Missouri lawmakers return to Jefferson City on Wednesday for the start of this year’s legislative session. 2011 was marked by House and Senate Republicans fighting with each other over tax credits and redistricting, while still managing to take pot shots at Democratic Governor Jay Nixon’s handling of the state budget.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Republican leaders in the Missouri House are pleased, but not impressed, with Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster's decision to file a legal brief in support of Florida's lawsuit challenging the federal health care law.
Jefferson City, MO – Though the recent trend in Missouri has been to go smoke free, the Missouri House voted Thursday to continue to allow smoking in members' offices in the Capitol building.
Smoking is already banned on the House floor and in the public viewing chambers above. But an attempt was made Thursday to extend that ban to the entire House side of the State Capitol, including the individual offices of every House member. The measure was sponsored by Democrat Jeanette Mott Oxford of St. Louis.
Jefferson City, MO – The Republican-dominated Missouri House has passed a non-binding resolution urging state officials to join a multistate lawsuit challenging the federal health care overhaul and calling on Congress to repeal the law.
The House approved the resolution Tuesday on a vote of 115-46.
The measure calls on Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster to join with other states in suing over the federal health care law passed last year, or to file a separate suit.
Kansas City, MO – Pharmacies in Missouri would not be required to stock the "morning after" pill and could not be sued for it, under legislation proposed in the Missouri House.
The bill is sponsored by State Representative David Sater (R, Cassville), who owned and operated a pharmacy in Barry County for 30 years. He says it would not bar pharmacies from selling the pill, but would guarantee their right not to if the owners so choose.
Jefferson City, MO – The Republican majority in the Missouri General Assembly has grown larger, particularly in the (Missouri) House. St. Louis Public Radio's Marshall Griffin reports.
Republicans picked up 17 seats in the State House, beating ten incumbents and winning seven open seats held by departing Democrats. That means they'll now hold 106 seats to the Democrats' 57. The new GOP caucus has also elected new leaders, choosing Steven Tilley of Perryville as the next Speaker of the House.
Jefferson City, MO – Missouri election officials are predicting 51 percent of Missouri voters will cast ballots in the general election next Tuesday. Laura Egerdal with the Secretary of State's office says that number is about average for a non-presidential election year. But she also warns that long lines are possible late in the day.
Jefferson City, MO – Missouri Governor Jay Nixon made a rare campaign appearance Monday for fellow Democrat Robin Carnahan (Secretary of State, running for US Senate) at an event near Kansas City (Excelsior Springs). The governor has been mostly avoiding the campaign trail this year, which he suggests can also be a winning strategy. St. Louis Public Radio's Marshall Griffin explains.
Nixon says he can best help Democrats running for office by doing his job as governor.
Jeffrson City, MO – Attorneys general in all 50 states are jointly investigating whether mortgage companies mishandled documents that resulted in hundreds of thousands of home foreclosures across the country.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster says it appears that some foreclosure affidavits were signed without confirming whether the information contained in them was accurate, a process known as "robo-signing."
Jefferson City, MO – The deadline to register to vote in Missouri this year has passed. State officials now turn their attention to absentee voting and making sure people's addresses are correct. St. Louis Public Radio's Marshall Griffin reports.
Laura Egerdal with the Secretary of State's office says Missourians who want an absentee ballot mailed to them have until October 27th to request one.
Jefferson City, MO – Missouri's congressional candidates have been added to a national database whose creators say will show voters where they're likely to stand on national issues. It's called Vote Easy, and it was set up by Montana-based Project Vote Smart.
Adelaide Kimball is a board member and senior advisor for the group. She says most candidates don't like telling voters how they would vote on such issues as abortion, immigration and gun control.
Jefferson City, MO – The heavy rainfall and flooding in parts of the Midwest have so far not delayed crop harvests in Missouri. Last year's drenching rains led to late corn and soybean harvests and prevented farmers in Missouri from planting winter wheat. Gene Danekas with the U.S.D.A. says this year's situation is not as severe.
"42 percent, almost half of the corn, has been harvested, that's well over 3 weeks faster than we were last year," says Danekas. "I know there's some wet fields, especially after this last week, so that'll probably slow them down somewhat."
