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NewsBook:  Missouri Government News for the Week of October 19, 2009

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan was speaking to University of Missouri law students Wednesday, when a question about gay marriage prompted her suggestion for the State to consider civil unions as an alternative to legalizing gay marriage.

According to The Maneater, a campus publication, Carnahan said, "Marriage should be between a man and a woman, but civil unions are something we should consider."

In a follow-up interview Thursday, Carnahan's campaign Press Secretary affirmed her statement, and said she supports that the decision should be up to individual states.

Carnahan's opponents in the 2010 U.S. Senate race, Roy Blunt and Chuck Purgason, were unavailable for comment at the time of release.

Open enrollment allows students to transfer to schools outside of their district.

Former and current superintendents disagreed on the subject, as did a mother of two.

One side says it would hurt smaller school districts.

The other side says it would make it easier to transfer to closer schools.

Heavy rainfall in Missouri this year hurts the pumpkin crops according to orchard owners.

The rain caused the pumpkin vines to rot and not produce pumpkins.

Some pumpkin patch owners in central Missouri had their entire crop destroyed.

A pumpkin patch owner in northwest Missouri said applying fungicide saved his crop from the rotting in the rain.

Gov. Jay Nixon spoke at the Jefferson City Correctional Center on Monday, where there's a new facility that uses energy from landfill waste to pump steam into the center. The City of Columbia is buying the rest of the energy produced to power 2,000 homes.

The city has passed its 2012 goal of having 5 percent of its energy consumption be from renewable resources, Mayor Darwin Hindman said.

President Obama is telling federal prosecutors not to press charges against medical marijuana users in the 14 states that allow its medicinal use. Missouri doesn't allow medical marijuana, so prosecutors can still file charges here.

A bill in the 2009 session to legalize use in Missouri didn't even get a committee hearing, but the bill's sponsor, Rep. Kate Meiners, D-Jackson County, says she'll file it again next year.

She still doesn't expect state lawmakers to pass it anytime soon.

The Missouri Department of Transportation is trying to sell 19 properties it no longer needs.

The department will hold a realty 'blitz' to get rid of excess land during the week of November 16 to 20.

The properties can be viewed here.

Last Week

Mark Templeton will return to work as the director of the Department of Natural Resources next week, Gov. Nixon announced Friday.

Templeton has been on unpaid suspension from the department since he provided the governor's office with false information regarding beach closures at Lake of the Ozarks.

Gov. Nixon also announced he will withdraw his appointment of former DNR Deputy Director Joe Bindbeutel to the Administrative Hearing Commission. Bindbeutel publicly accepted responsibility in September for DNR's delayed release of water tests showing high E. Coli levels.

The governor's actions came at the end of an internal investigation into the Department of Natural Resources. The final report cited a number of instances in which Missouri beaches were not closed in light of high E. coli readings.

The House Intelligence Oversight Committed voted 6-3 to approve a recommendation to create a committee that would have direct oversight of the Missouri Information Analysis Center.

MIAC is the governmental agency responsible for the report that accused Right winged Christian people of being melitia members.

According to Republican Representative Doug Funderburk, who made the recommendation, the goal of the new commission or committee would be to provide leadership, overall policy direction, and direct oversight of MIAC.

But Democratic Representative Tim Meadows, who voted against the recommendation, said there needs to be more discussion on the issue during the 2010 legislative session before any more action is taken.

Despite the hype about charter schools, MAP test scores suggest they may not be performing as well as thought.

On average, charter schools in Kansas City and St. Louis performed below the state average with only a few expectations.

Get the print story.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is making available a toll-free hotline for H1N1 flu.

Missourians, including health care professionals, can call 1-877-FLU-4141 (1-877-358-4141) to get their H1N1 questions answered.

Specialists will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer questions about flu symptoms, medical care, and vaccines. Medical professionals will also be on hand to help with other questions callers may have.

State Health Department Director Margaret Donnelly, was unavailable for comment at the time of the release.

As the health care debate rages across the U.S., President Barack Obama's plan for expanding the use of electronic medical records is being met with skepticism in Missouri.

Supporters see electronic medical records as a major money-saving device that could transform America's health care system, but many health professionals, including several physicians in the Missouri legislature, doubt the technology could deliver the promised savings.

The federal stimulus package provides $19 billion in assistance for doctors and hospitals to ditch their paper systems in favor of electronic record keeping.

Obama has said much of his $900 billion plan can be paid for through changes to the health care system, including $80 billion from switching to electronic medical records.

Get the print story.

Beginning Oct. 14, the Missouri Department of Corrections is installing a new media access policy.

The changes include:

An after hours call placed to Department of Corrections spokeswoman Jacqueline Lapine was not returned.

The Natural Resources Department will conclude its investigation on the passing of false E. Coli information Friday, DNR spokesman Travis Ford said.

Upon conclusion, Gov. Nixon may re-instate currently suspended department head Mark Templeton.

Earlier, Sen. Brad Lager, R-Maryville, said a "cover-up had been underway" at the department relating to the E. coli matter.

Get the newspaper story

Months after the eastern Missouri town of Washington got national attention for requiring a prescription for some common cold medicines, a second town has followed suit in the campaign against illegal meth.

This week, Union's city council approved an ordinance to require a doctor's prescription to purchase a cold medicine that contains pseudoephedrine -- a key ingredient in cold prescriptions like Sudafed.

Proposals for a statewide prescription requirement have failed in the state legislature.

Scott Holste, a spokesman for Gov. Jay Nixon, has directed all questions about the administration's investigation into a delay releasing E. coli reports to Natural Resources spokesman Travis Ford.

An earlier Associated Press report quoted Sen. Brad Lager as saying that an "organized cover-up" is hindering his committee's investigation into the E. coli matter.

Ford was one of three people named by Nixon's office on Sept. 30 to investigate information failures at the Natural Resources Department

The Associated Press reported that Sen. Brad Lager has charged that his committee's investigation into the E. coli matter has been hindered by Natural Resources Department leaders.

Larger was quoted as saying that the state attorney general should consider appointing special investigators to review the matter.

For the last several weeks, investigators for Lager's committee have been interviewing various administration officials about the administration's delay in releasing a report indicating high contamination levels at Lake of the Ozarks.

Previously, Larger had told MDN he was considering subpoenas because of the lack of cooperation by administration officials.

Colorful leaves will be seen sooner than usual this year, says Mizzou's forestry professor Steve Pallardy.

He says the cool temperatures are making the leaves change color early.

Governor Nixon said he will ask legislative leaders to change Missouri's DWI laws.

He told the St. Louis Post Dispatch the state's laws need major revamping.

He said to the paper he wants, "to improve a system that's riddled with loopholes and dark corners."

The Nixon administration denied further comment.