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NewsBook: Missouri Government News for the Week of September 22, 2008

. PSRS unavailable for comment (09/26/2008)

In wake of Washington Mutual bankruptcy, top executives of Public School Retirement Services were unavailable for comments.

PSRS handles all of the retirement plans for public school teachers.

. Home schooling operates on "honor system" (09/26/2008)

The selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as the GOP vice presidential candidate has brought national attention to the issue of home schooling which Palin has championed.

Along with Alaska, Missouri is one of just ten states in the country that does not regulate or monitor home schooling, according to the Home Schooling Legal Defense Association.

. Neither Lt. Gov. Candidate to Receive 'Right To Life' Endorsement (09/25/2008)

When Missouri Right To Life, an anti-abortion rights organization, publishes its endorsements for statewide offices next week, both mainstream candidates for lieutenant governor will be absent from that list, a group spokesperson said Wednesday.

Pam Fichter, Missouri Right To Life board president, pointed to Peter Kinder and Sam Page's viewpoints on human cloning and stem cell research as reasoning for the non-endorsement.

. Missouri Bar denounces Hulshof's proposed changes to nonpartisan judicial selection (09/25/2008)

Two days after proposing changes to Missouri's nonpartisan judicial selection process, Republican gubernatorial candidate Kenny Hulshof received slamming opposition from the Missouri Bar Association.

On Tuesday, Hulshof proposed a number of amendments that would correct what he identifies as an imbalance in the judicial selection process. The Missouri Bar Association is the most recent, and possibly most significant, body to voice opposition to the proposal.

. EPA publicizes revisions to Missouri's impaired waters list (09/25/2008)

The EPA is opening up a 60-day public comment period to discuss changes to the Missouri Department of Revenue's impaired waters list.

The EPA evaluated Missouri's 2004/2006 list of impaired waters and found waters not correctly identified.

Missouri also requested to have waters removed from the 2004/2006 list.

. Governor Matt Blunt is not ruling future campaigns for a public office. (09/25/2008)

In a press conference Thursday, Governor Blunt said that his campaign account will not be closed when his term ends.

Instead, he will be using the money to possibly help other candidates who share values similar to Blunt's.

He also may save some of his finances in case he runs for an office again.

. Governor Blunt disagrees with the President's bailout plan (09/25/2008)

In his first State Capitol press conference in 13 months, Missouri Governor Matt Blunt says President Bush's bailout plan will not salvage the economic crisis.

 Blunt says free market economy does not involve giving Wall Street 700 billion dollars.

. Democrats blame Blunt's initiative for MOHELA's first operating loss(09/24/2008)

A former board member of the state's college loan program and the Democratic candidate for state treasurer charged Republican Gov. Matt Blunt of destroying Missouri's loan authority during a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

However, Republicans said Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority's losses had nothing to do with Blunt's legislation and were the effect of the national economic crisis.

  • Get the print story.
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    . Due to heavy rain, Missouri's lawns are in trouble. (09/24/2008)

    The heavy rainy Missouri experienced is causing lawns and turfs to become compacted.  This cuts off their oxygen supply causing them to die.

    A Division of Plant Sciences professor from the University of Missouri gives some tips to prevent lawn compaction and promote a healthy turf.

    . The Missouri State Treasurer's Office is hosting investment workshops beginning Oct. 7, 2008. (09/23/2008)

    State Treasurer Sarah Steelman announced her office will be hosting investment workshops for various government groups.

    The workshops will highlight the treasurer's office's policies that have kept state investments from being significantly affected by the recent downfall in Wall Street.

    . More than 300 hundred illegal immigrants are behind bars according to Gov. Blunt's Office (09/22/2008)

    Gov. Blunt's August 2007 directive ordering state law enforcement to check the immigration status of anyone put up to go to jail led to more than 300 illegals going to prison.

    The Missouri State Highway Patrol contends it was their agency which was responsible for the success in the governor's first part of his wide scale illegal immigration crack down programs.

    . Nixon leads, but within the margin, in the latest newspaper poll. (09/22/2008)

    The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Monday that a statewide poll found Democratic Jay Nixon ahead of Republican Kenny Hulshof in the campaign for governor 50% to 43%.

    The margin, however, was just within the poll's margin of error of 3.5 percentage points (plus or minus) -- indicating a Nixon-Hulshof range from 46.5%-46.5% to 53.5%-39.5%. 

    . Heavy rains lead to harmful fungus that pet owners need to be cautious about. (09/22/2008)

    A veterinarian in Columbia said the symptoms an animal has if it eats a mushroom are common.  It is important to watch pets closely while outside to be sure they do not eat something poisonous because if they do it will be hard to tell.

    The head of research for the Missouri Mycological Society, which studies fungus, said that while some mushrooms are good, it is important to get rid of the bad.

    . Election leaders are poised for the polls record setting year. (09/22/2008)

    Director of elections Rich Chrismer of St. Charles County said that Missouri is ready for the up coming elections. He said his county is a microcosm of Missouri and is a good way to determine what the people of Missouri want in a leader.

    State Executive Officers are also prepared for the record number of voters. Secretary of State Robin Carnahan has taken careful measures to assure every Missouri that there vote will count.

    . Gas prices affecting the official vehicles (09/19/2008)

    Gas prices are rising again, and Missouri's government vehicles are  feeling the pinch.

     State highway patrol, fire stations, and MoDOT say they are all trying to cut back on gas usage by using new technologies and simply trying to be more efficient with their vehicle usage.