Jefferson City, MO – Union leaders in Missouri are not happy with a new health insurance plan for state employees. It replaces the current co-pay system with one that requires state workers to pay deductibles. Richard von Glahn is with the Missouri State Workers Union.
"We are frustrated because state employees are gonna be faced with higher out-of-pocket health care costs the Missouri legislature continues to choose policies that balance our revenue crisis on the backs of state workers," says von Glahn.
St. Louis, MO – A short video featuring an interview with Missouri Democratic Senate nominee Robin Carnahan combined with a photo of World Trade Center rubble has been removed from Republican Roy Blunt's YouTube site. The clip contains a radio interview, in which Carnahan says she would not try to tell New Yorkers whether or not a mosque should be built near the site of the 9-11 attack. When St. Louis Public Radio's Marshall Griffin asked Blunt about the video, Blunt objected to the question:
Jefferson City, MO – Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed and vetoed several bills Wednesday, the final day for action on legislation passed during the 2010 regular session.
First, Governor Nixon signed legislation creating new ethics rules. It restricts money transfers between political committees and allows the Missouri Ethics Commission to launch its own investigations, instead of waiting for complaints to be filed by others. But it does not restore campaign contribution limits, which Democrats had been calling for.
Jefferson City, MO – Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has been signing dozens of bills into law since the regular legislative session ended in May. But two controversial bills remain unsigned as the deadline approaches.
One of those bills deals with ethics. Provisions include restricting political committee-to-committee money transfers and allowing the Ethics Commission to launch investigations. The other bill would expand the information women must be told 24 hours before getting an abortion.
Kansas City, MO – Missouri Senate leaders are bypassing a committee that's blocking legislation to provide auto incentives during the ongoing special session.
Republican Chuck Purgason, chair of the senate's Fiscal Oversight committee, is blocking a vote on the House bill that contains both incentives for Ford Motor Company and tax breaks for underground data centers. So Senate leaders have crafted a separate bill that excludes the data centers. It's sponsored by Republican Luann Ridgeway of Platte County:
Jefferson City, MO – A lawsuit has been filed in Jefferson City that's designed to stop the August 3rd referendum on Missouri's participation in the new national health care law. The referendum was approved by the Missouri House and Senate this year, and it states that citizens cannot be forced to buy health insurance against their will.
Jefferson City, MO – Elderly Missourians who qualify for $250 rebate checks from Medicare are being warned to watch out for scam artists.
The checks that are being mailed out are legitimate, but seniors who receive them may be targeted by con artists. State Attorney General Chris Koster says recipients should not give out their personal information to anyone calling to ask for it.
Jefferson City, MO – Mental Health officials in Missouri are awaiting word if Governor Jay Nixon will cut their budget even more than lawmakers did this year.
Of the $484 million lawmakers cut from the state budget in April, nearly $26 million came from the Department of Mental Health, which oversees programs dealing with psychiatric health, drug and alcohol abuse, and Medicaid patients.
Jefferson City, Mo. – A final vote by the Missouri House yesterday has authorized a referendum for August over the state's participation in the new federal health care law.
The referendum states that citizens and employers cannot be compelled to take part in any public or private health care system. It's designed to challenge the new health care law signed by President Obama that requires most Americans to have health insurance or face fines.
GOP House Speaker Pro-tem Bryan Pratt (R, Blue Springs) strongly supported the bill.
Jefferson City, Mo. – A revised bill that would require insurance companies to cover some of the cost of therapy for children with autism has passed the Missouri Senate.
The bill mandates that health insurance companies provide up to $45,000 a year in coverage for kids with autism age 18 and younger. That's $10,000 a year less than the original Senate bill, and it drops those ages 19 and 20 from being eligible.
Jefferson City, Mo. – A majority of home care workers in Missouri have voted in favor of union representation. The results were announced today in Jefferson City, with about 60% of the state's home care workers voting to unionize. The workers provide various services for people who are homebound, such as transportation, shopping, cooking and bathing.
Jefferson City, Mo. – The Missouri Senate has passed a bill that would outlaw K-2, a group of synthetic compounds that attempt to mimic the effects of marijuana. But the chamber also lessened the proposed penalties for possessing the compounds.
The version passed by the House would make possession of any amount of K-2 a felony. The Senate amended the bill to make possession of less than 35 grams a misdemeanor, the same as with marijuana.