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NewsBook: Missouri Government News for the Week of April 30, 2007

. State revenues continue to climb. (05/04/2007)

Missouri's Administration Office reported Friday that state tax collections continue at a rate higher than had bee projected for the current budget year that ends June 30.

The office reported a 5.6% increase in collections -- sigificantly higher than the 4% increase that the administration and legislature had projected last year when they put together the budget.

. Campus Security Task Force Meets for First Time (05/03/2007)

Governor Blunt's newly appointed task force met for 4 1/2 hours Thursday.

The task force is set to meet with law enforcement officials involved with the incident at Virginia Tech.

Get the Newspaper story.

. Bill would cap tax levied by cities on telecom companies (05/03/2007)

A bill before the Missouri legislature would nullify a years long dispute between cities and cell phone companies over back taxes the industry is alleged to owe local governments.

The Missouri Municipal League is opposed to the legislation, but the wireless industry says they shouldn't have to pay the tax.

Similar legislation was ruled unconstitutional by the Missouri Supreme Court last August. 

. Missouri's Senate cuts back the tax cut bill. (05/02/2007)

In a late-night session, Missouri's Senate adopted a scaled-down and phased-in version of the House-passed tax cut bill.

As approved by the Senate, the tax plan would be limited to phasing in a exemption of some retirement and Social Security income from the state income tax.

Earlier in the day, the Senate had debated a package of tax breaks for business for economic development.

Some Democrats argued that if there was a budget surplus, it ought to be used to restore cuts in the Medicaid program that provides health care for the lower income.

. Senator reactes to changes to his bill to restructure Medicaid. (05/02/2007)

Sen. Shields reacted to the changes Rep. Schaaf added made to his bill to restructure Medicaid.

FQHCs and the budget were among his top concerns.

. Missouri's Senate approves primary enforcement of the seat belt law. (05/02/2007)

The Senate adopted an amendment that would allow a ticket to be issued for not wearing a seat belt.

Currently, a seat-belt ticket can be issued only if the driver has been stopped for some other offense.

Primary enforcement was included with an amendment to repeal the auto safety inspection requirement for newer cars.  The two ideas were combined in an effort to win over House support where the seat-belt idea has faced stiff opposition.

. Blunts appoints Katie Smith to be new Agriculture Director (05/02/2007)

Two months after a sexual harassment scandal forced Gov. Matt Blunt to ask for the resignation of the Agriculture Department director, Blunt has chosen a 29-year-old to be the first female Agriculture Director in Missouri history.

Katie Smith was announced as Blunt's choice Wednesday. She'll serve as the new director, pending approval by the Senate next week.

. An amendment to a bill would prevent shootings like at Virginia Tech to happen in Missouri. (05/02/2007)

The sponsor of the amendment Representative Brian Munzlinger said the Virginia Tech shooting did help create his amendment. 

The amendment would allow mental health records to be stored by the Missouri State High Patrol to check through the National Instant Criminal background Check system.

. Rally at state Capitol supports community action against poverty (05/02/2007)

Rally speakers at the state Capitol discussed lives affected by poverty to inspire legislative attention to new community action programs.

. Missouri's Supreme Court upholds an anti-abortion law. (05/01/2007)

The state high court, in a unanimous decision, upheld a law passed in 2005 that allows lawsuits against persons assisting a minor in getting an abortion without parental approval.

The measure was prompted by abortion clinics in Illinois where, unlike Missouri, parental approval for an abortion is not required for a minor.

Planned Parenthood issued a statement pointing out that while upholding the law, the court also explicitly ruled that the law did not cover counseling or other speech-related activities.

. AT&T announces expansion of video and Internet services (05/01/2007)

Less than two months after Gov. Matt Blunt signed legislation to give telecommunications companies easier access to the market, AT&T announced Tuesday that it plans to invest $335 million in new television and Internet services.

The legislation's sponsor, Sen. John Griesheimer, R-Washington, praised the investment and said it was much larger than he had anticipated.

. MOHEALA bill passes House committee (05/01/2007)

The House Higher Education Committee passed a MOHEALA bill Tuesday, clearing the latest hurdle for the bill to become a reality.

Although the bill met stiff partisan opposition in the Senate last month, it cleared the House committee by a 7 to 1 vote, with Rep. Sue Schoemehl, D- St. Louis, as the lone dissenter.

. Undoing the constitutional right for stem cell research is defeated. (04/30/2007)

The House Rules Committee voted down a constitutional amendment to undo the stem cell research amendment adopted by Missouri voters in November.

By a 4-3 vote, the committee defeated a motion to send the measure to the full House for debate.

. Extended debate put the English only bill on hold in the Senate (04/30/2007)

The bill would make a constitutional amendment to make English the language of Official proceedings in Missouri. 

The bill was on a possible filibuster when it was set aside to work on appropriation bills.

. House Republican offers substitute Medicaid proposal (04/30/2007)

Rep. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, has proposed a rough draft of an alternative Missouri HealthNet plan that he said would provide more services to Missourians.

Schaaf said that his proposal focuses on making medical services more available and more efficient.

. Missouri's governor promises to bring back next year MOHELA projects cut by Republican legislators. (04/30/2007)

Missouri's governor proposes to seek funds for $46.2 million in projects cut by Republican legislators from the MOHELA project.

Blunt's commitment was unveiled in letters sent to two Republican House members.  The Columbia and Kansas City projects are in the districts of two Democratic senators who had filibustered the bill to authorize sale of MOHELA projects.  Senate Republicans warned they would cut the projects if the Democrats did not end their filibuster.

. Gambling loss limits runs into gambling industry opposition (04/30/2007)

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Monday that the gambling industry has decided to oppose a Senate bill that would repeal the $500 daily loss limit on gambling boats.

According to the newspaper, a lobbyist for the industry said they were opposed to the bill because it also includes a tax increase on the boats.

The measure narrowly won first-round approval in the Senate and is awaiting a final vote in the chamber.