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NewsBook: Missouri Government News for Week of August 27, 2001


. Gov. Holden Faces Turning Point in Special Session (08/31/01)
. Holden's Chief of Staff will leave her position (08/31/01)
. Missouri's largest prison plans to complete testing for tuberculosis on inmates this week. (08/31/01)
JEFFERSON CITY - The Farmington-based facility began the prison-wide test after 14 prisoners and four staff members tested postive in a routine set of test.

But prison officials say no active cases have been found at the facility.

. Governor's Chief of Staff Will Leave Post (08/31/01)
JEFFERSON CITY - Julie Gibson, Gov. Bob Holden's Chief of Staff, has said she will leave her post this fall to become a campaign consultant for the Missouri Democratic Party, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported today.

Gibson will switch jobs in early March.

Two candidates appear to be top contendors for Gibson's position - State Economic Director Joe Driskill and Tom Irwin, executive director of Bi-State Development Agency, the operator of the St. Louis public transportation system.

Earlier this month, Irwin announced his plans to leave the Bi-State post he has held since 1997.

But Holden has yet to announce Gibson's replacement.

. Prescription drug task force okays plan for special session (08/31/01)
JEFFERSON CITY - A special task force aggreed unanimously Friday morning to go forward with a prescription drug plan that will make drugs more affordable for low-income Missouri residents.

The task force will introduce the plan to the legislature Wednesday.

. As agency budget cuts are slashed, $2 million is being spent to remodel Missouri's Senate. (08/30/01)
JEFFERSON CITY - The remodeling is part of a multi-year rennovation of Missouri's statehouse that began last year.

Current work in the Senate chamber will force the Senators into the basement of the statehouse during the special session that begins Sept. 5.

The Senators will be using a House committee hearing room.

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    . No Layoffs from Budget Withholdings (08/30/01)
    JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Bob Holden announced budget withholdings of 14% to the budget today, most reductions in administrative spending, less than originally estimated.

    State jobs will remain intact, according to Holden, although certain mid-management positions will be held vacant until the budget crisis subsides.

    Democrats are expressing no surprise at the withholdings, despite rumors of layoffs preceding today's announcement, but certain GOP members express extreme concern over the use of executive order.

    Holden stated that he may reverse such decisions if economic growth increases later this fiscal year.

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    . Missouri's governor plans to unveil his budget cuts Thursday. (08/29/01)
    JEFFERSON CITY - The governor's office announced Wednesday that Gov. Bob Holden would announce his long-promised set of budget cuts Thursday morning.

    For the last couple of months, Holden has warned that lower-than-expected tax collections would force cuts as deep as 18% in budgets approved by the legislature in the spring.

    Some Republican lawmakers, however, say tax collections are not so poor as to justify the size of the cuts threatened by the governor.

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    . The governor's prescription drug task force adopts a key GOP proposal. (08/29/01)
    JEFFERSON CITY - The governor's task force on prescription drug coverage for the elderly has adopted a plan similar to that adopted by the GOP-controlled Senate but rejected by the Democratic-controlled House last spring.

    The proposal would have the program administered by a private business rather than by the state -- as proposed by the Senate's Health Committee chairman, Marvin Singleton.

    But Singleton said he was not yet ready to endorse the task force plan, voicing concerns about the price tag.

    . The state's PSC chairman warns of a potential crisis from utilities shutting off service to the low-income this winter. (08/28/01)
    JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's "Cold Weather" rule restricts a utility from shutting off service during the winter.

    But that rule covers only those with existing service. The PSC warns that nearly 30,000 households will not be protected by the rule because their service already has been shut off for non-payment from last winter.

    The PSC says those households must get their past bills paid in order to be covered by the shut-off limitations for this winter.

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    . Missouri House and Senate redistricting commissions fail to approve new maps. (08/28/01)
    JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's Supreme Court will have to appoint judicial panels to draw Missouri's new House and Senate district maps.

    The two bi-partisan commissions appointed by the governor to draw the maps gave up after failing to reach agreement by the Tuesday morning deadline to submit plans to the Secretary of State.

    Both commission split along party lines. The House panel gave up first. The Senate panel continued meeting past midnight before adjourning.

    Under Missouri's Constitution, the Supreme Court now must pick a panel of judges to draw the district lines in conformity with the 2000 census.

    . Trasportation department recommends $2.73 billion project to widen Interstate 70 (08/27/01)
    JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Department of Transportation has recommended a $2.73 billion project to widen Interstate 70 to relieve congestion and reduce the number of accidents on the major corridor.

    The suggestions were released by the department recently in a 19-month study of 200 miles of I-70 as it stretches between Kansas City and St. Louis.

    At this time, no funds have been set aside for a major overhaul of I-70.

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    . Sen. Carnahan holds field hearing in state capitol (08/27/01)
    JEFFERSON CITY - Sen. Jean Carnahan addressed rising drug costs in a Senate field hearing Monday. Affected seniors, advocates and physicians testified to the Senate Special Committee on Aging about the prescription drug situation in Missouri.

    Carnahan said her packed hearing was not an effort to generate publicity for a possible campaign for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

    The widow of Missouri's former governor said she was not ready to make an announcement whether she would run for re-election 2002.

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