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  
NewsBook:  Missouri Government News for the Week of August 30, 2010

Large state budget cuts on the horizon mean extending the tuition freeze for Missouri's university students would "not make economic sense," University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee said Thursday.*

"Going a third year without any tuition increase with our incredible enrollment growth would start to not make economic sense for the state, for the university and for the public," he said. "It would be sending a wrong message to students and parents at this time."

Forsee delivered Thursday's opening address at the Governor's Economic Development Conference in Kansas City. He highlighted the "conundrum" the state's schools face between improving graduation rates and making higher education more accessible and affordable.

Gov. Jay Nixon said Thursday that he was "not scared" after learning he was the intended target of a man accused of stabbing a Kansas City college dean.

"I'm serious about this job, serious about traveling around Missouri and serious about seeing the people of this state," he said.

The Associated Press reported earlier Thursday that the accused attacker, 22-year-old Casey Brezik, told investigators he meant to attack the governor.

The Fox News Network (FNC) and its journalist Chris Wallace filed a lawsuit against the Robin Carnahan for Senate campaign Thursday.

In an attack ad, Carnahan's campaign used a 2006 interview between Wallace and Missouri Republican Senate candidate Roy Blunt.

FNC says the ad incorrectly portrays Wallace as a Carnahan supporter.

Carnahan's campaign refused to comment.

Get the radio story.

The Capitol Police, Department of Public Safety, and the Missouri Highway Patrol did not comment.

The Missouri Highway Patrol is in charge of Governor Jay Nixon's security detail.

A man attacked a college dean at a function in Kansas City Nixon attended.

Get the radio story.

Capitol Police said the Capital Mall in Jefferson City was put on lock down Thursday after it received a package containing white powder.

Authorities cleared the area at 12:30 pm.

Rep. Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, says renovations need to happen at Missouri's Capitol building.

Flanigan proposes submitting to Missouri voters a bond issue for restoring the home of Missouri government.

One of the concerns Flanigan cites is mold in the building. Outside the building, stairways have been blocked because of broken stone steps.

The State Auditor Susan Montee reports that a speed trap law has been making extra revenue and not placing it where it belongs.

Montee says this violation will lead to a string of others in Missouri areas.

The Macks Creek Law, also known as the speed trap law attempts to prevent fees from traffic violations to only amount to a portion of a county's revenue.

The additional revenue is supposed to go to schools and Montee is going to recover the missing money and make sure it does.

The 2010 Veto Session yielded a two-hour long debate over House Bill 1903 which would create a fund for special federal funds.

While the bill passed through the House with three votes against it and the Senate with no distention, it was a nearly tied vote to override the veto.

Proponents of the override say the bill enhances transparency in government, while opponents argue portions are unconstitutional.

House Speaker Ron Richard said reviving a bill that would create separate treasury accounts for federal funding is his top priority in Wednesday's veto session.

Richard said the bill would create more transparency with federal funding. The legislature passed it overwhelmingly in the spring.

Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the bill in July, saying in a statement that it was "needlessly creating duplicative funds in the state treasury" and that transferring the funds "would violate federal law." 

House Minority Leader Paul LeVota, D-Jackson County, said Nixon hasn't directly communicated with him about defending his veto.

Gov. Jay Nixon canceled his news conference Tuesday morning at a Kansas City community college after one of the school's deans was slashed in the the throat.

Nixon was to speak at Penn Valley Community College about the $58 million Missouri received to improve rural broadband Internet access.

A student wearing a bulletproof vest stabbed the dean, The Kansas City Star reports. The dean, Albert Dimmitt, Jr., is in stable condition at a hospital following surgery, according to the Associated Press.

A conservative group on a tour through Missouri stopped by the state Capitol on Monday, bearing a message of fiscal austerity. At the same time, one of its out-of-state backers is being sued for campaign finance violations.

Two state officials have opposing views on the results of the Preliminary Annual Performance Reports.

The reports list two St. Louis area school districts as "unaccredited" after only meeting five out of 14 academic standards.

Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-St. Louis County, says the results are unacceptable. A St. Louis public education official says the annual performance reports are only indicators aimed at improving districts and are not causes for concern.

After the California gas line explosion, the Missouri Public Service Committee is creating more safety precautions.

The chairman of the MPSC, Robert Clayton, says the first inspection was a success.

Clayton says this type of surprise test is something the commission wants to continue throughout the state.

House Speaker Ron Richard isn't sure a fund to manage federal money will work, but he wants to "test it and see," he said Monday.

Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the proposed fund, which would manage federal stimulus money. Lawmakers will reevaluate the bill during Wednesday's veto session.

Richard said he doesn't want the session to turn into "pure purpose of spectacle."

"I think it's important for us to track that money," he said. "That's our duty and part of our constitutional responsibility."

Nixon vetoed the bill this summer because he said it was too similar to funds already in place, and because it might be unconstitutional.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Robin Carnahan says she doesn't expect her campaign to use automated "robo" calls, although she can't control Democratic groups working on her behalf.

Carnahan also deflected use of negative ads against her opponent, Republican U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, saying both candidates should be prepared to defend their records.

The latest Real Clear Politics poll average shows Carnahan trails Blunt by 6 percent. Carnahan told Missouri Digital News she doesn't "spend a lot of time looking at those polls."

Last Week

Fish farmers brought Asian carp to the United States in the 1970s to eat algae and eliminate pesticides. Now researchers are trying to create a pesticide to kill them.

Floods in the Deep South nearly thirty years ago allowed the Asian carp to escape from fish farms and move north. Now, they're damaging ecosystems and they have no predators to stop them from spreading rapidly.

Banek believes eating the Asian carp is one way to lessen the number of carp in the Missouri River. But he says demand for Asian carp is very low, and they're only worth half the price of other commercial fish.

Figures released by the U.S. Transportation Department show that nearly 9 percent fewer Missourians died in traffic accidents in 2009.

Numbers from 2005 show a steady decline in traffic fatalities in the Show-Me state.

Claire McCaskill held a town hall meeting on Thursday at William Woods University in Fulton.

Issues about the economy and fiscal responsibility were discussed with a more moderate tone coming from the senator.

Extending a program that creates jobs for low-income families and Missouri's dependence on coal and increasing pressure to go green were topics that constituents had questions on.

First it was E. coli in Lake of the Ozarks, and now the state says the heat caused a large patch of grass to die on the Missouri Capitol's south lawn.

But the heat couldn't have caused the 50-yard-long straight line between living grass and the dead patch, and the tire tracks of dead grass amongst an area of living grass, said Kris Schaperle, who owns All Seasons Landscaping in Jefferson City.

Schaperle said only misuse of chemicals could cause such a massive patch of dead grass.

The Capitol groundskeeper did not return phone calls seeking response.

In the wake of a recently released report by state auditor Susan Montee that revealed serious flaws in the administration of two major tax credit programs, Governor Jay Nixon Wednesday inaugurated a commission charged with studying the state's 61 tax credit programs and recommending reforms to reduce inefficiencies and ensure a greater return on the taxpayers' investment.

A nationwide study concludes Missouri's bridge quality is the 11th-worst in the country, even as the state spends $700 million to repair hundreds of them.

The Reason Foundation, which produces an annual ranking of states' roads, said Missouri has thousands of deficient and functionally obsolete bridges.

Bridges that are open are safe, said Bob Brendel, a spokesman for the state's Transportation Department.

The department's Safe and Sound bridge program has fixed 210 old spans, and will eventually repair 800 of them.

After earning five bronze stars and nearly shooting a man who would become president, Gilbert Pritzel receives the Legion of Honor, the highest French award.

Governor Nixon presented Pritzel with the award after the French Consulate in Chicago contacted him about the opportunity.

 Once awarded, Pritzel explained how he nearly shot a man sneaking around camp only to find out later that it was Dwight Eisenhower.

Four casino proposals remain in the running for Missouri's up-for-grabs license, after the state's Gaming Commission threw out a Kansas City-area proposal Tuesday.

