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Missouri Government News for Week of Oct. 16

This week's news summary was prepared by Candyce L. Clifft from reports prepared during the week by staff of Missouri Digital News.

State Auditor Faces Lawsuits

Missouri's state auditor and Republican hopeful for governor, Margaret Kelly, faces federal and state lawsuits from a former employee. Former auditor John Williams is suing to get his job back, and he claims Kelly covered up auditing problems related to her political connections.

Williams was forced to resign after he told Kelly about auditing problems at two St. Louis County fee offices. One of the offices was run by a top Republican Party official, and the other by one of Kelly's financial supporters.

Kelly said, "I believe this lawsuit was filed because I am running for governor. It is a clear case of political dirty tricks." Kelly said Williams' claims are false and she can demonstrate that in court.

State Reviews Hospital Expansion Law

A legislative committee is considering repealing a state law that gives government the power to stop a hospital from expanding.

The certificate-of-need law requires government approval for any major hospital or nursing home expansion. The law is intended to prevent unnecessary expansions, which increase the costs of medical care for consumers and Medicaid costs for government.

The Senate's Republican leader, Franc Flotron, said he does not seek to repeal the law, for this would drive up the cost of government-funded Medicaid coverage. However, he said the certificate-of-need process is expensive and needs to be re-evaluated.

State School Board Approves "Show Me Standards"

The State Board of Education has approved the "Show Me Standards" for public education. The final standards cannot be approved until the board holds public hearings, according to state requirements for adopting administrative rules.

The board does not expect to take final action on the standards until August 1996. Each school will then have one year to incorporate the standards into the cirriculum.

"These standards will require a significant change in the way teachers teach and in the way teachers are taught to teach," Board President Peter Hershend said.

The standards will also changed how students are tested. The students will be required to demonstrate their ability to apply what they know rather than supply memorized facts. Critics of the proposed statewide cirriculum say the standards will de-emphasize teaching of the basic skills of math, readind, and writing.

Missourians can view the "Show Me Standards" before December and send comments to Orlo Shroyer, assistant commissioner in the Education Department.

Missouri Rejects Windows 95

Windows 95 may be new, but it isn't improved. State Administration Commissioner Richard Hansen said he won't put Windows 95 on state contract.

Unlike the old version, the new software is not accessible to the visually impaired. Windows 95 doesn't support character-based programs like OS2. This prevents the visually impaired from hearing, or reading in Braille, the words on the screen.

Hansen said Microsoft is working to remedy the problem, but they don't know how long it will take. Hansen says until they fix the problem or show considerable progress, the state won't sign a contract.

Governor Mel Carnahan said Missouri tries to make all state services handicap accessible, including computer use by state employees.

Carnahan said state government will just have to wait until Windows is accessible to everyone.

Missouri Manual Goes Back to Blue and Is Unveiled Nine Months Late

Missouri's Secretary of State unveiled the state's Official Manual on Wednesday, and the cover color is back to blue. The manual is supposed to cover a two-year period that began last January--that makes it's release nine months late.

The manual cover is dark blue again after almost 25 years. Since the last dark blue manual, the covers have been powder blue, green, gold, and a patriotic combination of red-white-and-blue. The last manual was dusty rose, but it looked pink.

Secretary of State Bekki Cook decided to return to dark blue.

She said dark blue was an indication that her office was getting back to business.

Cook said the delay of the book's release cannot be avoided since the book includes the salaries of all government employees, which were not set until July for the current year.

Cook said the book is being released earlier than usual. She said she sped up the production of the book, so it could be released on Missouri Day.

She said Missouri day is a day to thank the Lord for Missouri.

Flotron Will Not Seek Missouri Governorship

Missouri's Senate Republican Leader has decided he will not run for governor in 1996. Instead, Franc Flotron, R-St. Louis County, said he will concentrate his efforts on the legislative campaign to give Republicans a majority for the first time in more than 40 years.

Flotron said he decided not to run because the state's new campaign finance law creates too great a barrier in challenging incumbent governor Mel Carnahan.

Flotron's decision leaves State Auditor Margaret Kelly as the leading candidate for the Republican nomination. Flotron's decision not to run came days after one of Kelly's former staffers filed suit charging her with covering up cash diversions in Revenue Department fee offices. However, Flotron said that won't be an issue.

Flotron did not formally endorse Kelly for the nomination. Also seeking the nomination is Kansas City Senator and former Kansas City Chiefs quaterback, Bill Kenney.