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NewsBook: Missouri Government News for the Week of September 25, 2006

. Fall leaves less than spectacular in some Missouri regions (10/02/2006)

The recent drought in parts of central and southwestern Missouri will affect the beauty of changing fall leaves.

Color will appear says Department of Conservation Forestry Fields Program Supervisor, Justine Gartner, but it will be drab.



. Decreasing unemployment is creating more tax credits for Missouri business employers (09/27/2006)

The decrease in unemployment is increasing the amount of tax credits business employers get. 

The Missouri Division of Employment Security owes $238 million in debt to the federal government for the money they borrowed in 2003 and 2004.

However, the federal government gave a conditional approval for Missouri to keep $102.8 million in tax credits for businesses.

. Nov. 7 political faceoff (09/27/2006)

Democrat Jack Cardetti and Republican Paul Sloca provide an inside look at their parties approach to the Nov. 7 election.

While the two may not agree on many issues, they both recognize the most important work as getting Missourians informed and to the polls. 

. State auditor candidates square off on experience, goals (09/27/2006)

Sandra Thomas, the Republican candidate for state auditor, is the current auditor for Platte County. She comes to the job with a CPA and 12 years of experience as a county auditor.

Susan Montee, the Democratic candidate, is the current auditor for Buchanan County. She has both accounting and law degrees.

. MOHELA board tosses Blunt's plan to the legislature. (09/27/2006)

At a special meeting in St. Louis County, the college loan board of directors handed the governor's plan back the legiislature.

While the resolution endorsed Blunt's "Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative" to sell some of the board's assets to fund a statewide building construction project, the board insisted that the legislature endorse the plan before any assets would be transferred. 

The board also included in its resolution a requirement that the legislature and governor also grant the lawsuit immunity to the MOHELA board for all past and future actions involving the asset transfer.

Earlier this year, the MOHELA proposal died in the legislature because of disagreements on to spend the money and on a House-passed requirement to include expanded funding for college scholarships.

The legislature returns into session in January.  It could be as late as August before the legislative actions MOHELA requires would take effect.

. The leading Democratic opponent of the college loan program sale praises the governor's retrenchment  (09/26/2006)

Rep. Clint Zweifel says the governor's decision is an important step towards giving the legislature a voice in the MOHELA process.

However, Zweifel also says many questions remain unresolved and that there is a lack of desire in the governor's Office about answering legitimate questions.

Earlier this year when the governor put the issue before the legislature, it died in a House-Senate standoff over whether to assure increased state spending on college student scholarships.

. Governor agrees with call for legislative approval in MOHELA case. (09/25/2006)

In a press release at the end of the business day, the governor's office said Blunt agreed with advice from the Department of Economic Development for legislative approval on the MOHELA issue.

Blunt replaced the latter two of three resignations from the board last week.

. The Missouri attorney general is taking a low key stance on next week's hearing of the voter ID case (09/25/2006)

The democratic attorney general is not as vocal on an issue many democrats are screaming about. 

Next week, the state Supreme Court will hear the much debated voter ID case.

. Chair of House Homeland Security Committee says Missouri has a ways to go (09/25/2006)

After the recent indictment of fifteen defendants on charges relating to the 2004-2005 issuing of false drivers licenses to Somali and Bosnian nationals, Jack Jackson chair of the Joint Committee on Terrorism and Homeland Security says that Missouri is no where near where they should be on their security effort.

 The indictment comes after a lengthy FBI investigation that they deem as a prevention effort in regards to homeland security.

. Missouri's college loan board decides to go ahead with it's asset-sale meeting. (09/22/2006)

The Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA) decided Friday to go ahead with its Wednesday meeting to consider the governor's plan to give up of the board's assets for a statewide building construction program.

A Democratic representative had urged a delay because of the three recent resignations and two replacements on the board.

Also on Friday, it was learned that another governmental board that will process the loan board's assets had inserted into its resolution a ban on universities using buildings financed by the funds for some forms of stem-cell research.

. Missouri utility companies will not be allowed to raise rates to cover fuel costs (09/22/2006)

Public Service Commission Chairman Jeff Davis said utility companies are not allowed to raise rates at their discretion to cover rising fuel costs. 

Davis said the vote in question will allow utility companies to apply for an adjustable fuel charge as part of an eleven-month rate case process overseen by the Public Service Commission.

The rate case process will help determine what the actual fuel costs are and make sure the fuel charge is necessary.

. Health officials recommend HIV tests for all Americans (09/22/2006)

The Center for Disease Control recommended that all Americans ages 13 to 64 be tested for HIV as part of their regular health checkups. 

CDC officials hope the testing will detect cases earlier and slow the spread of the virus. 

The recommendation is not legally binding for doctors and patients would be able to decline the tests. 