The commission gave Sunway Gaming LLC's plan the boot because the application was incomplete, LeAnn McCarthy, a spokeswoman for the Gaming Commission, said in an e-mail.

A planned casino in St. Louis and another in the North St. Louis County suburb of Spanish Lake remain in the running. They'll compete against proposals in Cape Girardeau and Sugar Creek, a Kansas City suburb.

Last Week

More Missourians found work and the state collected more income tax revenue in August, boosting overall revenue into positive territory.

August revenue was up 0.8 percent from a year earlier, one of the first positive months in two years, said Linda Luebbering, the state's budget director.

Revenue from sales tax was flat in the month, a sign that Missourians are still leery about spending money during the economic downturn.

Lawyers for both state representative Brian Nieves and a rival politician campaign aide both agreed to delay to hearing to gather more facts.

Shawn Bell, the aide, accuses Nieves of beating him in Franklin County last month.

Missouri Conservation Department spokesman Jim Low said armadillos are becoming a problem in Missouri; they are tearing up lawns and ruining gardens in almost every county in the state.

Armadillos are not native to Missouri, but began their movement in the middle of the 1970s.

Other than causing aesthetic damage to lawns and gardens, they are harmless to other animals and Missouri's ecosystem, Low says.

Five companies vying to win Missouri's up-for-grabs casino license submitted proposals to the state by Wednesday's deadline.

The Missouri Gaming Commission will look over the documents, which are hundreds of pages long, and will probably make the information public next Tuesday, LeAnn McCarthy, a spokeswoman, said today.

Casino Celebration LLC proposed a facility for St. Louis. North County Development LLC wants to put a casino in the St. Louis suburb of Spanish Lake. Isle of Capri, which already owns three casinos in Missouri, proposed a casino for Cape Girardeau. Sunway Gaming LLC and Epic Gaming LLC both want to put a casino in the Kansas City suburb of Sugar Creek.

The state will probably choose a priority candidate by year's end, McCarthy said.

Attorney General Chris Koster announced plans Wednesday to examine Missouri's domestic violence laws, which Koster said have not been updated in 30 years.

Koster has created a legislative task force to review the antiquated laws, with meetings already planned in St. Louis, Columbia and Kansas City this month.

Koster said the task force will seek improvements in three areas relating to addressing the crime of domestic violence: Court systems, police departments, and legislature. According to Koster, he hopes the task force will ensure that domestic violence victims "are brought through our court system in a way that is sensitive to their needs but also is trying to convict the abusers."

Voters will decide in November whether or not taxes can be charged on the transfer of real estate.

This measure would amend Missouri's constitution to prohibit "double taxing," or real-estate transfer taxes, which are assessed when property is given or bought from one person or business to another.

A judge ruled in favor of placing this measure on the ballot August 31.

Sugar Creek, a Kansas City suburb, will join two St. Louis suburbs in using cameras to catch speeders.

The cameras are a cheaper way of law enforcement than putting an extra officer on the roads, Sugar Creek Police Chief Herb Soule said.

Opponents, such as Sen. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis County, say the cameras are unconstitutional because they force people to incriminate themselves or others when they acknowledge who was behind the wheel.

Missouri National Guard members in Iraq will not come home early, even as President Obama reduces the size of the American force there and ends the combat mission.

Missouri has about 700 Guardsmen in the Middle East, but only about 25 in Iraq, Tammy Spicer, a spokeswoman, said today. Spicer said those members, who work in aviation and criminal investigation, will continue their regular tours of duty.

Missouri's Director of the Department of Natural Resources Mark Templeton resigned today to take the position of Executive Director of The Office of Independent Trustees where he will be in charge of the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill Trust and will oversee 20 billion dollars of gulf oil spill settlements.

Last year, Templeton was put on a two week suspension by the Missouri Governor for admitting failure to report E-Coli in the Lake of the Ozarks.

St. Charles County Republican Cynthia Davis says Templeton has proved he was inept at handling his duties in Missouri.

Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro says Missouri public school students aren't up to speed with their national peers.

