From Missouri Digital News:
MDN Menu

MDN Home

Journalist's Creed


MDN Help

MDN.ORG: Missouri Digital News
MDN Menu

MDN Home

Journalist's Creed


MDN Help

MDN.ORG Mo. Digital News Missouri Digital News MDN.ORG: Mo. Digital News MDN.ORG: Missouri Digital News
Lobbyist Money Help  
NewsBook:  Missouri Government News for the Week of February 2, 2015

MoDOT Director Dave Nichols will retire May 1, ending his two years at the top of the transportation department.

Nichols, who previously served as the department's chief engineer, has worked for the department for 30 years.

According to a news release, the transportation commission will start the process to replace Nichols over the next few days.

Commission Chairman Stephen Miller praised Nichols' tenure as MoDOT's chief executive in a Thursday afternoon statement.

"He exemplifies exactly what it means to be a public servant, having spent the last 30 years of his life doing great work for the citizens of Missouri.” Miller said.

On the same day the University of Missouri System Board of Curators once again voted to raise tuition for undergrads, the Missouri Senate approved two nominees to serve on the board.

The Senate approved the nominations of Maurice Graham and former Sen. Philip Snowden.

Sen. Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, said having a law degree shouldn't disqualify Snowden from serving on the board.

"I know that there's been some concern about the governor's propensity of appointing attorneys," Silvey said. "I understand those concerns, but I do think the nomination of Mr. Snowden should be looked at in its totality and not just the fact that he has a law degree and practiced early in his career."

However, Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, raised the issue of the board having too many lawyers.

"What raises the red flag there for me is why? Why so many lawyers?" Schaefer asked. "I think you have to look at the fact that these are lawyers that also have a relationship with the governor."

In expressing support for Graham's nomination to the board, Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal said she was impressed by Graham.

"It's really important to me to have someone that is independent," she said. "I felt comfortable with this appointment."

Both Snowden and Graham were approved by voice vote.

The chair of the House Transportation committee Republican Representative Glen Kolkmeyer, R-Odessa, called the Transportation Commission's new approach devastating.

The plan will drop MoDot's 2017 budget to $325 million giving the state enough money to maintain only 8,000 of its 34,000 mile system.

Kolkmeyer agreed the department had to do something to deal with the drop in funding, but he said he's worried that not maintaining secondary roads will hurt business in Missouri.

"Missouri is a crossroads of the U.S. and I would hate to see a distribution center not come to Missouri because we're not going to maintain the back roads, if you will, or the secondary roads," Kolkmeyer said.

According to MoDot, part of the blame is due to the cost of asphalt, concrete and steel. Those materials are as much as 200 percent more than they were in 1992.

MoDot said in a statement that they have reduced their staff, facilities and equipment as a result of the department's budget cut.

The Missouri Senate voted unanimously Wednesday, Feb. 4. to approve legislation changing the state's ethics law while hearing an amendment limiting campaign contributions but did not vote on it.

The Senate debated an amendment to a bill today to limit campaign contributions for Missouri lawmakers.

The amendment by Sen. Paul LeVota, D-Independence, would limit contributions for statewide officials to $10,000, $5,000 for senators, $2,000 for representatives and any other office, including judicial offices.

LeVota said not limiting campaign funds has a negative effect on elections in Missouri.

"Since the time we got rid of campaign finance limits in 2008, we have seen more money go into political campaigns resulting in more negative campaigning, which in turn lowers voter participation throughout our state and less public involvement," LeVota said.

Campaign limits were eliminated from Missouri law in 2008.

Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, said campaign finance limits protect incumbents and "the last thing we need is limits on contributions."

"I think that one of the things that's important to remember is that character really has no price," Emery said. "So a question we ask the voters to decide in every election is who do you trust? And if you trust somebody to come to this body, only up to a certain limit of dollars, then we've got a big problem because we deal with a $23 billion budget and large expenditures on individual items and we're not going to have those kinds of donations, we're not going to have billion dollar donations."

The Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission approved a plan Wednesday, Feb. 4. that would drastically reduce the state's construction plan to only focus on Missouri's major roads starting in 2017.

The plan, called the Missouri 325 plan, was formally announced at the commission's last meeting in January and focuses the transportation department's resources on just over eight thousand miles of the state's 32,000 mile long highway system.

In a statement, the Commission said it was a decision they hoped they would never have to make.

“This action truly sets the stage to transform Missouri’s transportation system and dramatically change the way we do business,” said Commission Chair Stephen Miller. “After years of making great progress on the condition of Missouri’s highways, we now face a future of watching our roads and bridges deteriorate.”

The remainder of state highways will only see minimal work starting in two years, such as work to fill potholes and clear snow.

A representative compared a bill aimed at subsidizing costs for Missouri's dairy farmers to Medicaid and Medicare during a debate on the House floor Wed., Feb. 4.

Rep. Jeremy LaFaver, D-Jackson County, called the act "moo-dicaid" and "cow care" and compared cows to people and milk processors to hospitals.

