Missouri General Assembly

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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A month ago, St. Louis Public Radio reported on the questionable manner in which the state of Missouri got ahold of its potential execution drug. Now Missouri has a new plan to go ahead with two upcoming executions, but the process is anything but open.

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.

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In partnership with NPR, St. Louis Public Radio has created a new website to keep track of all the gifts Missouri state lawmakers have been receiving from companies and organizations that have lobbyists at the capitol in Jefferson City. And, the information is searchable and downloadable. 

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Missouri’s former Congressman Ike Skelton was buried in his home town of Lexington, Mo. Monday, amid the kind of military honors normally reserved for generals and admirals.

Skelton served 17 terms in Congress from Missouri’s 4th District, many of them as powerful Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

He died of pneumonia last week at age 81. 

Skelton championed a strong American military. It was fitting his funeral service was at Wentworth Military Academy and College in Lexington.

Skelton’s Baptist Pastor Everett Hannon Jr. led the service.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Members of a Missouri House interim committee tasked with improving government efficiency complained Wednesday about not having access to the full budgets of any of the state's universities.

The committee was examining the Department of Higher Education. Republican committee member Kathie Conway of St. Charles says the department's annual budget requests to the Governor's office do not contain line-by-line expense requests she says the committee needs to do its job.

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.

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Two bills recently vetoed by Governor Nixon are on the table for the Missouri General Assembly. Republicans are seeking to overthrow the governor's vetoes on two separate bills dealing with tax cuts and gun control.

House Bill 253 is a tax cut proposal for individuals, business owners, and corporations. The bill seeks to make Missouri more competitive with Kansas and to a more tax-friendly state. Governor Nixon vetoed House Bill 253 because he said it would gut funding for education and social services.

Dan Verbeck / KCUR

At a town hall meeting, most Kansas Citians urged Congressman Emanuel Cleaver to vote 'no' on a military intervention in Syria. Cleaver and much of the local Missouri Congressional delegation has not taken a position on Syria, but in Kansas most will be voting against authorizing military strikes.

Most tell Cleaver to vote 'no'

More than 200 people crowded into a room at Metropolitan Community College and nearly all stayed on topic about Syria.

Steven Platt was worried the United States cannot afford more military action.

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

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Payday lenders are notorious for their sky high interest rates, and the people who use these storefront creditors are oftentimes the ones least able to pay.

In the first part of Wednesday's Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with ProPublica reporter Paul Kiel about the situation in Missouri, where attempts to regulate these businesses—such as capping interest rates—keep getting defeated.  

Dan Verbeck / KCUR

Missouri’s Democratic Governor and the Republican led legislature are again nose-to-nose and toe-to-toe over gun control.

Gov. Jay Nixon has vetoed what supporters of the bill call one of the most gun friendly in the country.

Local reaction was swift and heated.

Nice restaurants in Jefferson City should be sad to see the Missouri Legislative session end. They’ve received tens of thousands of dollars worth of business from lobbyists courting Missouri’s legislators over dinners and drinks.

Who were the legislators taken out for expensive meals? Well, in many cases, we don’t really know.

The Missouri General Assembly wraps up today. Will your income taxes be cut? Will sales taxes jump to pay for highways?

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The last day of this year's Missouri legislative session has arrived.  Lawmakers will be pushing to get several more pieces of legislation across the finish line.

The House passed a package of tax credits on Thursday that's still awaiting action in the Senate.  The two chambers still differ on where to cap the state's most widely used incentives - for historic preservation and low-income Housing.  Ron Richard, the Senate's Republican Floor Leader, says he hopes to get some sort of economic development bill passed.

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At approximately the half-way mark for its 2013 session, the Missouri General Assembly has in some ways performed as expected, but has also delivered some genuine surprises.

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Republican leaders in the Missouri House are promising to fast track legislation that would forbid the state from scanning and storing documents of residents who apply for conceal-carry endorsements. 

Some GOP lawmakers have accused the state agency of forwarding copies of conceal-carry applications and other documents to the federal Homeland Security department. 

House Speaker Tim Jones says he’s disturbed by the allegations.

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Two bills that would create a prescription drug monitoring program in Missouri received a hearing Thursday before a State Senate committee. But one version of the bill is structured in a way that’s designed to block the proposal.

Physician and GOP Senator Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph is an outspoken critic of prescription drug monitoring. He says it would violate citizens’ privacy rights.

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The Missouri Senate passed two sets of tax credit legislation.  So far this year, the Senate may no longer be the place where tax credits go to die.

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