Nicastro spoke at a meeting for the Missouri Public Education Vision Project in Jefferson City on Monday, where representatives from 80 school districts gathered to discuss the future of the state's schools. Nicastro's presentation highlighted areas of improvement in the education system.

On a national scale, Nicastro said Missouri falls "in the middle of the pack," consistently earning grades of C's and D's on nationwide assessments. Nicastro said these scores could be improved with greater attention to early children education and by better preparing high school students for college.

Stifel Nicolaus Market Strategist Joe Battipaglia says a double-dip recession is not likely because the economy has still not fully recovered from the most recent recession.

Battipaglia notes Missourians can prevent feeling the turmoil of the economy by making long-term investments such as higher education, rather than short-term expenditures like vacations.

Judge Jon Beetem of the 19th Circuit Court in Jefferson City will decide Friday to whether to block a law limiting the Missouri porn industry.

Among numerous provisions, the legislation would disallow nudity in strip clubs.

If he does not block the law, it would take effect Saturday.

The worst economic downturn since the Great Depression has scared Missourians into socking money away instead of spending it.

That has led a record 122,000 Missouri parents to use the state's 529 college-savings plan to invest for their kids' education.

Even though half of the direct-investment funds have lost value this year, parents should focus on long-term results, state Treasurer Clint Zweifel told Missouri Digital News in an interview.

During a conference call Wednesday, Missouri Republican Party Executive Director Lloyd Smith said U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton has "lost touch" with Missouri's 4th Congressional District.

"[Skelton's] a liberal in Washington, and when he comes back here, he's a liberal just as well," Smith said.

Ryan Hobart, Communications Director for the Missouri Democratic Party, countered Smith's statement, saying Skelton "is an independent voice who votes with the needs of the district."

Skelton will face off with Republican opponent U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler in less than seventy days.

Egg producers in Missouri say the national recall of eggs because of Salmonella contamination has increased demand for locally produced eggs.

Producers in the St. Louis area say they will need to add more chickens to meet the increased demand.

Vicky Hartzler, the Republican challenger in Missouri's 4th Congressional District, doesn't really think the Show-Me State has a naval base, as she may have implied in an interview earlier this month, her spokesman said Monday.

Hartzler criticized Democratic U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton, her opponent, on his military advocacy in an Aug. 12 interview with KSHB/Channel 41 in Kansas City, Mo. "We have the smallest navy here that we have had since the early 1960s," she said.

Missouri is a landlocked state, and does not have a naval base. Whiteman Air Force Base has some U.S. Navy personnel, and the military hosts some naval train

Fourteen teachers filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the state, saying budget cuts that cost them their jobs in Missouri's virtual schools program breeched their contracts, the Associated Press reports.

The teachers say dozens of educators got layoff notices improperly, because their contracts guaranteed they'd have their jobs for more time. Lawmakers cut the virtual schools' funds last year, the AP says.

The teachers filed suit in Boone County. The lawsuit names the state of Missouri, the state's Board of Education, the University of Missouri system's Board of Curators, and a business unit of the university, the AP says.

Winners of three Missouri House primary races could face recount challenges after the Secretary of State certified the election results Tuesday, the Associated Press reports.

In Kansas City's 40th District, John Joseph Rizzo beat Will Royster by three votes in the Aug. 3 election. Judy Wright tallied 13 more votes than Mike Waltemath in the 5th District in northwest Missouri. The St. Louis area's 77th District saw an 11-vote victory, with Eileen Grant McGeoghegan beating Doug Clemens.

Candidates who lose by less than 1 percent can ask for a recount within a week of the Secretary of State certifying the results, the AP says.

In the state's U.S. Senate race, primary winners Robin Carnahan, the current Democratic Secretary of State, and Roy Blunt, a Republican U.S. representative, won by large margins and will not face recount challenges.

Missouri's Natural Resources Department reported Monday that about 1,000 gallons of wastewater had been released into Lake of the Ozarks Sunday.

The rupture occurred in the wake of a water quality symposium August 18, attended by Gov. Jay Nixon.

The department reported the release was the result of a sewer main break around Arrowhead Estates.