JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's Republican House leader wants a legislative hearing on allegations of a hostile workplace in parts of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's administration.
House Speaker Tim Jones said Friday that he has asked the House Government Oversight and Accountability Committee to convene a hearing on the issue. That comes after former employees in the departments of agriculture and labor recently went public with assertions of intimidation and discrimination by former department directors.
Nixon spokesman Scott Holste said Friday that the administration tries to foster a workforce that is "professional in demeanor and inclusive in its composition."
Republican House member Jay Barnes, of Jefferson City, is chairman of the oversight committee. He says the hearing will focus on whether Nixon's office is diligently vetting applicants before making appointments to key positions.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri Senate leader has put forth a new, pared-back proposal dealing with the enforcement of federal gun control laws.
Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard released a draft Thursday of proposed legislation for the 2014 session seeking to nullify federal gun control laws that infringe on Second Amendment rights.
The new proposal comes about seven weeks after Richard and Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey voted against an attempted veto override of a bill addressing the same subject because of concerns about its constitutionality.
Unlike the original bill, the new proposal would not subject federal authorities to state misdemeanor charges for trying to enforce certain federal gun control laws. It also eliminates a provision that could have resulted in charges against journalists for publishing the names of gun owners.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Lawmakers are working to change a small mistake in Illinois' new pet "lemon" law.
Democratic state Sen. Dan Kotowski, the legislation's sponsor, told a Senate committee that there was an error in the legislation that was passed by both houses last spring.
The amendment to the law allows owners to return a pet or be reimbursed for veterinary costs if it is discovered an illness was not disclosed by the seller. The original legislation said pet stores would have to pay owners up to twice the cost of the pet to offset treatment costs. Kotowski told a Senate committee that number should be changed to require reimbursement to match the cost of the pet.
The measure passed the Senate and now heads to the House.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Sick military veterans who want medical marijuana would get it more easily under legislation that's getting committee approval.
The House Judiciary Committee sent Rep. Lou Lang's bill to the floor for consideration.
The Skokie Democrat is the sponsor of Illinois' first law legalizing the use of medical marijuana. Gov. Pat Quinn signed it in August.
But it requires a sick person to get a letter from a doctor. Veterans home doctors are federal employees - barred from approving cannabis use.
Lang's legislation would allow veterans to get a letter from the Illinois Department of Public Health certifying he or she has a condition that qualifies for marijuana treatment under the law.
The committee voted 10-6 to move the bill to the House floor.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers have blocked a proposed rule that could have expanded the use of ethanol in gasoline.
A legislative panel voted Wednesday to halt a rule change that would have allowed regular gasoline to be sold with a 15 percent blend of ethanol, which generally is made from corn.
Committee members said the proposal by the Department of Agriculture went beyond what is allowed in state law. They cited a 2006 Missouri law that requires a 10 percent blend of ethanol in gasoline. The proposed rule would not have mandated E15 but would have allowed it.
The committee's vote is like a temporary moratorium. The full Legislature can decide whether to permanently block the rule when it convenes in January. Or the department could withdraw the proposed rule change.
CHICAGO (AP) - A Cook County judge has ruled that Gov. Pat Quinn's decision to halt lawmaker pay over the pension crisis is unconstitutional and has ordered Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka to pay them immediately.
Judge Neil Cohen made the ruling Thursday.
He says the state Constitution makes it clear that lawmakers' pay can't be changed while serving they're serving their terms.
Quinn used his line-item veto to cut money for legislators' salaries from the state budget because they hadn't fixed Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis.
House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton sued, saying Quinn's actions were unconstitutional and violated the state's separation of powers. They asked a judge to order paychecks be issued.
COTTLEVILLE, Mo. (AP) - A panel of Missouri lawmakers came to suburban St. Louis on Monday for some firsthand testimony about the challenges of the state's school transfer rules.
Several area superintendents asked the interim House Committee on Education to seek a long-term fix to what they called a short-term solution to the problem of relocating students from failing school districts to better-performing ones.
The public hearing at St. Charles Community College came just weeks after hundreds of students from the unaccredited Normandy and Riverview Gardens began the fall semester riding buses to schools up to 20 to 30 miles away, with their former districts absorbing the added costs.
A second meeting is planned Monday night in St. Louis. Additional sessions are planned Tuesday and Wednesday in Cape Girardeau, Poplar Bluff, Branson and Joplin.
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri legislators who favor relaxing the state's marijuana laws are weighing a renewed push for reforms.
House Democrats Chris Kelly of Columbia and Rory Ellinger, of University City were among the speakers Thursday at a Columbia forum on marijuana policy.
Kelly and Ellinger backed legislation this year that would have made possession of small amounts of marijuana a low-level misdemeanor with no jail time, similar to a traffic ticket. Columbia and St. Louis already have such laws.
The Columbia Missourian reports Kelly says he would favor pursuing full legalization of marijuana only if there were enough organizational support from pro-legalization groups.
Kelly's also uncertain whether it would be wiser to seek legislative approval of lower penalties for marijuana possession or to put any proposed reforms on a statewide ballot.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Top Missouri Republicans are looking for ways to ensure greater party loyalty after a supermajority in the GOP-led House recently failed to enact an income tax cut.
Meeting Saturday in Kansas City, the Missouri Republican State Committee proposed a new requirement for candidates registering to run as Republicans. They would be asked to sign a statement saying: "I have read, understand and fundamentally support the platform of the Missouri Republican Party."
Supporters of the measure noted that tax cuts ought to be a central Republican philosophy.
Fifteen Republican House members defected from party leaders this week to help sustain Democratic Governor Jay Nixon's veto of an income tax cut. Some echoed his concerns about the effect on education funding.
The GOP committee took no action Saturday on the proposed policy.
One day ahead of the all-important veto session in Jefferson City, Governor Jay Nixon made a stop in the St. Louis area. Nixon spoke in front of the student body at Affton High School, congratulating them on their continued academic achievement.
After his speech, Nixon was asked his thoughts on the republican legislature's attempts to override his tax-cut and gun nullifacation vetoes.
"We're not in junior high here. This is serious business," said Nixon. "I don't look at it as a scoreboard, I look at the substance of the bills. This isn't about some sort of a back and forth, this is about what we should responsibly do as a state."
Nixon vetoed a total of 29 bills. The GOP supermajority in the legislature aims to override as many as possible.