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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri Senate committee has endorsed a 1-cent sales tax increase to fund transportation projects.
   
The proposed constitutional amendment passed the House earlier this month. It was adopted by the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Thursday with a 6-1 vote.
 
 If passed by the full Senate, the measure would head to the November ballot for voter approval. The tax is estimated to generate $800 million annually and $8 billion over its 10-year lifespan.
 
 The lone "no" vote on the Senate panel was Republican Sen. John Lamping, who led the fight against similar legislation last year. He says Republicans are sending a mixed message by raising sales taxes, while also passing an income tax cut this year.
 
Supporters say the tax is necessary for Missouri to maintain its highway system.
   
 
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri could award additional tax credits for donations to pregnancy resource centers, food pantries and maternity homes under legislation endorsed by the Missouri Senate.
 
Under the bill given first-round approval Tuesday, the current annual tax credit cap would increase by $500,000 for all three programs. The pregnancy and maternity center tax credits would be limited to $2.5 million per year and the food pantry program would be capped at $1.75 million annually.
 
The legislation would also expand an existing tax credit program to apply toward donations for programs that provide food for students during non-school hours. That credit would be capped at $500,000 per year.
 
The measure needs one more vote before moving to the House.
 
 
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Senate majority leader says the chamber could debate ethics legislation this week that would curb lobbying.
 
The bill would make lawmakers wait two years after their terms expire before registering as lobbyists. It would require lobbyists to report expenditures within 48 hours and would prohibit out-of-state spending on travel, lodging, food and entertainment.
 
Another provision would bar legislators from serving as paid political consultants to fellow lawmakers.
 
Missouri is the only state to allow the trio of unlimited contributions to candidates, unlimited gifts from lobbyists and no waiting period before an elected official can lobby.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A task force would be charged with trying to bring the Super Bowl to Kansas City under a resolution passed by the Missouri Senate.
 
The Senate voted unanimously Thursday to send the measure to the House. If adopted there, the state Department of Economic Development would be asked to form a group to "examine what measures need to be taken" for Kansas City to host the game.
 
Resolution sponsor Sen. Paul LeVota, of Independence, says Arrowhead Stadium's $350 million renovation in 2010 would help make it an attractive venue.
 
The most recent Super Bowl was played in an outdoor stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The 2015 game will be played in Phoenix.
 
 
 
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - County governments could legally assemble lists of sick and disabled residents under legislation endorsed by the Missouri Senate.
 
The bill given, initial approval Wednesday, would allow creation of voluntary registries of people with "health-related ailments."  The purpose would be to identify people who may need help in disasters or emergencies.
Sponsoring Sen. Eric Schmitt, of suburban St. Louis, said the lists could help save lives.
   
The lists would remain closed records. But if a disaster or emergency affected someone on a list, an incident report could be made public.  The legislation needs another Senate vote to move to the House.
 
 
Published in Local News
   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - In case there was any doubt, several Republican state senators are making it clear that there will be no expansion of Medicaid eligibility this year in Missouri.
   Five GOP senators took to the Senate floor Monday as the Legislature returned from spring break to say they will block any attempt to expand Medicaid eligibility during the session that ends in mid-May.
   Their strong pronouncement came a day before a House committee is to hear testimony on a proposal that would expand Medicaid coverage to thousands of lower-income adults, partly by subsidizing their enrollment in private health insurance policies. The House legislation would link the Medicaid expansion to a broader overhaul of the program.
   States that expand Medicaid eligibility can get extra federal money under President Barack Obama's health law.
 
Published in Local News
   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A state senator from eastern Missouri is forgoing a re-election bid, potentially setting off a scramble among Republicans vying to replace him in the reliably GOP district.
   Republican Sen. Brian Nieves (nee-EH'-vehz), of Washington, withdrew Thursday after initially filing for re-election.
   One candidate, House Republican Dave Schatz, of Sullivan, had already filed to challenge Nieves. But with Nieves' exit, Republican House Speaker Tim Jones, of Eureka, is now also considering a run.
   Jones says he will take time next week to weigh his options. Nieves did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
   A potential primary could be an expensive contest. Schatz loaned his campaign $350,000, and Jones reports having $900,000 in his campaign account.
   The Senate district includes Franklin County and parts of western St. Louis County.
 
Published in Local News
   Missouri is losing millions of dollars from the 1998 tobacco settlement because of a legislative loophole that allows smaller tobacco companies to keep a competitive edge in the state.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Missouri is the only one of the 46 states involved in the settlement that hasn't acted to stop smaller tobacco companies from recouping the money they pay into a settlement escrow fund.  
   Big tobacco companies say that gives the smaller firms a six-dollar per carton pricing advantage. Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer says it cost Missouri almost $70 million in settlement funds this year and could cost the state as much as $2 billion over the next decade.   For the fourth year in a row, the Columbia Republican has introduced legislation to close the loophole.  
   The state House is considering a similar bill.  Right now, both bills are in committee.
 
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A state Senate committee has advanced legislation that could raise Missouri's minimum wage to $10 an hour.
Tuesday's vote by a Senate business committee means the proposed increase could be brought up later for debate by the full Senate. But there is no guarantee that will occur, because the measure has been opposed by many Republicans who control the Legislature.
The bill by Democratic Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, of St. Louis, would raise Missouri's minimum wage to $10 an hour in 2015 and continue to adjust it annually for inflation.
The state's minimum wage currently stands at $7.50 an hour - 25 cents more than the federal minimum wage. Missouri's minimum wage already is adjusted annually for inflation, as a result of a 2006 law approved by voters.
The minimum wage bill is SB531.
Published in Local News
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 13:16

Renewals may be banned on Payday Loans

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Senate has endorsed legislation that would prohibit borrowers from getting a renewal on payday loans.
State law currently allows borrowers to renew their loans six times. A payday loan can be no larger than $500 and can run only from 14 to 31 days.
The legislation was given first-round approval Wednesday by voice vote. It needs another affirmative vote to move to the state House.
Sponsoring Sen. Mike Cunningham, a Rogersville Republican, says his bill would prevent borrowers from getting into a trap by continuing to renew a loan and accumulate interest. His bill would give borrowers an extended time period to pay back a loan with no additional interest or fees.
 
Published in Local News
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