NewsBook: Missouri Government News for the Week of February 6, 2006
|.||Blunt withholding dam safety report (02/09/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Governor Blunt's office was promised a new set of safety regulations this week from the Department of Natural Resources.
However, Missourians can't view that report until the governor adds his own recommendations.
|.||Sen. Chuck Graham was released from the hospital (02/09/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, was released from St. Mary's Hospital in Jefferson City on Thursday where he was being treated for a staph infection on his leg.
The senator was admitted to the hospital on Monday. He will return to work at the capitol next week.
|.||House Republicans propose changes in MOHELA money allocation (02/09/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - House Republicans proposed changes to the governor's Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative Thursday.
They say they are attempting to ensure that all Missouri college students benefit from the MOHELA transaction.
|.||Legislators consider closing lobbying loophole (02/09/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Some Democrats want lobbyists to disclose the gifts they give to caucuses.
They claim that this is a loophole that allows legislators to potentially get meals and entertainment from lobbyists without the voters' knowledge.
|.||Senate to hear land redevelopment bill. (02/08/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The Senate Economic Development committee voted 7-0 to pass a bill to restrict when cities can seize land for private redevelopment.
The bill would put some restrictions into place -- but opponents say it doesn't go far enough.
|.||Giving incentives to whistleblowers may help in reducing Medicaid fraud (02/08/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Special Committee to Investigate Medicaid Fraud heard testimony Wednesday from expert witnesses involved with the state's Medicaid program.
Giving incentives to fraud whistleblowers became a recurring theme, since Missouri currently does not provide any incentives. Other states, like Texas, that do offer compensation to implicators have been successful in rooting out fraud.
|.||Senator Kevin Engler wants stricter penalties for poachers (02/08/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Senator Engler is proposing a bill that would call for stricter penalties for those who trespass and do property damage on someone else's land.
Violators could face a fine or suspension of their hunting license.
|.||Governor Blunt receives dam results (02/08/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The Department of Natural Resources sent Governor Blunt results from a two month survey of Missouri's dams.
The survey is in response to The Taum Sauk reservoir flooding in December
|.||Missouri Senate advances healthcare technology measure (02/08/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The Senate passed legislation to create funds to update medical records electronically Wednesday.
The fund would transfer patients' paper records to electronic records.
|.||Sen. Graham To Remain Hospitalized (02/08/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia will remain hospitalized one more night due to a staph infection in his leg. The
Columbia lawmaker was expected to be released Wednesday but is being held an extra night as a precaution.
|.||MOHELA's plan to sell part of holdings has national context (02/08/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Sallie Mae, one of the companies cited as a potential buyer of the holdings up for sale by MOHELA, has been the target of national criticism for its buying and lending practices.
Missouri is not the first state to sell some of the assets of its non-profit student loan program, and Sallie Mae has been involved in similar sales accross the country.
|.||Democrats gain a seat in the House (02/08/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Democrat Charles Dake beat out Republican Eric Seifried, who had been the favorite to win, in Tuesday night's special election.
Dake's seat was previously held by a Republican.
Democrat leadership tout this win as a blow to Gov. Blunt and the Republican legislature.
|.||Senator Graham hospitalized with a staph infection (02/07/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia was hospitalized Monday with a staph infection on his left leg.
He is expected to be released from the hospital on Wednesday and to return to work at the capital next week.
|.||Missouri dam regulations most lenient in nation (02/07/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The governor has asked for a new set of dam safety regulations from the Department of Natural Resources.
Some say Missouri has the most lenient dam rules in the nation.
|.||Revisions to Missouri's Driver's License Laws Aim to Add Experience to Teenage Motorists (02/07/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The Senate Transportation Committee discussed revising the current Missouri driver's license laws to include added requirements on the number of hours that learning stage level drivers must have with a parent or guardian before earning their intermediate license at age 16 or later.
Restricting the number of passengers an intermediate driver may have in the a car while driving was also proposed.
|.||Alcohol could be banned at the State Capitol (02/07/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Republican Representative Brian Baker sponsors legislation that calls for a prohibition of alcohol on the State Capitol grounds.
The bill does allow for exceptions that the Governor, House Speaker, and President Pro-Tem can call for.
|.||Governor Requests New Dam Regulations (02/07/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Tuesday, Governor Matt Blunt demanded new damn regulations for Missouri dams.
Blunt says he wants to see safety measures improved for all Missouri dams, both state and federally regulated.
|.||Transportation director urges action on I-70 (02/07/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri Department of Transportation director Pete Rahn urged lawmakers to rebuild I-70 "from the ground up."
He said, however, there is no way to pay for the project's $3.5 billion price tag.
|.||Making spyware illegal (02/06/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Representative Bryan Pratt is sponsoring a bill that would make it illegal to put unauthorized spyware on someone's computer.
The bill would not spyware you authorize from a website.
|.||Proposed Legislation Could Prevent Some From Voting (02/06/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Voter Protection Act would require a state photo ID to vote.
Missourians without a birth certificate could have a hard time obtaining an ID under the state's Show Me Proof requirements.
|.||Democrats announce bill to reward students (02/06/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - House Bill 1643 establishes the 21st Century Scholars Program.
This program guarantees assistance for state college tuition for students who from 8th grade until high school graduation fulfill a promise to stay off of alcohol and drugs, while maintaining at least a C average.
|.||Nixon sues federal government over new prescription drug plan (02/06/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Attorney General Jay Nixon announced the state of Missouri will file a lawsuit against the federal governemt challenging the new prescription drug plan, more commonly referred to as Medicare Part D.
Nixon says the plan has left many Missouri seniors without prescription drugs and leaves taxpayers with hundreds of millions of dollars in extra costs.
