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 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. – With the state budget out of the way, Missouri lawmakers now have two weeks left to concentrate on other priorities. Bills addressing tax credits, ethics, consolidation of state agencies, and autism insurance all remain unfinished going into the homestretch.
Cape Girardeau, Mo. – Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has signed into law a bill requiring insurance companies to make timely payments to medical providers.
The so-called "prompt pay" bill imposes penalties on insurance companies for excessive delays in payment to providers. The law bans the practice of suspending claims, which the Governor describes as a limbo state where the claim is neither approved nor denied. The bill also establishes delinquency penalties on insurance companies when payment is not received within 45 days.
Jefferson City, Mo. – The Missouri Senate has given first-round approval to a bill designed to shrink the size and cost of state government.
Among the recommended actions in the bill is the combining of the Missouri Highway Patrol and the Water Patrol into one law enforcement entity. Its sponsored by Senate President Pro-tem Charlie Shields.
"Also, (it) will move the alcohol and tobacco folks into the Department of Revenue, and frankly will eliminate positions there," says shields.
Topeka, Kan. / Jefferson City, Mo. – A measure pushing back against the federal government passed in the Kansas House Monday by a vote of 109 to 11. The resolution calls on the federal government to stop passing laws that put mandates on the states.
Proponents have argued the federal government is encroaching on states' rights. The non-binding measure has no legal authority, but Republican Representative Joe Patton told fellow lawmakers it still carries weight.
Kansas City, Mo. – Missouri Governor Jay Nixon says the recent news of significantly smaller than expected revenues will mean some challenging choices for the state. The governor says he and other lawmakers are considering a number of ways to deal with the problem.
Kansas City, Mo. – Legislation that would ban indoor smoking in public buildings throughout Missouri is being considered by a State Senate Committee
Under the bill, smoking would not be allowed in restaurants, bars, sports arenas, businesses, or any other public building. Exceptions would be allowed for homes not used for daycare, tobacco shops and 20% of hotel rooms. Jason Sharp, who works with cancer patients in Rolla, spoke in favor of the bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Jefferson City, Mo. – The Missouri Senate is scheduled to debate its main ethics bill on Wednesday.
The bill would expand income reporting requirements to legislative staff members, provide the state Ethics Commission with a full-time investigator, and bar campaign contributions when the legislature is in session. It would not, however, reinstate campaign contribution limits. Senate President Pro-Tem Charlie Shields sponsored the bill.
Kansas City, Mo. – The Missouri Senate has overwhelmingly passed a resolution rejecting the State Tax Commission's move to reassess property values for the state's farmlands.
The State Tax Commission last month recommended raising the productive value of the state's best agricultural land by 29% and lowering values on low-producing lots by 25%. GOP Senator Bill Stouffer says in addition to crop growers, the move would hurt cattle ranchers, even though pasture land assessments would go down.
Jefferson City, Mo. – Supporters and opponents of scrapping the state income tax in favor of an expanded sales tax sounded off on the issue at a Missouri Senate committee.
Among the resolution's supporters was lobbyist and former GOP House Member Ed Robb. He told the Senate committee on fiscal oversight that the measure would transform Missouri into a "mecca for investment and job opportunities."
Jefferson City, Mo. – Legislation that would expand Missouri's ban on texting-while-driving to everyone has drawn lots of support. In a Senate committee meeting, lobbyists for highway workers, law enforcement, senior citizens, and bicyclists spoke in favor of the bill. No one spoke against it. The bill is sponsored by Democratic Senator Ryan McKenna of Jefferson County.
Jefferson City, Mo. – Missouri's budget picture remains bleak, as lawmakers begin to consider Governor Jay Nixon's spending plan and come up with their own.
State Budget Director Linda Luebbering reminded the Senate Appropriations Committee Monday that revenue collections will continue to lag. But she also said Missouri is expected to receive $300 million in federal dollars that can be used for state expenses.
GOP Senator Kurt Schaefer of Columbia expressed concern that the Nixon Administration is depending on money that may not come.
Jefferson City, Mo. – Republican leaders in the Missouri House and Senate returned to their party's traditional themes, after talking up ethics and the economy on the legislature's opening day last week.
Led by Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, GOP leaders pledged first and foremost not to raise taxes this year.
"Taking more money from Missouri families is not a sensible solution to fix whatever budget problems we face today," said Kinder.