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NewsBook: Missouri Government News for the Week of March 26, 2007

. Missouri's House passes the governor's budget plan relatively intact. (03/30/2007)

After nearly three days of extended debate, the House approved the governor's $21 billion spending plan with few changes.

Medicaid, the state's program to provide health care coverate for the lower income, would enjoy one of the biggest increases under the spending plan -- despite the Republican governor and legislature's efforts to cut the program just two years ago.

Democratic critics charge it still is not enough for Medicaid.

The House stripped several million dollars in funding for the St. Louis to Kansas City Amtrak train service.

. Another Republican legislator proposes raising taxes for highways. (03/29/2007)

House Transportation Committee Chairman Neal St. Onge sponsored Thursday a package of tax increases that would raise $4 billion during six years to finance transportation projects.

The bulk of the funds would go to expanding I-70 between St. Louis and Kansas City.

St. Onge's bill would boost the fuel and sales taxes.  A similar, sales-tax-only bill for Interstate expansion was filed earlier this year by the Senate Transportation Committee chairman.

Bot legislators say they will not push for a vote this year, but want to lay the foundation for consideration in the 2008 legislative session.

Get the newspaper story.

. A stem-cell research restriction clears a House committee. (03/27/2007)

Legislation to undo the voter-approved constitutional right to stem-cell research cleared a House committee Tuesday.

The proposed constitutional amendment would change the constitutional amendment providing stem-cell research rights that narrowly won statewide voter approval last November.

The proposal to change the voter-approved constitutional section had stalled in the House committee on a tie vote earlier this year.  If cleared by the legislature, the revision would require statewide voter approval to take effect.

. Missouri's Senate passes stronger boarding home protections. (03/27/2007)

Group and boarding homes for the mentally and physically handicapped would be required to install sprinklers and other fire-protections under a measure given first-round approval by Missouri's Senate.

The measure also would establish a loan program to provide funds for privately owned facilities to finance the upgrades.

The measure follows last fall's fire at a group home in the southwest Missouri town of Anderson that killed 11 people.

The proposal also would toughen enforcement against abuse of boarding and nursing home residents.

. House begins budget debate (03/27/2007)

The governor's spending plans for education and higher education emerged untouched during the first day of House debate on the state's $21 billion budget.

Two Representative's from Columbia, the city that houses the University of Missouri's flagship campus, dominated the discussion claiming higher education will not receive necessary funds.

. Missouri's Attorney General accuses the governor of lax security measures for contract workers. (03/26/2007)

In a letter to the governor's administration commissioner, Attorney General Jay Nixon complained that contract workers were being allowed after-hours access to state buildings without background checks.

In his letter, Nixon claims that he had alerted the governor to the employment of undocumented workers for janitorial services in state buildings six weeks before the governor canceled the contract.

Nixon, a Democrat, has announced his intentions to run against Republican Blunt for governor in 2008.

. Missouri's two-year drought may be at an end. (03/26/2007)

With the recent snow and rain storms, some parts of Missouri are seeing drought-free conditions for the first time in two years.

"Right now, we've got good, deep moisture, and we haven't had that in four years," said an agronomy specialist at the University of Missouri's Extension Division.