From Missouri Digital News:
MDN Menu

MDN Home

Journalist's Creed


MDN Help

MDN.ORG: Missouri Digital News
MDN Menu

MDN Home

Journalist's Creed


MDN Help

MDN.ORG Mo. Digital News Missouri Digital News MDN.ORG: Mo. Digital News MDN.ORG: Missouri Digital News
Lobbyist Money Help  
NewsBook:  Missouri Government News for the Week of December 21, 2009

Last Week

Think twice before you grab that margarine from the store shelf -- you're purchasing an illegal substance.

Due to several provisions passed starting in the late 1800s, the sale of certain types of imitation butter were banned from being sold in Missouri stores.

But anyone who has been to the grocery store this century knows these laws have been all but ignored as tubs of Brummel & Brown, Fleischmann's, and Country Crock glisten under florescent lights.

Now, for the second year in a row, Rep. Sara Lampe, R-Springfield, is introducing a bill to repeal the previous legislation, saying it is out of date, written at a time when Missouri's dairy industry felt threatened by the substitute.

Lampe said the inspiration for the bill came after sending out a letter to constituents asking what type of laws they wanted to see.

With federal health care legislation lingering in Washington, there have been multiple bills pre-filed for the 2010 Missouri legislative session dealing with health care.

Among them is a bill that would allow small businesses to join the same health insurance pool as state and local government workers -- the Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan.

Missouri Consolidated provides health care to more than 107,000 state and local government employees. The idea to add various group to the plan has been proposed in years past, but bill sponsor Rep. Sam Komo, D-House Springs, said with the national health care bill in limbo, there's no point in waiting around.

"Until the president has something on his desk, we don't know if we're going to have a bill or what would be in that bill," Komo said. "We can't sit on our hands waiting for what they do."

Get the print story.

A state grounds crew mowed the Capitol lawn Monday, just a week before Christmas and even though there wasn't much grass to cut.

The work won't cost taxpayers much money - only the cost of putting gas in the lawnmowers, state facilities director Jeff Schaeperkoeter said. It's money well-spent to get the Capitol grounds in good shape before lawmakers and visitors return to the statehouse for the start of session in January, he said.

Schaeperkoeter said it was the last grass cutting of the year.

The Missouri Gaming Commission staff recommends no discipline for former Pinnacle CEO Dan Lee.

However, he will have to pay for the investigation expenses, which totaled $16,800.

Lee was forced to quit Pinnacle after threatening a government official a month and a half ago.

More than 16,000 of the sickest and most uninsurable Missourians could be covered under the state health care pool if it wasn't for high insurance premiums, according to the pool's director.

Vernita Bridges-McMurtrey, executive director of Missouri Health Insurance Pool spoke before the Joint Committee on Tax Policy Tuesday. She said the premium level is set by statute and it is one of the highest premium thresholds in the country.

The premium level is determined yearly by averaging the premiums of the five largest carriers of individual health insurance in the state. By statute the premium must be between 125 percent and 200 percent of the rate charged by a private insurance company.

"We think it could be as many as 20,000 if people had full access to this program," Bridges-McMurtrey said.

Missouri colleges and universities have been asked to address funding shortfalls for higher education by 2011.

"Revenues for fiscal year 2009 were 7 percent less than the previous year; about the same shortfall is predicted for 2010. Every negative percentage point means $73 million less is available for statewide needs, including public higher education" Robert Stein, Missouri's higher education commissioner said.

Gov. Jay Nixon spoke at Lake of the Ozarks to promote the passage of the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act.

The act would establish a state revenue stream that would help create and expand high-tech jobs - and all without raising taxes.

"This legislations constitutes a comprehensive new plan that would work to attract new investment from outside Missouri, create new companies inside Missouri, and incent our existing companies to expand here" Daniel Mehan, Missouri Chamber President said.

Lobbyist would not be allowed to pay for politicians trips, entertainment, and meals anymore.

Previous legislators have to wait 180 days before they can begin serving as a lobbyist.

Republican Senator Charlie Shields is also working on an ethics bill in the senate.

In what has been called a glitch, the Department of Social Services has over reported the amount of Missourians receiving food stamps since 2002.

Since that time, Missouri has received over $14 million worth of bonuses from the federal government for giving food stamps to such a large part of the population.

In September, it was found that only 855,000 people were receiving food stamps as opposed to the 1.12 million people that were being reported, according to Department of Social Services spokesman Scott Rowson.

Funeral services were held Monday for former Sen. Earl Blackwell (D-Jefferson County) who died the prior Thursday.

As Senate President Pro Tem in 1970, Black led the referendum proposal that over-turned legislative passage of an income tax increase pushed by Gov. Warren Hearnes.

Blackwell soon was ousted as pro tem of the Senate as Hearnes pushed the legislature to re-pass the tax hike -- the last time lawmakers have raised the income tax.

Blackwell became an outspoken critic of Hearnes as well as his fellow Democrats in the legislature who had bowed to the pressure from the governor to raise taxes.

Gov. Jay Nixon announced a $12 million grant for community colleges to train students in high-tech fields.

Speaking at Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield, Nixon said that "to turn this economy around, more Missourians need access to training programs in high-tech, high-demand fields," according to a news release from his office.

The grants, which are part of a program Nixon's office is calling Training for Tomorrow, will be awarded on a competitive basis. Community colleges applying for the money will be required to:

Nixon was also planning on discussing the grants at a stop later in the day at Moberly Area Community College in Moberly.

Rep. Tim Flook, R-Liberty, and Rep. Jason Kander, D-Jackson County, announced they have filed a bipartisan bill that would strengthen existing ethics laws.

According to a news release, the bill would:

In a news conference, Flook said that the bill had the support of both House Speaker Ron Richard, R-Joplin, and Minority Leader Paul LeVota, D-Jackson County. Flook added later that Majority Leader Steven Tilley, R-Perryville, may wish to make a few changes to the bill and that it may be combined with other proposed ethics bills.