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   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - It's opening day at the Missouri Capitol, where lawmakers are gathering for the start of their annual session.
   The session that begins at noon Wednesday will officially be known as the Second Regular Session of the 97th General Assembly. It will run through May 16.
   The agenda will be topped by an effort for the second straight year to cut income taxes, and proposals to revamp a Missouri law allowing students in unaccredited districts to transfer to other nearby schools.
   For the first time in a while, lawmakers also will be operating under different revenue projections than Gov. Jay Nixon. Those financial differences could be magnified when the Democratic governor outlines his budget proposals Jan. 21.
   Republicans outnumber Democrats 108-52 in the House and 24-9 in the Senate.
 
Published in Local News

   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers are down to their final day to pass legislation before their annual session ends.

   Legislators face a mandatory quitting time of 6 p.m. Friday. Several significant issues remain unresolved with fading prospects, including an overhaul of the state's tax credit programs and a proposed transportation sales tax that would go on the 2014 ballot.

   The Republican-led Legislature already has passed several other priority measures. Those include an income tax cut projected to eventually reduce state revenues by about $700 million; several pro-gun measures; and changes to state labor laws and workers' compensation claims.

   The Legislature defeated a Medicaid expansion for lower-income adults that had been a priority of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.

 
Published in Local News

  JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers are pressing to renew a program that provides Medicaid coverage to disabled workers who otherwise would earn too much to qualify for government-funded health care.

   The Ticket to Work program covers more than 1,300 Missouri residents but is due to expire this August. Legislation endorsed Monday by a Senate committee would renew the program through August 2019.

  The program covers disabled workers with incomes up to three times the federal poverty level, or more than $34,000 for an individual. It requires them to pay a premium on a sliding scale that tops out at 6 percent of their income.

   To go to the governor, the bill still must be passed in the same form by the Senate and House before the session ends Friday.

 
Published in Local News
Tuesday, 23 April 2013 05:49

MO House joins Daylight Saving Time pact

Missouri Residents could soon be on Daylight Saving Time all the time.  

On Monday, the Missouri House voted to join the "Daylight Saving as the New Standard Time Pact."  The legislation they passed says that once 19 other states sign on, Missouri will stay on Daylight Saving Time all year, instead of returning to Standard Time in the fall.  

The bill must still be approved by the Missouri Senate.  

Daylight Saving Time year round would mean in December, the sun wouldn't rise in St. Louis until after 8 AM.  

Published in Local News

   Should local communities have the power to ban indoor smoking in public places?  

   A group of St. Charles County lawmakers apparently don't think so.  Republican State Representative Kathie Conway has introduced a bill that would levy fines against cities and counties with local smoking bans.  Seven other lawmakers from St. Charles County have signed on as co-sponsors.

   The measure would force the communities to give up any property or sales tax revenues from businesses affected by the ban.  The money would go to local school districts instead. Conway told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she plans to narrow that to include only bars, restaurants, bowling alleys, casinos and other entertainment-related businesses, because they're the ones who lose money because of smoking bans.  

   The bills opponents call it an attempt to intimidate local governments.

   Only two communities in St. Charles County have smoking bans in place: O'Fallon and Lake St. Louis.  St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis also have smoking bans in place.  They would be subject to the fines too, since it's a state-wide measure.

Published in Local News
Missouri voters may be asked to amend the state Constitution to make prosecuting child sex offenders easier.

A 2007 Missouri Supreme Court ruling had banned prosecutors in child sex abuse cases from using "propensity evidence," which is often used to show a suspect has a proclivity to do the alleged crime. The ruling made Missouri the most restrictive state in the nation by banning such evidence as prior convictions.

Representative John McCaherty, a High Ridge Republican, filed a bill that would allow prosecutors to use prior convictions, along with findings by the state Children's Services Division indicating that sexual abuse of a child did occur, even if there were no charges filed.

The measure has already cleared the House and is now in the hands of the Senate.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri welfare recipients would be barred from using their benefits for alcohol, gambling or adult entertainment under a proposal from two state senators.

The legislation outlined Monday would also prevent welfare recipients from using their electronic benefit card for sporting events, lottery tickets, amusement parks, zoos or museums.

Repeatedly misusing welfare money would carry a felony charge and prison sentence.

The measure would stop short of preventing welfare recipients from purchasing banned items, because electronic benefits could still be converted into cash.

Republican Sen. Will Kraus, of Lee's Summit, and Democratic Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, of University City, are sponsoring the measure.
Published in Local News
Missouri legislators are cutting their work week short because of concerns over a winter storm that's expected to dump snow, sleet and freezing rain on much of the state.

The House and Senate usually meet from Monday until mid-day Thursday each week. But with a mixture of ice and snow expected on Thursday, the Senate has decided to quit for the week around noon Wednesday -- early enough to give lawmakers time to get home before the weather hits.

The State House will also give members a chance to leave early, planning only a technical session on Thursday, in which no bills will be debated.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - State lawmakers are considering several proposals to improve infrastructure that could hit Missourians' wallets.

One proposal could require residents to pay a higher sales tax in order to pay for transportation projects, and another would let electric utilities seek a surcharge to recoup costs from infrastructure projects.

A third measure would call for issuing several hundred million dollars in bonds to fund improvements on college campuses and state facilities. Taxes that Missourians pay could go to paying off the bonds.

Lawmakers say the influx of ideas comes because there is a new willingness to discuss major challenges facing Missouri. They are skeptical everything would pass in the same year.
Published in Local News
Missouri mental health officials are hoping Governor Nixon and state lawmakers will include the Fulton State Hospital in a proposed state bonding package.

The hospital is Missouri's only maximum and intermediate security psychiatric hospital and is the oldest public mental health facility west of the Mississippi River.

The Department of Mental Health is proposing a new 300 bed, high-security facility that would cost about $211 million.

Officials say current facilities are antiquated and a new building would save utility cots and make for a safer facility.

Fulton State Hospital is in Fulton, Missouri, about 100 miles west of St. Louis.
Published in Local News

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