Nixon starts first day with executive orders and cell phone bans
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Nixon starts first day with executive orders and cell phone bans

Date: January 13, 2009
By: Emily Coleman
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's first gubernatorial news conference which he tried to focus on the economy got sidetracked by his staff's efforts to ban reporter cell phones.

And the effort prompted a subsequent offer by the state's leading Republican to provide electric support for the reporters.

The cell phone ban was said to be a security matter by press secretary Holste though that was later recanted, and the ban was then said to be a product of the transition from the attorney general's office where cell phones are not allowed past building security.

When at least one reporter threatened to boycott the news conference if they were forced to relinquish their cell phones, Holste went back into the governor's office and returned rescinding the cell phone ban.

Just hours later, the office of the sole Republican statewide office holder, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, sent out an e-mail offering Blackberry chargers during news conferences put on by his office.

"During capitol newsers, we will gladly provide Blackberry phone chargers for use during your reporting," wrote Gary McElyea, the director of communications for the lieutenant governor's office, in an e-mail to the Capitol correspondents.  "It is my goal to do what I can to allow you to better inform the citizens of Missouri."

While the cell phone debate is becoming partisan, the executive orders were highlighted, in a press release, to be part of a bipartisan plan.

"Last month, Gov. Nixon announced the Show-Me JOBS Initiative, a bipartisan plan to get Missourians back to work and support small-business growth," the press release read.  "Today's executive orders include three of the proposals in the Governor's Show-Me JOBS Initiative."

Some Republicans were not convinced on the bipartisan nature of the executive orders however.

"I'm not saying the Republicans will be opposed to it, but usually when you announce a bipartisan proposal, it's announced by both parties," said Senate GOP Leader Kevin Engler, R-Farmington.

The three executive orders signed by Nixon set about creating an automotive jobs task force, creating an economic stimulus coordination council and directing the creation of a pool of funds for low-interest and no-interest direct loans for small businesses.

The committees are designed to prepare Missouri for steps the auto industry and the federal government are going to be taking in the coming months.

The governor has made his first day and a half focused on job creation, leading off with a first meeting with young businesspeople and entrepreneurs immediately following his inaugural address.

"Director-designee (Linda) Martinez (of the Department of Economic Development) and I sat down with a small group of young inovators, entrepeneurs and business owners to discuss the challenges they're facing during these difficult economic times," Nixon said.  "They want to grow.  They want to create jobs.  They want to succeed."

The executive orders continued in the job creation vein, and members of both parties are backing the goals behind them.

"I applaude the governor for having a priority of getting some job creation and growth," Engler said.  "I haven't gotten a chance to look at the details of the proposals to see if they will actually stimulate growth and development so we'll have to wait for that to happen."

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