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NewsBook:  Missouri Government News for the Week of May 9, 2011

Some of the biggest issues for the legislature's final day died from inaction on Friday.

The closest to passage was a measure to let Ameren Missouri charge rate payers for the costs of seeking a federal permit for a new nuclear plant.

But senators objected that the agreement was presented to them with less than an hour to review the bill.

Private negotiations went on throughout the day without success to try to reach an agreement on a package bill that would cut back on tax credits, but also award tax breaks to businesses for development of an air cargo transport hub in St. Louis.

Failure on that measure killed a measure to grant St. Louis City control over its police department. Senate leaders had refused to allow a vote on that bill pushed by the House speaker if the House would not agree to cuts in tax credits that cost the state more than $500 million per year.

Gov. Jay Nixon, who had pushed for the tax credit cuts as well as the nuclear power plant told reporters he would not grade his performance in failing to secure legislative approval.

The top leader of Missouri's Senate expressed "little hope" and the House speaker gave no better than a 60 percent chance that the legislature could pass a package of its top priority bills before the 6 p.m. Friday adjournment.

The central issue before the legislature's final day is a Senate-passed plan to curb tax credits to businesses, developers and social programs that cost the state about $500 million per year.

For the past few years, the House has resisted efforts to impose restrictions on tax credits.

The tax credit bill includes a plan for awarding other tax breaks to businesses for development of an air cargo transport hub in St. Louis.

In addition, the Senate leadership has vowed that without agreement on tax credit reductions, it would not allow a vote on a measure that would grant St. Louis City control over its police department for the first time since the Civil War.

The "local control" measure has strong support from the House speaker.

Late Thursday night after the Senate adjourned, Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer said he held out "little hope" the legislature would pass the tax credit restrictions and break the deadlock.

Earlier in the day, House Speaker Steve Tilley expressed a bit more optimism and gave the chances of approval at five or six on a ten-point scale.

Student athletes would have to be removed from competition for at least 24 hours after suffering a suspected head injury or concussion.

In addition, the student could not return to competition until cleared by a licensed health-care provider training in concussions (a doctor or other licensed provider such as a physician's assistant).

The bill also would require that schools distribute information about concussions to student athletes each year.

The measure was handled in the Senate by the chamber's president pro tem, Sen. Rob Mayer. The Dexter Republican brought a special perspective to the issue.

Before becoming a lawyer, Mayer had worked in radio where he did sports game coverage.

He still occasionally does radio play-by-play coverage of local high school teams.

"I've seen a lot of kids take some pretty hard hits. Of course, that's part of playing football. But some of the other sports also I've seen seen pretty tough falls and head injuries."

Police arrested a 31-year-old man who they say brought a gun on the Missouri University of Science and Technology campus and then fired on police near the Fort Leonard Wood military installation.

Police say the man, Cody Wilcoxson, entered a classroom building on the Missouri S&T campus in Rolla. No shots were fired on campus, and there were no injuries to students, faculty or staff, according to a university news release. The entire university went on lockdown around 8:40 a.m.

About two hours later, the man tried to enter Fort Leonard Wood in nearby Pulaski County. When he couldn't get in, he drove his car through a gate and fired on police with an AK-47. No one was injured in the chase, although police say Wilcoxson was wounded when authorities apprehended him.

Missouri's House approved a late-term abortion ban along party lines Thursday, sending the bill to Gov. Jay Nixon after passionate debate.

The measure bans abortions occuring after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The House passed the ban 121-33, after the Senate approved the bill.

Representatives noted the schoolchildren in the House's upper galleries, saying they'd keep their pleas professional. Democrats said the government had no right to get inside a woman's body, while Republicans said abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy amounted to "barbaric" murder.

The Senate approved the plan which allows the staff of legislators to conceal and carry a gun within the Capitol building.

Sen. Joseph Keaveny, D-St. Louis, voted against the bill and said he would advise his staff against taking part in the program.

"People act irrationally sometimes and that's a mistake that you'll pay for for a long long time," Keavany said.

Sen. Brian Munzlinger, R-Williamstown, said he would support his staff carrying guns as long as they take the required safety class.

"The whole idea of this is to give the law-abiding citizens the right to protect themselves against criminals," Munzlinger said.

