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MPANewsBook: Statehouse News for MPA Members: 10/26/2009 - Archived File

Heavy rainfall in central Missouri has hurt this year's pumpkin crops according to some orchard owners.

The rain caused the pumpkin vines to rot and not produce pumpkins. Some pumpkin patch owners in central Missouri had their entire crop destroyed.

"Vines didn't produce any pumpkins and the few pumpkins we did produce rotted on the bottoms. So we had a total crop failure," Calvin Mackey, owner of Mackey Produce in Mexico, said.

But pumpkin patches in northern Missouri told a different story. A St. Joseph pumpkin patch owner said his crop had one of the biggest harvests ever.

Schweizer Orchard owner Corey Schweizer said his orchard only had a big harvest because of fungicides he applied.

"Just a optimal, optimal environment for it, the only thing we had was just way too much rain, and the rain was combated with like I said, we had to hoe a lot and we had to spray a lot," Schweizer said.

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan said Missouri should consider civil unions as an alternative to legalizing gay marriage while she was campaigning at the University of Missouri Oct. 21.

Carnahan is the Democratic candidate for one of Missouri's U.S. Senate seats. She was speaking to MU law students, when a question about gay marriage prompted her suggestion.

According to The Maneater, an MU campus publication, Carnahan said, "Marriage should be between a man and a woman, but civil unions are something we should consider."

In a follow-up interview Oct. 22, Carnahan's campaign Press Secretary Linden Zakula affirmed her statement, and said Carnahan supports that the decision should be up to individual states.

"I think her quote speaks for itself. You know, it's something that each state should consider, that they should retain the right to define marriage as they see fit without any interference from the federal government," Zakula said.

Republican Senate candidate and current U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt released a statement stating that Carnahan's comments reveal her opposition to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

The act states that at the federal level marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman.

Carnahan's other opponent in the 2010 U.S. Senate race, state Sen. Chuck Purgason, was unavailable for comment at the time of release.

The Missouri Department of Transportation is trying to sell 19 properties it no longer needs.

The department will hold a realty 'blitz' to get rid of excess land during the week of November 16 to 20.

The properties can be viewed here [ ] 

Members of the Joint Committee on Education met Oct. 20 to hear public testimony about open enrollment.

Open enrollment allows students to attend schools outside the district in which they reside. Students can choose to change districts for a variety of reasons such as academics, convenience or extracurricular activities.

Steve Cookson, superintendent of Ripley R-2 schools in said controlled open enrollment may be beneficial to his district.

Cookson gave the hypothetical example of a first grade classroom. If there were 26 students in the class, it would be a relatively large class, he said. However, dividing the students into two classes of 13 isn't always feasible or reasonable.

"If I were allowed to take a few other students that wanted to opt into our district, I could then create two classrooms of 17 or so," Cookson said.

The hearing was designated for informational purposes only. The deliberation will continue when the legislature returns to session in January.

Get the story here. [ ]

Gov. Jay Nixon spoke at the Jefferson City Correctional Center Oct. 19 to promote a new facility that uses energy from landfill waste to pump steam into the center. The City of Columbia is buying the rest of the energy produced to power 2,000 homes.

The city has passed its 2012 goal of having 5 percent of its energy consumption be from renewable resources, Mayor Darwin Hindman said.

Get the story here. [ ]