This week's news summary was prepared by Candyce L. Clifft from reports prepared during the week by staff of Missouri Digital News.
The House Ways and Means Committee approved the governor's plan for a cut in the state sales tax.
The proposal, which now goes to the full House for debate, would reduce the sales tax by one-fourth of one cent per dollar of purchase.
The tax cut was proposed by the administration as a way of dealing with an unexpected growth in tax collections which have taken state revenues more than $100 million about the "Hancock" revenue limit in the constitution.
For more details, see the house committee approves 1/4 cent sales tax cut.
Legislation to legalize concealed weapons in Missouri cleared the Senate Justice Committee. Bill sponsor Sen. Danny Staples, D-Eminence, said full Senate debate could begin as early as Feb. 5.
The bill faces tough opposition on the Senate floor and possibly from the Governor. Last year, Gov. Carnahan expressed his opposition if the issue is not put on the ballot to be decided by Missouri voters.
The House Judiciary and Ethics Committee heard testimony on a bill to prevent lobbyists fromm influencing legislators with gifts. Bill sponsor Rep. Greg Canuteson, D-Liberty, was grilled by committee members on his attempt to get rid of legislative perks. Canuteson said voters are fed up with lobbyists' gifts.
The committee had several objections, and more debate is expected soon. If the measure passes, Canuteson said it will be the toughest of any state.
The Senate Education Committee approved a safe schools bill Jan. 30. The legislation reflects one of the main proposals mentioned in Gov. Mel Carnahan's State of the State Address. However, bill sponsor Sen. Steve Ehlmann, R-St. Charles, said the Governor simply stole a Republican idea.
The bill's focus is keeping troublemakers out of schools which aren't in their district. Parents would have to show proof of residency in a school district before their child could be registered for school in that district.
A similar bill is scheduled for a House committee vote the week of Feb. 5. The House bill, sponsored by Rep. Steve McLuckie, D-Kansas City, would give administrators tools for fighting drugs and violence in schools. It would require communication between school administrators and juvenile court officials. In addition, it would make striking a teacher a felony.
Both House and Senate committees have cleared legislation designed to assure more Missouri children are immunized against diseases.
The bills come in response to a federal report which placed Missouri at 49th of the 50 states for the rate of child immunization.
The proposals would let parents grant others power to authorize immunization for their children and also would require health insurance policies to cover the costs of immunization.
For more details, see House & Senate committees approve stronger child-immunization bills.
Following recent reports of legislative travel abuses, House Speaker Steve Gaw created a travel committee to investigate House travel expenditures. However, Gaw said no particular juncket prompted formation of the committee.
Under the new procedures, House members will have to get prior approval for travel reimbursement from the committee. Gaw said his own travel will be reviewed by the committee before he is reimbursed.
The House Children Committee heard emotional testimony on the caregiver bill. The bill would require women seeking an abortion to first consult with a case manager.
The committee raised concerns about the caregiver training and the potential for a breach of confidentiality. Bill sponsor Rep. Ron Auer, D-St. Louis City, said he is willing to compromise to get the bill passed. More debate is expected before a committee vote is held.
The House version of the speed limit bill is now in the hands of the Senate Transportation Committee, and it could reach the Senate floor as early as Feb. 5. The bill would increase speed limits on four-lane highways and rural and urban interstates.
If the Senate does not pass the measure by April 3, the higher, pre-1974 limits would automatically take effect.