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Missouri Government News for Week of Feb. 23, 1998

Health bills remain stalled in the House and Senate.

The legislature ended the week with two of the biggest health-care issues stalled by extended debate.

For the third day, action stalled on a measure to have state government assist small businesses in getting health care coverage for their workers.

In the Senate, GOP-dominated debate blocked a final vote on the governor's plan to extend government-funded health care for children.

For more information, see:

The abortion debate begins in Missouri's legislature.

The annual debate over abortion began Wednesday night in Missouri's legislature with a House committee hearing on legislation to ban partial-birth abortions.

The governor vetoed similar legislation last year, arguing the bill should include an exception for when a physican determines the mother's life is in danger.

See our newspaper story for details.

In a related development, a federal court refused to allow ten lawmakers join in a lawsuit challenging state funding for Family Planning clinics.

The case involves the 1996 budget which prevented Planned Parenthood from getting state funds for family planning. Planned Parenthood had won a lower court decision invalidating that provision.

GOP debate stalls Senate action on expanding state funding for child health care.

The Senate spent the entire day Wednesday in a partisan debate over expanding state support for child health coverage.

It's the same issue which triggered a GOP-member filibuster on the last day of the 1997 session.

The measure, backed by the governor, would provide state support for child support to those with incomes up to 300% of the federal poverty level.

Republicans say it's too generous -- providing state support to families with incomes well above $40,000 per year.

In the House, debate there stalled, for the second day in a row, action on legislation for state government to assist small businesses in getting health coverage for their workers.

See our newspaper story for details.

Gay rights legislation is debated in a House committee

The House Civil Justice Committee heard emotional testimoney from both sides on legislation to legalize homosexual activity.

The bill, filed by the only openly gay member of the legislature, would repeal provisions that make same-sex sexual activity a criminal offense.

See our radio story with digital audio and another radio story for details.

Boats in moats legislation is filed.

Weeks after the state supreme court outlawed boats in moats, the Senate chair of the legislature's joint committee on gambling has introduced a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize existing moat-based boats.

But Sen. Ronnie DePasco said he would prefer the gambling industry to get the issue on the ballot by initative petition. But, DePasco said, he's gotten frustrated at the industry's failure to have a proposal drafted when they told him they would -- or to report the results of a survey on the public attitude about the issue.

See our newspaper background story.

Reginald Powell is executed.

The convicted killer who sought clemency because he had an affair with is lawyer was executed just after midnight Wednesday morning -- seven hours after the governor rejected his appeal for clemency.

Powell had based his appeal to the governor on his claims and his former lawyer's claims that they had developed a sexual relationship during the course of his case that had interefered with his lawyer's ability to defend him.

See our radio story for details.

The House Insurance Company votes to ban insurance firms using genetic testing.

The House Insurance committee has reported to the full House a bill that would prohibit insurance companies from using the results of genetic testing for setting health insurance rates.

See our radio story for details.

No major surprises emerge on the opening day for candidate filing.

There were no major surprises on the opening day for filing for the August primary.

As expected both Jackson County Prosecutor Clair McCaskill and St. Louis Alderman Stephen Conway filed for the Democratic nomination for State Auditor.

Neither of the top candidates for U.S. Senate -- Kit Bond and Jay Nixon -- filed on the opening day.

In Pettis County, the impeached Secretary of State Judy Moriarty (now Moriarty-Ebers) filed for the Democratic nomination for the county's recorder of deeds.

In 1994, she was impeached by the House and removed from office by the state supreme court on charges she allowed her son to file for office after the filing deadline.

The Secretary of State is maintaining a regularly updated list of filings at

The Senate approves tax cuts.

The Senate gave first-round approval to a package of property-tax breaks for home owners similar to what the governor recommended.

The measure requires a second, final vote in the Senate to go to the House.

A Senator from rural Missouri is trying to make PSC Commissioners answerable to the voting public.

The Senate Finance Committee didn't vote on a measure making PSC Commissioners elected officials. Senator Doyle Childers, a Republican from rural Missouri says he wants to make the PSC accountable to the people who pay the utility bills. Senator Childers bill also calls for a two-thirds pay cut for commissioners. This measure comes after the PSC did away with a toll-free phone-calling system in rural areas of Missouri.

PSC comissioners may be elected instead of appointed

Members of the Public Service Commission would be elected at lower pay instead of the current gubenatorial appointment under a bill be considered by the Missouri Legislature. Senator Doyle Childers, R-Reeds Springs, proposed the legislation after the controversy regarding rural phone rates. The PSC wanted to terminate toll-free calls for some rural areas. The bill was heard before the Senate Financial and Govermental Organization Committee on Monday.

Filing begins Tuesday for the fall elections.

Tuesday will be the opening day for filing for the 1998 elections.

Filing will begin at 8am Friday for offices that include State Auditor, the U.S. Senate, Congressional races, and state legisative seats.