The approved plan also lowers Missouri's minimum age for a conceal and carry permit from 23 to 21 years old.

Sen. Maria Chappell-Nadal, D-St. Louis County, spoke out against lowering the minimum age and its dangers in her urban district.

"I'd like it to stay at 23 because this is a weapon," Chappell-Nadal said.

Chappell-Nadal also said she wishes Missouri had balanced legislation to deal with the concerns of the urban and rural areas.

Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, said the bill would help restore the rights of Missourians to protect themselves.

"Where I live, you know, it's like if you don't have a gun, it's like not having a car."

As part of the training to get a conceal and carry permit, applicants have to show proficiency with two different guns.

Nieves also volunteered to take Chappell-Nadal to the shooting range to make her more comfortable with guns.

The bill now goes to the House.

Missouri's legislature has sent the governor a measure that imposes stronger enforcement provisions against trafficking for the purpose of slavery.

Approval came Tuesday [May 10] with House approval of the final version of the measure. In both the House and Senate, the measure passed without a single negative vote.

The legislation expands the definition of human trafficking and compensates victims with a minimum $100,000 award.

Lawmakers say the victims are slaves who are forced to work or provide sexual services.

The bill's sponsor -- Rep. Anne Zerr, R-St. Charles -- said she expects Gov. Nixon to sign the bill.

Gov. Jay Nixon's signature is all a ban on synthetic drugs needs to become law after the House gave the measure final approval Tuesday [May 10].

The drugs, one a marijuana-like drug called "K'3" and another known simply as "bath salts" are dangerous, said Rep. Ward Franz, R-West Plains. These substances are available for purchase because they are labeled for non-human consumption.

"The whole purpose is to get around the law," Franz said. "If you sell something for the purpose of not for human consumption and you put a label on it, it's legal to sell in the state of Missouri."

The measure got 90 percent support in the House on Tuesday, after already passing the Senate. But it faced some opposition from some. The ban will hurt businesses who also sell legal drugs, said Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Louis.

"Even if you talk to law enforcement, they are two different issues," he said. "One leads to neurosis and uncontrollable activities. The other puts you to sleep."

It's the second year in a row state lawmakers have voted to ban synthetic drugs. Last year, Missouri stopped the legal sale of K-2, another form of fake marijuana.

Missouri voters will decide whether there should be a constitutional right to pray in schools.

The Missouri Senate gave final approval Tuesday [May 10] to the measure, putting it on ballot.

Although the measure encountered opposition in the House, it cleared the Senate without a single dissenting vote.

McGhee also says he was astounded that it passed unanimously in the Senate.

In the Senate, the bill handler -- Sen. Jack Goodman, R-Mt. Vernon -- said the measure simply defined existing rights.

"Our Constitutional rights do not have a whole lot if meaning if our people feel afraid to exercise those rights without first getting a legal opinion or without the fear of the cost of defending a lawsuit after they've exercised their religious freedom," Goodman said to the Senate.

Earlier in the year, however, a lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union warned a Senate committee that the measure would lead to more rather than fewer lawsuits.

The proposed constitutional amendment will appear on the November 2012 ballot unless the governor

The fourth time was the charm for this piece of legislation.

The previous four years it had died on the Senate floor.

Drug testing for welfare recipients heads to Gov. Nixon's desk after receiving final approval from the Missouri House of Representatives.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ellen Brandom, R-Sikeston, allows Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients to be subject to a drug test if there is a "reasonable suspicion" they are using controlled substances. If the recipient tests positive, they could lose their benefits for three years.

Brandom's original bill only called for a one year loss of benefits after a positive drug test, but the Senate changed that provision along with adding a section requiring a photo ID on a recipient's Electronic Benefit Transfer card. The House chose to adopt the Senate's changes rather than send the bill conference with only a few days left in session. Brandom said her bill sends a strong message.

"The purpose of the bill is for us to take positive stands to prevent the illegal use of controlled substances," Brandom said.

Rep. Steve Cookson, R-Fairdealing, also supported the bill and said his vote was about the children.

"For those who really care about children, anything we can do to lessen the ability of their parents to use and abuse drugs," Cookson said.