    . Missouri banks are looking good despite credit crisis (09/19/2008)

    According to Commissioner of the Missouri Division of Finance Eric Mclure, the current credit crisis is not affecting Missouri state banks as bad as ones on the coasts.

     The stagnant housing market in Missouri made housing prices stay relatively level during the mortgage boom, and so didn't have as far to fall when the market collapsed. As state banks tend to invest in in-state holdings, the problems on the coasts were largely trivial.

  • Get the radio story.

    . 802 Missouri bridges are to be rebuilt or remodeled by MoDOT within the next five years. (09/18/2008)

    MoDOT held a hearing Thursday in regards to the Missouri bridge Restoration project known as Safe and Sound.

    MoDOT had planned on funding the restorations by working with private contractors, but due the the recent economic meltdown, negotiations have fallen through.

    Thursday MoDOT presented a new plan that would fund the restorations mainly through GARVEE bonds.

    . An environmental organization attacks the Environmental Protection Agency's plans for a nuclear site. (09/17/2008)

    The Missouri Coalition for the Environment attacked the EPA's plan for the West Lake landfill in St. Louis county. 

    The site is nuclear and the executive director of the coalition said there is a 100 percent chance the water will reach the Missouri River.

    . Carnahan Increases Security Checks in Voting Equipment (09/17/2008)

    Secretary of State Robin Carnahan is preparing for a record number of voters by insuring that every vote counts.

    She issued procedures to local election authorities that expand the manual audit conducted after Election Day.

    . A top Missouri government investor predicts little effect on state government's investments from the recent economic turmoils. (09/17/2008)

    Statewide repercussions of the most severe stock market dip since 2001 have not yet been felt in Missouri state government, according to the Missouri State Treasurer's office.

    However, one nonpartisan, nonprofit group expressed concern over the precariousness of Missouri's state economy.

    . Blunt swift in defending record on National Guard payroll (09/16/2008)

    JEFFERSON CITY - The office of GOP Gov. Matt Blunt has jumped into the State Treasurer Campaign.

    While the governor was in Kosovo, Blunt's communications office was swift to address attacks from the democratic candidate.

    State Treasurer candidate and State Representative Clint Zweifel criticized Gov. Blunt over a pay lag for National Guard members.

    On Monday the Zweifel campaign sent out a press release calling for action from the Blunt Administration after citing an Associated Press article that reported  National Guard members were waiting up to 30 days to get paid.

    . Student loans in trouble because of credit crisis. (09/16/2008)

    The Missouri Higher Education Loan Association (MOHELA) is having problems securing investors in their bonds. Investors are scared to put up the money because of the massive defaults on mortgages, which are also an asset-based investment.

    Will Schafner comments on how the company which many students rely on is currently falling short on the year.

    . Missouri's State Economy remains solid despite the stock market crash. (09/16/2008)

    While the stock market took a large hit, Missouri Treasurer's director of investments, Mark Mathers, says Missourians have little to worry about.

    The State Treasurer cannot work with private investment groups like Merrill Lynch and American International Group, because the treasury instituted policies that prohibited such practices.

    . Committee brainstorms ways to reverse the housing slump. (09/16/2008)

    16 people gathered at a hearing today to brainstorm ways to reverse the slump in the housing market.

    The committee was comprised of a mixture of representatives from building contracting companies, banks, mortgage bureaus, appraisers, and two Representatives from the Missouri House of Representatives.

    . Statewide mayor alliance holds first meeting (09/16/2008)

    City Mayors from across the state met Tuesday morning in Jefferson City to discuss plans for the newly organized alliance of mayors.

    St. Louis City mayor Francis Slay said the group has narrowed their focus to three issues, which will help the group to better communicate their message in the legislature.

    . MPCA Denies Price gouging at Missouri gas pumps.

    Missouri Department of Natural Resources Spokesman Kerry Cordray said he expects gas prices to continue to rise.

    Cordray said that prices are likely to rise more than ever due to previous experiences of gas suppliers gouging prices after disastrous events. 

    . Flooded rivers in Missouri have bacteria floating around in them.

    This weekend's heavy rain is causing water experts to warn of potential contamination.

    Top water expert Dale Blevins from The U.S. Geological Survey says after heavy rainfall toxin levels in the Missouri River rise.

    . Lt. Gov Kinder issues executive order for flooded areas in Missouri.

    The Missouri State Emergency Management Agency reports at least 3 people dead and thousands of homes without power following heavy rainstorms over the weekend.

    The Lt. Governor issued the executive order for relief to affected areas early Monday afternoon. SEMA Deputy Director Duane Nichols says the storms that hit Missouri the past few days were out of the ordinary.

    . The folding of Lehman Brothers may have short term economic downfalls.

    Many in the business world say the collapse of Lehman Brothers is the end of an era, but some experts feel the affects will only last a few years.

    MU Professor of Finance and Chair of Missouri Bankers John Howe said the negative effects will not last very long.

    . Bacteria increases after extra rainy seasons.

    The Department of Natural Resources encourages people to do recreational activities in the Missouri River, but the current rainy season increases bacteria levels.

    DNR's spokesman Larry Archer says tests of rivers have concluded that bacteria increases in bodies of water after rain.

    . Missouri's record rainfall should not delay highway construction.

    According to the National Weather Service, Hurricanes Ike and Gustav caused more than a foot of rain in some parts of the state in September alone.

    With record high levels of rain, flooding has closed roads throughout the state. 

    Despite the rain and flooding, MoDOT engineer Roger Schwartz says highway construction will not be delayed.

    Get the radio story.