The bill would help reduce the cost of dairy production within the state to allow farmers to make a greater profit and establish scholarship opportunities to encourage younger Missourians to pursue careers in the dairy industry.

Rep. Lyndall Fraker, R-Marshfield, said he feared that one day there will no be milk available for sale in Missouri. He also said droughts that impact Missouri's farmers should be met with the same relief given to areas affected by natural disasters.

Rep. Bill White, R-Joplin, argued against the bill.

For White, the ability to stop dairy farmers in Missouri from going out of business is a problem that can only be solved on a federal level.White also said we don't make bills for family groceries and local restaurants, so there shouldn't be a bill to help out local farmers.

The bill would provide farmers with insurance to help mitigate some of the costs of running a dairy farm but not all farmers are required to accept the insurance plan.

The number of weeks Missourians are allowed to collect unemployment insurance may be determined by the percentage of the state's workforce that is unemployed, if a bill passed in the House is taken up and passed in the Senate.

Missourians are currently allowed to collect 20 weeks of unemployment benefits each year.

This bill would reduce the weeks that people receive unemployment benefits as the state's unemployment rate decreases.

Democrats in the House said that the unemployed rate of their districts may not match the state's average and their constituents would suffer from this legislation.

"What we are going to be doing with this bill is using a 'one size fits all' approach," said Rep. Margo McNeil, D-St. Louis. "It was mentioned before that people can go and get a job if they look hard enough. If your county or your community has high unemployment it is very difficult to find a job because the competition is much greater."

Representatives who support this bill said they hope its passage would start to repay federal advances to the Unemployment Compensation Fund in order for an employer's contribution rate to decrease.

With higher rates of unemployment, the state's Unemployment Compensation Fund has been exhausted to the point that employers are required to supplement funds to meet the needs of the system.

Supporters said this bill would allow for quicker repayment of federal advances and would stabilize the state's unemployment resources.

"We aren't being disparaging to any group of people," said Rep. Diane Franklin, R-Camdenton. "It isn't about the characteristics of those folks that are not employed. It is about the character of our state, the fiscal character of our state."

Just before the Senate began debate on a limited lobbyist restriction, another bill was filed that would impose a total ban on lobbyists providing anything of value to a legislator or statewide elected official.

The measure also would prohibit lobbyist gifts to the staff, spouses or children of legislators or statewide elected officials.

The measure's sponsor -- Sen. Robb Schaaf, R-St. Joseph -- described the current law which imposes no limit on lobbyist gifts, amounted to corruption.

"It's what I would call institutional corruption," Schaaf said. "It's corruption built into the system, not really the corruption of individuals. I think what we have are good people caught in a broken system."

Schaaf's proposal also would prohibit a legislator or statewide elected official from working as a lobbyist for three years after leaving office. Their employees would be barred from working as lobbyists until one year after leaving their government jobs.

The measure would would reinstate limits on campaign contributions that voters had approved, but which the legislature subsequently repealed.

Schaaf's proposal is a constitutional amendment that would statewide voter approval to take effect. If approved, any subsequent change such as repeal of the contribution limits, would require statewide voter approval.

After overwhelming Senate defeat of proposal for a limited restriction on lobbyists on the same day Schaaf sponsored his bill, he acknowledged his measure little chance of clearing the legislature.

However, he said his plan could be the foundation for an initiative petition effort to put the provisions on the statewide ballot.

The House Children and Family Committee voted to send legislation to the full House that would require women seeking an abortion to watch a video when going to the doctor.

This video would be presented in addition to the pamphlets doctors mandated to hand out.

Two bills dealing with abortion were discussed at the hearing Tuesday, Feb. 3.

The first would require yearly inspections for abortion clinics.

Campaign Life Missouri lobbyist Samuel Lee testified in favor of the bill.

"I don't know," He said. "How any reasonable person could be apposed to one annual inspection of an abortion clinic."

Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri's Evie Mead testified against the bill.

"If it were applying to all ambulatory surgical centers," She said. "Which are much more complicated and higher risk procedures are being performed that would maybe make some policy sense...Right now to us it looks like it's not health and safety motivated it looks like its politically motivated."

The other bill would put Planned Parenthood at the bottom of the list to receive state funding.

What has been hailed as one of, if not the biggest issue of the 2015 legislative session came before the Missouri Senate Tuesday, Feb. 3.

Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin,'s bill would require members of the General Assembly to wait two years after they leave office to become a lobbyist or paid political consultant.

Richard said this debate is needed in the Missouri legislature.

"We're going to start on a slow process and try to get a few of the transgressions that I see that have been happening recently," Richard said.

The bill would apply to lawmakers whose first term begins in January 2017, so it would not apply to any current member of the legislature or any current statewide elected official.

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis City, offered an amendment to ban all lawmakers, their staff, family, and dependent children from accepting any travel or sports/entertainment tickets from a lobbyist.

