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NewsBook:  Missouri Government News for the Week of August 25, 2014

Dozens of laws passed by the state legislature earlier this year took effect Thursday, August 28.

The new laws include establish religious practice rights for students in public schools, requiring a minor under age 17 to have parental consent to use a tanning facility, deny unemployment  compensation benefits for a worker fired for misconduct off the job and allowing convicted felony drug offenders to receive Food Stamps if participating or having completed a substance abuse program.

Several measures, however, have delayed effective dates including the massive rewrite of the state's criminal laws and the income tax cut bill. Legislators overrode the governor's veto of the tax bill during the legislative session May. The bill provides a several-year phased implementation of income tax cuts based on tax collections in prior years.

The fate of 32 bills passed by the legislature, but vetoed by the governor, will be determined during the legislature's veto session that begins at noon on September 10.

Many of the legislature's major bills were vetoed by the governor including abortion restrictions, tax breaks for various types of sales, restricting the right to students to transfer out of unaccredited school districts and letting schools authorize teachers to carry concealed fire arms on school grounds.

Dairy farmers and state lawmakers gathered at the state Capitol Thursday, August 28, to advocate an override of Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of a dairy farm subsidy program.

The state subsidy focuses on allowing farmers to participate in a federal insurance program created by the massive overhaul of federal agriculture programs.

The federal insurance would cover the price of feed, which accounts for about 60 percent of dairy farmers' costs of production, in years when the price of feed is significantly higher than the price of milk. The state subsidy, if the legislature overrides Nixon's veto, would cover 70 percent of the insurance price for Missouri milk producers.

Dairy farmers said Missouri consumers would face increased dairy prices if the legislation is not passed. Missouri, which used to rank 11 in the nation in milk production, now ranks 25. The number of licensed dairy farms in Missouri fell from 1,890 in 2004 to 1,233 in 2014.

In his veto letter, Nixon wrote that the bill also contained a separate provision that shifted the regulation of deer farms, especially those with white-tailed deer, from the Conservation Department to the Agriculture Department.

Nixon argued the shift would "be at odds with the longstanding successful conservation practices (of white-tailed deer) and would violate the Missouri Constitution," in his veto letter.

Dan Isom
Source: Governor's Office

At St. Louis area news conferences, Gov. Jay Nixon announced the replacement of the director of the state's Public Safety Department Director.

Named as the new director, effective Sept. 1, is the former St. Louis City police chief -- Daniel Isom.

He will replace Jerry Lee who had headed the department for nearly three years.

Lee's departure was described in a release issued by the governor's office as a retirement. He did not issue any immediate explanation for his departure.

Isom will be the only black on the governor's cabinet since the 2012 departure of Kelvin Simmons as the commissioner of administration.

Since the violence in Furguson, Nixon has come under criticism from some black legislators for not being responsive to concerns from the black community.

Isom, who joined the St. Louis Police Department in 1988, rose through the ranks to become the department's chief in 2008 until his retirement in 2013.

Lee had a similar long law enforcement history with the St. Louis County Police Department, serving at its chief from 2004 to 2009. He had spent a total of 38 years with the department.

Missouri's secretary of state has ordered a recount of the August 5 vote on Constitutional Amendment 1.

The measure was approved by a margin of 2,490 votes out of nearly 1,000,000 million votes cast -- a difference of slightly more than two-tenths of a percentage point (50.12 percent in support to 49.87 percent).

Missouri law provides that a recount can be demanded if the difference is one-half of a percentage point.

Counties have until September 11 to report the recount results. The secretary of state's deadline for certifying the recount is September 15.

The measure would establish "the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices."

Although promoted by the agriculture industry, the proposal had been opposed by advocates for environmental protection and human treatment of animals.

Attorney General Chris Koster announced Sunday, Sept. 24, that he will hold workshops in St. Louis and Kansas City in early October on addressing "low minority participation in Missouri's urban law enforcement agencies.

"This is one way the frustration expressed on the streets of Ferguson can bring positive change in policing our urban communities," Koster was quoted in a news release as saying.

Invitees to the workshops will include police chiefs, school administrators, community leaders and guidance counselors, according to the release.

One workshop would be held October 1 in St. Louis with a second workshop, the following day, in Kansas City.

Due to extreme heat this week, the Missouri Department of Transportation warned travelers to be aware of possible pavement "blow-ups."

Motorists are not in danger when driving on the roads but are advised to be aware of their surroundings, according to MoDOT.

MoDOT area engineer Mike Schupp said concrete pavement is most likely to "blow-up." Crews will be patrolling mid-Missouri state routes all week.

During humid weather moisture can seep into a crack or joint in the roadway, expanding the pavement. The pavement then weakens and extreme heat can cause the surface to buckle.

Severe blow-ups can cause damage to cars when motorists attempt to drive over the area. However, blow-ups are not expected to be severe.

"They tend to happen pretty much every year," Schupp said. "A lot of the time they happen in July with the hot and humid temperatures."

MoDOT crews are monitoring the situation and will pour asphalt for a temporary fix on the spots where damage has occurred. In the winter months they will have time to make permanent adjustments to the roads.

"We're out here on the road every day," Schupp said.

MoDOT is asking the public to call in and report these blow-ups by calling 1-888-ASK-MODOT or online at