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NewsBook: Missouri Government News for the Week of December 8, 2008

. 600 state employees were told by Governor-elect Jay Nixon this week their jobs may be in jeopardy. (12/11/2008)

During the holiday season, the last thing any employee wants is to find out their jobs might be in jeopardy.

But 600 state employees ranging from assistants to division managers, received a letter asking them to justify their positions.

. Initiative petition in circulation for 2010 Ballot (12/11/2008)

A new ballot initiative petition related to banning affirmative action programs was approved by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.

The ballot initiative calls for the ban of affirmative action programs and allow preferential treatment based on race, sex, and color in order to meet federal program fund eligibility requirements.

. Anheuser-Busch InBev plans to cut some 1,400 jobs from St. Louis alone and there will be little the state can do to help those laid-off. (12/10/2008)

Those laid-off by the brewery giant Anheuser-Busch InBev will find even more difficult times ahead because the Missouri government is at a stand-still until the new session begins January 7.

Anheuser-Busch would also have to take initiative and call before the people being laid-off can be offered help by the state.

. UM System President asks for suggestions to meet expected budget cuts (12/10/2008)

University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee sent an e-mail to students and faculty today asking for suggestion on how to meet a state projected 15 percent to 25 percent cut in appropriations due to an estimated $340 million state budget shortfall.

A cut of that size would range from $60 million to $100 million of the system's $400 million budget.

Forsee's e-mail also stated, "we need to do our part to help the state; however, our elected officials need to be aware of what our university means to the future success and well-being of Missourians."

The e-mail also states the University has until Dec. 18 to give a plan to the Missouri Department of Higher Education.

Send MU Chancellor Brady Deaton suggestions for how to save money here.

. Letter with white powder addressed to Governor Blunt turns out to be harmless (12/09/2008)

The letter was intercepted by a Jefferson City mail distribution center and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services conducted preliminary tests on the letter.

The white powder substance turned out to be nothing more than normal, unbleached flour.

. Seeking permanence in life and on paper (12/09/2008)

On her second birthday Jamila Gray received a quilt. But Jamila, now a teenager, was not turning two years old. \

She was celebrating her March 7 birthday, the birthday she now shares with her adoptive mother. It was also the day that she officially became a Gray. Her adoptive grandmother sewed Jamila with her first name and new last name.

Seeing her new last name on a quilt meant a lot to Jamila. A previous birthday was spent with her guardian ad litem. A lawyer appointed to serve as a kid's guardian, she explained, just another one of the many legal terms surrounding foster care that is a regular part of her vocabulary.

. Missouri's Chief Environmental Officer Announces he will Resign. (12/09/2008)

Doyle Childers announced he will resign his position as the state's chief environmental officer effective January 12th.

He said that he and Governor-Elect Nixon don't get along and wouldn't be able to work together in his cabinet.

Nixon had no comment.

Get the radio stories.

. Two Missouri State Agencies have different opinions on how to deal with the state unemployment problem. (12/08/2008)

The Missouri State Unemployment Council met to discuss its projection for a Missouri Unemployment Trust Fund.

The goal is to create a state trust fund that can pay off debts in bad economic times without raising state taxes.

. A new bill may be passed that limits the amount of alcohol on Missouri rivers. (12/08/2008)

Senator Delbert Scott sponsored a new bill banning consumption and use of some alcoholic containers on the river.

He said this bill is a safety issue that needed to be addressed.

Scott hopes this will promote a family atmosphere instead of a party atmosphere.

. In the midst of Missouri's budget crisis the state will not give higher education any funding this year. (12/08/2008)

Missouri tuition is already higher than the national average for a public Universities.

Now, higher education will not receive any funds from the government because of budget constraints.

Higher education took a big hit in 2003 when the senate was cut funds.

Students are still feeling the pressure five years later.

. Former Governor Bob Holden faced a financial crisis while in office and now many are comparing his term to Governor-elect Jay Nixon's. (12/08/2008)

Former Governor Bob Holden faced poor economic times and budgetary woes while in office and now it seems Jay Nixon must do the same.

Top leaders from Holden's term have different viewpoints on what the future 55th Governor should do when he takes office.

Get the radio story here.

. Nixon picks citizen advisers to help fill state positions (12/05/2008)

Gov.-elect Jay Nixon has chosen 100 Missourians to help him identify people to fill positions at state departments.

One of the 100, MU student Rick Puig, called the 'citizen advisers' the "front line of the administration's recruitment effort."

. The Road Ahead for Matt Blunt (12/05/2008)

With little over a month left in his term as governor, Matt Blunt already has a job lined up for when he leaves the governor's mansion in January.