Nasheed said this amendment would go a long way in restoring trust between elected officials and their constituents.

"I believe at the end of the day, if we want to see our constituents have trust in the process in terms of the connections that we have with them versus with lobbyists, then I think this is the right thing to do," Nasheed said.

According to data from the Missouri Ethics Commission, Nasheed accepted sports/entertainment tickets from lobbyists eight times in 2013, totalling over $1,200.

Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Greene County, expressed doubt that Nasheed's amendment would solve Missouri's lack of ethics problem.

"There is something about avoiding even the appearance of wrongdoing that is kind of ancient wisdom, if you will," Dixon said.

The amendment received support from seven Republicans but failed to pass by a vote of 20-13.

Missouri House Speaker John Diehl prohibited committees from having meals during hearings on Tuesday, Feb. 3.

"I believe that committee meetings should be held to the same decorum as we have out on the House floor," said Diehl, R-Town and Country. "So I have instructed my chairmen that there will be no eating or meals provided during committee hearings."

Diehl said he will discuss whether or not to make the policy into a House rule. For now, he said he trusts chairmen will follow the new guideline.

"The direction of the speaker's office is fine with me," said one committee chair, Rep. Sue Entlicher, R-Bolivar.

In addition, Diehl banned off-site committee meetings. All House committee hearings will now take place inside of the Capitol.

The first bill aimed to change community relations with police officers following the unrest in Ferguson was met with no opposition in a House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee Mon., Feb. 2.

The bill proposed by Rep. Sharon Pace, D-St.Louis, would require all peace officers to complete diversity and sensitivity training.

They would also be required to learn strategies to better handle unrest and peaceful demonstrations.

Holly Roe spoke in favor of the bill on behalf of the Communications Workers of America.

Roe said this bill would put a stop to the inhumane way officers sometimes treat civilians.

She also said this fight has gone on for fifty years and America has not moved forward, but this bill would make progress.

"Right to work" legislation is still as divisive an issue as ever as the House Workforce Committee heard testimony regarding a bill that would prohibit employers from forcing workers to join a labor union.

Eric Burlison, R-Springfield, who sponsored the bill, told a packed hearing room that right to work legislation gives workers the freedom to decide whether they want to join a union rather than being forced to join one as a condition of employment.

Bob Burns, D-St. Louis County, said Burlison's emphasis on restoring freedoms guaranteed to workers by the founders of our country was backwards.

"[The Founding Fathers] were the same people that were white slave owners that didn't give women the right to vote," Burns said. "They had the rule of thumb which means you could your wife with...a rule that was smaller than your thumb. Is that what you want to go back to?"

"I'm not going to respond to that," Burlison said. "That's absurd."

Burns also discussed the impact labor unions have had on the country's history, including promoting education among laborers and stopping child labor.

"The unions in the coal mines, after being shot down like dogs, organized and got these five and six-year-old kids, right here in America, out of the coal mines," Burns said.

Not everyone shares Burns's view.

For Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, right to work legislation would bring back economic opportunities to Missouri and hopefully stop the flight of workers from St. Louis to states with better job opportunities, including Texas.

"Across I-44 from where thousands of Missourians used to be employed at the Chrysler plants, two of them until just a few years ago, we have the world's largest mover: United Van Lines," Kinder said. "They placed St. Louis No. 1 in outflow of people who were headed South and West because opportunity that existed when many of us were growing up in this state...those opportunities are gone and they're not coming back."

As a member of a labor union, Clem Smith, D-St. Louis County, asked Burlison about his offiliation to any labor unions.

Burlison said he is not a member of any unions.

Marion Hayes, the CEO of a St. Louis-area electric company, testified at the hearing and discussed the benefits of labor unions promoting diversity, especially after the unrest in Ferguson.

"As an African American male who still lives in North County, and what happened this summer, I think those are very important stories and things that need to be brought out to you as legislators in terms of the benefits that unions are representing African American workers," Hayes said.

The hearing was held Monday, Feb. 2.

Lobbyists raised questions about a bill that would max out the value of gifts they give to $30 during a House Governmental Accountability Committee hearing Monday, Feb. 3.

During the hearing, two lobbyists and committee members asked about the complications that could arise from this bill.

Samuel Licklider, a long-time lobbyist, raised the question of how this bill would go about setting certain limits for lobbyists whose family members and spouses work for the legislature.

"I think you have a public policy question of how deeply do you delve into peoples personal intimate lives," Licklider said.

Michael Reid, who represents the Missouri Society of Governmental Consultants, asked about the limits of the $30 gift.

"Lobbyists don't care, it's not for us to make the policy decisions, it's up for you to make the policy decisions on where they should be and how much they should be," said Reid. " The real question is, is that $30 per day? Is that $30 per year? Is that $30 per client? Is that $30 per lobbyist? Is that $30 per principle? We just want to make sure that's clear."

Last Week

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.

-Get the radio stories

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.