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Missouri Government News for Week of Sept. 20, 1999


Missour's partial-birth abortion law dissected

Now that the partial-birth abortion bill is law, it's up to the courts to decide whose interpretation is the correct one.


University System will ask for $1 billion dollars of the tobacco settlement

The system wants to grab $1 billion dollars from the $6.7 billion allocated to Missouri from the Tobacco settlement. However, the money could instead go back to the taxpayers under the Hancock Amendment.


State Board of Education Considers Waiver

Missouri public schools could benefit from a cut in red tape if a proposed waiver goes into effect.

The State Board of Education last week proposed a waiver that would allow high performing public school districts around the state the opportunity to be exempt from certain portions of the accreditation process.

Jim Morris, spokesman for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, said the proposal will be submitted to local school officials in the next few weeks.


Senator appeals decision about tobacco council

The Missouri Court of Appeals, Western district, heard oral arguements in a lawsuit filed by Senator Peter Kinder against Attorney General Jay Nixon.

Kinder is appealing a decision that upheld Nixon't right to us independent council in last year's tobacco settlement.

Kinder claims that a contract between Nixon and lead council Thomas Strong is illegal. He also said that the $300-$400 million that the attorneys are seeking from tobacco companies will deflate the amount the state will receive.


Attorney General Accused of Alterior Motives

Senator Peter Kinder is appealing a decision that upheld Attorney General Jay Nixon's right to use independent attorneys in last year's tobacco settlement.


The partial birth-abortion ban faces uncertain future in courts

After the recent downings of partial-birth abortion bans in Arkansas, Nebrasks and Iowa, Missouri's own law faces a uphill battle in the courts.

The legal teams of both sides agreed to hold implementation of the law until a Kansas City federal court hears the case next March.

Proponents of the ban say they took the shortcomings of the other states bills in mind when they drafted Missouri's version. Thus, they say Missouri's law should have a different fate.


Missouri quarters will be released in 2003

The U.S. Mint will release five different state quarters each year for the next ten years.

Missouri's quarter will be the 24th released because the quarters are put into circulation in the same order the states were admitted to the union.


Missouri Department of Education Alarmed by High Drop-out Rate in St. Louis

Right now, more than 60% of St. Louis students fail to graduate from city schools. Bob Bartman, head of the state Department of Education, says that the numbers are much too high and are very alarming.

Bartman is worried about the high drop-out rate creating equally high levels of unemployment, welfare rolls, and juvenile crime.

St. Louis suffers from a problem common to many metro's, including Kansas City -- namely, a lot of minimum wage jobs are available to attract at-risk students.


Missouri Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the media's access to police evidence

The Missouri Supreme Court heard oral arguments from Jefferson City TV station KRCG and Cole County. The initial debate arose from Channel 13 wanting access to surveilence tapes of former House Minority Leader Mark Richardson from the night he was charged with drunk driving. Cole County Sheriff John Hemeyer kept the tapes from the station. The decision could be announced as early as October 26th.


Because of a loophole in the law, schools aren't recieving seized drug money.

Lawmakers agreed that money seized by drug busts weren't going to schools partly because of a lax defintion of seizure.


Missouri joins national investigation

Missouri has joined a national task force to investigate whether banks that offer credit cards are selling customer information to direct-marketing companies.

Attorney General Jay Nixon will join attorneys general from a dozen other states to investigate these banks are selling date about customer's spending habits and credit limits for pay.

A representative for Nixon met last week in New York with atorneys general from around the country to coordinate efforts in the investigation.


Missouri attorney asks for accountability in drug busts

Randy Scherr of the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys says someone needs to be held accountable for seized drug money.

Scherr says this would help avoid problems with misappropriation of funds.


Missouri Rain too Little Too Late

Some parts of Missouri are receiving rainfall for the first time since June But farm authorities say that won't save crops. The rain will help livestock and creeks.


MODOT Asks Judge for 'Stay' on KKK/Adopt-a-Highway Ruling

After losing an April decision allowing the KKK to participate in the Adopt-a-Highway program, MODOT has filed for a "stay" on the judge's decision. If the stay is granted, the judge's decision would not go into effect until after the appeals process is over.

An official from MODOT says a percentage, or even all, of their 600-million dollar federal funding could dissappear if KKK members appear as Adopt-a-Highway volunteers.

