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NewsBook: Missouri Government News for the Week of September 15, 2008

. Gas prices affecting the official vehicles (09/19/2008)

Gas prices are rising again, and Missouri's government vehicles are  feeling the pinch.

 State highway patrol, fire stations, and MoDOT say they are all trying to cut back on gas usage by using new technologies and simply trying to be more efficient with their vehicle usage.

. Missouri banks are looking good despite credit crisis (09/19/2008)

According to Commissioner of the Missouri Division of Finance Eric Mclure, the current credit crisis is not affecting Missouri state banks as bad as ones on the coasts.

 The stagnant housing market in Missouri made housing prices stay relatively level during the mortgage boom, and so didn't have as far to fall when the market collapsed. As state banks tend to invest in in-state holdings, the problems on the coasts were largely trivial.

. 802 Missouri bridges are to be rebuilt or remodeled by MoDOT within the next five years. (09/18/2008)

MoDOT held a hearing Thursday in regards to the Missouri bridge Restoration project known as Safe and Sound.

MoDOT had planned on funding the restorations by working with private contractors, but due the the recent economic meltdown, negotiations have fallen through.

Thursday MoDOT presented a new plan that would fund the restorations mainly through GARVEE bonds.

. An environmental organization attacks the Environmental Protection Agency's plans for a nuclear site. (09/17/2008)

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment attacked the EPA's plan for the West Lake landfill in St. Louis county. 

The site is nuclear and the executive director of the coalition said there is a 100 percent chance the water will reach the Missouri River.

. Carnahan Increases Security Checks in Voting Equipment (09/17/2008)

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan is preparing for a record number of voters by insuring that every vote counts.

She issued procedures to local election authorities that expand the manual audit conducted after Election Day.

. A top Missouri government investor predicts little effect on state government's investments from the recent economic turmoils. (09/17/2008)

Statewide repercussions of the most severe stock market dip since 2001 have not yet been felt in Missouri state government, according to the Missouri State Treasurer's office.

However, one nonpartisan, nonprofit group expressed concern over the precariousness of Missouri's state economy.

. Blunt swift in defending record on National Guard payroll (09/16/2008)

JEFFERSON CITY - The office of GOP Gov. Matt Blunt has jumped into the State Treasurer Campaign.

While the governor was in Kosovo, Blunt's communications office was swift to address attacks from the democratic candidate.

State Treasurer candidate and State Representative Clint Zweifel criticized Gov. Blunt over a pay lag for National Guard members.

On Monday the Zweifel campaign sent out a press release calling for action from the Blunt Administration after citing an Associated Press article that reported  National Guard members were waiting up to 30 days to get paid.

. Student loans in trouble because of credit crisis. (09/16/2008)

The Missouri Higher Education Loan Association (MOHELA) is having problems securing investors in their bonds. Investors are scared to put up the money because of the massive defaults on mortgages, which are also an asset-based investment.

Will Schafner comments on how the company which many students rely on is currently falling short on the year.

. Missouri's State Economy remains solid despite the stock market crash. (09/16/2008)

While the stock market took a large hit, Missouri Treasurer's director of investments, Mark Mathers, says Missourians have little to worry about.

The State Treasurer cannot work with private investment groups like Merrill Lynch and American International Group, because the treasury instituted policies that prohibited such practices.

. Committee brainstorms ways to reverse the housing slump. (09/16/2008)

16 people gathered at a hearing today to brainstorm ways to reverse the slump in the housing market.

The committee was comprised of a mixture of representatives from building contracting companies, banks, mortgage bureaus, appraisers, and two Representatives from the Missouri House of Representatives.

. Statewide mayor alliance holds first meeting (09/16/2008)

City Mayors from across the state met Tuesday morning in Jefferson City to discuss plans for the newly organized alliance of mayors.

St. Louis City mayor Francis Slay said the group has narrowed their focus to three issues, which will help the group to better communicate their message in the legislature.

. MPCA Denies Price gouging at Missouri gas pumps.

Missouri Department of Natural Resources Spokesman Kerry Cordray said he expects gas prices to continue to rise.

Cordray said that prices are likely to rise more than ever due to previous experiences of gas suppliers gouging prices after disastrous events. 

. Flooded rivers in Missouri have bacteria floating around in them.

