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NewsBook: Missouri Government News for the Week of February 11, 2008

. Democrat Questions Missouri Gun Control (02/13/2008)

The recent Kirkwood shooting has prompted one Missouri legislator to consider action against current conceal and carry laws. The Democratic senator says something should be done to repeal the law.

Republican Bryan Pratt continues to support Missouri's current gun control laws. He and other Republicans say that they must preserve Missourian's second amendment right to bear arms.

. Kirkwood shooting calls Missouri gun control laws into question (02/13/2008)

After last weeks Kirkwood shooting resulting in six deaths, Missouri legislators are questioning gun control laws. House Speaker Pro Tem Republican Bryan Pratt says Missouri has come a long way in protecting it's citizens while also staying true to the second amendment.

Democratic Senator Yvonne Wilson is concerned for Missourians' safety and says that the Conceal and Carry Law should be repealed.

. Missouri Children Scream for Ice Cream (02/13/2008)

19 children involved in a Civics and Leadership Group not only came up with the idea of the ice cream cone as the official state dessert, they also did all the research and preparation required in the legislative process.

11-year-old Elise Kostial, was at the committee hearing, representing the group of children who came up with the idea.

. For the second year in a row, a bill is presented to make the UM student representative a voting member. (02/13/2008)

Columbia Sen. Chuck Graham sponsors a bill that will make the UM student representative a voting member of the Board of Curators.

Currently, the UM System has a nonvoting student member, but Graham believes that isn't enough.

. Confusion is over for recognized holidays (02/13/2008)

Missouri representatives passed on a bill that allows public schools to use the traditional names of recognized holidays.

Educational institutions have previously caught flak for recognizing observed holidays; now the confusion is over.

. Bill giving veterans cheaper tuition prompts big debate over MU (02/13/2008)

Sen. Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, introduced an amendment to the Missouri Returning Heroes' Education Act that would make money for veterans' tuition be contingent upon money allocated specifically for it.

The amendment brought criticism from Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, and Sen. Maida Coleman, D-St. Louis, because of the apparent advantages it gives to the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Read the newspaper story here.

. Nurses could prescribe drugs under a plan approved by Missouri's Senate. (02/12/2008)

The Senate gave first-round approval to a measure that would let advanced practice nurses prescribe drugs for some prescription medications.

The proposal would be restricted to specially licensed nurses who are working under collaborative agreements with doctors.

The idea has been pushed several years by proponents who argue it would help ease the workload on physicians.

The bill requires one more roll-call vote in the Senate before it can advance to the House.

. The State Treasurer's office gets a GOP candidate. (02/11/2008)

A northwest Missouri senator has become the first Republican to jump into the race after State Treasurer Sarah Steelman announced her candidacy for governor.

Sen. Brad Lager, R-Maryville, made his announcement at Lincoln Days in Springfield -- the annual gathering of Missouri Republicans.

A few years ago, Lager had chaired the House Budget Committee. But he was removed after he raised concerns about spending plans that were being pushed by other Republicans.

. Campaign funding alternatives presented to a Senate committee. (02/11/2008)

Two substantially different proposals for handling campaign financing were presented to the Senate Governmental Organizations Committee on Monday.

One proposal, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Smith, D-St. Louis, would establish a system for government financing of campaigns similar to the presidential system.

The other approach is sponsored by the Senate's majority leader, Sen. Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph.

His proposal would repeal limits on how much any one person can contribute to a political campaign.

Campaign contribution limits had been approved by the legislature in 2006, but were struck down by the state Supreme Court on procedural grounds.

Shields argues that politicians have found ways around the limits and, as a result, the only effect is to hide the real source of campaign funding. Critics charge his approach would make it easier for special interests to dominate campaigns.

The committee took no immediate action on the two bills.

. Peter Kinder drops his campaign for governor. (02/08/2008)

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder announced Friday night he was dropping his campaign for the Republican nomination for governor.

Instead, Kinder said he would seek re-election.

Kinder made his announcement at the annual Lincoln Days meeting of Republicans in Springfield.

Like Gov. Matt Blunt's decision to drop out, Kinder's appeared sudden.  Just a few days earlier, he had announced a series of news conferences across the state to formally announce his campaign.

Kinder gave little insight into what prompted his decision, except to say he wanted to avoid an internal primary right.

His decision leaves U.S. Congressman Kenny Hulshof and State Treasurer Sarah Steelman as the only announced candidates.

. Midwifery Rages on in Missouri (02/06/2008)

The debate over legalizing midwifery in Missouri continues. Witnesses testified both for and against the bill during Wednesday's Senate Pensions Committee Hearing.

One side recommended the committee to consider stronger regulations for the bill. The other side urged the need to the expand the maternity care system.

. The Show Me State Treat (02/06/2008)

Children of all ages came to the State Capitol for a Senate hearing today in support of the ice cream cone as Missouri's official state dessert.

 The bill would increase sales for all individual ice cream businesses in the state. 

. House Immigration Committee looks to crack down on employers of illegal immigrants (02/06/2008)

Missouri lawmakers are looking to tighten immigration laws in the state by requiring employers to check every new employee's immigration status by using a federal database.