The bill could cost the state $1 million and it was a Democrat who opposed the bill based on its cost.

"Most of you don't know that I am a fiscal conservative...I am wondering about this $1 million price tag," said Rep. Clem Smith, D-St. Louis County.

Other opponents argued the bill does not solve the problems of drug use in our state.

"Until we solve the underlying problem, you can take away the money all you want, but the parents are still going to find drugs," said Rep. Genise Montecillo, D-St. Louis County.

"We're going to cost the taxpayers a million dollars, and then we are not going to treat the people we kick off those rolls, so they're going to struggle even more. Aren't we hurting the children?" questioned Democratic St. Louis City Representative Jacob Hummel.

The bill passed 113-34, enough votes to override a potential veto from the governor.

Photo ID requirement for Missouri elections goes to votersPhoto ID requirement for Missouri elections goes to the voters. 05/09/2011

The Missouri General Assembly is giving voters the final decision on requiring government-issued photo identification to vote in an election.

The measure will appear on the statewide ballot after the Senate passed the proposed constitutional amendment the Monday of the last week of the legislative session by 25-9, which gave the measure the final approval it needed to make it out of the statehouse.

If passed, voters would need to bring a non-expired driver's license, non-driver's license, military identification or any other U.S. or Missouri document with a signature, photo and expiration date to vote. Republicans said the bill would help prevent voter fraud; Democrats said it would instead disenfranchise voters.

The Missouri Supreme Court struck down a similar law that required photo ID to vote in 2006. In their 6-1 decision, the majority wrote that the law "represents a substantial and heavy burden on Missourians' free exercise of their fundamental right to vote."

Like the unconstitutional 2006 law, the original bill indicates that those without IDs may vote with a provisional ballot that would be counted at a later time. However, the new bill also provides the option to obtain a non-driver's license at the expense of the state to those without IDs.

Sens. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, and Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, sponsored the bill arguing it would cut down on voter fraud. When the bill was still in hearings, Stouffer said they expected a precedent set in 2008 by the U.S. Supreme Court to help their case for constitutionality. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled a similar Indiana statute to be "... amply justified by the valid interest and protecting the integrity and reliability of the election process."

Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, who openly opposes requiring photo ID, has reported that roughly 230,000 voters do not have the kind of identification the measure would require.

The secretary of state's office refused to comment and Carnahan was not available for comment.

Along with the photo ID requirement, a measure for an early-voting period the nine days before an election will also be considered by the voters in 2012.

Last Week

A deal on local control is working its way through Missouri's legislature, contingent on approval from the St. Louis police union that's so far opposed it. Missouri's House has approved the deal, sending it back to the Senate.

The bill won't move forward until the police union gets the collective bargaining rights it wants, said Rep. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, an advocate for local control.

The Senate is scheduled to vote Monday to confirm a new police board member who supports giving the union collective bargaining rights. Appointee Tom Irwin would tip the board in favor of a collective bargaining deal.

Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-St. Louis County, who's opposed previous versions of the bill, said the police union's OK is needed to get the bill through.

Economic Development Chairwoman Anne Zerr, R-St. Charles, says the late push was necessary to bring the various tax credits to the House floor before the end of the legislative session.

One of those tax credits involves low-income housing. The substitute calls for placing a cap at $110 million.

Rep. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, says she thinks this is bad news for her constituents.

"I think they're pulling from the tax credits that impact the quality of life for low-income people," Nasheed said.

Zerr says it's necessary to bring the various tax credits to the House floor before the end of the legislative session.

"It really wouldn't be reducing it, it's putting a cap on it. So, there's some certainty that way, the state knows that this is what the limit will be," Zerr said.

The substitute is expected to go to the House floor Tuesday.

Missouri's legislature approved a $23.2 billion operating budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The bill provides about $140 million more than the governor had proposed to lawmakers in January. Some of the bigger increases in the governor's recommendations cover education and higher education.

Both would suffer cuts under the legislature's plan -- 1.8 percent for education and 6.2 percent for higher education. But those reductions are lower than the plan presented by Gov. Jay Nixon.

The budget plan continues funding for in-home care services for low-income residents with disabilities, as well as the Missouri Rx Plan, a prescription drug program for low-income seniors.