This weekend's heavy rain is causing water experts to warn of potential contamination.

Top water expert Dale Blevins from The U.S. Geological Survey says after heavy rainfall toxin levels in the Missouri River rise.

. Lt. Gov Kinder issues executive order for flooded areas in Missouri.

The Missouri State Emergency Management Agency reports at least 3 people dead and thousands of homes without power following heavy rainstorms over the weekend.

The Lt. Governor issued the executive order for relief to affected areas early Monday afternoon. SEMA Deputy Director Duane Nichols says the storms that hit Missouri the past few days were out of the ordinary.

. The folding of Lehman Brothers may have short term economic downfalls.

Many in the business world say the collapse of Lehman Brothers is the end of an era, but some experts feel the affects will only last a few years.

MU Professor of Finance and Chair of Missouri Bankers John Howe said the negative effects will not last very long.

. Bacteria increases after extra rainy seasons.

The Department of Natural Resources encourages people to do recreational activities in the Missouri River, but the current rainy season increases bacteria levels.

DNR's spokesman Larry Archer says tests of rivers have concluded that bacteria increases in bodies of water after rain.

. Missouri's record rainfall should not delay highway construction.

According to the National Weather Service, Hurricanes Ike and Gustav caused more than a foot of rain in some parts of the state in September alone.

With record high levels of rain, flooding has closed roads throughout the state. 

Despite the rain and flooding, MoDOT engineer Roger Schwartz says highway construction will not be delayed.

Get the radio story.

. Treasurer candidates debate in Columbia (09/12/2008)

In a debate focused on fiscal concerns, the two candidates for Missouri State Treasurer outlined their stances on issues ranging from tax credits and college savings programs to terror-free investment.

Rep. Clint Zweifel, D-St. Louis County, and Sen. Brad Lager, R-Maryville, answered questions posed by the moderator and the audience members at the debate hosted by the Missouri Press Association.

  • Get the newspaper story.
    . Koster Primary Win Confirmed (09/11/2008)

    Attorney General candidate, Senator Chris Koster's win in the Democratic primary over Representative Margaret Donnelly was confirmed Thursday by a recount performed by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.  The recount revealed Koster received even more votes than had initially been believed.

    Representative Donnelly demanded the recount after her initial loss in the primary.  Two State Senate races were also recounted.  The recount confirmed the victory of Representative Robin Wright-Jones over Representative Rodney Hubbard and also win of James Trout over Steve Eagleton in the Senate District 15 race.

    . Attorney General Nixon says he hopes to restore relationships within the capitol. (09/11/2008)

    In a press conference after Thursday's gubernatorial debate, Democratic candidate Jay Nixon said if elected governor he would establish a better relationship with democrats and republicans alike.

    As the longest running Missouri Attorney General, Nixon says he has experience and will use it when establishing these relationships.

    . Gubernatorial Debate heats up in Columbia (09/11/2008)

    Gubernatorial candidates said they would remain congenial during their first debate in Columbia today, but Attorney General Jay Nixon stirred up the debate when he brought up campaign contribution limits.

    Nixon attacked Hulsholf's support of ending contribution limits.  

    . Gibbons and Koster speak against political automated calls in first candidate debate (09/11/2008)

    Senators Mike Gibbons and Chris Koster declared their opposition to the use of political automated calls, during the first attorney general candidate campaign after the August primaries.

    Koster admitted to using automated calls before the primaries, but said he would cease if the legislature called for an end to them.

    . Jetton gives emotional farewell speech (09/10/2008)

    House Speaker Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, became emotional as he gave his final speech from the dais.

    Jetton has been speaker since 2005.

    . Hulshof pledges to increase higher education funding (09/10/2008)

    Republican candidate for governor Kenny Hulshof proposed to create a higher education funding formula that would increase along with the rate of inflation.

    Democratic candidate for governor  Jay Nixon immediately responded to Hulshof's plan by stating Hulshof "failed to reject Gov. Matt Blunt's gutting of the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority."

    Hulshof also proposed to put $50 million into existing degree programs over the next five years. His plan is dependent on schools to attract 2-1 matching funds from businesses or charities. 

    . Graham plans to run for Democratic Floor Leader (09/10/2008)

    Sen. Chuck Graham, D- Columbia, said he plans to run for Democratic Floor Leader of the State Senate if he wins re-election in November.

