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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's legislative session is over, but the work may continue for some lawmakers.

Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey says he is considering appointing at least three committees to study issues before the 2014 session.

A joint panel of Senate and House members could look into potential changes to the Medicaid health care program for the poor.

Another committee could study potential projects to be included in a bonding proposal that would be put before voters.

Dempsey said an interim committee also could look into changes to the state's regional solid waste management districts.

All of those committees would be continuing work on measures that failed to pass during the legislative session that ended Friday.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers have given final approval to legislation replenishing an insolvent state fund for disabled workers and changing the way people get compensation for job-related illnesses.

The bill sent to the governor Thursday marks a compromise among some business groups and attorneys who represent injured workers.

The bill temporarily doubles the surcharge paid by businesses to finance a depleted state fund for disabled workers who suffer additional job-related injuries. Payments from the Second Injury Fund have been delayed to more than 1,000 people because of a shortfall.

The legislation also places occupational diseases under the umbrella of the workers' compensation system and provides enhanced payments for people suffering from asbestos-induced cancer. Recent court rulings had allowed claims for job-related illnesses to be pursed in the courts.

 
Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois concealed carry legislation that requires special permission to have a gun in Chicago is scheduled for a Senate committee vote.

The Senate Executive Committee will hear Sen. Kwame Raoul's proposal to comply with a federal appeals court ruling. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in December that Illinois' ban on concealed carry is unconstitutional and gave lawmakers until June 9 to rectify the problem.

Raoul's measure would allow gun owners to apply to the Illinois State Police for a permit. They would need training and to clear a background check.

But those wanting to carry a gun in Chicago would also need permission from city police. The National Rifle Association opposes such an "endorsement."

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers have one week to sort out differences on top legislative priorities, including changes to tax incentives and limits on liability lawsuits for businesses.

House and Senate Republican leaders are attempting to negotiate legislation that would scale back existing tax breaks for historic buildings and low-income housing and create new incentives for certain businesses.

Lawmakers also are working to bridge a gap in on legislation that would replenish an insolvent fund for injured workers and prevent lawsuits over occupational diseases by covering them through the workers' compensation system.

Some priorities already have been sent to the governor, including an income tax cut for individuals and businesses and a $25 billion operating budget.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers have prepared a budget that could force Gov. Jay Nixon to choose between developmentally disabled children and low-income seniors.

The nearly $25 billion operating budget being considered Thursday by lawmakers assumes more than $55 million of savings from the elimination of a tax break for low-income seniors and disabled residents who live in rental housing.

The budget would spend that money on early childhood programs for the developmentally disabled, health care for the blind and medical clinics that treat low-income people.

Nixon has said he would veto a repeal of the renters tax break unless it's part of a broader tax-credit overhaul. But if he does, then the early childhood programs and health care initiatives would lose money.

Lawmakers hope that will compel Nixon to accept the plan.

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A union-backed alternative for fixing the Illinois pension crisis gets a test vote Wednesday afternoon in Springfield.

A Senate committee is holding a hearing on the measure giving workers and retirees a choice of benefit packages. Senate President John Cullerton says it saves money and would survive a legal challenge.

Critics say it won't save enough money.

 

Published in Local News

 

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers have until Friday to finalize the state's roughly $25 billion operating budget.

The House and Senate have each passed their own budget and now must hammer out an agreement on the spending plan that will take effect July 1. Budget negotiators were scheduled to begin formal talks Monday, but delayed that until Tuesday.

The House and Senate must reconcile differences on higher education funding and whether to keep intact cuts made to state agencies over concerns about the new drivers' license procedures.

One item not up for debate this week is Gov. Jay Nixon's plan to draw down nearly $1 billion from the federal government to expand Medicaid coverage for about 260,000 adults. Neither the House nor Senate included the federal money in their budget proposals.

 

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - State senators are expected to consider two possible paths toward addressing the nation's worst pension crisis.

One option is legislation approved in the Illinois House last week. That bill is sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan. It would require public employees to pay 2 percent more toward their retirement benefits. It would also reduce annual cost-of-living increases for retirees and raise the retirement age for workers under 45.

Labor unions also are expected to pitch a plan. The details of that proposal have not been disclosed. But a spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton says it would offer employees a choice between health insurance or cost-of-living increases.

Lawmakers are expected to discuss the two options in a closed-door meeting on Monday before convening on the Senate floor.

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois House has approved a comprehensive pension-reform plan for the first time after years of talks.

The House voted 62-51 Thursday to advance the measure sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan.

The Chicago Democrat's proposal is designed to close a $97 billion deficit that dogs the state's pension plans. Underfunding for decades has left the accounts short of what they need.

The legislation requires employees to contribute 2 percent more of their earnings to their pensions. They would also have to delay retirement and accept less-generous annual cost-of-living increases.

The state would guarantee it would make its required contribution every year.

The measure now goes to the Senate where President John Cullerton has his own ideas about reform.

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Senate has passed a bill that would allow designated school personnel to carry concealed weapons in school buildings.

The Senate voted 26-6 Thursday to pass the measure. It now heads back to the House for further consideration.

The bill would allow school employees to voluntary become "protection officers" if they have a valid concealed weapons permit and undergo training for the position.

The legislation would also lower the minimum age required to obtain a concealed weapons permit from 21 to 19. It would also allow firearms of less than 16 inches to be openly carried even in municipalities that have ordinances against it.

 

Published in Local News

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