Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 6:42 pm
A new audit released Tuesday finds that some welfare recipients in Missouri have used their benefits to buy things besides food and other daily necessities, while others may have moved away but continue to get in-state benefits.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has announced plans to use a bond issue to pay for construction of a new state psychiatric hospital in Fulton.
Fulton State Hospital opened in 1851 and is the oldest state mental hospital west of the Mississippi River. Nixon says the bond issue will be part of his overall state budget request for next year, and that it’s sorely needed to rebuild an aging and sometimes dangerous facility.
“Based on workers’ compensation costs, it’s far more dangerous to work here at Fulton than any Department of Corrections facility,” said Nixon.
Two Missouri House committees have passed the Senate version of the Boeing incentives bill, which now heads to the full House for floor debate.
Much of Thursday's discussion focused on a handful of amendments the Senate added to the bill, including one that requires Boeing to report each year on its efforts to hire women and minorities, and another that would require the 777-X project to be profitable in ten years.
House Member Anne Zerr, who’s handling the Senate bill, says she thinks the additional language makes it better.
Legislation that would provide tax breaks for Boeing to build its 777X passenger jet in Missouri was passed Tuesday night by two legislative committees.
First, the Missouri Senate Committee on Economic Development passed their version of the bill, followed a few hours later by the House Economic Development Committee passing its version. There are no major differences in the two – both would provide $150 million in incentives to Boeing to build the 777X at its campus near Lambert Airport.
Missouri's special legislative session kicked off late Monday afternoon, as lawmakers officially began work on Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's proposal to land Boeing's contract to build the 777X passenger jet.
The Missouri House briefly convened around 4:00 p.m. and adjourned for the day roughly 10 minutes later. Republican Speaker Tim Jones said afterwards that the Governor has been mum so far on the total projected cost of the Boeing project and the projected return on investment.
A new railroad bridge over the Osage River between St. Louis and Jefferson City is now open for both passenger and freight train use.
The new bridge cost $28 million, with most of the funds coming from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Federal Railroad Administrator Joe Szabo says the project came in under budget and ahead of schedule.
“We now have double-track running the entire stretch from Jefferson City to St. Louis, and delays caused by rail traffic funneling into a single track over the old bridge are now a thing of the past,” said Szabo.
Missouri will allow health insurance companies to continue offering policies that otherwise would have been canceled under the terms of the new federal health care law.
Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon announced Thursday that the state will let insurers sell individual and small-group policies in 2014 that were to be canceled because they didn't meet federal coverage requirements taking effect next year.
The Missouri Department of Revenue must now accept joint state income tax returns from same-sex married couples, following an executive order issued Thursday by Gov. Jay Nixon.
Gov. Nixon says the order is necessary for two reasons – because Missouri law requires married couples who file joint federal tax returns to also file joint state returns, and because of the U.S. Treasury Department’s recent decision to recognize same-sex marriages, even for couples living in states that don’t recognize gay marriage.
An interim committee of the Missouri Senate has adopted a draft report with recommendations on reforming the state’s Medicaid system, but the report specifically leaves out the possibility of Medicaid expansion.
The Republican chair of the committee, Gary Romine of Farmington, says Medicaid must be reformed before any expansion can be considered. Democrats balked at that position, but then said they’d back the committee’s report if they could add language reflecting that the majority of public testimony collected called for expanding Medicaid.
A state audit released Tuesday finds that local governments and school districts in Missouri have cost themselves $43 million by not allowing competition for underwriting public bonds.
Republican State Auditor Tom Schweich cites the practice of negotiated bond sales, in which an underwriter is hired in advance and sometimes acts as a financial advisor to the local government that issues the bond.
The Missouri Clean Water Commission has approved a sweeping regulatory overhaul of the state's water quality standards.
In a vote held Wednesday, the governor-appointed seven-person panel unanimously approved revised regulations that greatly expand the number of protected water bodies in the state. An additional 2,100 lakes and 90,000 miles of rivers and streams will gain protection under the law, including specific limits on bacteria and other pollutants.
An interim Missouri House committee has resumed examining the state’s Medicaid system this week. Lawmakers spent part of Tuesday taking a closer look at how some other states with GOP-led legislatures have expanded Medicaid
Committee member Chris Molendorp was the only House Republican to support Medicaid expansion during this year’s legislative session. He says Missouri should consider adopting Florida’s practice of using Medicaid to cover so-called wrap-around services, such as providing transportation for kidney dialysis patients.
Public schools in Kansas City, Mo. will remain unaccredited.
The State Board of Education on Tuesday chose to take no action on a request by Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Green to grant provisional accreditation, based on this year's assessment scores in which the district placed within the provisional range. But State Board President Peter Herschend says there hasn't been sufficient improvement sustained over a period of time.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, says next year he's going to propose a higher education budget that's "substantially" larger that it's been in recent years.
Nixon made that promise Monday to a group of higher education officials meeting in Jefferson City, Mo., though he won't say yet how high his proposed budget hike will be. He also says his higher budget proposal could be rendered moot if this year's failed income tax cut legislation is revived next year.
An official with the Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS) briefed a House Interim Committee Monday on Governor Jay Nixon's proposed rule change to cut able-bodied adults without children from the federal food stamp program (SNAP) if they don't have a job.
Allison Campbell with the DSS Family Support Division says they initially sought to implement the change on October 1st via emergency rule, but she admits that approach was a mistake.
Visitors to Missouri can once again go up in the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and pitch tents at federally-run campsites, now that the government shutdown has ended.
The Arch in downtown St. Louis opened Thursday without any problems and with the average number of visitors wanting to go inside, according to representatives with the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. There were also no issues with the reopening of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways in southern Missouri.
Missouri gas stations will not be selling E-15 anytime soon. A joint House-Senate committee voted Wednesday to reject a rule change sought by the State Agriculture Department that would have allowed sales of fuel containing 15 percent ethanol.
Republican Sen. Eric Schmitt of St. Louis County chairs the committee. He says their vote had nothing to do with their opinion on increasing ethanol use in Missouri.
The federal government shutdown has now hit the Missouri National Guard.
Late Wednesday, the Guard furloughed nearly a thousand of their 1,400 federal technicians considered to be non-essential. Spokeswoman, Major Tammy Spicer, says the technicians include both civilian and uniformed staff.
"Full-time federal technicians do a variety of jobs across the state, anything from clerical, to mechanical, to aviation related," Spicer said.
Just over 400 federal technicians considered essential remain on duty. Meanwhile, weekend drills have also been called off.
A lawsuit that’s delaying the implementation of Missouri’s student transfer law in the Kansas City area was heard Wednesday by the Missouri Supreme Court. At issue is a lower court ruling that declared the law to be an unfunded mandate for schools in Independence, North Kansas City and Lee’s Summit, but not for Blue Springs and Raytown.
Attorney Duane Martin argued Blue Springs’ position before the High Court, saying it would be an unfunded mandate for them as well.
A joint House-Senate committee heard testimony Tuesday on the effects of Missouri's school transfer law, which allows students from unaccredited K-12 schools to transfer to nearby accredited districts.
The 5 1/2-hour hearing kicked off with Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)Commissioner Chris Nicastro telling the committee of the dire situation facing the state's unaccredited school districts.