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St. Louis, MO (KTRS) - The Missouri Senate has endorsed legislation that declares the paper ballot as the official ballot of Missouri elections.
 
It needs one more Senate vote before moving to the House. The bill would require local elections authorities to phase out the use of some electronic voting machines. Under the bill, voters could only use electronic machines that produce a paper trail of marked votes.
 
All other types of electronic voting machines currently in use for elections could still be used, but could not be replaced once they malfunction.
Published in Local News
   WASHINGTON (AP) — Little more than a week after Groundhog Day, the evidence is mounting that lawmakers have all but wrapped up their most consequential work of 2014, at least until the results of the fall elections are known.
   "We've got a lot of things on our plate," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said recently when asked what Congress will be busy with this year, but he predicted no breakthrough accomplishments on immigration, taxes or any other area.
   "Why don't we just pack up and go home?" countered House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California after Boehner blamed President Barack Obama for lack of movement on immigration. "What we're supposed to do is legislate and not make up excuses as to why we don't."
   Immigration legislation is hardly the only area where inaction is the likeliest outcome.
   A Senate-passed bill has fallen into the congressional equivalent of a black hole in the House, where conservative critics cite a changing series of reasons for not wanting to take action.
   Initially, they said they didn't want to vote on a bill because they oppose amnesty for immigrants living in the country illegally. Then they observed it would be a political mistake to shift focus away from their own opposition to the health care law, which unites them, and turn it onto an issue that divides them. Most recently, Boehner, who has said repeatedly he wants to pass an immigration bill, has joined others in citing a lack of trust with Obama as a reason for inaction.
   If immigration legislation is moribund in the House, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has made it clear he doesn't intend to seek passage of a second Obama priority, this one a bill to facilitate passage of trade deals with Europe and Asia.
   "I'm against fast track," said the man who sets the Senate's agenda, referring to the measure Obama wants. "I think everyone would be well advised just to not push this right now."
   The legislation is opposed by large segments of organized labor, the very unions that Democrats will be counting on to pour money and manpower into their bid to hold control of the Senate in the November election.
   Republicans need to gain six seats to win a majority. They say they increasingly are bullish about their prospects, what with the country generally pessimistic about the future, Obama's favorability ratings well below the levels of his re-election campaign, and controversies afflicting the president's health law.
   While Reid hasn't said so, other lawmakers and aides speculate that trade could top the agenda of any postelection session of Congress.
   And an overhaul of tax laws may not be as far off as it did a year ago. While there was scant evidence of progress in 2013, a transition is occurring at the Senate Finance Committee. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the incoming chairman, announced late Friday his first priority in the job will be overhauling the nation's tax system, which he called a "dysfunctional, rotten mess." He will succeed Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who was confirmed on Thursday as ambassador to China.
   Deficit reduction, the driving force of the tea party-heavy House majority, now occupies a back seat, and the projected deficit for the current budget year is the lowest since George W. Bush was in the White House.
   Nor do Republicans appear likely to compromise any time soon on an increase in the minimum wage or other items on Obama's agenda.
   The first bill the Democrats put on the Senate floor this year, to renew benefits for the long-term unemployed, is stalled by Republican opposition. Even an eventual compromise wouldn't be much to brag about. Congress has passed similar bills repeatedly in the wake of past economic downturns.
   Not that much of significance has been done up until now.
   With much fanfare, lawmakers recently completed work on a five-year farm bill — two years late.
   By month's end, lawmakers are virtually certain to raise the nation's debt limit. That, too, is a relatively routine measure, even if in recent years it has passed only after considerable brinkmanship.
   Another potential area for compromise is legislation to overhaul the system for reimbursing doctors who treat Medicare patients.
   The bipartisan supporters of a measure along those lines have yet to agree on how to offset the cost, though.
Published in National News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri House committee is considering legislation to offer additional financial assistance to persuade more top students to stay in the state after graduation day.
 
The legislation would add a forgivable loan of up to $5,000 per academic year to Missouri's Bright Flight scholarship. Each year a student works in Missouri after school would count toward one year of loan forgiveness. Leaving before the loan is repaid would require repaying the loan with interest.
 
Republican House member Mike Thomson, of Maryville, says too many top Missouri students leave. Bright Flight scholarships are awarded based on ACT or SAT scores. The legislation was examined Tuesday by the House Higher Education Committee.
 
Gov. Jay Nixon has proposed $17 million in next year's budget for a Bright Flight loan program.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers open their annual session Wednesday with some different priorities than those of Gov. Jay Nixon.
 
Republican legislators plan to pursue an income tax cut again after the Democratic governor vetoed last year's attempt.
 
