Missouri Senate remains divided on budget
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Missouri Senate remains divided on budget

Date: May 8, 2012
By: Andrew Weil and Stephanie Ebbs
State Capitol Bureau
Links: SB 498, HB 1323

JEFFERSON CITY - The Senate met briefly three times Tuesday without taking up a single bill, finally calling it quits around 4 p.m. They adjourned for the day approximately 12 hours after a day long filibuster which blocked any action on Monday and went into early Tuesday morning.

Passing the state budget is the only thing the Missouri Constitution requires the General Assembly to accomplish during the session. The legislature is facing a Friday 6 p.m. deadline to send the budget to Gov. Jay Nixon.  The budget must be sent to Gov. Jay Nixon's desk by May 11 at 6 p.m.

Sen. Majority Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, said an appropriation to Southeast Missouri State University remains a sticking point in the budget debate but there might be a possibility of a way through that. Dempsey wouldn't elaborate but said ideas were being discussed to resolve the issue.

During Monday's debate, Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, vowed to block votes on the budget and every other piece of legislation unless there are several changes in the budget including $2 million increase passed by the House for SEMO.  

While no action was taken on the Senate floor, work on the budget continues behind the scenes.

"I'm allowing other avenues to try to reach an agreement and allow other senators to maybe see if they can bridge the divide that we have, and we're getting closer," Dempsey said. He said the next time the Senate convenes it will take up another point of contention on the budget, increased funding for veterans' homes.

Missouri veteran said he is on a hunger strike until the Senate increases funding to veteran nursing homes

Bill Fairbairn, a Stover resident and Persian Gulf War veteran, said on Tuesday that he is on a hunger strike and won't eat until the Senate passes a funding increase to veterans' homes.

Fairbairn also said he is disappointed with the Senate's inaction and he wanted them to know veterans are watching. "We're really hoping this year they get their act together and instead of pointing their fingers at each other that they know veterans vote, and we point our fingers at them," Fairbairn said.

House budget leaders have said they will not act further on the state budget until the Senate passes the increase.

National story surrounding Rush Limbaugh's bust in the Missouri Capitol reignited on Tuesday

Reports circulated the capitol Tuesday morning that the completed bust of Rush Limbaugh was on its way to Jefferson City. This came after the sculptor who is making both of the busts, E. Spencer Schubert, posted on his website that he was "on the way to Jeff City to deliver Dred and Rush."

These reports were later denied by House Speaker Steven Tilley's office who said only Dred Scott's bust was being brought Tuesday.

The ceremony to induct Dred Scott into the Hall of Famous Missourians is scheduled for Wednesday at noon in the House Chamber.  

Bondsmen testify in favor of an amendment that would allow more ways to evade cash-only bail bonds.
Several bail bondsmen testified in favor of a bill cracking down on unlicensed child care providers. However, they testified in favor of a provision added on to the bill - not on the main language of the bill.

One amendment to the bill would require a court to take, in lieu of a cash only bond, a guarantee in compliance with the general laws regulating bail bondsmen.

Proposed by Rep. Charlie Denison, R-Greene, the amendment would provide for people who could not afford a cash-only bond to get out of jail.

While two witnesses testified in favor of the child care component of the bill, three people testified in favor of the bail bonds portion of the bill.

However, the bill's sponsor, Rep. Linda Black, D-St. Francois, thinks the bail bonds issue could stand on its own.

"It (the amendment) didn't fit very well within the scope of the bill," Black said. "It may be questionable as to whether or not it should stay in the bill."

When asked about the amendment's connection to the bill, Denison stumbled over his words before replying that the amendment and the bill were linked because they both addressed criminal activity.

The main body of the bill is known as Sam Pratt's Law. It would regulate child care providers by creating higher fines for unlicensed childcare providers. Any child care provider who lies about having a license would be fined $200 a day, up to $10,000.

The bill is named after Sam Pratt, a baby who died while in the care of an unlicensed child care provider. The provider was charged with involuntary manslaughter and child abuse resulting in Sam's death.

The committee did not take a vote on the bill.