Sarah is a senior journalism major at the University of Missouri. She has worked with MDN since 2007 including multiple legislative sessions. For fall 2009, Sarah worked with the Missouri Press Association's weekly statehouse wire service. She is originally from Denver.
MPANews summaries I produced include:
The Associated Press is reporting that Missouri should have closed beaches at the Lake of the Ozarks more often in 2009 than it has in the previous 6 years. This comes amid reports that beaches were not adequately closed over the summer after high levels of E. coli were discovered in May. See the AP story below for more.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) Ô014 Newly released Missouri water records show a spike this year in high bacteria levels at the Lake of the Ozarks.
The state has two beaches at the lake. Results from E. coli tests in 2009 were high enough that beaches should have been closed 11 times since May. That's more than double the number of times beaches were to be closed at the Lake of the Ozarks from 2003 until 2008.
Bacteria also was high enough for eight other beach closings at other Missouri waterways in 2009.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources recorded water test results from 15 parks this year. Beaches are supposed to be closed when single samples or the average of recent tests hit a certain threshold.
4:30 p.m. According the Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology, the word Missouri means "the town of the large canoes." I thought this was particularly relevant to a look at Missouri politics.
Posted Sept. 14, 2009
For years, House and Senate members used lobbyist money to buy gifts and throw parties, according to a report released by the state auditor Monday.
Some of the lobbyists' donations went unreported, a violation of state law. The Senate has used about $61,000 from its fund since 2003. The House doesn't have an account; instead, lobbyists paid vendors directly for gifts and parties, the auditor's report said.
The Senate also spent more than $4,000 of taxpayer money since 2006 on framed and engraved silver trays for outgoing members, according to the report.
You can read the reports below.Missouri House of Representative's Audit
Missouri Senate Audit
Posted April 30, 2009:
Crutch falls from Whispering Gallery, injures woman
In the Capitol Building a select few people get a chance to walk along the Whispering Gallery, the small platform that runs along the inside of the dome. Most people will never get a chance to view the dome's paintings that closely.
On Thursday a young girl touring the Whispering Gallery dropped her crutch from the platform onto the third floor rotunda, where victims rights advocates were promoting Victims Rights Week. The crutch hit a woman on the head. She bled profusely but did not appear to leave with emergency personnel.
Rep. Rob Schaaf, R- St. Joesph, a physician, ran from the House floor and spoke with the woman until paramedics arrived.
Posted April 21, 2009:
Slate's interactive map of job loss by county
Check out Slate's interactive map of vanishing unemployment county by county across the country. Keep an eye on Pulaski, Taney and Grundy Counties.
Posted April 20, 2009:
House Speaker holding onto budget bills until Senate passes job creation measure
With four weeks left in Missouri's legislative session, time is passing for lawmakers to pass the fiscal year 2010 budget.
Springfield News-Leader statehouse reporter Chad Livengood reported in his blog last week that House Speaker Ron Richard, R-Joplin, says he will hold onto 13 budget bills until the Senate passes a job creating legislation.Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon has pushed for the job creation bill all session.
Holding the bills would block conference committee negotiations on the budget. Both chambers have heard the initial appropriations bill but must reconcile them before the budget can go to the governor's office.
The Legislature's only constitutional duty is to finish the budget by May 8. The session ends May 15.
Read the News-Leader's blog post here.
Posted December 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.
Posted December 9, 2008:
The Associated Press is reporting that a suspicious letter containing a powder substance was sent to Gov. Matt Blunt on Dec. 8, 2008. Similar letters were sent to governors in six other states.
Activities at the Capitol went on as normal through out the day because the letter never reached the Capitol Building. The Associated Press reports that the letter addressed to Missouri's governor was identified at an offsite mail distribution center.
The other state's where letters containing the powdery substance were found include Montana, Michigan, Mississippi, Alabama and Rhode Island. No injuries had been reported as a result of the letters or the substance, which was not found to be harmful in every state but Missouri where information was not yet available as of 12:20 a.m. Tuesday.
The Associated Press story: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28120804/
Posted December 3, 2008:
Gov. Elect Jay Nixon revealed his plan to confront an estimated $342 million state budget shortfall. Nixon said upon taking office he will direct each state department to create a plan to reduce expenditures. Nixon said he would also examine each current state construction project to ensure it is within budget and may order a review of all projects that have not yet been started.
The estimated deficit is a turnaround from a statement made in mid-July by the governor's office that suggested Missouri would end the fiscal year with $487 million remaining.
The governor's office spokeswoman Jessica Robinson declined to comment.
Posted November 3, 2008:
With election day bearing down upon us here is a little video that is sure to make you smile.
The students at Atlanta's Ron Clark Academy sing a parody of TI's "Whatever you like."
Posted October 24, 2008: To push is to shove.
