Marshall Griffin

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

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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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

A joint Missouri House/Senate committee heard testimony Tuesday on whether the state's teacher tenure system is working.

Among those testifying was Mark Van Zandt, General Counsel for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). He says tenured teachers can be held accountable under the current system.

"There are procedures in place, if a teacher is not meeting the standards that are expected of them, in terms of instruction," Van Zandt said. "There can be consequences."

An audit released Monday finds that the Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR) broke state law with its now-defunct policy of scanning documents of driver's license and conceal-carry applicants.

The showdown between Missouri's Democratic Governor and the Republican-led General Assembly finally arrives this week, as lawmakers return to Jefferson City for their annual veto session.  Governor Jay Nixon struck down 29 bills this year, with most of the post-veto attention falling on two bills in particular, a controversial tax cut proposal and an even more controversial attempt to nullify federal gun control laws. 

Campaign to prevent House Bill 253 override attempt

Several police departments and organizations around Missouri are speaking out against a bill that would bar enforcement of federal gun laws if they interfere with a Missourian's Second Amendment rights.

St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch says House Bill 436 would in effect end cooperation between local and federal law enforcement agencies.  He cites a recent traffic stop where his officers apprehended two armed men wanted for different crimes.

A report released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows the number of Missouri households threatened by hunger has grown over the past three years.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is siding with fellow Democrat, Gov. Jay Nixon, in opposition to legislation that would challenge the federal government's ability to enforce federal gun laws in Show-Me State.

Drought conditions are again plaguing the northern half of Missouri, according to the latest U.S. drought monitor report.

Right now, a large portion of north central Missouri is experiencing severe drought, with most of the rest of northern Missouri is in moderate drought. 

Anthony Artusa is with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center at the University of Maryland.

The American Civil Liberties Union hopes to block two executions in Missouri this fall by seeking to disqualify the anesthesiologist used by the Department of Corrections.

An estimated 200 people braved the heat and humidity to gather outside the Missouri Capitol and commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered during the March on Washington on August 28th, 1963.

Several speakers took turns reading portions of King's famous speech, including the Reverend James Howard Jr. of Jefferson City.

August 28 arrives on Wednesday, meaning dozens of new state laws will take effect in Missouri.

The Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS) has again come under the microscope of an interim legislative committee looking into whether state agencies are operating efficiently.

Marshall Griffin / St. Louis Public Radio

After a controversial inductee last year, Missouri residents are being given the chance this year to nominate two of the next three inductees for the Hall of Famous Missourians.

House Speaker Tim Jones, a Republican from Eureka, says he made the decision to seek citizens' input, in part, to see if someone who's worthy of induction has been forgotten over time or overlooked.

Missouri's sole nuclear power plant is back online after being shut down for more than three weeks.

Ameren Missouri's Callaway Energy Center was taken off line July 26 after an electrical arc caused a small fire.  The plant resumed operations Sunday morning.  Spokesman Cleve Reasoner says the arc was triggered when a ventilation louver came loose and got too close to the power cables.

A Missouri Senate interim committee looking into the state's Medicaid system heard from several doctors and other health care providers Wednesday at a hearing in Jefferson City.  

Among those testifying was Thomas Hale, M.D., a St. Louis-based physician working with Sisters of Mercy.  He told the panel that Medicaid needs to be expanded to make up for the pending loss of federal reimbursements to hospitals, known as DSH payments ("dish").

The chair of an interim Missouri House committee looking at ways to downsize state government says they've handed off their findings to the Speaker's office.

Missouri's overall drought picture is vastly improved this summer over what it was during last year's extreme heat and dry conditions.

Still, drought remains an immediate threat to portions of the Show-Me State. Mark Fuchs is a hydrologist with the National Weather Service office in St. Louis.

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