Linda Black, R-Park Hills, announced she was switching to the Republican Party because of policy disagreements with Democrats. She specifically cited Democratic efforts supporting same-sex marriage.

Even Rep. Tony Dugger, R-Hartville, admits he has brought his voter ID bill before the legislature many times.

"If you've been on [the Elections] Committee in the past, you are not seeing any new information here today," Dugger said. "This is basically the same bill I've been presenting for the last several years that I have been here."

Dugger presented his bill to the Elections Committee Tuesday and it was met with significant hostility from lawmakers, interest groups, and regular residents of Missouri.

One lawmaker who questioned Dugger's motivation was St. Louis County Democratic Rep. Stacey Newman.

"I'm not exactly speechless, but I am just amazed that you have the chutzpah to keep bringing this back to this committee," Newman said.

John Scott from the Secretary of State's office also spoke against the bill.

"The bottom line is the legislation is just too restrictive," Scott said. "We can't support anything that would disenfranchise a single eligible Missouri voter."

Denise Lieberman, senior attorney for the Advancement Project, worked on the case that resulted in a federal judge declaring Wisconsin's photo ID law unconstitutional.

She told the committee Missouri's proposal is unlike any other.

"The provision before you stacks up as the most strict in the nation," Lieberman said.

Despite the overwhelming number of people testifying against the bill, there were supporters of the bill.

Former Republican Secretary of State candidate Mitch Hubbard praised Dugger's repeated insistence on bringing up the bill.

"In England, we had William Wilberforce who for 30 years filed legislation to end the slave trade," Hubbard said. "It took 30 years, but he kept doing it. And this is not a comparable issue, but sometimes it's important to keep important issues in the fore-front even if they don't pass right away."

Jefferson City resident Susan Gibson said those following the rules have nothing to worry about.

"For hundreds of years, families like mine who have been here and followed the rules don't have a problem with documentation," Gibson said. "It's just that simple."

The committee took no action on the bill and it must be voted out of committee before it is possibly brought up for consideration by the House.

Gov. Jay Nixon addressed a packed house in Jefferson City Monday, January 26 about the need for renovation of Missouri's veterans' homes and the construction of a new facility.

In a speech given to the Missouri Association of Veterans Organizations, Nixon assured veterans their voices are being heard, especially when it comes to the state's veterans' homes.

"Now with the generation of Vietnam-era veterans getting older, we need to ensure all our veterans receive the best care we can provide," Nixon said.

The governor said he sees many of the state's veterans' homes are in need of repair.

That's why his budget has set aside $14.5 million to renovate four of the state's homes through a bond issuance for state buildings.

The bond was authorized by the state legislature last year, so the renovations can begin to move forward, according to Nixon.

Nixon also said he will propose a new home be built to address the long list of veterans waiting for care.

The projected cost of the new home is $50 million.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said he would need to seee a proposal from the governor to determine if the renovations and new construction are financially feasible.

In a press conference following his address, Nixon said the new location of a veterans' home had not been decided.

Based on the location of veterans on the waiting list to enter a home, the governor mentioned areas south of St. Louis and in Kansas City as potential locations for the home.

Missouri's Senate confirmed the appointment of former St. Louis City Police Chief Don Isom to continue as director of The Department of Public Safety with only two dissenting votes.

Isom, a black, had been named by Nixon to head the state's law enforcement department shortly after the Ferguson riots that erupted when a grand jury decided not to indite a white police officer for the shooting death of an unarmed black suspect.

 Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Kurt Schaeffer,R-Columbia, led the opposition to Isom's nomination and cited a federal court decision awarding damages in a discrimination lawsuit by a white St. Louis City police officer when Isom was police chief.

"What was found by the jury, he took the position that qualified officers need not apply for the position because he was going to  give it to an African-American woman," Schaefer said.

But a fellow Senate Republican said the issue involved a decision by lower staff in the city's police department that should not reflect on Isom.

"I don't think that you should wipe away the many years of service that he has had in St. Louis," said Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles.

Missouri Chief Justice Mary Russell told lawmakers that "recent events suggest the need to review Missouri's municipal court divisions."

Russell's comments were made in the "State of the Judiciary" address to a joint session of the state legislature on Thursday, January 22.

Russell did not directly address criticisms that some city courts are too harsh on enforcing fines or using the city court system to boost city revenues.

But she suggested courts should have a different objective.

"It is important to ensure that municipal divisions throughout the state are driven not by economics, but by notions of fairness under the rule of law," Russell told lawmakers.

Before the legislature are bills to require options for lower income defendants in city courts to pay their fines such as by installment or community service.

Other measures would cut the maximum percent of a city's budget that can come from traffic fines.

The words of support came from Mike Reid during a hearing of the Senate Rules Committee concerning a bill that would impose stronger reporting requirements for lobbyists.

Reid is a lobbyist, but he also is a member of the association of lobbyists.

"We believe that we're out there to try to let you know who we spend money on and how we spend it and where it goes," he said. "It's the public's right know how we do our job,"

Reid spoke as a witness neither supporting nor opposing the bill.

