From Missouri Digital News:
MDN Menu

MDN Home

Journalist's Creed


MDN Help

MDN.ORG: Missouri Digital News
MDN Menu

MDN Home

Journalist's Creed


MDN Help

MDN.ORG Mo. Digital News Missouri Digital News MDN.ORG: Mo. Digital News MDN.ORG: Missouri Digital News
Lobbyist Money Help  

MPANewsBook: Statehouse News for MPA Members: 12/11/2009 - Archived File

Gov. Jay Nixon, joined by legislative supporters, traveled across the state Thursday to announce support for legislation that would require health insurance cover treatment of autism up to $72,000 per year.

"It is vital that we take bold action to make sure that families have access to the diagnosis and treatment services they need," Nixon said in a prepared statement.

Some insurance companies, however, have expressed doubts about a bill that would mandate health care coverage for autistic children. Missouri Insurance Coalition spokesman Calvin Call said the autism bill would cause a three percent increase to insurance policy holders across the board.

"The rest of the public who are currently struggling to pay their insurance premiums may get priced out of the market," Call said.

Sponsors in the Senate include Sens. Scott Rupp, R-Wentzville, and Eric Schmitt, R-St. Louis County. The House sponsor is Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst, R-St. Louis County.

A similar bill last year cleared the Senate but did not get a House vote.

Missouri National Guard spokeswoman Capt. Tammy Spicer said the state will not send more troops to Afghanistan "any time soon."

"The Missouri National Guard stands ready to respond when needed and if we are called upon, we will respond quickly. But we have had no word of additional mobilizations at this time," Spicer said.

The Missouri National Guard has had a plan to replace a current team of troops sometime next year but that was in the works long before Democrat President Barack Obama decided to deploy more troops.

"We've been in those same planning phases for quite some time on getting them trained up, getting the proper gear, equipment and training that they need to be successful in those missions," Spicer said.

Spicer said the guard hasn't received any new orders to get more troops ready.

Columbia Rep. Chris Kelly will lose his designated title as the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee.

Kelly will now serve on both the Budget and Judiciary committees but is relinquishing his responsibilities as the ranking Democrat -- a position charged with assisting and communicating with the Budget chair and coordinating among the caucus.

"The minority leader and I, I agree with him, that you can't do everything," Kelly said. "If I want to go to judiciary, I give up being a ranking member on budget. It doesn't change anything for me, and it's at my request."

Minority Leader Paul LeVota, D-Jackson County, has designated Rep. Sara Lampe, D-Springfield, as the new ranking Democrat. She has served on the committee for two years.

Get the complete story here. [ ]

In preparation for the Congressional redistricting required following the 2010 Census, President Pro Tem Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, announced the members of the Senate Select Committee on Redistricting.

The General Assembly is responsible for redrawing Missouri's 34 Senate districts and 163 House districts before the end of 2011 for the following year's Congressional elections.

Sen. Scott Rupp, R-St. Charles County, is to be the chairman of the committee. Senate Minority Leader Victor Callahan, D-Jackson County, will be the ranking Democrat on the committee.

Although state revenue collection for the year is still down, revenue collection for the month of November increased compared to last year.

State Budget Director Linda Luebbering announced that general revenue collections for November increased by almost 7 percent compared to collections from November of 2008.

"It's the first positive number in quite awhile" Luebbering said, adding that the increase needs to be understood in context.

One of the collection dates that fell in October last year was pushed into November this year which affected the number, Luebbering said. It is important to look at both October and November in order to completely understand the figure, she added.

According to Luebbering, combined collections for October and November declined by $36 million.

Previously, Gov. Jay Nixon said he expects revenue collections to decline by four percent for the year. These numbers show collections are "coming in right in line with actions the governor has already taken," Luebbering said.

Overall, state revenue collections are down 7.7 percent compared to the same period last year.

As state legislators began prefiling bills Tuesday, patterns emerged suggesting which issues will dominate the upcoming legislative session.

Texting while driving, an issue that was discussed at length last session, could become universally illegal if a few representatives have their way.

Two proposals to prohibit texting while driving in Missouri were filed Tuesday by state representatives. If passed, the bills would extend the law banning texting by drivers 21 and under to apply to all motorists.

During the previous legislative session, a bill to ban texting while driving was passed in a compromise. The final version of the bill, which was signed into law in September, prohibited only drivers ages 16 to 21 from text messaging while driving.

A co-sponsor of one of the bills, Rep. Linda Fischer, D-Bonne Terre, said the current law needs revision.

"The act of texting is not age relevant as far as the potential to be involved in or create an accident," she said.

Get the complete story here. [ ]

Top legislative leaders have proposed measures to impose tougher conflict of interest standards on government officials.

The announcement came Dec. 1, the first day lawmakers can submit bills for the upcoming 2010 session.

House Minority Leader Paul LeVota, D-Jackson County, announced a legislative package that would ban elected officials and their staff from working as lobbyists for one year after leaving office. It would also place limits on campaign contributions.

"It doesn't make sense that someone running for state representative could get a contribution bigger than someone running for president of the United States," he said.

Senate President Pro Tem Charlie Shields, R-St. Joesph, proposed banning lobbyists from giving campaign contributions to legislators or to the governor while the legislature is in session.

The proposals come amid continuing reports of a federal investigation into special interest influence in Missouri's statehouse.

In the past three months, three St. Louis area legislators have resigned from office after pleading guilty to federal felony charges.

The 2010 legislative session begins Jan. 6.

Get the complete story here. [ ]

Missouri will receive a $1.9 million federal Recovery Act grant for to expand broadband coverage across the state, according to a news release from the governor's office.

The grant will provide $1.5 million for mapping and data collection of areas with existing lines. Another $470,000 will be provided to create regional teams to develop regional broadband adoption plans.

Sen. Brad Lager said he wants the state to wait to award money until it has determined exactly where current broadband lines are.

"We need to put a hold on all funding until we know where real problems exist," Lager said.

AT&T, which is thought to own most of the state's broadband lines, has not told the state where the company has broadband lines, citing safety concerns.

Rep. Brian Yates, R-Jackson County, resigned his seat in the Missouri House of Representatives effective Tuesday.

Yates wants to spend more time with his family and give his successor the advantage of more seniority than other incoming new lawmakers, according to a news release obtained by the Associated Press.

Yates, elected to the House in 2003, would have been term-limited out of his seat in 2012.

The senator representing the town of Missouri's largest university was appointed as the second-in-command of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Senate President Pro Tem Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, announced Dec. 1 that Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, would fill the post as the committee's vice-chairman.

Shields said it would not be a conflict of interest that the single biggest employer in Schaefer's district, the University of Missouri, is funded by the Appropriations Committee. Instead, Shields said it's something to be valued.

"Sen. Schaefer has a good record of being supportive of higher education in our state, putting him as vice-chair of appropriations sends a strong message that I value higher education and what we're trying to do to move this state forward. That's a real positive for not only the University of Missouri, but for all of higher education," Shields said in a phone interview.

Get the complete story here. [ ]