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Friday, 11 April 2014 06:33

Tax Cuts Debated In Missouri Legislature

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's Republican lawmakers are advancing a pair of tax cut proposals for potential debate in the coming weeks.
 
A House committee on Thursday endorsed legislation already passed by the Senate that would cut income tax rates for individuals and some business owners. That proposal is projected by legislative researchers to reduce state revenues by $620 million annually when fully phased in.
 
Also Thursday, a Senate committee changed and endorsed a tax cut bill that previously passed the House. As revised, that plan would cut income taxes only for businesses, not individuals. Its cost is estimated at about half the amount as the other bill.
 
Committee approval of the bills means they could soon be considered by the full House and Senate.
 
Published in Local News
Wednesday, 09 April 2014 12:32

Missouri Rep. Rory Ellinger dies

   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri House member Rory Ellinger, of St. Louis County, has died after a battle against liver cancer.
   Ellinger's death Wednesday was announced in the House by Minority Leader Jake Hummel and in the Senate by Sen. Joe Keaveny, who had been Ellinger's roommate in Jefferson City.
   Ellinger was 72 years old.
   The Democrat had announced last month that he would not seek re-election because of his health, and he had not been at the Capitol recently. Ellinger's failing health sparked quick action by lawmakers to pass his legislation preventing nursing mothers from being penalized for breast feeding in public places.
   Nixon signed the bill into law last Thursday during a ceremony with Ellinger in his home town of University City.
   Ellinger first was elected to the House in 2010.
Published in Local News
   With state legislators still tussling over how much financial assistance to give the struggling Normandy School District, local leaders continue to weigh their options.  
   The second of seven transition community meetings was held Monday night.  The meetings are strategy sessions, aimed developing a plan to educate students if lawmakers don't approve enough funding to keep the district open past this spring.  
   A Missouri Supreme Court ruling last summer requires the unaccredited district to pay tuition and transportation costs for students who wish to transfer to better performing districts.  The cost is bankrupting the struggling district.
   Normandy Superintendent Ty McNichols tells Fox 2 News the district has a plan to win back accreditation, but not knowing how much help they're going to get from the state makes it difficult to take the next steps. "I'm in a holding pattern because of the uncertainty about where we are," he said.  "Right now is prime time hiring for the organization.  We can't do that."
   Without state aid, Normandy officials have said the district will go bankrupt this month (April).
 
Published in Local News
   JEFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri had expected to receive about $130 million this April under an annual settlement payment from tobacco companies.
   But it looks like Missouri will get less than half that amount because of an arbitrator's ruling that state officials failed to diligently enforce the settlement a decade ago.
   House and Senate committees heard testimony this past week on legislation that the attorney general's office and major tobacco companies both say is necessary if the state wants to negotiate a smaller loss of tobacco funds. The bill would, in essence, force a price hike on some cheaper cigarettes that compete with the brands made by big tobacco companies.
   House Budget Committee Chairman Rick Stream says the bill faces opposition and definitely won't pass in time to reverse this year's reduced tobacco payment.
 
Published in Local News
   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri lawmaker with a seriously ill daughter is encouraging colleagues to pass legislation that could make it easier for patients to gain access to experimental medications.
   A House committee heard testimony Wednesday on legislation by Representative Jim Neely that would let drug manufacturers give or sell medicines still in the investigational stages to patients. Neely says many terminally ill patients are willing to try medicines that don't have approval from the federal Food and Drug Administration. But he says access is limited to those medications.
   Neely is a Cameron physician whose 40 year old daughter is dealing with colon cancer and liver failure. He says the legislation may be too late for his own family but could help others.
   Several parents whose children have had serious illnesses testified for the bill.
 
Published in Local News
   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A federal proposal to clean up the smoke from wood-burning stoves has sparked a backlash from some rural residents, lawmakers and manufacturers.
   Proposed regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would significantly reduce the amount of particle pollution allowed to flow from new residential wood-powered heaters.
   Some manufacturers contend the proposed standards are so stringent that the higher production costs would either force them out of business or make their products unaffordable to lower- and middle-income consumers.
   In Missouri, some lawmakers are fighting back with state legislation seeking to discourage the enforcement of tougher standards on wood-burning stoves. Concerns over wood-stove pollution and regulations also have been simmering in other states, including in some places where local officials are pushing for stronger environmental standards.
   
 
Published in Local News
   ST. LOUIS (AP) - With lethal injection drugs in short supply and new questions surfacing about their effectiveness, lawmakers in some death-penalty states are considering bringing back relics of a gruesome past: firing squads, electrocutions and gas chambers.
   Most states abandoned those e methods more than a generation ago in a bid to make capital punishment more palatable to the public and to a judicial system worried about inflicting cruel and unusual punishments that violate the Constitution.
   But to some elected officials, the drug shortages and legal challenges are beginning to make lethal injection seem too vulnerable to complications.
   Missouri state Rep. Rick Brattin has proposed making firing squads an option. The state's attorney general has suggested rebuilding the gas chamber. A Virginia lawmaker wants to make electrocution an option if drugs aren't available.
 
Published in Local News
Friday, 24 January 2014 03:37

Injunction a blow to Mo. health care law

   ST. LOUIS (AP) - A federal judge on Thursday granted a preliminary injunction against Missouri's law requiring a state license to serve as a navigator to help consumers sign up for coverage through the new health insurance marketplace.
   An attorney for the St. Louis-based plaintiffs calls the ruling by U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith a "huge victory." 
   A new state law requires insurance counselors to receive at least 30 hours of training and pay a small fee in order to help online shoppers negotiate the federal insurance exchange. Missouri's Republican-led Legislature opted against setting up a state-run exchange.
   The lawsuit filed in November said the requirements conflict with the federal Affordable Care Act.
 
Published in Local News
   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - For the first time in a decade, Missouri's top officials can't agree on how much money will be available for the state budget.
   Governor Jay Nixon plans to use a larger revenue projection than lawmakers when he proposes a budget as part of his annual State of the State address January 21st.
   Nixon says he is "optimistic" about Missouri's economy.
   Republican legislative leaders say they are being "realistic."
   Nixon's revenue projections could be about $140 million higher than lawmakers'.
   Legislators already are planning to make cuts to Nixon's budget plan because of the different revenue assumptions.
   The disagreement marks a reversal of recent circumstances in which Nixon has repeatedly cut the budgets passed by lawmakers while asserting that he's being realistic about the state's finances.
 
Published in Local News
   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
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