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   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is giving state employees an extra day off around Thanksgiving.

   State offices are closed by law on Thanksgiving. Nixon has issued an executive order also closing state offices the Friday after Thanksgiving.

   For many years, a four-day holiday weekend was the norm in Missouri government.

   But Nixon kept state offices open on the Friday after Thanksgiving in 2010 and 2011, citing budget concerns.

   Holidays have cost the state money because some employees who must work - such as prison guards - have been able to choose whether to claim extra time off or accept holiday bonus pay.

   Nixon says the budget has improved enough to give employees the extra day off. He also extended the Thanksgiving break last year.

 
Published in Local News

   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The former director of Missouri's unemployment benefits agency is alleging discrimination in her firing by Gov. Jay Nixon's administration.

   Gracia Backer was replaced in March as director of the Division of Employment Security in Missouri's labor department. Her ouster came at the same time that Nixon appointed labor department director Larry Rebman to a different job.

   Documents provided Monday to The Associated Press show Backer has filed a discrimination complaint with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights. The complaint claims Backer was fired after raising concerns that Rebman was discriminating against her and other older and female employees.

   Rebman told the AP on Monday that he didn't discriminate against Backer.

   The governor's office never announced why Backer was replaced as division director.

 
Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A new report says Gov. Jay Nixon's administration displayed an "indifference to the privacy rights" of Missourians through its driver's license policies.

The report released Friday comes after a group of legislators, law enforcement officers and other House appointees spent the summer looking into state driver's license procedures that have already been largely abandoned.

The panel said Nixon's administration disregarded state law by making digital copies of birth certificates and other documents submitted by driver's license applicants and by buying equipment to analyze biometric information about people.

Nixon signed a law in July that put a halt to those practices. His administration has consistently denied that the procedures were intended to implement the federal Real ID proof-of-identity law. A 2009 Missouri law bars state officials from implementing Real ID.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says his administration is withdrawing a proposal for rolling back an expansion of the food stamps program.

Since 2009, the state has qualified for a waiver allowing able-bodied adults without children to qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program despite failing to meet federal work requirements. Officials had proposed changing eligibility rules to waive the work requirements only in counties where the unemployment rate is higher than 10 percent.

Nixon said Thursday he is directing the Social Services Department to withdraw the proposal. The governor says there now is greater certainty about federal funding for food stamps after last week's budget agreement.

Missouri had about 915,000 people receiving food stamps in August. That's down from a peak of nearly 962,000 in December 2011.

 

Published in Local News

   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Governor Jay Nixon says he plans a "significant down payment" toward his goal of fully funding the state's school funding formula.

   The Democratic governor told a gathering of public school leaders Wednesday he's working to fund the K-12 school formula by the time he leaves office in January 2017.

   The current year's budget provides almost $3.1 billion in basic aid to elementary and secondary schools. State officials project the current funding level would be $556 million short of the target for next year's budget.

   Nixon also said he wants to expand access to early childhood education and will continue implementing accountability measures such as the Common Core education standards.

 
Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says he has been chosen to head up a public safety committee for the National Governors Association.

Nixon said Wednesday that the association's Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee focuses on the National Guard, criminal justice and veterans affairs, as well as other security and safety issues.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will be the vice chairman of the committee.

Nixon says committee members try to ensure that the governors' views are taken into account in federal policies.

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says he is working toward full funding for public schools by the time he leaves office in January 2017.

This year's budget includes has about $3 billion for elementary and secondary schools. But that's roughly $600 million less than what is called for under Missouri's school funding formula for this year.

The amounts prescribed by the formula change yearly. If schools receive all of the funds in this year's budget, Missouri would have to spend an additional $560 million to meet next year's target.

Nixon addressed the issue in a speech Monday to higher education officials. He won a second term as governor last year and is barred by law from seeking a third term.

 

Published in Local News

   CHESTERFIELD, Mo. (AP) - A $400 million expansion announced by Monsanto in April is starting in earnest with a ceremonial groundbreaking at the Chesterfield research center site.

   The agricultural products company says it expects to bring 675 new jobs to the region over the next three years.

   Gov. Jay Nixon was scheduled to join Monsanto officials at the ceremony Tuesday, just as he did when the company first unveiled the project at an international biotechnology conference in Chicago.

   The Missouri Department of Economic Development has said Monsanto can expect to receive more than $31 million in state tax incentives if it creates the expected number of new jobs.

 
Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Governor Jay Nixon's administration is working on a proposal that could allow national parks to reopen in Missouri with help from the state.

Nixon said Friday that Missouri's proposal would specifically include plans to reopen the Gateway Arch grounds in St. Louis and the Ozark National Scenic Riverways Park in southern Missouri.

He described the parks as "national treasures" that draw millions of visitors and "generate significant economic activity" for Missouri.

National parks have been closed because of the federal budget stalemate in Washington that has resulted in a partial government shutdown.

On Thursday, President Barack Obama's administration said it would allow parks to reopen if states are willing to pay the costs.

Utah and Colorado already have struck deals to re-open some of the national parks.

Published in Local News

Governor Jay Nixon says an execution scheduled for later this month, is postponed.

Nixon made the announcement today in response to recent controversy over the use of a new lethal injection drug. Missouri was prepared to execute Allen Nicklasson on October 23 and the state was going to use propofol. The use of the anesthetic drew criticism from the Missouri Society of Anesthesiologists and Europe threatened to cut off the supply of the drug to Missouri if used in executions.

Nixon says he instructed Attorney General Chris Koster to request a new date for Nicklasson's execution. Nixon also instructed the department of corrections to develop a new form of lethal injection.

Joseph Franklin is the next death row inmate set to be executed, on November 20.

Published in Local News

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