In addition to stronger reporting requirements, the measure would prohibit a legislator from becoming a lobbyist until two years after leaving office -- called a cooling off period.

The committee did not take an immediate vote on the proposal, sponsored by the Senate's Republican leader -- Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin.

Welfare, education and natural resources are among the few areas to see increases in state revenues under the budget plan Gov. Jay Nixon presented to the General Assembly on Wednesday, January 21.

Social services would see major spending increases in federal funds by expanding Medicaid financed largely by federal dollars, but Medicaid expansion has died in the legislature the past two years.

Republican lawmakers said it will suffer the same fate this year with a stronger Republican majority.

On education, Nixon made school improvement one of the recommendations in his package to address issues raised by Ferguson.

"Education is the great equalizer," he said. "When every child has a quality education, every child has the opportunity to succeed."

In natural resources, Nixon highlighted state parks and water quality.

"All over the state, drinking and wastewater treatment systems -- many built decades ago -- are starting to fall apart," Nixon said.

In total, Nixon's plan would slightly cut the total state budget below what the legislature had approved last year.

The reduction was not a surprise.

The governor had recommended and the legislature had approved a budget that turned out to be far higher than actual state tax collections -- forcing Nixon to make deep spending cuts.

Gov. Jay Nixon told lawmakers in his Wednesday, January 21, State of the State address that he will be traveling to Cuba in March to promote Missouri agriculture.

 But he suggested other benefits to the trip.

"Never underestimate the power of American democracy to improve people's lives and open hearts and minds. Once free markets begin to flourish, freedom will follow," Nixon said.

Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, questioned the governor's decision to travel to a country controlled by a dictator and with a history of human rights violations minutes after Nixon finished his address.

Gov. Jay Nixon presented Missouri lawmakers in his State of the State address a broad set of recommendations to address issues raised after a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager. 

"The legacy of Ferguson will be determined by what we do next, to foster healing and hope and the changes we make to strengthen all of our communities", Nixon told a joint session of the legislature Wednesday night, January 21.

Cheers of "right, that's right!" could be heard in the House chamber as Nixon talked about Ferguson.

While Nixon's proposals addressed issues raised by various sides, his address came under attack from opposing sides.

Gov. Jay Nixon called for changes in police use of force and strengthening communities across the state. Two black lawmakers said Nixon's plan did not go far enough and a Republican legislative leader voiced concerns about using police as an "scapegoat."

Nixon proposed a number of changes:

  • Changing the law that authorizes police to use deadly force.
  • Recruit law enforcement that "reflects diversity of the community it serves."
  • Polices that foster racial understanding.
  • Establish greater economic opportunity.
  • Address failing schools.
  • "Reform" municipal courts that have come under attack for fines that are burdensome to lower income.

Sen. Maria Chapelle-Nadal, D-St. Louis County, called Nixon's proposals to address police powers in using lethal force "right on," but she talked about the need for mental health reform for Ferguson protesters.

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis City, said his proposals were a "smoke screen" to obscure his failure to deploy the state's National Guard early enough after the grand jury decision to avoid damage and destruction to area businesses by rioters.

Missouri's Democratic governor extended an olive branch of to a joint session of Missouri's Republican-controlled legislature in Jay Nixon's State of the State address Wednesday night, January 21.

"Rumor has it that I don't spend enough time on the third floor," He said. "I hear you. And I'll be coming around more often," Nixon told legislators at the start of his address..

Nixon covered Medicaid expansion, ethics reform, and an increase in funding for education, just as he did in 2014 and 2013.

House Speaker John Diehl, R-Town and Country, said many of the bills Nixon referenced when talking about changes to police departments or municipal court reform will be seen in committees or are already there.

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis City, has been a frequent critic of Nixon's policy towards minorities and how he handled the response to the shooting death of 18-year-old African-American Michael Brown but is behind several bills Nixon highlighted in his address. 

In his annual State of the State address Wednesday night, Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon faced something he has never faced before: a Republican legislature with veto-proof majorities in each chamber.

He also faced a crisis in Missouri's transportation funding.

MoDOT said on January 14 that starting in 2017, they will only have money to fully maintain 8,000 of the state's 34,000 miles of roads.

To address that, Nixon raised two possible solutions to address the decline in funding: adding toll roads on Interstate 70 and an increase of the state's gas tax. 

"The Highway Commission's recent report showed that this approach could make I-70 better and safer and free up tens of millions of dollars for other roads around the state," Nixon said.

However, House Transportation Committee chairman Rep. Glen Kolkmeyer, R-Odessa, said a toll road would hurt Missouri businesses.

Kolkmeyer did agree with Nixon when it came to the state's gas tax, the nation's fifth lowest. 

"That may be something we really need to look at," Kolkmeyer said. "With prices low, now may be the time we need to look at it."

Former Senate Transportation Committee chairman Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, also didn't rule out consideration of a gas tax increase.

"I think all of the transportation options have to be on the table," Kehoe said.

No specific proposals have emerged from the legislature as of yet, but Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff, said he's committed to solving the problem.

