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NewsBook:  Missouri Government News for the Week of October 26, 2009

Governor Nixon announced Thursday his appointment for the state's new Economic Development Director.

Kansan David Kerr will cross into Missouri and begin working on November 9.

Missouri GOP Executive Director  Lloyd Smith says Governor Nixon needs to have a more open line of communication to the new director. The position opened after Linda Martinez resigned in September. There was speculation from both democrats and republicans as to why exactly Martinez resigned, which is why Smith says Nixon needs to be more accessible to the new director.

Smith says Kerr is qualified for the job, as he was Kansas's Commerce Secretary, and served as President of AT&T Kansas.

But Smith also said Kerr has a lot of work to do because of continuous high unemployment rates within the state.

Governor Jay Nixon announced $204 million in additional cuts to Missouri's budget.

The cuts will eliminate over 650 full and part-time jobs, the majority of which will come from laying off current employees. Over 1700 full time positions have been eliminated since the beginning of the year.

According to Nixon and budget director Linda Luebbering, more than $32 million will be saved bringing Medicaid reimbursement in-line with federal rates.

Overall, Nixon has cut almost $634 million from the states budget. A ten percent decline in state revenue collection this year necessitated the additional cuts.

While the governor said he hopes overall revenue collection increases, he did not rule out additional cuts.

Missouri has 220,000 vaccines when it asked for 750,000.

The bulk of the vaccines go to St. Louis and Kansas City.

Pregnant women and children have the highest risk of infections so they are given priority.

This fall Missouri has had record rainfall and berry farmers are soaking it up.

With the extra moisture, some farmers report a decrease in usage of irrigation systems, which is saving them money.

Berry roots only go 8 inches deep, so the water is soaked up easily.

Proposed cap-and-trade legislation could provide a "huge risk" to Missourians, said Warren Wood, Missouri Energy Development Association President.

The Joint Committee on Missouri's Energy Future held a hearing Monday, consisting mostly of testimony from energy industry officials

Diane Vuylsteke, a lawyer for Missouri Industrial Energy Consumers, warned that if legislation like cap and trade causes energy rates to go up too quickly, the state will begin to lose it's businesses. The Missouri Industrial Energy Consumers represents the energy interests of Missouri's largest companies, including Anheuser-Busch and Proctor and Gamble.

Tim Green, D-St. Louis County, said he was tried of hearing that argument. "If we (currently) have cheap rates, why did Chrysler and Ford shut down?" Green said.

The committee will hold its next meeting Nov. 2 at the Reynolds Alumni Association on the University of Missouri campus.

Get the print story.

Last Week

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan was speaking to University of Missouri law students Wednesday, when a question about gay marriage prompted her suggestion for the State to consider civil unions as an alternative to legalizing gay marriage.

According to The Maneater, a campus publication, Carnahan said, "Marriage should be between a man and a woman, but civil unions are something we should consider."

In a follow-up interview Thursday, Carnahan's campaign Press Secretary affirmed her statement, and said she supports that the decision should be up to individual states.

Carnahan's opponents in the 2010 U.S. Senate race, Roy Blunt and Chuck Purgason, were unavailable for comment at the time of release.

Open enrollment allows students to transfer to schools outside of their district.

Former and current superintendents disagreed on the subject, as did a mother of two.

One side says it would hurt smaller school districts.

The other side says it would make it easier to transfer to closer schools.

Heavy rainfall in Missouri hurt pumpkin crops, according to orchard owners.

The rain caused the pumpkin vines to rot and not produce pumpkins.

Some pumpkin patch owners in central Missouri had their entire crop destroyed.

But one pumpkin patch owner in northwest Missouri said applying fungicide saved his crops from rotting.

Gov. Jay Nixon spoke at the Jefferson City Correctional Center on Monday, where there's a new facility that uses energy from landfill waste to pump steam into the center. The City of Columbia is buying the rest of the energy produced to power 2,000 homes.

The city has passed its 2012 goal of having 5 percent of its energy consumption be from renewable resources, Mayor Darwin Hindman said.

President Obama is telling federal prosecutors not to press charges against medical marijuana users in the 14 states that allow its medicinal use. Missouri doesn't allow medical marijuana, so prosecutors can still file charges here.

A bill in the 2009 session to legalize use in Missouri didn't even get a committee hearing, but the bill's sponsor, Rep. Kate Meiners, D-Jackson County, says she'll file it again next year.

She still doesn't expect state lawmakers to pass it anytime soon.

The Missouri Department of Transportation is trying to sell 19 properties it no longer needs.

The department will hold a realty 'blitz' to get rid of excess land during the week of November 16 to 20.

The properties can be viewed here.