The budget plan also prevents the governor and other statewide elected officials from using agency budgets for their own travel or staffing.

That ban was initiated by the House Budget Committee chair after he got documents from the administration indicating the governor had charged other agencies almost $400 thousand and his airplane trips.

As more consumers are buying online, the Missouri legislature is looking for a way to start collecting the millions of dollars in sales tax. The bill would have Missouri join the coalition under which out-of-state businesses collect taxes for online purchases by Missourians.

Twenty-four other states are already part of this group, and St. Louis County Representative Margo McNeil wants Missouri to join them.

"This will allow the state of Missouri to collect the taxes that are owed on out-of-state Internet companies," McNeil said.

Under Missouri law, online consumers are supposed to report their online sales tax on their income tax returns. Federal Tax Authority, a company that offers services to help businesses collect taxes, says this rarely happens.

Federal Tax Authority's Chief Executive Officer David Campbell said this is causing a major tax revenue loss for the entire nation.

"Approximately 23 billion dollars of sales tax goes uncollected each year. That includes both e-commerce as well as other remote retail, for instance mail-order catalogs or television sales."

Just for Missouri, Campbell said loss estimates for 2010 are about 160 million dollars per year.

If Missouri joins the Streamline Coalition, more than fourteen-hundred companies from around the country would immediately start collecting tax revenue from Missourians purchasing their products online.

The sponsor of the bill to start collecting the tax is St. Charles County Representative Doug Funderburk. He said this will be an important revenue source for local governments.

"And without that revenue, local services are going to diminish. We're going to see our infrastructure supports lose their funding, local law enforcement lose its funding, local fire services."

Along with supporting local governments, the tax supports Missouri retailers, McNeil said. McNeil said this bill is essential for small businesses who don’t have online sales.

"This levels the playing field for our Missouri businesses."

While many small businesses are rallying behind the bill, some big online retailers are fighting against it. National Tax Union’s Executive Vice President Pete Sepp said some big retailers are having problems with the bill because it is anything but simple.

"There are many complexity issues and there are many competitiveness issues."

Retailers like Amazon, Ebay, and Overstock are against the bill. President Jonathan Johnson says it would be a lot of work to manage so many different state tax collections.

Besides the difficulty for large companies, National Tax Union’s Sepp says that it would be costly to small businesses.National Retailer's Federation spokeswoman of Government and Industry Relations Maureen Rhiel said there is a plan to deal with this.

"A lot of the critics that say it would be costly actually don't understand what the plan is, and the plan is that there be a cost reimbursement, or that you can outsource it."

While there is a plan for small businesses, many medium-size businesses are concerned with the responsibility for collecting the different taxes for so many states. National Direct Marketing Association's Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Jerry Cerasale said that duty creates a new burden.

"The liability portion on the marketer is huge. These marketers don't have a huge profit margin and this can be a problem."

With states starting to regulate collection within, opponents say it takes away competition between states to keep taxes low. The National Tax Union's Sepp said that it could lead to higher rates.

"That could spell difficulty not only for the small businesses collecting the taxes, but the individuals making the purchases."

He also said the estimated tax losses are probably not as large as quoted. National Retailer Federation's Rheil said the new revenue will not only help the businesses, but states.

"It's a good thing for businesses in that state and its certainly a necessity for balancing the budget, which every state has a constitutional requirement to do."

With two weeks left in the legislative session, the bill is dead for this year. Bill sponsor Funderburk said the bill will be a two to three year process.

The Missouri Transportation Department proposed a plan to cut one of every five positions and close more than 100 facilities throughout Missouri. The plan also would sell 740 pieces of equipment.

MoDOT Commission Chairwoman Grace Nichols says the plan is necessary for the department's survival but will leave some without work.

"We will be pumping money into the economy but we will also be causing economic hardships for those people who will no longer be with us."

At Missouri's capitol, Rep. Charlie Denison R-Greene also says the cuts are necessary to improve the state's roads and bridges.

Denison is the Chair of the House Transportation Committee.

"Putting things in a picture of trying to improve the financial situation of the state it was a must and they saw that and they made the right move."

MoDOT says these cuts and closings will save more than half a billion over five years.