Without a "stay", the Klan could begin participating in the Adopt-a-Highway Program right away. Currently, the group is looking to adopt a stretch of I-270, running south to Butler Hill Road.


The AG's office says a the federal tobacco lawsuit won't cost Missouri

The Attoney General's office said Thursday that a federal lawsuit against big tobacco companies won't interfere with Missouri's expected $6.7 billion settlement.

The U.S. Dept. of Justice filed the lawsuit in civil court Wednesday, requesting unspecified damages for years of smoke-related expenditures.

Scott Holste, spokesman for Attorney General Jay Nixon, said the federal case falls under a different area of jurisdiction.

However, Missouri House Tobacco Settlement Committee members say they don't know how the suit will effect the state's money.

See our radio story and our newspaper story for details.


Number 2 in Danforth's Waco probe cleared in Justice Department inquiry

Former Missouri U.S. Attorney Edward Dowd and current top prosecutor in Danforth's waco probe was cleared in a Justice Department investigation into his actions surrounding Missouri's concealed weapons ballot issue.

The investigation, requested by Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., found that no misconduct was done by the attorney. Missouri's other U.S. Attorney, Stephen Hill, was also cleared.

The details of the probe, including information on how much taxpayer money was spent, is being held under wraps. Department spokesman Myron Marlin said the report was being held until a Privacy Act review could be completed.

See our newspaper story for details.


State looks over AmarenUE's proposal for Callaway plant

AmarenUE estimates the cost of dismantling and cleaning-up the Callaway nuclear power plant at over $500 million.

Currently the company allocates $6.2 million per year to a fund to pay for the eventual clean-up.

See our radio story for details.


Missouri Reform Party Pushes for Buchanan to be Presidential Candidate

Bill Lewin, chairman for the Missouri Reform Party, is pushing for Pat Buchanan to come to his party. Lewin says that there are clues to Buchanan's current leanings.

According to Lewin, both volunteers in Buchanan's camp and Buchanan's website, expect Buchanan to announce that he'll run as the Reform presidential candidate soon.

Lewin says that the Republican Party has given Buchanan little chance to become their presidential candidate. They have been unwilling to accept Buchanan's trade policies, as well as his fiscal and social conservatism -- both areas that resonate better with the Reform Party.

See our radio story and our newspaper story for details.


A federal judge blocks Missouri's new abortion restriction for half a year.

A federal court judge has extended for six months the temporary restraining order blocking implementation of Missouri's new ban on partial-birth abortions.

The delay, until March of next year, was agreed upon by both sides in order to provide time for a full court trial on the law.

See our package of radio stories and our newspaper story for details.


Gubenatorial candidate Jim Talent expresses his views on sharing private information

Gubenatorial Candidate Jim Talent says that politicians should answer personal questions that relate to the candidate's ability to perform in his or her office.

Talent also says that he thinks voters will focus on policy issues rather than the candidate's personal history. Talent says he has never used illegal drugs.

See our radio story for details.


Gaw names committee to look at school violence

House Speaker Steve Gaw, D-Moberly, named 11 representatives to an interim committee Tuesday to study school violence and child safety.

See our newspaper story for details.


Supporters of the governor's partial-birth veto can expect repurcussions come election time

Missouri Right to Life state government director Patty Skain says that the group supports candidates based on their voting record.

She also says that their advertising is generally positive in support of their candidate as opposed to being critical of the other candidate.

However, she says that if there is significant information about a candidate that the group feels the public needs to know, they will campaign against a candidate.


Some Republican Lawmakers Want Banks to Resign

Senator J.B. "Jet" Banks' guilty plea to filing a false tax return is drawing criticism from some Republican lawmakers. They say he makes politicians look bad. Banks declined to comment on the calls for resignation. Once a sentence is imposed he will lose his Senate seat.

See our radio story for details.


Drought Problems Continue Despite Weekend Rains

The recent rain across Missouri did little to stifle the current drought gripping the state. An average of just 1.2 inches of rain fell in Missouri counties last week.

Soybeans have been most affected by the drought, with 56% of the state's soybean crop graded "poor or very poor" in the state's most recent agriculture report.

The Department of Agriculture says that much more rain is needed before the summer's drought can be broken.

For more information, see:

  1. Our newspaper story.
  2. Our radio story on building foundation problems.
  3. Our radio story on damage to Missouri highways.
  4. Our radio story on agricultural losses.