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NewsBook: Missouri Government News for the Week of January 21, 2008

. Steelman and Kinder in, Talent out & Carnahan thinking. (01/25/2008)

The Republican gubernatorial campaign began to take form late Friday afternoon, according to reports from The Associated Press.

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder confirmed he definitely will run for the job and State Treasurer Sarah Steelman said she too will seek the office.

Meanwhile, former U.S. Senator Jim Talent ruled himself out of the race.

And on the Democratic side, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan was quoted as saying she considering taking on Attorney General Jay Nixon for the Democratic nomination for governor.

. The first formal candidacy is announced in the aftermath of Blunt's departure. (01/25/2008)

Former St. Louis Rep. Jack Jackson formally announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor.

Jackson is the first to campaign announcement since Gov. Matt Blunt's announcement he would not seek re-election.

Jackson was an unsuccessful candidate for the GOP nomination for state auditor in 2006.  He said he made his decision to seek the lieutenant governor's job after Peter Kinder told him he would not seek re-election to the post but, instead, was going to seek Blunt's job.

In the meantime, the list of potential candidates for governor continues to grow -- but none have made a formal announcement.

. Another Missouri lawmaker faces criminal charges. (01/24/2008)

The Associated Press reports that Re. Brad Robinson, D-Bonne Terre, has been charged with a felony for driving away from an auto accident in which a pedestrian was struck.

The incident occurred during the early-morning hours of New Year's day.

The two-term Democrat becomes the sixth lawmaker to face criminal charges in the past year.  Other lawmakers have been charged and/or convicted for credit card fraud, presenting false identification at a gambling boat, an immigration fraud scheme and drunken driving.

. Missouri's House Speaker puts toes into the gubernatorial campaign waters. (01/24/2008)

House Speaker Rod Jetton told reporters Thursday that he has the financial backing and the support to make the race for the governor.

Jetton suggested that only his wife's possible objections stood in his way. He said he would talk with his wife over the weekend about a possible campaign.

Jetton is the third Republican to raise the possibility of going after the state's highest position after Gov. Matt Blunt announced earlier this week he was dropping out.

. Nixon stresses Democratic unity after Blun't announcement (01/23/2008)

Surrounded by dozens of cheering partisan legislators, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Nixon emphasized the unity in his party, in contrast to the uncertainty and possible primary election the Republican party now faces in the governor's race.

Meanwhile, Sarah Steelman and Peter Kinder have both released statements regarding possible possible runs for governor.

. Blunt not first Missouri politician to bow out (01/23/2008)

Gov. Matt Blunt's announcement today was far from the first of it's kind.

A handful of former Missouri officials left politics at what seemed to be the height of their careers for a "myriad of reasons" as one former Senator put it.

Though some cited money as the main factor in deciding to leave office, Blunt assured that fund raising had nothing to do with his choice.

. Blunt tells reporters he lacks a mission for another term. (01/23/2008)

Gov. Matt Blunt repeated  told a Wednesday morning news conference that his decision to drop out of the campaign for re-election was that he just did not have a sense of "mission" for a second term as governor.

Rejecting a number of questions about other possible motivations, for nearly an hour Blunt repeated told reporters his decision was based on a sense that he had accomplished all that he intended as governor.

The governor said he had made his decision within the past few days after discussions with family and prayer.

As for the future, Blunt said he has no future plans after his term as governor ends in January 2009.  He did not, however, running for public office sometime in the future.

. Matt Blunt drops his campaign. (01/22/2008)

In an announcement that stunned Missouri's statehouse, Gov. Matt Blunt has dropped his campaign for re-election as governor.

Blunt released his statement and posted it on YouTube just minutes after he held a short conference call with state Republican leaders to inform them of the decision.

Several Republicans who attended the conference call said the governor added little to his formal statement that he he did not have the "same sense of mission for a second" term.

In recent months, Blunt has come under increasing attack for reports that his top staff had ordered destruction of state e-mails.  His budget proposals announced last week had raised concerns from some Republican legislators that the large spending increases would endanger the state's budget.

Blunt leaves the campaign with slightly more than $4 million in his campaign war chest.

. Blunt approves $2 million to preserve emails. (01/17/2008)

The Associated Press reported Thursday that Gov. Matt Blunt has authorized spending $2 million to establish an administration system to preserve e-mails within various agencies of state government.

The plan comes after a former lawyer for the governor charged in a lawsuit that Blunt's top staff had urged agency lawyers to destroy email documents.  The lawsuit also charges the governor's former chief of staff had sought to destroy the backup tapes of emails from the governor's staff.

The governor repeatedly has refused to answer questions as to whether the allegations are true and what, if any documents, actually have been destroyed in his office.

The attorney general has launched an investigation into the allegations.

. Concern Over Child Care (01/16/2008)

Majority leader Republican Charlie Shields is giving it another try with his early child care rating system bill.  The same idea was proposed last year but was defeated on the main concern that it should be voluntary.  Shields changed the service to optional but there are still concerns among his own Education Committee.

One main concern was if a facility's costs would go up after they receive a higher rating, just like how a 5-star restaurant can charge more for a steak than the diner down the street.

. High Security at state Capitol Nothing New (01/15/2008)

Governor Blunt's State of the State address not only brought with it the promise of change, but also the sight of armed police officers and bomb sniffing dogs.

However, according to Missouri Capitol Police Chief Todd Hurt, the implementation of explosive detecting dogs and other upgrades in security at the state Capitol was not a request by the Governor..  They were only a precaution for civilian visitors to the capitol.

. Bartle says 2007 "Year of the Steroid" (01/15/2008)

A bill sponsored by Republican Senator Matt Bartle would call for random drug testing for high school athletes.  The tests would not only focus on the detection of anabolic steroids but of other illegal substances.

A positive test would result in immediate dismissal from sports for the rest of the present year and the one following it.

. Missouri's governor proposes a $1.5 billion budget increase. (01/15/2008)

Missouri's governor has presented state lawmakers with a package of budget increases of nearly $1.5 billion for the fiscal year that will begin July 1.

The proposals would bring higher education funding back to the 2002 fiscal year levels -- before the state's economic downturn forced a series of cuts in state spending.

The governor's budget is based on spending almost all of the more than $600 million of unspent surplus in state tax dollars from prior years.

Building the budget on one-time dollars raised concerns from some Republican legislators who warned the state should be cautious about spending because of predictions of economic problems ahead.

. Nixon's investigation into the governor's office is extended. (01/15/2008)

Attorney General Jay Nixon announced Tuesday that he as granted a two-month extension for the team looking into allegations of record destruction by the governor's office.

The three-member team had requested the extension because of the refusal by the governor's office to provide requested materials.

The team is headed by a former Highway Patrol superintendent.

Last week, a former lawyer for the governor had charged in a lawsuit that top staff of the governor had pressured agency officials to destroy electronic emails.