Marshall Griffin

Marshall Griffin is the Statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.

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Government
7:48 am
Tue December 3, 2013

Mo. Lawmakers Start Work On Boeing Proposal Despite Questions

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.

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Government
8:03 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Missouri Lawmakers Look At Deal To Land Boeing

Missouri Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon has called lawmakers back to Jefferson City for a special session in an attempt to win a contract from Boeing to build the 777X passenger jet.

Missouri's regular session for 2014 begins in just over a month, but in a press release Nixon says holding a special session is necessary because Boeing's deadline for proposals is Dec. 10.

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Education
9:16 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Legislators Call For Resignation Of Missouri Education Commissioner

Two members of the Missouri General Assembly are calling on elementary and secondary education Commissioner Chris Nicastro to resign. They think Nicastro has lost the public’s trust.

In a written statement, House member Genise Montecillo and Sen. Paul LeVota, both Democrats, say Nicastro has, “demonstrated a troubling tendency to abuse power.”

Montecillo specifically accuses Nicastro of releasing inaccurate information regarding a proposed constitutional amendment to do away with teacher tenure.

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Transportation
7:39 am
Tue November 26, 2013

New Rail Bridge Opens Between St. Louis And Jefferson City

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.

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Health
8:43 am
Fri November 22, 2013

Missouri Lets Insurers Renew Canceled Health Policies

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. 

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Government
7:21 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Missouri Will Accept Joint Returns From Married Same-Sex Couples

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.

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Government
8:22 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Missouri Lawmakers Reject Medicaid Expansion

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.

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Government
7:57 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Audit Finds No-Bid Bonds Cost Missouri Taxpayers $43 Million

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.

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NPR Story
7:22 am
Mon November 11, 2013

12 Sites In Missouri Nominated For National Register Of Historic Places

The old Hamiltonian Federal Savings and Loan Assoc. building in St. Louis.
Preservation Research Office

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 2:57 pm

The Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation has nominated 12 sites across the state to be added to the National Register of Historic Places.

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Environment
8:24 am
Thu November 7, 2013

New Clean Water Rules Protect More Streams And Lakes In Missouri

Missouri's new clean water standards will protect tens-of-thousands of additional miles of rivers and streams.
Credit Kelsey Proud / St. Louis Public Radio

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.

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Government
8:15 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Missouri House Committee Examines Medicaid

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.

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Government
8:17 am
Fri October 25, 2013

Nixon Withdraws Proposed Food Stamp Cut

A proposed rule change that would have eliminated food stamp eligibility for about 58,000 Missourians has been withdrawn by Gov. Jay Nixon.

The governor had sought to cut eligibility for unemployed adults without children, citing concerns over the amount of federal funds available for state-run food assistance programs. 

Fellow Democrat and State Senator Jamilah Nasheed of St. Louis says she’s elated by the governor’s reversal.

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Government
8:30 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Gov. Nixon Pledges Full Funding For K-12 Schools

Two days after pledging to significantly raise Missouri’s Higher Education budget next year, Gov. Jay Nixon Wednesday pledged to do the same for the state’s public schools.

Nixon told K-12 school leaders in Jefferson City that the state’s triple-A credit rating and improving economy will enable his administration to spend more money on educating Missouri’s children.

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NPR Story
7:23 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Deer Hunters Asked To Help Prevent Spread of Chronic Wasting Disease In Mo.

(via Flickr/Robert Scoble)

Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 9:21 am

Conservation officials in Missouri want deer hunters to take precautions this fall in order to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.

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Education
7:15 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Kansas City Public Schools Denied Provisional Accreditation

KCPS Superintendent Green on Tuesday said the district will continue "full throttle" in its efforts to regain accreditation.
Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR

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.

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Government
7:36 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Nixon Says He'll Propose More Money For Higher Education

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.

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Government
4:55 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Public Comment Will Be Allowed On Mo. Food Stamp Rule Change

Credit clementine gallot / Flickr

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.

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Government
4:34 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Missouri National Park Sites Reopen

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. 

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Government
3:46 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Missouri Lawmakers Block Sale Of E-15 Gasoline

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.

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Government
7:28 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Mo. Supreme Court Hears Case Involving Second Injury Fund

(via Flickr/david_shane)

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 11:52 am

Missouri's long-ailing Second Injury Fund is at the center of a lawsuit heard Tuesday before the State Supreme Court.

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Government
10:08 am
Tue October 8, 2013

Mo. Lawmakers Mulling Rule Change For Ethanol Use

(via Flickr/bradleypjohnson)

Originally published on Mon October 7, 2013 5:44 pm

The Missouri Department of Agriculture is proposing a rule change that would allow more ethanol to be blended into gasoline sold in the Show-Me State.

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Government
6:33 am
Fri October 4, 2013

Mo. National Guard Ready For Emergencies Despite Furloughs

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.

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Education
4:32 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Mo. Supreme Court Hears Arguments About Student Transfer Law

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.

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Government
8:34 am
Wed October 2, 2013

Mo. Education Leader: Transfer Law Cripples Unaccredited Schools

The Joint Committee on Education meets at the Mo. Capitol on Oct. 1, 2013.
Credit Marshall Griffin / St. Louis Public Radio

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.

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Government
7:30 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Mo. House Committee Kicks Off Series Of Medicaid Hearings

A series of hearings by state lawmakers into Missouri's Medicaid system has begun.

The interim House Committee on Medicaid Transformation spent much of the Thursday looking at proposed changes in Arkansas and Iowa, which would include expanding access to private health insurers and rewarding healthy behavior.  

Sidney Watson is a law professor at St. Louis University who also advocates for improved access to Medicaid. She told the committee more about the waiver Iowa is seeking from the federal government.

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Government
9:24 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Handgun Found At Mo. Capitol Stirs Gun Control Debate

There could be an effort next year to change the law allowing Missouri lawmakers and others to carry guns at the State Capitol.

A loaded handgun was found by police in the basement of the Capitol last week. It had been left in a men's bathroom on top of a toilet paper dispenser. Police discovered that it belonged to a staff member of Republican House Speaker Tim Jones, and that the staffer does have a conceal-carry permit. Jacob Hummel, the top Democrat in the Missouri House, says only law enforcement officers should be allowed to carry arms at the State Capitol.

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Government
9:21 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Hanaway May Run For Missouri Governor In 2016

(UPI photo)

Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 9:40 am

Former Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway says she's considering running for Governor in 2016.

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Government
9:27 am
Tue September 24, 2013

Kinder Blasts Obamacare One Week Before Health Exchange Opens

Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, a Republican, blasted President Obama's Affordable Care Act Monday, just over one week before Missouri's federally-run health insurance exchange is scheduled to open for business.

Kinder told reporters during a conference call that he hopes Missouri residents without health coverage will opt not to use the exchange.

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Government
9:28 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Mo. Congressman Luetkemeyer Speaks Out On Syria And Budget

Missouri U.S. Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer,a Republican, is blasting the Obama Administration for the way it's handled the crisis in Syria.

Luetkemeyer spoke Monday before a small group of business leaders in Jefferson City. He told them that Syrian officials used chemical weapons against their own people because they fear no repercussions from the U.S.

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Missouri Statehouse
8:17 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Nixon Releases $215M For State Needs, But Republicans Call For More

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, has released just over half of the $400 million he withheld earlier this year from Missouri's current state budget.

In a press release, he announced that $215 million will be divvied up among K-12 schools, higher education, mental health programs and specific programs for training health care professionals in southwest Missouri. Nixon released the money Thursday, one day after Republican lawmakers failed to override his veto of a controversial tax cut bill.

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