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NewsBook: Missouri Government News for the Week of November 10, 2008


. FBI Launches Investigation Into Extortion Threats (11/13/2008)

The FBI has launched an investigation after a St. Louis-based company received extortion threats, threatening to expose personal medical information in the company's database which includes University of Missouri and State Government employees.

Express Scripts, a prescription processing company who works with the state government, among other clients, received a letter from an anonymous source threatening to expose millions of the company's clients medical information. The letter contained the personal information of 75 members, including names, social security numbers, dates of birth, and in some cases, information on prescriptions, a press release from the company stated.

. Do editorials matter when it comes to the outcome of an election? (11/13/2008)

Editorial boards at some of Missouri's largest newspapers were vocal about their selections for the state's top offices, all of which were contested this year.  But in 2008, do editorial endorsements still matter and to what extent do they influence what voters do when they go to the polls?

Some studies tend to suggest that's not the case, and that voters are more likely to rely on their own knowledge when they cast their votes.

. More details come in on the Missouri Ethics Commission's cease on the pursuit of the money-laundering accusation of new Attorney General Chris Koster. (11/13/2008)

An Ethics Commission spokesperson says 2 members removed themselves from the vote because of conflicts of interest.

One State Senator says the commission could have done a better job.

. Missouri Senators and Representatives hear testimony regarding VOIP (11/13/2008)

A special committee hearing was held to discuss Voice Over Internet Protocol.

The committee heard testimony from representatives from many telecommunication companies who highlighted access charge issues for rural communities.

. Governor-elect Jay Nixon is making preparations for his term as Missouri Governor. (11/13/2008)

Governor-Elect Jay Nixon is gathering his transition team around him and filling spots for his cabinet and advisors.

Three issues Nixon and his staff are focusing on are the struggling economy, college affordability, and health care.

. The Missouri Transportation Department says it is not worried about the national salt decrease. (11/12/2008)

A spokesperson for the Transportation Department says Missouri's roads will not be slippery this winter.

Leading weather predictors are bickering over just how much snow will cover Missouri, but the Transportation Department says no matter the amount, they have it covered.

. Fatal car accident spurs debate over Missouri Seat Belt law. (11/13/2008)

A car accident in Palmyra left ten people dead and nine were not wearing their seat belts.

MODOT Senior Specialist Vicky Williams supports changing Missouri's law so that police can pull people over just for not wearing their seat belt.

Missouri Representative Bryan Pratt agrees that changing the law could save lives and bring in federal grant money.

Missouri House Pro Tem Speaker Brian Yates opposes changing the law.  Yates said he wants to make punishments stricter for not wearing a seat belt but believes that police can abuse power if allowed to pull people over for just that reason.

. Missouri Ethics Commission takes no action against Koster(11/12/2008)

The Missouri Ethics Commission did not acquire the four votes necessary to take action on complaints regarding Attorney General-elect Chris Koster.

After the Missouri Supreme Court reinstated campaign contribution limits, Koster donated much of his funds to Chuck Hatfield's Economic Growth Council. Funds donated to the council were given to the Koster campaign through other organizations. 

No one from the Missouri Ethics Commission was available to comment on whether further meetings would be held on the subject.

Associated Press reports the vote to proceed on the case was three in favor to one against with two members abstaining.  One likely abstaining member could be the commission's chair who works in the same law firm as Koster.

. Nixon names a senior budget pro for his transition team. (11/11/2008)

Gov.-elect Jay Nixon's transition office announced the appointment of a former legislative budget chair to be his top budget adviser.

Named as a deputy transition director for budget review is Wayne Goode who has chaired both the House Budget Committee and later the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Goode spent 42 years in the legislature until forced out by term limits after the 2004 legislative session.

. Governor-elect Jay Nixon is putting together his cabinet with plans for diversity. (11/10/2008)

Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder is willing to work with new governor Jay Nixon to bridge the gap between Republicans and Democrats while they are both in office.

Governor-elect Nixon is looking for people who best represent Missouri to be in his cabinet.

Get the radio story here.

. A top aid to Al Gore will run the transition team for Missouri's next governor. (11/07/2008)

Gov.-elect Jay Nixon announced Friday the selection of the chief of staff for former Vice President Al Gore to head Nixon's transition office.

Selected is Charles Burson who first met Nixon when Burson was Tennessee's attorney general.

The transition team will be responsible for selecting persons for a large number of government jobs which the new administration will fill.

. Missouri revenues take a dive (11/07/2008)

The state's Office of Administration reported a 1.1 percentage decline in state revenue collections for the last four months of the current fiscal year compared to the prior budget year.

The figures cover July through October.

The steepest drops were reported in sales tax collections (down 3.3%) and corporate taxes (down 12.6%).

Administration Commission Larry Schepker was quoted in an agency release as saying it is very unlikely the state will meet the revenue collection estimates upon which the state's budget is based.

. Carter County Sheriff Kills himself before his election. (11/07/2008)

Former Sheriff Greg Melton lost his election by two votes.

Unfortunately can cannot contest the results because he committed suicide a few weeks prior to November 4.

The deputy Sheriff Ted Reynolds has been sworn in until the elections winner, Tommy Adams takes over in January.

Melton's name was not taken off the ballot because it was too close to election day.