House Speaker Tim Jones wants to consider "right to work" legislation that prohibits union bargaining fees from being a condition of employment. Nixon has said he would veto such legislation, so lawmakers may consider bypassing Nixon by referring it to the ballot.
 
Nixon has made Medicaid expansion a priority for a second straight year. But it's still not a priority for Republican legislative leaders.
 
There is agreement among the governor and some lawmakers that Missouri should change its student transfer law affecting unaccredited school districts. But so far, there is no consensus on a specific plan.
Published in Local News
Saturday, 16 November 2013 10:24

McCaskill plans to introduce POW legislation

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Sen. Claire McCaskill says she'll introduce legislation requiring U.S. defense officials to address mismanagement in a military-led unit responsible for finding service members missing in action.

McCaskill's remarks come several months after an Associated Press story revealed an internal Pentagon report harshly critical of the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command, which searches for missing soldiers' remains. The Pentagon report included accusations of misconduct among those responsible for overseas missions to investigate prospects for recovering remains.

McCaskill, a Democrat, said Friday at a news conference in Kansas City that she's preparing an amendment to the annual defense authorization bill. The amendment would give the Defense Department one year to submit a plan for reorganizing the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command and improving its accountability.

Published in Local News
Thursday, 26 September 2013 15:35

Quack! Wisconsin bill would legalize duck races

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A Wisconsin lawmaker is introducing a bill, no pun intended, that would legalize duck races.

Well, not real ducks but the plastic ones with numbers on the bottom. Nonprofit organizations commonly race the little plastic ducks as fundraisers. Participants usually buy a raffle ticket corresponding with a duck's number.

The first to float across the finish line wins.

State Rep. Andre Jacque circulated a proposal Thursday to legalize the races. He says the village of Mishicot was warned by the Wisconsin Department of Justice that its annual rubber duck race amounts to illegal gambling.

Jacque's bill creates an exemption for duck races, similar to laws in Minnesota and Michigan.

Rubber duck races in Wisconsin include the "Ducktona 500" in Sheboygan Falls and the "Lucky Ducky Derby" in Menomonee Falls.

Published in National News
Tuesday, 03 September 2013 13:23

AG Koster raises concerns over gun-rights bill

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is raising concerns about legislation attempting to nullify some federal gun-control laws.

Koster sent a letter Tuesday to lawmakers warning that the bill contains "flawed public policy."

The Republican-led Legislature is to meet Sept. 11 to consider overriding Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of the legislation.

Koster, a Democrat, says a federal judge likely would strike down provisions attempting to nullify some federal gun laws and making it a crime for federal agents to enforce them. But Koster says other parts of the measure that could be upheld are troubling.

He says the bill could restrict local police from working cooperatively with federal agents and could allow criminals to sue police who refer gun violations to federal prosecutors.

 
Published in Local News
Monday, 19 August 2013 02:03

Gov. signs in tougher new IL gun laws

   CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois gun owners who fail to report the theft or loss of a weapon will face tougher restrictions under a new law signed by Gov. Pat Quinn.

   The law beefs up background checks and requires firearm thefts or losses to be reported within 72 hours.

   Quinn signed the bill Sunday at a South Side Chicago park where police officer was fatally shot in 2010. The Chicago Democrat says the restrictions are common sense and will help crack down on crime.

   Democrats State Sen. Kwame Raoul and state Rep. Mike Zalewski sponsored the bill.  It's also supported by Chicago Police Chief Garry McCarthy.

   The requirement to report thefts goes into effect immediately. The background check changes start next year.

 

 
Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones is rallying support for an effort to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of tax-cutting legislation.

Jones, a Republican from Eureka, says reducing taxes would grow the economy, create additional economic opportunities and allow more funding for education. On Wednesday, Nixon was renewing his objections to the tax legislation in southern Missouri. The Democratic governor has traveled throughout the state to defend the veto.

Nixon's asserts the tax cut would jeopardize funding for government services and boost taxes on prescription drugs.

Jones told supporters in Fulton on Tuesday that he sees "the momentum on our side." He says it is a commonsense measure.

House Republicans are meeting this week to discuss possible veto overrides. Missouri lawmakers return to the state Capitol on Sept. 11.

 
Published in Local News

   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Governor Jay Nixon vetoed legislation that would have expanded an infrastructure surcharge for gas companies.

   Gas utilities have been allowed to seek approval from the Public Service Commission to levy a surcharge for infrastructure replacements. The charge is levied between formal rate cases, and the gas companies must file for a more involved rate case every three years.

   The legislation would have required full rate cases every five years and would have increased the cap on how much gas companies could collect through the surcharge.

   Nixon said the legislation also would have allowed companies to recover from customers much of the uncollectable debt from customers who do not pay.

 
Published in Local News
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