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The Legislature's Last Day

May 14, 2004
By: Sara Bondioli

JEFFERSON CITY - The lieutenant governor, foster care and same-sex marriage highlighted the last day of the legislative session Friday.

Senate Democratic Floor Leader Ken Jacob, D-Columbia, stalled a foster care bill until the last minute of the session. The House passed the Senate's version of a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriages, sending it to the ballot.

Jacob's drawn out debate on foster care came to a head after Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell, a Democratic, refused to accept Republican attempts for a motion to cut off debate and force a vote. Maxwell said the motion could not be recognized, although Republicans argued the Senate has recognized such motions in the past.

Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Jackson County, called Maxwell's actions "a dramatic and unprecedented expansion of power of the role of the chair in the Missouri Senate."

Moments after the close of the session, Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau, told senators that Jacob was "narcissistic" and his behavior was "insulting to this body for the last two hours of the session of this year."

Jacob said his delay was necessary to prevent bad legislation from passing the Senate. He said he stalled House Speaker Catherine Hanaway's foster care bill in order to prevent the House's bill on Medicaid eligibility cuts and fraud from being passed. He said he also hoped to force the House to address a bill that would close the "doughnut hole" in the federal Medicare plan, which goes into effect in 2006.

The foster care bill addresses the system, from initial abuse calls to court cases, and would add protections for parents who are wrongly accused of abuse and neglect.

The bill is similar to the one passed by the legislature and vetoed by the governor last session. Gov. Bob Holden has not committed to signing this year's bill but said it is likely he will do so.

Following the close of the session, Republicans said they were successful in funding education without a tax increase, working for job creation and protecting families and seniors. The legislature's budget plan gave more than $120 million to lower and higher education over last year's budget. The legislature sent a business package to the governor that repeals some business tax credits and creates tax breaks for business in certain areas. Another bill passed Friday would assist the state's bankrupt unemployment insurance fund.

Kinder also noted the liability lawsuit limits bill, which the legislature sent to Holden two weeks ago. The House attempted to override Holden's veto of the bill Thursday night but fell short of the necessary two-thirds vote.

Kinder said the legislature protected families by passing a bill to allow seniors to obtain income tax credit toward property tax increases and sending the same-sex marriage amendment to voters.

"The Defense of Marriage Act will mean that it is Missourians at the polls this November, and not liberal judges in Massachusetts or California, who will determine the state and the definition of marriage in Missouri," Kinder said.

A bill to issue bonds for life sciences for the University of Missouri system and other institutions in the state, as well as one that would change the name of Southwest Missouri State University died in the legislative process. A measure that would allow police officers to pull over drivers not wearing seatbelts also did not make it to the governor. Currently, seatbelt violations may be ticketed if vehicles are pulled over for another reason, but the revision would have allowed officers to pull over vehicles solely for seatbelt violations.

Other bills the legislature sent to the governor on the last day would:

-deal with racial profiling by law enforcement by requiring officers to fill out reports on all vehicle drivers stopped, not just those to whom they give tickets.

-require Missourians to have drivers license pictures that show facial features taken and filed with the state, although those pictures do not have to go on the licenses in cases where there are religious objections.

-update the Sunshine Law provisions regarding new technology, such as the Internet.

-raise fees for fireworks licenses and adds civil penalties for manufacturing, selling or shipping fireworks in the state without the correct permits.

-increase regulation of amusement rides.

-prohibit glass containers in streams.

-require public places to let people bring in service dogs.

-name the Hadrosaur the official state dinosaur.