Rebecca is a journalism and political science student from the University of Missouri. This is her fourth semester working at Missouri Digital News. She is from Tallahassee, Florida.
During my time at the Capitol, I've has the opportunity to cover a lot of serious issues. But for my last story as a reporter for MDN, I enjoyed working on a lighter subject: a possible repeal of the ban on margarine.
Sure it's easier to spread, and some say it's better for you, but margarine is illegal in the state of Missouri.
You wouldn't know it by seeing tubs of Brummel & Brown, Fleischmann's, and Country Crock glisten under florescent lights, but the penatly for selling the illegal substance comes with a $50 to $100 fine and potential jail time.
Rep. Sara Lampe, D-Springfield, said she came up with the after hearing constituents say they wanted fewer laws on the books. She then came across the margarine law, written in the early 1900s by those fearing the demise of the dairy industry.
Lampe said the Department of Agriculture is responsible for enforcing this ban, but that responsibility may have fallen by the wayside:
And thus, I leave this office an unitentional criminal, but highly ammused.
Posted December 7, 2009
Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O'Fallon, has sponsored legislation that would allow voters to effectively put a halt on the national health care legislation. Davis said her intent was to give voters a way to protect themselves.
"We (Missourians) don't like it when people try to take away our freedom. We will maintain the right to purchase health care however we chose," Davis said. "This national health care debate is not about health care as much as it is about redistribution of the wealth. This resolution allows voters to say don't redistribute our wealth here in Missouri. We have the ability to make choices, and we want to preserve that."
But when questioned about the constitutionality of such a measure, Davis had this to say:
Rep. Don Calloway, D-St. Louis County, a civil litigation attorney with a specialization in constitution rights cases, disagrees.
"The 10th Amendment absolutely doesn't change that (the unconstitutionality of the bill). It just says that powers not reserved to the federal government are reserved to the state," Calloway said. "So the 10th Amendment doesn't give state the right to effectively block or nullify those laws from taking place in Missouri, absolutely not."
Calloway said Republicans are challenging the health care bill in the wrong venue.
"I understand that a lot of conservative opposition is saying this is usurpation of state powers, that health care reform doesn't find its basis in the Constitution, and the way to challenge that is in court, not through state law with the attempt of subverting federal law," he said.
Posted December 2, 2009
Columbia Rep. Chris Kelly will lose his designated title as the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, perhaps because of his record of bipartisanship.
Kelly will now serve on both the Budget and Judiciary committees but is relinquishing his responsibilities as the ranking Democrat -- a position charged with assisting and communicating with the Budget chair and coordinating among the caucus.
"The minority leader and I, I agree with him, that you can't do everything," Kelly said. "If I want to go to judiciary, I give up being a ranking member on budget. It doesn't change anything for me, and it's at my request."
Minority Leader Paul LeVota, D-Jackson County, has designated Rep. Sara Lampe, D-Springfield, as the new ranking Democrat. She has served on the committee for two years.
One Democratic Representative said the shuffle occurred because some in the party were disgruntled by Kelly's bi-partisan nature.
During the 2009 legislative session, Kelly was known for maintaining a good relationship with the committee chair, Republican Allen Icet of Wildwood.
The first day after the 2008 elections, Kelly came down to the Capitol to extend an offer of cooperation with Icet.
The two voted the same on a majority of budget issues, including on a bill that would have given voters the chance to scrap the income tax in favor of higher sales taxes. A vast majority of Democrats opposed this measure.
Kelly said he has no intention of changing his approach.
"Maybe I bring an old fashioned sense of bipartisanship -- at least I try to do that," he said.
Posted October 21, 2009
Swine flu has finally hit the Missouri General Assembly. Representative Beth Low, D-Jackson County, professed her illness via the social networking site facebook.
Low's status read: "Beth Low is not sick with sinus infection afterall. Its H1N1. Yippee...I'll have deveolped immune resistance when the superflu hits."