. Missouri's bellwether status is still to be determined (11/07/2008)

Election officials have yet to determine which presidential candidate has won Missouri. 

 In a tight race John McCain won the state over Barack Obama by a mere 6,000 votes,  but the state is still awaiting the results of 7,000 provisional ballots.

Missouri is a long time bellwether state, voting for the winner of every election since 1904, except the in the election of 1956 and now 2008.

. The Effects of Proposition A Go In To Effect Much Sooner Then Expected (11/07/2008)

The Secretary of State has decided Proposition A will take effect immediately -- thus eliminating the $500 loss limits without having to wait for formal certification of the election results. 

Actual certification of the results from Tuesday's election could take up to a month.

. Hulshof's loss attributed to name recognition, competition in primary (11/06/2008)

Missouri may have lost its bellwether status in U.S. presidential elections, but the results of state's gubernatorial race and of the presidential race are markedly similar.

One similarity is the considerable margin by which the Democratic victor defeated his Republican opponent. Pres.-elect Barack Obama won 53 percent of the vote to Sen. John McCain's 46 percent -- and Gov.-elect Jay Nixon won 58 percent of the vote to U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof's 39.5 percent.

. GOP makes decision on new majority leader (11/06/2008)

In a hearing today, Senator Kevin Engler was elected Senate Majority Leader.

Engler said the GOP chose him due to the fact that he will not be seeking a higher office, and will work well with both sides.

. Governor Elect Nixon holds first press conference. (11/06/2008)

Before making his first press conference as Governor-elect, Jay Nixon held a closed door meeting with party leaders.

Nixon said the meeting was not focused issues, but rather on how parties need to come together.

. Missouri's Democratic Senators choose a new minority leader Thursday. (11/06/2008)

The Senators met Thursday afternoon choosing Senator Victor Callahan as their new Minority Leader.

Senator Callahan says he will work to fully and accurately represent his party.

. Missouri Democratic House Leader pushes for change (11/06/2008)

Missouri's Democratic House Leader, Paul LeVota, says he wants to end partisan politics in the House.

LeVota expects full cooperation from the Republican House Leaders.

. Obama's election gives some Missouri black leaders hope (11/05/2008)

As Democrat Barack Obama assumes the position of president-elect in the U.S., many Missouri black leaders said this may open doors for a black politician to become a state-wide elected official.

Missouri has never had a black elected to a state-wide office.

. Voter turnout was 69 percent on Tuesday (11/05/2008)

Voter turnout reached record levels Tuesday with 2.9 million Missourians heading to the polls.

Boone County had almost 84 percent voter turnout.

. Gambling initiative garners voter support (11/05/2008)

Missouri's Proposition A met voter approval in Tuesday's general election.

 The measure will repeal Missouri's unique $500 loss limit in casinos in the state; cap the number of casinos to those built or being built; require individuals to present identification only when necessary to identify someone as over 21 years of age; and increase state gaming tax on casinos from 20 to 21 percent.

. All propositions and constitutional amendments pass (11/04/2008)

All of the Missouri ballot initiatives and constitutional amendments passed late Tuesday evening.

 Missourians have adopted an English-only amendment to the constitution, expanded options for storm water bonds, established a home-care attendant council, and increased required renewable energy sources for publicly owned utilities to 15 percent.


. Hulshof concedes governor's race (11/04/2008)

Democrat Jay Nixon gave his acceptance speech at the Pageant Club in St. Louis after U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof conceded the race at 9:30.

The Associated Press called the race for Nixon while votes were still being cast in St. Louis County because of voter problems.

. Republican Gibbons concedes the attorney general's race. (11/04/2008)

Republican attorney general candidate Mike Gibbons conceded the race to Democrat Chris Koster according to a spokesman for the Koster campaign.

Koster had 50.2 percent of the vote.

. St. Louis polling sites remain open late (11/04/2008)

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan said after the 7 p.m. scheduled closing time for Missouri election sites Tuesday that certain precincts in the St. Louis area would remain open until as late as 9 p.m.

 Carnahan said polling places were running behind schedule, and she reported the longest wait being in Velda City.

 According to a poll worker in Columbia, any voters inside a polling site by 7 p.m. would be eligible to cast a vote in the general election. 

. AP calls race for Nixon but neither side plans to formally end the race (11/04/2008)

Moments after the polls closed the Associated Press called the governor's race for Democrat Jay Nixon, but neither Nixon nor his opponent said they are prepared to concede or accept the nomination.

Democratic party spokesman Zac Wright said Nixon will probably not make a speech until 9 p.m.

Hulshof campaign manager John Hancock said the Hulshof campaign has no plans to concede the race yet.

. Republican nominee for vice president Sarah Palin comes to Jefferson City (11/03/2008)

Mid-Missourians stood for nearly an hour in line and waited longer on the grounds of Missouri's Capitol for a chance to hear Republican nominee for vice president and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speak.

The event had a clear rural-conservative theme. It started with live country music from Hank Williams, Jr. and was highlighted by Palin's appearance in blue jeans.

. Missouri U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill delivers Democratic response to the Palin campaign rally (11/03/2008)

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill said the McCain-Palin Campaign is painting a distorted picture of Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama.

McCaskill said the economy will be the determining factor for voters in rural Missouri swinging blue for the Democrats. The Missouri Senator also said she is "not interested" in any role in a potential Obama presidential administration.