 Blunt has been appointed to the Board of Directors of Copart, Inc., a California-based company that helps vehicle suppliers process and sell salvaged vehicles through actions.

 There is no report on how much Blunt will be paid and of how his new salary will relate to his salary as governor, which totaled $133,800.

 The appointment is effective January 13th, the day after Governor-elect Jay Nixon's inauguration as the new governor of Missouri.

. Senators discuss pros and cons of telephone company deregulation (12/04/2008)

Phone companies across the state are no longer under the regulation of the Public Service Commission, due to the passage of HB 1779.

The head of the PSC is concerned citizens will have to pay much higher rates, but supporters of the bill say it is a reflection of staying up-to-date with new technology.

. Governor-Elect and the state's current Attorney General has revised a lawsuit against Governor Blunt. (12/04/2008)

Governor-Elect and the state's current Attorney General  Jay Nixon's investigation into potential violations of the Sunshine Law, has led to an updated lawsuit against Governor Blunt's administration.

The lawsuit claims Blunt and his staff knowingly or purposefully violated the Sunshine Law.

. Consumer protection issues are on the minds of Missourians during this economy recession. (12/04/2008)

Governor-Elect Jay Nixon said during his campaign that he will make consumer protection issues one of his top priorities.

The Attorney General's office said major consumer issue concerns include bad loans, identity theft, and political robo-calls.

The Missouri House and Senate recently filled bills that will extend the No Call List to include political robo-calls.

. Nixon announces plan to cut goverment spending(12/03/2008)

A hiring freeze and a review of construction projects were among the ideas announced by Governor-elect Jay Nixon in his proposal addressing a projected $342 million budget shortfall.

The proposal would require all government departments to submit a plan on reducing expenses, put a freeze on long term contracts for good and services and require state departments to administer performance reviews.

. AT&T of Missouri is deregulated (12/02/2008)

AT&T of Missouri is no longer governed by the Public Service Commission.

The company says it needs this to compete in the new market

The head of the Commission is afraid this will eventually lead to a monopoly.

. A top economic adviser to Governor-elect Jay Nixon gives a dark summary of the state of the U.S. economy (12/02/2008)

Former Senator Wayne Goode's comments came during a conference call with Missouri's statehouse reporters.

With many pauses and breaks while he spoke Goode said the economy is as bad as it was more than 70 years ago.

. The Missouri House Democrats say they will focus on re-instituting campaign contribution limits. (12/02/2008)

Minority House Leader Paul LeVota argues the reasons why the limits would increase transparency and prevent individuals from donating extreme amounts of money to campaigns.

Republican Senator Jason Crowell says they have some good ideas but need to abandon the idea of limiting contribution limits.

. Missouri farmers make sacrifices to get health care (12/02/2008)

Tom Brown doesn't usually make a big deal about his birthday. But this year is different. This time, he's turning 65 and he will be covered by the federal health care plan Medicare.

This will be the first time Brown will have health insurance since his wife lost her teaching job more than four years ago. Medicare will only cover Tom; his wife is not 65 yet.

As a full time farmer in La Grange, Brown faces the hardship that many self-employed Missourians face when it comes to buying insurance. In his case, he says he just can't afford it.  

. Missouri election results are now official (12/02/2008)

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan certified the 2008 election results Tuesday at the State Capitol.

Carnahan said nearly three million Missourians turned out to vote.

Carnahan said voting issues like long lines will be discussed in order to improve the next election.

. Transition team presents state budget review (12/02/2008)

Missouri's budget is facing a 340 million dollar budget shortfall for the current fiscal year, said the budget director for Missouri Governor elect Jay Nixon on Tuesday.

This shortfall is largely due to the national economic recession's impact on the state's revenue stream, he said.

. Top leaders argue over what Governor-elect Jay Nixon should do in office this coming January. (12/01/2008)

Former Governor Bob Holden says he regrets he did not have more money while in office and says raising taxes is a decision every Governor has to think about at their own peril.

Other top leaders disagree and say there are other ways for governor-elect Jay Nixon to move Missourians forward.

. Bill prefiling for the 2009 legislative session begins. (12/01/2008)

Several major issues from the 2008 legislative session were among the issue pre-filed for the 2009 legislative session on the opening day Monday.

Among the most controversial issues filed was a measure to make it a crime to coerce an abortion and require detailed information on the fetus be provided to a woman before an abortion. 

A similar measure stalled in the Senate where it faced the threat of a Democratic filibuster.  But in 2009, Republicans will hold three more seats in the Senate.

Also pre-filed Monday were bills to repeal the ethanol requirement for gasoline, restrict use of cell phones while driving and authorize advance voting.