Becky Baltz is MoDOT's District Engineer in Joplin. Her office is one that would be closed if the plan went through.

"You know, it's not what we want to do but it's what we have to do with the funding crisis."

Baltz's says MoDOT doesn't need as many workers since its construction budget is being cut in half from $1.2 billion to $600 million.

The Missouri Transportation and Highway commission will vote on the plan June 8.

In a 99-52 vote, Missouri’s controversial voter ID bill was passed with amendments by the Missouri House of Representatives on Wednesday.

The bill will make it a requirement for voters to present a non-expired, government-issued photo ID upon entrance to their polling place.

Rep. John Diehl, R-St. Louis County, is handling the bill in the House. He said the bill will cut down on voter fraud.

“It's to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat,” said Diehl. “It makes sure the person who presents themselves at the polling place is the person that they say that they are.”

Opponents to the bill argue that the requirement of a photo ID targets constituents without means or ability to obtain an ID, such as immigrants and elderly persons.

Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis County, opposes the bill and said it does nothing to curtail voter-registration fraud.

“The only thing this bill does, representative, is to make sure that we have current registered voters who are no longer able to vote,” said Newman. “I find it disgusting. This is not democracy; this is voter MoDOT proposes plan to cuts jobs, shuts down offices to save moneyintimidation, voter suppression.”

The bill will now return to the Senate for approval before it heads to the governor.

Missouri's legislature overrode the governor's veto of their congressional redistricting map -- putting into law a plan that effectively eliminates the district of St. Louis City Democrat Russ Carnahan.

Wednesday morning, the House overrode the veto by 109 -- precisely the number needed for a two-thirds majority.

A few hours later in the Senate, the governor's veto was overridden by a much larger margin of 28-26 -- well above the 23 votes needed.

There was no debate on the issue in the Senate and only a brief debate in the House.

It is only the seventh time in the past century the legislature had overridden a governor's veto.

Democrat Jay Nixon had vetoed the plan during the weekend with only a one-sentence explanation.

The plan eliminates one of Missouri's nine congressional districts as a result of the 2010 census. The new map will take effect with the 2012 elections.

Democrats had fought to retain three Democratically competitive districts. But Republicans had argued the population loss in St. Louis City was so large that it was impossible to draw a map that preserved two districts for the city.

MoDOT will eliminate 1,200 positions through attrition and transfers, but layoffs are a last step, the department said in a news release. It will shutter offices in Macon, Joplin and Willow Springs, and will cut its equipment inventory by 740 pieces. The cuts are expected to save $512 million over five years that will go to maintaining the state's roads and bridges. The plan requires the approval of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission.

The moves come as MoDOT leaders say the department's construction budget will shrink to $600 million from $1.2 billion over five years. The cuts are necessary in the face of a "transportation funding crisis," Director Kevin Keith said.

""We don't like having to do this, and we aren't proposing these changes lightly, because we know they will be personal and painful for many people, but heading in this direction is the right thing to do. It's what we have to do to survive," Keith said. "Without these actions, Missouri would lose millions of dollars in federal funds for transportation."

Last year, MoDOT announced a less severe cost-reduction plan, that included eliminating 400 positions and focusing its efforts on simply maintaining the state's current infrastructure. State bond money is running out, gas tax revenue is faltering as Missourians drive more fuel-efficient cars, and federal funding is at risk. Upon reassessing the budget, last year's cuts weren't enough, Keith said.

The cost-savings plan is a natural response to the funding crisis, said Bill McKenna, a spokesman for the Missouri Transportation Alliance, an organization that advocates for increased funding for infrastructure projects.

"Our state's transportation infrastructure will quickly fall short of Missourians' expectations," McKenna said. "The cuts highlight the urgent need to resolve Missouri's transportation funding shortfall."

Pete Rahn, MoDOT's former director, advocated for toll roads and a state sales tax dedicated to transportation before he left his job last April. Rahn, who took a job with Kansas City-based engineering firm HNTB, oversaw a large increasing in spending on roads and bridges — including MoDOT's ongoing "Safe and Sound" program to repair 800 bridges across the state.

Keith replaced Rahn, first as interim director before taking the position permenantly last fall. At that time, he did not name a specific funding source he wanted to see tapped to increase MoDOT's budget.

