Jefferson City, Mo. – The Missouri Senate is scheduled to debate its main ethics bill on Wednesday.
The bill would expand income reporting requirements to legislative staff members, provide the state Ethics Commission with a full-time investigator, and bar campaign contributions when the legislature is in session. It would not, however, reinstate campaign contribution limits. Senate President Pro-Tem Charlie Shields sponsored the bill.
Kansas City, Mo. – The Missouri Senate has overwhelmingly passed a resolution rejecting the State Tax Commission's move to reassess property values for the state's farmlands.
The State Tax Commission last month recommended raising the productive value of the state's best agricultural land by 29% and lowering values on low-producing lots by 25%. GOP Senator Bill Stouffer says in addition to crop growers, the move would hurt cattle ranchers, even though pasture land assessments would go down.
Jefferson City, Mo. – Supporters and opponents of scrapping the state income tax in favor of an expanded sales tax sounded off on the issue at a Missouri Senate committee.
Among the resolution's supporters was lobbyist and former GOP House Member Ed Robb. He told the Senate committee on fiscal oversight that the measure would transform Missouri into a "mecca for investment and job opportunities."
Jefferson City, Mo. – Legislation that would expand Missouri's ban on texting-while-driving to everyone has drawn lots of support. In a Senate committee meeting, lobbyists for highway workers, law enforcement, senior citizens, and bicyclists spoke in favor of the bill. No one spoke against it. The bill is sponsored by Democratic Senator Ryan McKenna of Jefferson County.
Jefferson City, Mo. – Missouri's budget picture remains bleak, as lawmakers begin to consider Governor Jay Nixon's spending plan and come up with their own.
State Budget Director Linda Luebbering reminded the Senate Appropriations Committee Monday that revenue collections will continue to lag. But she also said Missouri is expected to receive $300 million in federal dollars that can be used for state expenses.
GOP Senator Kurt Schaefer of Columbia expressed concern that the Nixon Administration is depending on money that may not come.
Jefferson City, Mo. – The Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments last Thursday regarding how much money people can be awarded in medical malpractice cases.
In 2005, James and Mary Klotz won a lawsuit against a St. Louis area hospital, after James contracted a staph infection while receiving a pacemaker. But the damages they won were limited due to a state law passed the same year they won their case that allows caps to be place retroactively on non-economic damages in medical malpractice suits.
Jefferson City, Mo. – Republican leaders in the Missouri House and Senate returned to their party's traditional themes, after talking up ethics and the economy on the legislature's opening day last week.
Led by Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, GOP leaders pledged first and foremost not to raise taxes this year.
"Taking more money from Missouri families is not a sensible solution to fix whatever budget problems we face today," said Kinder.
Jefferson City, MO – The former state Department of Natural Resources official who took the blame for delaying the release last year of E. coli test results from the Lake of the Ozarks defended his actions before a Missouri Senate committee.
Jefferson City, MO – State and local officials have unveiled redevelopment plans for the old Missouri State Prison in Jefferson City.
Plans for the 140-acre site include government buildings, privately-owned residential and retail space, and preserving much of the historical prison facility. Kelvin Simmons heads Governor Nixon's Office of Administration:
"We'll continue to try to do the environmental, do the clean-up, get the infrastructure in place, and then the next thing is try to entice private developers."
Kansas City, MO – Missouri Governor Jay Nixon wants increased regulatory authority as a means of protecting water quality at the Lake of the Ozarks. And that proposal comes on the same day the latest test results are released.
Jefferson City, MO – The Missouri Attorney General's office is warning the elderly to beware of phone calls from people claiming to be their grandchildren.
The scam works like this: A caller posing as the grandchild will phone the victim, claim that he or she's in Canada and has been arrested or injured in an accident, and ask for money to be wired there via Western Union.
Attorney General Chris Koster says 20 elderly people have fallen victim to the scam.
Jefferson City, MO – A group opposing abortion and a type of stem cell research they consider to be human cloning has filed a federal lawsuit against Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan and State Auditor Susan Montee.
Missouri Roundtable for Life accuses Carnahan of using language in their ballot questions designed to prejudice voters against their initiatives, and accuses Montee of drafting financial impact statements that are also designed to have a negative impact.