The legislation, proposed by Rep. Vicki Schneider, R-O'Fallon, would put the onus on Missouri businesses to use the E-Verify system, operated by the federal government, or risk losing their business license altogether.

. Sales tax collections drop for Missouri (02/06/2008)

Missouri's Office of Administration reports that sales tax collections took a 4.7% drop for the month of January compared to January 2007.

The sales tax is the second largest source of tax revenue for the state, following the income tax.

A senior Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee warned the decline could lead to cuts in proposed spending increases for the next fiscal year.

. Senators reach bi-partisan agreement in hopes of a more productive session (02/06/2008)

A group of Republican and Democratic senators met last night and agreed that they would not motion a "previous question" in the 2008 legislative session.

If a "previous question" motion is proposed, the present topic is immediately voted on, without opportunity for discussion. It is most commonly used to end a filibuster, but as of last night, it will not happen this year.

. Robb sponsors bill for multiple-birth's rights (02/06/2008)

Ed Robb, R-Columbia, sponsored a bill to allow parents of multiple-birth siblings to choose whether their kids should be in the same classroom.

He said Mothers of Multiples wanted to resurrect the bill from the 2006 legislative session that never made it to committee.

Read the newspaper story here.

. Republican Leaders show support for Hulshof (02/06/2008)

Republican leaders in the Missouri state House and Senate publicly endorsed Kenny Hulshof's campaign for governor in a series of meetings this afternoon.

Hulshof spoke of his Missouri roots and kept the energy high as legislatures pledged their support.

. Higher Ed Committee close to voting on Emily Brooker Act (02/06/2008)

The House Higher Education Committee discussed the Emily Brooker Intellectual Diversity Sunshine Act on Tuesday, bringing back old witnesses and hearing from new ones on the bill's pros and cons.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, said that even though the bill inspired many universities to adopt or update policies regarding the issue, a state statute would create a fail-proof safeguard.

. Mixing Up Minimum Wage Law (02/05/2008)

Business owners testified in favor of changes in Missouri's minimum wage law.

 The bill opposes the automatic increase in the minimum wage.   

. Missouri's Supreme Court chief justice urged state lawmakers to keep the state's non-partisan court plan. (02/05/2008)

The plea was made in the State of the Judiciary Address to a joint session of the legislature by Laura Stith.

Her speech was given just a couple of hours after a House committee considered legislation that would revise the system to give non-lawyers and the legislature a greater say in selection of judges.

The non-partisan plan covers the appeals court and the supreme court as well as circuit courts in urban areas.

Critics charge the plan gives lawyers too much power in picking nominees.  Stith argued the system has kept politics out of the judicial selection process.

. Property tax reform unanimous (02/05/2008)

Property tax reform debate could see the Senate floor by the end of February, after passing through committee hearings with a unanimous vote.

The bill would tighten legislative loopholes, and require tax rate roll backs based on property reassessment increases.

. "Robocalls" May End With Missouri Primary (02/05/2008)

Prerecorded campaign pitches from political candidates in Missouri may be ending with the Missouri primary.

Legislation is awaiting House action that would put the "robocalls" on the same level as telemarketers.

. Cohabitation by Parents Could be Factor in Child Custody Rights (02/05/2008)

Representative Bob Nance sponsored a bill in which parental cohabitation could be a factor in determining child custody rights.

This bill would take into account a parent who is living with a person who is not a spouse, adult child or relative of the parent.

. Tougher Restrictions on Sex Offenders (02/04/2008)

Legislators take sex offender law on line with new language to include online identities in databases.  Internet crime prosecutors testified in favor of the new legislation which will increase penalties for sex offenders and creates a searchable index of known online identities of sexual predators.

Bills discussed included Senate Bill 758, which prohibits sexual offenders from loitering within 500 feet of playgrounds or campsites in state parks.  Judiciary committee members also discussed rehabilitation and considered mandating even stricter punishments for offenders.

. Tomorrow's primary could produce a record turnout (02/04/2008)

The office of Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan predicts a record number of primary voters will hit the polls tomorrow, a turnout that both state parties said is driven by competitive races.

Expectations for attendance in today's primary trounce turnout numbers in 2000 and 2004, years in which the Missouri primary served more as a coronation for one candidate than a primary election.

. Hearing will address Bill for Intellectual Diversity in Higher Education (02/04/2008)

The Emily Brooker Higher Education Sunshine Act would prevent students and staff at Missouri universities from being penalized for their beliefs.

Rep. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, sponsored the bill and says studies show a small majority of college students feel pressured to agree with their teachers to get a better grade.

Universities would have to report steps being taken to ensure intellectual diversity each year and post the report on their Web site.

. Flu spikes late in St. Louis (02/04/2008)

The influenza virus hit record highs this season with twice as many cases this year than last. The Department of Health is taking new measures to promote influenza prevention by running humorous radio and television ads to raise awareness of the virus.

Missouri health officials are stressing "social distancing" for victims of the flu to stop the spread of infection. The Health Department says the flu season is difficult to predict. However, this season did start later than usual; thus the numbers are skewed.