According to the most recent information from the health department, there are 107 reported swine flu cases in Missouri.
Posted October, 19, 2009
At a press conference today, Gov. Nixon said he was "hopeful" and "optimistic" about health care bills weaving their way through Congress.
Confronting the issue of the state's ability to pick up the tab for expanding Medicaid coverage, Nixon had this to say:
"We just want to make sure that as they lead forward they do so in a way that gives us the resources to accomplish that. There's vast differences between the Senate and the House bills, and governors, not just me but governors across the country, are very interested in expanding access to health care, but want to make sure the dollars are behind it. We're hopeful that there will be, and quite frankly I think some significant progress has been made in the last 8 to 10 days."
When asked by reporter Jason Rosenbaum why he had not signed a letter signaling support for health care legislation, the governor said:
"Signing pieces of paper in the middle of a legislative process, I mean, I just don't do much of that. I have the ability to pick up the phone and talk to these folks, which I've been doing through efforts with governors and others. Singing pieces of paper and signing letters for political show is not what I'm doing. I don't spend much time thinking about that sort of stuff. I'm not trying to jam people up or triangulate. Government doesn't move by signing on letters, government moves by actions. I've made my position and the state of Missouri's position clear to the highest ranking federal officials in this country and will continue to do that. I'm hopeful Congress will give us something we can work with at the state level, and I'm hopeful and optimistic that they will."
Posted October 13, 2009
So, has anyone checked out MDN on Twitter yet? We may have had a late arrival into the Twittersphere, but we've been making up for lost time. Phill has created an awesome application, so any Newsbook headline is immediately posted to Twitter directly from the MDN Web site. All our filed stories our posted there as well.
Tweets to keep an eye out for: I hope to soon post my feature story on the projected savings of electronic medical records to Twitter soon, as well as to the actual Web site. You can also follow me on my personal Twitter (@rebeccabeitsch).
Posted September 21, 2009
Coming down from a legislative high from last week's veto session, the only thing to turn to this week is more feature stories. Fortunately for me, veto session brought everyone back to one place, allowing me to score several interviews for my features stories.
Coming up this week: stories on public health care options in Missouri as well as an in-depth piece on electronic medical records and how they save money.
Posted March 12, 2009:
Like I've always said, one man's tractor parade is another man's comic relief.
It may have been the last day before legislative spring break, and while our state representatives were eager to get out of town, this did not stop the jokes.
An emergency clause that would have allowed tractors into parades immediately upon passage.
The urgency caused Rep. Jake Zimmerman, D-St. Louis County, to give a speech about the importance of tractors in his faith. Hilarity did ensue and resulted in applause that was nothing short of thunderous.
You can listen to that here:
One representative responded by saying the people in Zimmerman's 83rd District wouldn't recognize a tractor when it went through anyway.
I can't speak to that -- but I do feel obligated to report that many representatives voiced that laws preventing tractors from being in parades are affecting fund-raising potential.
The emergency clause did pass, as did the bill with a vote of 158-0.
Posted February 17, 2009:
To quote the movie Thank You For Smoking, the public beating has not gone out of style.
I'm speaking of today's debate in the Senate, where Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, "helped" his junior senator David Pearce by repeatedly telling him not to turn around and not look at him while he was asking Pearce questions.
It is Senate procedure for senators to face the speaker during inquiries, and Pearce is the new senator from Warrensburg.
Crowell not only offered his opinions on Pearce's bill, but repeatedly halted his answers saying "You're going to need to turn around. You can't look at me; you have to look at the speaker.
Sen. Tim Green, D- St. Louis County, aided Crowell in his efforts by bringing to the floor a self-made mask of himself to put on the back of his head so that he is always facing the speaker.
Chiding of new senators aside, Crowell distributed 21 amendments to the bill, SB 45. If Crowell actually offers each amendment, it would open every section but one for an individual debate.