    Graham would be running against Sen. Victor Callahan, D- Independence. The outgoing floor leader said Callahan represents the diversity of views within the Democratic party.

    . UM-System Student Curator Bill fails to get necessary votes in Senate for an over-ride (09/10/2008)

    Despite efforts by Columbia Senator and Democrat Chuck Graham to change legislator's minds the Senate voted 16-17 not to over-ride the veto of a bill that would have created a voting position for the student curator on the UM-System Board of Curators.

    It takes 109 votes in the House and 23 votes in the Senate to override a veto, which has not been done in Missouri since 2003.

    . Senator Muschany resigns from seat (09/09/2008)

    Senator Scott Muschany resigned from his seat today after being indicted for sexual assault of a minor.

    Interviews with fellow Republicans as well as an impending court case put Muschany under pressure to give up his seat. 

    . St. Louis funeral provider has accepted funeral costs from Missourians but cannot provide the services. (09/09/2008)

    A Senate joint committee held a hearing Tuesday concerning the St. Louis-based funeral provider, National Prearranged Services Inc., which has insufficient funds to provide funeral services.

    Witnesses addressed the committee with concerns and recommendations on how to check on companies in the future to avoid such problems.

    . Senators debate Mo HealthNet rate equalization (09/09/2008)

    The Missouri state capitol was the center of a debate on Mo HealthNet rates this Tuesday.

    Director of Missouri Health and Senior Services, Jane Drummond said the committee should look at providers on an individual basis.

    . Special Senate Committee Hearing to determine appropriation of funds to Missouri Health Net (09/09/2008)

    The Senate committee on Mo HealthNet Provider Rate Equalization met with Missouri groups and providers to decide where government funds will be allocated.

    Directors from Missouri Heath and Senior Services and Missouri Department of Mental health testified, along with Director of Missouri Health Net, Dr. Ian Caslin.

    . Clean Energy Initiative slated for state November ballot (09/09/2008)

    Less than a month after being filed for placement on the November ballot, the Missouri Clean Energy Initiative has been certified and will appear on the ballot.

    The initiative would require investor-owned utilities to produce or buy 15 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2021, and retain a 1 percent limit on consumer rate increases.

    Two of the state's largest utilities took a neutral stance on the issue.

    . Unfair treatment of Governor Palin by the media goes to core of problem of sexism in coverage say some legislators (09/09/2008)

    John McCain's statements at the Republican National Convention that Governor Palin is being treated unfairly by the media because of her gender prompt a bi-partisan investigation into the media's coverage of women in this presidential election. Democrats and Republican's alike believe that the media's focus on such things as aesthetics and her parenting skills are unfounded, and would never have been an issue had she been a man.

    This piece uses statements from Missouri legislators which cross-reference questions asked of male and female candidates and of the suitability of the attention Palin has received.

    . Missouri National Guard Troops aiding in Hurricane Relief Efforts (09/09/2008)

    Three years after Hurricane Katrina, Missouri National Guard troops are back in Louisiana preparing the state for hurricane season.

    Troops have been in the state since August 31, 2008 and are expected to return before Hurricane Gustav hits.

    . Fellow Republican calls out Muschany (09/08/2008)

    Republican State Senator Delbert Scott says it is to difficult for Representative Muschany to remain in office.

    Senator Scott says that Muschany's resignation would be a good thing especially because he is not running for re-election.

    . Candidates use social networking to attract supporters (09/08/2008)

    Missouri state candidates are utilizing social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube to organize grassroots support.

    What effect this will have on voters in November is still not known.

    .  Dem Party Chairman says Muschany needs to go (09/08/2008)

    Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Jack Cardetti wans Representative Scott Muschany out of office.

    Cardetti is troubled by Muschany's alleged act and hopes that he does the best thing for himself and give up his seat.

    The Democratic Party Head also said the situation with Muschany is far too serious to let him keep his job as a lawmaker.

    . Local leaders call for explanation from Congressman Hulshof (09/08/2008)

    Community leaders ask Congressman and current Republican Gubernatorial candidate Kenny Hulshof to explanation his support for trade deals with China.

    A spokesperson for Hulshof denies the accusation of the Missouri Democratic Party, and calls it an act of desperation from Attorney General Jay Nixon.