Nixon expects California to join Missouri in the lawsuit. California's Attorney General announced a similar lawsuit against the federal government last week.
|.||Nixon announces student loan hearings. (02/03/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Associated Press reported Friday that Attorney General Jay Nixon had announced he would hold a series of hearings into the administration's plan to sell part of the state's college student loan assets.
According to AP, however, Nixon's spokesman said he did not have any details about when the hearings would be held or how they would work.
|.||Governor accused of propping up sagging poll numbers (02/02/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Kansas City area Senator Victor Callahan accused Governor Blunt Thursday of trying to prop up sagging poll numbers by selling the state loan underwriter.
Most recent developements in the MOHELA debate include the selling of only half of the agency's assets.
|.||Senate Republicans quash roundtable breakfasts (02/02/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - After an outcry from Senate Democrats, Republicans decided to cancel breakfast roundtables where for $1,000 a pop, lobbyists can interact with state legislators.
Lawmakers from both side of the aisle said the move was a good one.
|.||Question and Answer with MOHELA V.P. (02/02/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - For more than a week now MOHELA has dominated state debate.
Reporter Hayley Salvo sat down with William Shaffner, vice president of client services, to better understand how the student loan agency works.
|.||Senators spar over MOHELA (02/02/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - A resolution to honor Coretta Scott King descended into a fierce debate about Gov. Matt Blunt's plan to sell part of the Missouri Higher Education Loan Association.
|.||Harris to introduce legislation banning fundraising by office holders (02/01/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The Senate Majority Committee invited lobbyists to meet in round-table discussions with committee leaders Wednesday.
In light of the surrounding controversy, Jeff Harris highlights the need for legislation banning fundraising by office holders.
|.||Democrats call for Senate Republican leaders to stop "breakfast club." (02/01/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Senate Republican committee chairs are offering access -- at a series of breakfast meetings -- for $1000 a pop.
Senate Democrats called the fundraising effort unethical, and demanded an immediate end.
Roy Temple, who disclosed the effort, calls it "unethical."
A long-time lobbyist speaks out about the scale of the fundraising.
Democrats say "breakfast club" doesn't pass smell test.
Republicans call "breakfast" business as usual.
|.||Missouri follows the path of other states in the sale of higher education loans (02/01/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The proposed sale of MOHELA to a private company follows the lead of other states, including Virginia and Arizona, who have previously initiated similar loan sales.
Pennsylvania, on the other hand, refused an unsolicited offer from Sallie Mae to sell the company its student loans in 2005.
|.||AmerenUE ordered to reveal plans for future projects (02/01/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Public Service Commissions want AmerenUE to reveal its long-term plans, which may include building another nuclear reactor at its Calloway County plant.
The commission that regulates Missouri utilities had okayed AmerenUE's request for the plans to remain confidential, but environmental groups have challenged that request. Now the commission has ordered the company to edit the confidential information and refile its its Integrated Resource Plan by Feb. 10.
|.||Senator Joan Bray Announces She Will Not Support Gov. Blunt's Nominee (01/31/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Sen. Joan Bray, D-St. Louis County, announced Tuesday that she will not support James Mauze to be confirmed by the Senate as a member of MOHELA's commisisn board.
Without her support it is unlikely that Mauze will get confirmed by his February 4 deadline.
|.||New Toll Bridge Proposed on I-70 in St. Louis. (01/31/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - A new toll bridge in St. Louis, proposed on Tuesday, would be funded by private investors.
Supporters say the bridge will help to alleviate traffic in the downtown area.
|.||Missouri's college loan program board votes to sell part of its assets. (01/31/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The vote came at a hastily scheduled meeting of the MOHELA board held in the governor's office.
Last week the governor proposed selling the entire agency to a private company.
MOHELA countered Tuesday with approval of a resolution to keep the board, but sell about one-half of the nearly 600,000 student loan obligations it holds.
The governor endorsed the new approach, but it was attacked by Democratic legislator.
|.||Interstate 70 toll road discussed in Senate (01/31/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The Senate Transportation committee discussed a plan for a possible public/private partnership in developing a toll road over the Mississippi River in conjunction with the Poplar Street bridge.
The toll road would be run by a private entity.
|.||MOHELA Nominee Confirmation Questioned (01/30/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The man who led the nomination to have the executive director of MOHELA fired last week has had his own confirmation to the board temporarily blokced.
Jim Mauze was appointed to the board of directors in October.
|.||Commissioner King Presents Education Budget to House Panel (01/30/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's education commissioner, Kent King, told a legislative panel Hurricane Katrina added about 2,000
students to Missouri's classrooms this year.
|.||Former State Auditor Antonio supports Graham (01/30/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Republican Jim Antonio, a former state auditor for Missouri, travelled from Arkansas to lend his support to Democratic Senator Graham's bill.
The bill would let the state auditor do performance audits and expand their access to government records.
|.||Missouri forces online businesses to stop selling cell phone records (01/30/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Attorney General Jay Nixon Monday secured a temporary restraining order to prevent a Web business from putting Missourians' cell phone records up for sale.
The owners of online business www.Locatecell.com have been sued for violating consumer protection laws. The court order probibits them from attempting to get, sell or offer for sale customer information or phone records from cellular or landline telephone providers.
Nixon's office filed for the temporary order after an undercover investigator purchased the records of calls made from his own cell phone from www.Locatecell.com.
|.||Eminent domain vote stalled again (01/30/06)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Lawmakers from the Senate Economic Development Committee were expected to vote on the hot-button issue, but the chairman of the committee, Republican Senator John Griesheimer, anounced it would be delayed for at least another week.
Griesheimer added that he wants the eminent domain bill out of committee and onto to the Senate as soon as possible.