Without a vote to spare, the Missouri House voted to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of a bill that creates new congressional districts, eliminating a St. Louis U.S. Representative's seat.

Led by House Republicans, representatives approved the override with a 109-44. Republicans needed to pick up four Democratic votes in order to obtain the two-thirds majority required to override the governor's veto — and they got exactly four Democrats and every single Republican.

The General Assembly is required to lower the state's congressional districts from nine to eight after 2010 census results revealed the state's population did not grow as fast when compared to other states.

An all-night filibuster ended at 6 a.m. Wednesday morning after the Senate agreed to cut an energy-efficiency project out an appropriations bill for federal stimulus funds.

The bill would re-appropriate federal stimulus money for the next budget year that had been appropriated for this year, but had not yet been spent.

Four fiscal conservatives had filibustered the bill since Tuesday afternoon arguing the state should refuse the federal money because the federal government was broke.

Earlier, Senate leaders had promised to try to find $250 million in the bill that would be cut in return for agreement to allow passage of a bill adding extra weeks to unemployment compensation that was funded by federal funds.

Those cuts, however, were not included in the budget bill that came before the Senate on Tuesday. The filibuster began when the Senate rejected the first amendment offered to strip funds from the bill.

The amendment that ended the filibuster would cut more than $14 million in spending of federal stimulus funds. Most of the cut would be in grants to lower income residents for home weatherization. A smaller cut would be made in funding for a couple of state studies on health care.

The stimulus appropriations bill now goes back to the House. The constitutional deadline for the legislature to finish the budget is Friday.

The the federal stimulus bill includes funding for a variety of projects including Internet broadband expansion in rural areas, transportation projects, economic development projects, school district grants and law enforcement.

Four Republican senators filibustered a bill to distribute federal stimulus money late into Tuesday night.

The four senators are Sen. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis, Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee's Summit, and Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington.

These are the same four senators who earlier in the session filibustered the bill to extend unemployment benefits.

They ended that filibuster when Republican leaders agreed to look at cutting $250 million in stimulus funding.

About $41 million in federal funding has not yet been contracted and the four senators would want to see that money cut.

They said they are concerned that spending this stimulus money will contribute to the federal deficit.

The man who assured the St. Louis Rams a Super Bowl championship in 2000 came before the Missouri Senate Health Committee to urge passage of a bill that would impose standards on schools to handle concussions by student athletes.

The legislation would require the Health Department to provide educational guidelines for coaches, students and parents with information about risks of brain concussions. Also under the bill, athletes suspected of having sustained concussion or brain injury would have to be removed from the competition and could not return until evaluated by a licensed health-care provider.

Testifying in favor of the bill, former St. Louis Rams linebacker Mike Jones said he believed young people tend to underestimate the significance of their injuries and many times simply need to be told to leave the game for their own good. "If you have brain injury, you have to let that calm down: a swollen ankle is something totally different than a swollen brain," Jones remarked.

In the last play of the 2000 Super Bowel, Jones tackled a Titans receiver just short of what would have been a game-winning touchdown.

Struggling sawmills could find relief under a bill passed by the Missouri House, which would reclassify more than 400 sawmills as agricultural properties rather than commercial ones.

Rep. David Day, R-Dixon, sponsored the bill and said high taxes are killing the industry and hurting state revenue.

"Twelve percent of a business with its doors open is heck of a lot more than 32 percent of a business that's closed," Day said.

The tax cuts will save sawmills about four million dollars each year, he said.

Steve Jarvis, the executive director of the Missouri Forest Products Association, said the tax cuts would help both state and local economies.

"You're either working at the sawmill or your business is supported by people who work at the sawmill," Jarvis said. "They realized losing out a little revenue was better than having the mill close up and move to China."

Not everyone agrees that reducing property taxes is best for Missourians. Rep. Joe Aull, R-Marshall, said the bill will reduce revenue for public schools.

"In tough financial times like we're going through now, I just don't think we can be lowering revenue and giving away potential state money," Aull said.

Similar legislation passed in 2009, but Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed it. Nixon has a decision again this year whether to approve it. A spokesman for the governor did not return a message seeking comment.