"We need to work hard on it and that's what I'll be doing as transportation chairman," Libla said. "We'll be looking at all avenues and working hard and reaching out to people."

Libla also said once Missourians get a good idea of what will happen to transportation funding, they'll fully understand the problem.

"I think once they see a lot of the maintenance being backed off a little bit, I think the reality will come to the head a little bit."

Legislation designed to revive the Missouri's struggling dairy industry had its first hearing in front of a Senate committee on Wednesday, January 21.

The Missouri Dairy Revitalization Act of 2015 contains several provisions to help support the state's dairy and livestock industries, which have been struggling over the past decade.The bill would reimburse dairy farmers for over 70 percent of their crop insurance and fund a study at the University of Missouri to see how the state can grow the dairy industry in Missouri.

The legislation is similar to a bill vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon last year.

However, this year's dairy bill lacks a controversial provision classifying deer as a livestock and has the support of Nixon's agriculture department.

Senator Brian Munzlinger, R-Willamstown, sponsored the bill and said while he would have liked to include the deer language, he is happy with the current legislation.

"I feel good about it," Munzlinger said. "It would help provide more locally grown food, especially if you look at the dairy industry."

Local governments across Missouri may be getting less money from traffic fines and court fees.

The Missouri Senate Committee on Jobs, Economic Development and Local Government heard testimony from members of the public and local governments on Wednesday, January 21 concerning legislation that would change the amount of revenue cities recieve from things like parking tickets and fees assesed by judges.

The bill would also reduce the threshold for the general operating revenue for cities, towns, villages or counties from 30 percent to 10 percent.

Committee chairman and bill sponsor Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, said local municipalities are taking the easy way out and taking more money from Missouri citizens than they should.

"Senate Bill 5 would help end these abusive traffic ticket schemes that are little more than ATMs for bloated big government budgets that have hit the poor especially hard," Schmitt said.

Schmitt said there are 14 municipalities in St. Louis County that take in more money from court fees and traffic tickets than anything else.

Committee member and co-sponsor of the bill, Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis City, called the thirty percent cap "very alarming."

The mayor of Vinita Park, James McGee, said he opposes the bill because people need to be held accountable for their actions behind the wheel.

"It's not just about revenue, it's also about safety," McGee said. "We've had one person killed recently when someone was speeding. Being responsible needs to be a part of owning a car, and traffic fines hold you accountable."

A Missouri Senate committee voted 10-1 this morning to send the nomination of former St. Louis City Police Chief Daniel Isom to the full Senate after delaying the vote by a week.

Isom was nominated last year by Governor Jay Nixon to head the Department of Public Safety.

Senator Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, asked the committee last week to delay the vote due to concerns over a lawsuit filed against Isom during his time as St. Louis City's chief of police.

Isom, who is black, would be one of the state's highest ranking minorities if confirmed.

His appointment was announced not long after a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old black man.

It is unclear when the full Senate will consider his nomination.

The vote was overwhelming with 133 of the 162 House members voting to reject the pay raises, far beyond the two-thirds voted needed to reject the plan.

The pay plan would have provided raises for statewide elected officials, judges and legislators ranging as high as 11 percent.

The raises adopted by the Citizens Commission on Compensation automatically take effect until rejected by a two-thirds majority of both the House and Senate.

The legislature has until the end of January to act.

The resolution's sponsor, Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, argued that keeping the pay low for legislators assured the General Assembly remained a citizen legislature.

"Because in order to be a citizen legislator, you ought to have a foot still in the working world outside of this body," Barnes told his colleague.

But a Democratic member of the legislature charged his colleague with being spineless.

"You remember when you got elected, you checked that box that said 'I'm spineless' when I get down to the General Assembly I want to do things that only make sure I get reelected," said Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Louis.

The resolution now goes to the Senate where that chamber's GOP leader gave it only a 50-50 chance of passing.

Senate Republican Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said he did not know yet how he would vote on the measure nor whether he would allow it out of his committee if he were to oppose the resolution.

A "downright failure" is how the state's welfare system was described by the chair of the Senate committee holding the first legislature's first hearing on a welfare bill.

The Senate Seniors, Families and Public Health Committee heard a measure Tuesday, January 20, that would impose additional restrictions on two of the state's largest welfare programs.

The bill, sponsored Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, would limit the lifetime limit a person could receive Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF, from five years to two. He also added the goal is to get people off the program and not rely on it in the long term. 

."Unfortunately, our program in Missouri is downright failing." Sater said.

The measure also would reimpose work or job-search requirements on recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Program, once called Food Stamps. The money saved from the program would go to wards supporting childcare, education, and training for people currently on food stamps

Colleen Coble, the director of the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, said the bill would be harmful to women who are trying to leave an abusive relationship.

"What most of us don't often recognize," Coble said. "is that money is right there with fear for keeping you in an abusive situation."

The bill would also suspend food stamps from people who are not either working, going to school, or actively looking for a job.

The food stamps would be suspended for 30 days until the person could show evidence of work activity.

Sater said he expected to have a vote on his measure next week.