Missouri General Assembly

Increased spending on education and another call to expand Medicaid highlighted Gov. Jay Nixon’s State of the State Address before the Missouri General Assembly Tuesday.

The speech received cheers and standing ovations from fellow Democrats, but stony silence from the Republican majorities in the House and Senate.

Courtesy / jaynixon.com

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon delivered his sixth State of the State address Tuesday evening at the Statehouse in Jefferson City, Mo. He presented his proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, and called for an increase of $278 million to K-12 schools and a freeze on undergraduate tuition. 

His speech was followed by the Republican response, delivered by House speaker Tim Jones of Eureka.

Saint Louis Public Radio and the Beacon live-blogged the speech. You can follow along below.

The Speaker of the Missouri House is pushing lawmakers to restore caps on damages in medical malpractice lawsuits.

Missouri law created a $350,000 cap on non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. But that cap was tossed out in 2012 by the Missouri Supreme Court.

House Speaker Tim Jones says without the cap, millions of dollars could be shifted from patient care to legal defense costs.

Missouri Secretary of State's Office

Missouri Secretary of State, Jason Kander, released a proposal Tuesday to change Missouri's campaign finance regulations. But, it is a long-shot in the Republican-led legislature.

In the first part of Wednesday's Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with Kander about his goals with the proposal and what the biggest problems are.

Guest:

  • Jason Kander, Missouri Secretary of State

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander has unveiled a wide-ranging ethics proposal he wants lawmakers to take up and pass this year. It includes restoring campaign contribution limits, banning gifts from lobbyists to all state elected officials, and requiring a 3-year waiting period before ex-lawmakers can work as lobbyists.

Kander says if adopted, Missouri can go from having the worst ethics system in the country to the best.

A bill that would turn Missouri into a right-to-work state was the subject of a hearing in Jefferson City Monday.

As written, the so-called “Freedom to Work Act” would bar workers from being required to engage or cease engaging in labor union activities as a condition for employment.

Greg Johns with the group Missourians for Right to Work cites Oklahoma as an example of where it has worked.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is defending his choice last month to fill a vacancy on the State Probation and Parole Board with State Rep. Dennis Fowler. Fowler then gave up his seat in the Missouri House for the appointment. He also happens to be one of the 15 House Republicans who voted against overriding Governor Nixon’s veto of a controversial tax cut bill last year.

Nixon told reporters Thursday that Fowler’s vote had nothing to do with his Parole Board appointment.

Missouri lawmakers return to Jefferson City this week for the start of the 2014 legislative session.

This year's session will likely look a lot like last year’s session; there will be lots of so-called unfinished business on the minds of Republican leaders as they begin the regular session on Wednesday.

House Speaker Tim Jones says they’ll again pursue a major tax cut.

A new audit released Tuesday finds that some welfare recipients in Missouri have used their benefits to buy things besides food and other daily necessities, while others may have moved away but continue to get in-state benefits.

Two Missouri House committees have passed the Senate version of the Boeing incentives bill, which now heads to the full House for floor debate.

Much of Thursday's discussion focused on a handful of amendments the Senate added to the bill, including one that requires Boeing to report each year on its efforts to hire women and minorities, and another that would require the 777-X project to be profitable in ten years.

House Member Anne Zerr, who’s handling the Senate bill, says she thinks the additional language makes it better.

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's proposal to land production of Boeing's 777X passenger jet is two steps closer to success, as the Missouri Senate gave it both first-round and final approval Wednesday.

Legislation that would provide tax breaks for Boeing to build its 777X passenger jet in Missouri was passed Tuesday night by two legislative committees.

First, the Missouri Senate Committee on Economic Development passed their version of the bill, followed a few hours later by the House Economic Development Committee passing its version.  There are no major differences in the two – both would provide $150 million in incentives to Boeing to build the 777X at its campus near Lambert Airport. 

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.

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.

St. Louis Public Radio/NPR

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. 

Dan Verbeck / KCUR

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.

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