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Missouri Government News for Week of Dec. 1, 1997

Bob Griffin sentenced to prison.

The federal court in Kansas City sentenced Missouri's former House Speaker Bob Griffin to 4 years in prison and a $7,500 fine.

Earlier this year, Griffin pled guilty to getting funds from a lobbyist seeking legislative action when Griffin was speaker.

The Cameron Democrat had served 15 years as House Speaker -- longer than anyone else in the state' history.

Griffin will serve his sentence in a federal facility in Florida.

For more information, see our radio story on legislative reaction.

Missouri's Supreme Court hears arguments about nearly $700 million in tax refunds.

Administration officials estimate the average Missouri taxpayer would get a $177 refund check from the revenue limit that was argued before the state high court Thursday.

The court heard oral arguments over the "Hancock" lid that limits the amount of revenue state government can spend. Any revenue in excess of that limit is to be refunded to income tax payers.

One of the lawsuits challenges the fairness of giving refunds only to income tax payers. The other lawsuit, filed by the state auditor, argues that office -- not the state administration -- should calculate the amount of refund that is owed.

The court gave no indication as to when it would have a decision.

For more information, see both our newspaper story and our radio story.

Boats in moats legislation proposed.

The Senate's top leader said he would sponsor legislation, if necessary, to let existing boats in moats continue operation.

Last week, the state Supreme Court held that the state's constitution requires that gambling boats must be located on the Missouri or Mississippi River -- not in moats off to the side.

If that decision affects existing gambling boats, Sen. President Pro Tem Bill McKenna, D-Jefferson County, said he would support legislation to "grandfather" the existing moat-baseed boats in St. Louis and Kansas City.

But, McKenna acknowldged such legislation would face an uphill fight in the Senate where gambling opponents have threatened fillibusters in past years over legislation to expand gambling in the state.

$100 million tax package proposed by legislative leaders.

The top Democratic leaders of Missouri's legislature announced Monday their support for a $100 million package of tax breaks in property taxes.

The House Speaker and Senate President Pro Tem said the tax-relief package was prompted by administration estimates that state revenues will continue to rise above the constitutional limit -- even with that huge cut in the grocery sales tax passed by lawmakers earlier this year.

The governor's voiced immediate agreement with the legislative leaders' estimates. The governor's spokesman said Mel Carnahan is reviewing the issue and might include the idea in his recommendations for the 1998 legislative session that begins in January.

The two legislative leaders said their endorsement of a tax cut effectively ruled out any kind of tax increase for road construction.

A commission appointed by the governor had recommended a sales tax increase to address a road-construction program billions of dollars behind schedule.

The Rams and Chiefs win.

In an upset victory, the KC Chiefs not only beat the San Fransisco 49ers -- they clobbered the NFL's top-ranked team 44-9.

In Maryland, a last-seconds field goal gave the Rams a 23-20 victory over Washington.