. The voter ID law heads to the state Supreme Court. (09/21/2006)

Missouri's Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for Wednesday on appeal of a circuit court's recent decision invalidating the state's voter ID law.

The law, passed this spring by the state legislature, requires a person to present a government-issued voter ID in order to vote.

Also Wednesday, the court will hear an appeal the Cole County circuit court decision to put the tobacco-tax increase proposal on the November ballot.

. Opponents of the stem cell ballot proposal roll out radio ad campaign (09/21/2006)

The radio spot features a real doctor. In the ad, he tells a patient that he's going to vote "no" on the constitutional amendment this November.

That doctor is also a board member of the group, Missourians Against Human Cloning, which paid for the ad. The group's executive director, Jaci Winship, says she takes issue with the amendment because it would allow embryonic stem cell research in Missouri.  

If passed by voters in November, the amendment would ensure that all forms of stem cell research allowed under federal law would remain legal in the state. 

. The state's department of transportation says Missourians are using seat belts less than last year. (09/21/2006)

The transportation department says only 75 percent of Missourians are using seat belts compared to 77 percent last year.

Jeff Briggs, a spokesman for the department says the decrease of people using a seat belt is a source of concern.

According to the report, 68 percent of people who die in Missouri car accidents are not wearing seat belts.

The report also shows that properly worn seat belts, in conjunction with working air bags, can reduce a person's risk of death by 63 percent in a car accident.

. Group pushes for mental health awareness (09/20/2006)

Missouri Partners in Crisis is a new group that advocates mental health awareness.

The group wants the legislature to reinstate money lost through cutbacks in health care.

Get the radio stories here.

. MOHELA Board is one more member short (09/20/2006)

James Ricks, an employee of Southeast Missouri State University, resigned from the MOHELA Board on Tuesday.

This latest resignation is the third in a week, and comes only days before a vote by the Board on the fate of MOHELA's assets.

Get the newspaper story here.

Get the radio stories here.

. Infant returns safely; House Republican says system works (09/20/2006)

The infant kidnapped in Franklin County was returned home after a lead from the sister-om-law of the kidnapper.

Chairman of the Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee commends Missouri law enforcement on their success in returning the infant home quickly.

Get the newspaper story here.

. Missouri drought conditions may lead to government relief. (09/20/2006)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency states that ninety-six out of Missouri's one-hundred and fourteen counties are natural disaster areas because of the recent drought.

Governor, Matt Blunt, sent a letter asking for a formal declaration from the USDA, so Missouri farmers can partake in federal relief funds.


. Monarch Butterflies move through Missouri on their way to Mexico. (09/19/2006)

Monarch butterflies started their migration south a week late, but entomoligists don't think the delay will harm them.

The butterflies are currently traveling through Missouri on their annual trek to Mexico.

The warm weather in the Midwest caused the butterflies to delay their trip.

Entomoglists still expect a normal population size for the butterflies at the end of the migration season.

. Missouri Health Department Warns Missourians of Shingles (09/19/2006)

A Missouri Health Department spokesperson advises Missourians to be aware of the symptons of disease that cost MOHELA college loan board one of its members.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Tuesday that a Higher Education commissioner had submitted his resignation because of health effects from shingles.

Shingles is an outbreak of a skin rash or blisters, and is caused by the chickenpox virus.

After a person has had chickenpox, the virus retreats to the nerve endings and remains there. When a person's immune system is weakened, the virus may be reactivated in the form of shingles. .

The disease is more common in the elderly, and it is not life-threatening. Shingles may cause severe pain that lasts 3 to 5 weeks. 

. MOHELA loses two members a week before its asset sale vote. (09/19/2006)

The state's Higher Education Interim Commissioner, Charles McClain, said he was resigning as interim director the end of this week for health reasons.  The department's commissioner is included as one of the MOHELA board members.

Also resigning is Marilyn Bush, an executive with Bank America.

The two are among four MOHELA board members that Attorney General Jay Nixon has said have potential conflicts of interest in voting on the sale proposal.

. Payday loans: Not the best way to avoid debt (09/18/2006)

Consumer protection groups say payday and title loans actually put customers into more debt.

Some loan agencies in Missouri charge as much as 300% and generally expect repayment within two to three week's time.

Get the radio stories here.

. E. coli outbreak spreads closer to Missouri (09/18/2006)

Illinois and Nebraska have reported cases of E.Coli.

Missouri grocery stores are taking precautions.

Get the radio story
. Voter ID ruling to be challenged (09/18/2006)

Last week a Cole County judge declared the voter id law to be unconstitutional because it placed an unfair burden on voters. The law required voters to show a government-issued ID at the polls. 

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Delbert Scott, said he will file an appeal to the state's Supreme Court this week.