On Oct. 22 the Missouri Democratic Party issued a news release and video claiming that a staffer for Republican candidate for governor Rep. Kenny Hulshof's campaign roughed up a Democratic Party employee at an event during Hulshof's speech. The videographer is 'tracker' Vinay Vaz who like other trackers show up at an event for the opposing campaign and film any embarrassing incidents. Last year, a 'tracker' filmed Democrat governor candidate, Attorney General Jay Nixon, using his official vehicle to attend a campaign fund-raising event.
The video shows several campaign signs in the background as two men appear to have an argument and pace back and forth. It appears the man in the blue suit is keeping the videographer from moving forward. It's unclear if the man actually works for the Hulshof campaign but the Democratic Party is demanding an apology.
The Hulshof campaign has denied that the man is an employee of theirs.
Posted October 8, 2008:
Noon- A big issue that comes up every time there is an election is education funding. This year the topic is even more important in terms of the national financial situation. Because of tax deficits in the late S Missouri cut higher education spending in 2003. The cuts were so large that state colleges and universities received less this year than in 2001. One statistic that many politicians like to quote in their stump speeches is that Missouri ranks Th in the nation for higher education appropriations. It turns out the number comes an Illinois State program called Grapevine. The group creates a compilation of data on state support for higher education. The data shows that for 2008, Missouri ranked Th in the nation for per capita higher education appropriation and is ranked above only New Hampshire, Colorado and Vermont.
To access the data and see what the candidate's are talking about check out the Grapevine Project.
Check out my story about college affordability in the state.
Posted September 26, 2008:
3:20 p.m.- The governor's office sent out a news release Friday afternoon criticizing the editorial page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In the news release, the Governor sent an open letter to all Missouri media outlets stating that the "liberal" St. Louis paper had refused to print opinion pieces from the governor's office regarding corrections to the paper's editorials on the state budget.
The release also charged that "the Post-Dispatch is the preferred source for budget information for the liberal candidates who want to use their false assertions to television ads that are equally misleading."
Posted September 11, 2008:
4:24- Nixon and Hulshof spoke about the need for a broad range of energy options in the state. Nixon said the state must also protect consumers, Hulshof said the state could potentially drill locally and even build a refinery in the state.
4:02 p.m. On a question about higher education, only one candidate, Libertarian Andy Finkenstadt, directly answered how he would help end a hiring freeze at the university. Hulshof challenged Nixon's Missouri Promise program and said it would push kids into community college.
3:47- Thompson says he strongly supports choice in health care which he says will help solve problems.
3:46- Nixon says he wants increase competition for health care in the state
Nixon says he plans to restore the health care cuts made during the administration of Gov. Matt Blunt.
3:32- "We're all keenly aware of today's date," Nixon says.
3:20- This blog will focus on Constitution Party Candidate Gregory Thompson and Democrat Candidate Jay Nixon. See Valerie Insinna's blog for information on the other two candidates.
Posted September 11, 2008: p.m.
Governor's debate set to begin a MU School of Journalism.
Democratic candidate Jay Nixon was greeted by a crowd of supporters as he entered the Journalism school grounds. Columbia Senator Chuck Graham is also in attendance, sitting in the back of the room.
September 9- 11:40 a.m.
UM-System Student Curator Bill fails to get necessary votes in Senate for an over-ride
Despite efforts by Columbia senator and Democrat Chuck Graham to change legislator's minds the Senate voted 16-17 not to over-ride the veto of a bill that would have created a voting position for the student curator on the UM-System Board of Curators.
September 5- Morning
Back to the Grind
Work at the capitol is speeding up right now. The new writers have arrived, they've been given the tour and trained and now we are settling into the fall coverage routine.
My work this semester will focus on the governor's race. I'm currently working on a piece about the role of social networking and video web-sites in statewide campaigns.
Updates from the DNC
August 27- 4:19 p.m.
Barack Obama was officially nominated as the Democratic Party pick for the 2008 Presidential election.
More to follow.
DENVER--- Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy made a surprise visit at the tribute in his honor at the Democratic National Convention Monday night.
In the first emotional high point of the convention Kennedy, who has stayed largely out of the public eye since undergoing brain surgery June 2, spoke with the passion known and expected from the Kennedy family. Although his voice occasional shook, the senator was reminiscent of the young man who took up the political reins after the death of his older brothers.
Colleagues and friends brushed aside implications that the speech was a farewell, a sentiment echoed by Kennedy who pledged to be back in the Senate to greet the new president in January.
If you missed Kennedy's speech check it out here.
Michelle Obama used her keynote speech to mold her image to the American public. Speaking of her childhood on Chicago's south side and her role as a mother and sister, Obama portrayed herself as a product of the American dream.
Tuesday's schedule includes the keynote speech by Sen. Hillary Clinton, (D-NY) amid rumors of party division and the second appearance of Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill.