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Missouri Government News for Week of Sept. 23, 1996

State Auditor defends using government resources for her political activities.

State Auditor Margaret Kelly says there was nothing wrong with using her government office resources for a rally promoting her GOP candidacy for governor.

Kelly's comments were made at a rally in the Capitol building to kick off her six-week campaign.

The day before, Associated Press reported Kelly had used her government-financed phone, stationary and FAX to reserve the Capitol Rotunda for the rally.

At a news conference after the rally, Kelly said there was nothing unique about her office actions -- that it had been done by her office in the past.

For more information, see our radio story with digital audio from Kelly and the Democratic governor's campaign manager.

Hancock refunds delayed by court.

It will be at least another 25 days before Missouri taxpayers will get to put into their pockets any of the promised Hancock tax refunds.

The refunds had been triggered by state revenue collections exceeding the Hancock revenue-limit in the state's consitutiton.

State plans to issue late this summer nearly $150 million in refunds were blocked when a lawsuit was filed challenging the method of refund distribution -- to income tax payers only.

On Wednesday, the legal fight was extended when Cole County Circuit Judge Byron Kinder gave parties in the case another 25 days to submit written arguments.

In the meantime, a court order blocking the refunds remains in effect.

For more details, see our newspaper story.

State reaches agreement with Lloyd's of London.

Missouri's Secretary of State announced Wednesday that her office had reached a settlement agreement the night before with Lloyd's of London.

The state office had charged Lloyd's with selling investments to Missourians without disclosing huge liabilities the firm was facing from environmental insurnace claims.

According to to the Secretary of State, 79 Missourians had signed investment agreements with Lloyd's which gave the British firm near open-ended access to the investors' assets to cover the firm's losses.

Under the settlement agreement, the Secretary of State's office says it will have power to review -- and veto -- any effort by Lloyd's to go after Missouri investor assets.

Kelly's campaign starts with questions on campaign use of state resources.

State Auditor Margaret Kelly launched her six-week campaign for governor with published reports that official auditor stationary had been used for the campaign.

Associated Press reported Thursday that state stationery had been used to request use of the Capitol Rotunda for Kelly's political rally.

The request listed a state-government phone number in the auditor's office as the contact.

The law prohibits use of state government resources for partisan political activities.

After the last campaign for governor, former Attorney General Bill Webster had pled guilty to federal charges that included use of state-government office resources for his campaign for governor in 1992.

Education tax hike before Supreme Court

Missouri's Supreme Court heard oral arguments over the public's right to vote on that education tax increased passed in 1993.

The tax measure included a provision allowing a statewide vote -- but only if the Supreme Court court essentially did not uphold the old school-finance law.

That voter-approval provision, however, became meaningless since the old law had been replaced by the 1993 school-finance law. Thus, there was nothing upon which the court could rule.

This latest suit was filed by a Republican legislator. It seeks repeal of the entire 1993 new school-finance law in part because of the problems with the referendum provision.

For more information, see the Supreme Court's docket on the case.