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NewsBook:  Missouri Government News for the Week of September 6, 2010

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Robin Carnahan says she doesn't expect her campaign to use automated "robo" calls, although she can't control Democratic groups working on her behalf.

Carnahan also deflected use of negative ads against her opponent, Republican U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, saying both candidates should be prepared to defend their records.

The latest Real Clear Politics poll average shows Carnahan trails Blunt by 6 percent. Carnahan told Missouri Digital News she doesn't "spend a lot of time looking at those polls."

Fish farmers brought Asian carp to the United States in the 1970s to eat algae and eliminate pesticides. Now researchers are trying to create a pesticide to kill them.

Floods in the Deep South nearly thirty years ago allowed the Asian carp to escape from fish farms and move north. Now, they're damaging ecosystems and they have no predators to stop them from spreading rapidly.

Banek believes eating the Asian carp is one way to lessen the number of carp in the Missouri River. But he says demand for Asian carp is very low, and they're only worth half the price of other commercial fish.

Figures released by the U.S. Transportation Department show that nearly 9 percent fewer Missourians died in traffic accidents in 2009.

Numbers from 2005 show a steady decline in traffic fatalities in the Show-Me state.

Claire McCaskill held a town hall meeting on Thursday at William Woods University in Fulton.

Issues about the economy and fiscal responsibility were discussed with a more moderate tone coming from the senator.

Extending a program that creates jobs for low-income families and Missouri's dependence on coal and increasing pressure to go green were topics that constituents had questions on.

First it was E. coli in Lake of the Ozarks, and now the state says the heat caused a large patch of grass to die on the Missouri Capitol's south lawn.

But the heat couldn't have caused the 50-yard-long straight line between living grass and the dead patch, and the tire tracks of dead grass amongst an area of living grass, said Kris Schaperle, who owns All Seasons Landscaping in Jefferson City.

Schaperle said only misuse of chemicals could cause such a massive patch of dead grass.

The Capitol groundskeeper did not return phone calls seeking response.

In the wake of a recently released report by state auditor Susan Montee that revealed serious flaws in the administration of two major tax credit programs, Governor Jay Nixon Wednesday inaugurated a commission charged with studying the state's 61 tax credit programs and recommending reforms to reduce inefficiencies and ensure a greater return on the taxpayers' investment.

A nationwide study concludes Missouri's bridge quality is the 11th-worst in the country, even as the state spends $700 million to repair hundreds of them.

The Reason Foundation, which produces an annual ranking of states' roads, said Missouri has thousands of deficient and functionally obsolete bridges.

Bridges that are open are safe, said Bob Brendel, a spokesman for the state's Transportation Department.

The department's Safe and Sound bridge program has fixed 210 old spans, and will eventually repair 800 of them.

After earning five bronze stars and nearly shooting a man who would become president, Gilbert Pritzel receives the Legion of Honor, the highest French award.

Governor Nixon presented Pritzel with the award after the French Consulate in Chicago contacted him about the opportunity.

 Once awarded, Pritzel explained how he nearly shot a man sneaking around camp only to find out later that it was Dwight Eisenhower.

Four casino proposals remain in the running for Missouri's up-for-grabs license, after the state's Gaming Commission threw out a Kansas City-area proposal Tuesday.

The commission gave Sunway Gaming LLC's plan the boot because the application was incomplete, LeAnn McCarthy, a spokeswoman for the Gaming Commission, said in an e-mail.

A planned casino in St. Louis and another in the North St. Louis County suburb of Spanish Lake remain in the running. They'll compete against proposals in Cape Girardeau and Sugar Creek, a Kansas City suburb.

Last Week

More Missourians found work and the state collected more income tax revenue in August, boosting overall revenue into positive territory.

August revenue was up 0.8 percent from a year earlier, one of the first positive months in two years, said Linda Luebbering, the state's budget director.

Revenue from sales tax was flat in the month, a sign that Missourians are still leery about spending money during the economic downturn.

Lawyers for both state representative Brian Nieves and a rival politician campaign aide both agreed to delay to hearing to gather more facts.

Shawn Bell, the aide, accuses Nieves of beating him in Franklin County last month.

Missouri Conservation Department spokesman Jim Low said armadillos are becoming a problem in Missouri; they are tearing up lawns and ruining gardens in almost every county in the state.

Armadillos are not native to Missouri, but began their movement in the middle of the 1970s.

Other than causing aesthetic damage to lawns and gardens, they are harmless to other animals and Missouri's ecosystem, Low says.

Five companies vying to win Missouri's up-for-grabs casino license submitted proposals to the state by Wednesday's deadline.

The Missouri Gaming Commission will look over the documents, which are hundreds of pages long, and will probably make the information public next Tuesday, LeAnn McCarthy, a spokeswoman, said today.

Casino Celebration LLC proposed a facility for St. Louis. North County Development LLC wants to put a casino in the St. Louis suburb of Spanish Lake. Isle of Capri, which already owns three casinos in Missouri, proposed a casino for Cape Girardeau. Sunway Gaming LLC and Epic Gaming LLC both want to put a casino in the Kansas City suburb of Sugar Creek.

The state will probably choose a priority candidate by year's end, McCarthy said.

Attorney General Chris Koster announced plans Wednesday to examine Missouri's domestic violence laws, which Koster said have not been updated in 30 years.

Koster has created a legislative task force to review the antiquated laws, with meetings already planned in St. Louis, Columbia and Kansas City this month.

Koster said the task force will seek improvements in three areas relating to addressing the crime of domestic violence: Court systems, police departments, and legislature. According to Koster, he hopes the task force will ensure that domestic violence victims "are brought through our court system in a way that is sensitive to their needs but also is trying to convict the abusers."

Voters will decide in November whether or not taxes can be charged on the transfer of real estate.

This measure would amend Missouri's constitution to prohibit "double taxing," or real-estate transfer taxes, which are assessed when property is given or bought from one person or business to another.

A judge ruled in favor of placing this measure on the ballot August 31.

Sugar Creek, a Kansas City suburb, will join two St. Louis suburbs in using cameras to catch speeders.

The cameras are a cheaper way of law enforcement than putting an extra officer on the roads, Sugar Creek Police Chief Herb Soule said.

Opponents, such as Sen. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis County, say the cameras are unconstitutional because they force people to incriminate themselves or others when they acknowledge who was behind the wheel.

Missouri National Guard members in Iraq will not come home early, even as President Obama reduces the size of the American force there and ends the combat mission.

Missouri has about 700 Guardsmen in the Middle East, but only about 25 in Iraq, Tammy Spicer, a spokeswoman, said today. Spicer said those members, who work in aviation and criminal investigation, will continue their regular tours of duty.

Missouri's Director of the Department of Natural Resources Mark Templeton resigned today to take the position of Executive Director of The Office of Independent Trustees where he will be in charge of the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill Trust and will oversee 20 billion dollars of gulf oil spill settlements.

Last year, Templeton was put on a two week suspension by the Missouri Governor for admitting failure to report E-Coli in the Lake of the Ozarks.

St. Charles County Republican Cynthia Davis says Templeton has proved he was inept at handling his duties in Missouri.

Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro says Missouri public school students aren't up to speed with their national peers.

Nicastro spoke at a meeting for the Missouri Public Education Vision Project in Jefferson City on Monday, where representatives from 80 school districts gathered to discuss the future of the state's schools. Nicastro's presentation highlighted areas of improvement in the education system.

On a national scale, Nicastro said Missouri falls "in the middle of the pack," consistently earning grades of C's and D's on nationwide assessments. Nicastro said these scores could be improved with greater attention to early children education and by better preparing high school students for college.