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Countdown till the end of session

May 10, 1996
By: Emily Goodin
State Capital Bureau

Jefferson City - Monday begins the final week for the General Assembly and two of the big issues remaining are tax cuts and abortion.

Sen. James Mathewson, president pro temp, said he doesn't believe the legislature will be slowed down by these issues.

"With major issues, we hit them for a few hours, lay them over and come back," the Sedalia Democrat said. "We work on them on and off the floor."

The tax cut, proposed by Rep. Ken Jacob, is part of the governor's legislative agenda. It was originally a one-forth cent reduction in the food tax and then evolved to a 2-cent-per dollar reduction. However, when it left the Senate Corrections and General Laws committee last week, it had become an income tax cut for private pensioners and dependents with children.

Mathewson said the income tax was another option and the bill would be worked out in conference committee.

"It has a good chance at passing," Jacob, D-Columbia said.

The abortion counseling bill, or "care givers" bill, provides money to Tel-Link, a toll free service that gives advice on abortion alternatives. Women would be referred to certified "case managers" who would advise them on prenatal and other services.

There are also restrictions on where an abortion can be performed. Gov. Mel Carnahan has said he will veto the legislation.

However, House sponsor Patrick O'Connor said the Senate will probably take out the controversial care-giver language.

O'Connor, D-Bridgeton, says he wants to "keep it clean and pass without the care giver."

Other controversial legislation includes:

* A gift ban on lobbyists - the House and Senate both passed provisions that keep individual legislators from excepting gifts, but the Senate version would allow gifts for the full body or standing committees.

* An environmental audit bill that would allow companies to keep some self-audits on pollution confidential. Opponents call it a "dirty little secrets bill" while proponents say it allows a company not to be punished for a self-audit.

* Legislation that would control pollution and waste from hog farms. It would allow the Department of Natural Resources to establish guidelines for the regulation of hog farms.

* A bill that would make English Missouri's official language.

* Legislation that would give predatory sexual offenders life in prison with the option of parole.

The General Assembly has until 6:00 Friday night to send bills to the governor.