Buchanan County Senator Rob Schaaf said that some counties do not have good locations for new jails within the county seat, and this will allow them to look elsewhere.

Schaaf said Clinton and Caldwell counties are two examples of counties that this bill can help.

Clay County Senator Luann Ridgeway said this bill will allow jails to be built in small towns or unincorporated areas, "It can dramatically influence land values and it can dramatically influence the safety of the surrounding homes."

Ridgeway said it is also easier for transportation to the courthouse if the jail is nearby.

The bill went back to the house. If Governor Nixon signs the bill, it will go into effect immediately.

State Auditor Tom Schweich issued subpoenas to the Missouri Division of Finance to force it to turn over its records that were not provided during his audit.

Schweich said that his office will immediately begin a new audit of the division, which is required to hand over the missing records by May 17.

"They're not immune from oversight; no one is immune from oversight," Schweich said. "All they've been doing is trying to obstruct our investigation."

The Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration were all given an "incomplete" status due to the missing records from Division of Finance.

The finance division's said turning over the records would violate the law. The Division of Finance communications director released a statement that said the Division of Finance is "bound under oath to keep secret all facts and information obtained in the course of all examinations."

Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration's Communications Director Travis Ford refused to speak in a recorded interview and did not ask the division's director for a comment or interview.

Missouri's auditor said he is aware of the law that prohibits the release of banking records, but that there is an exception.

"What they're worried about is that we already found stuff in, what we looked at, and they're worried about is finding more stuff," Schweich said. "That's what's going on here and nothing else."

The main responsibilities of the Division of Finance are to regulate state-chartered banks, trust companies, consumer credit facilities, mortgage brokers and loan institutions.

The records that have been turned over during the audit were from banks the division has closed; however, records about banks still in operation were withheld, Schweich said. Auditors have analyzed the documents that have been received from the finance division that show an overcharge of an estimated $1.5 million from the division. Along with the overcharge, the division was late when examining the institutions nearly 47 percent of the time.

This is not the first time the division has refused to turn over banking records. The auditor's office encountered a similar problem in 1990 during the last audit of the Division of Finance.

The auditor's main concern is not for the banks themselves but to see if the division is following proper procedures, Schweich said.

Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich is remaining tight-lipped about the 9 subpoenas and 2 letters his office delivered to Patrick Henry Downtown Academy in St. Louis.

Schweich says he won't comment on the investigation until they reach a conclusion.

"We are not saying that these are meritorious or unmeritorious allegations. What we are saying is the level of credibility of the allegations was such that we felt we needed to activate the rapid response team," Schweich said.

According to the school district's statement, officials will cooperate with the auditor's office.

Schweich says the investigation could lead to a clean bill of health, an audit, or a referral to prosecutors.

Noodling, grabbling, hogging - whatever you call it, in Missouri the sport of hand-fishing is illegal.

In much of the state, noodling is a family tradition, regardless of its legal-status. Generation after generation of hand-fishermen have waded into the muddiest water they can find, blindly casting their arms into holes, in the hope of snagging a catfish.

The fact that it's been illegal since 1919 seems to do little to phase the sport's dedicated fans.

Case in point: Gary Webb.

Gary Webb has been noodling his entire life. And now, after decades of escaping arrest in Missouri's backwoods, he and the other members of Noodlers Anonymous, a hand-fishing activist group, have taken their struggle over the sport's legalization to Jefferson City and straight to the steps of the Capitol building.

The bill now returns to the senate for their approval.

St. Louis County Representative Tommie Pierson opposes the voter-id bill.

"We have no money, so why are we trying to pass legislation for something that people already have in the first place," said Pierson.

Also, St. Louis County Representative Stacey Newman spoke against the bill and condemned all the females in the room.

"Every single women in this room should be ashamed if they are thinking of voting for this bill. Every single women should remember how hard it was for our gender to have the right to vote.", said Newman.

Far fewer Missourians have collected the extended unemployment benefits than Gov. Jay Nixon and his administration had identified when promoting the legislation.

Nixon had said that roughly 10,000 people were waiting to receive the benefits that had been stalled by the legislature.

More than a week later, however, the Labor Department said only about 4,000 payments had been issued in those first days after the governor's signature. As of April 23, the department reports only about 8,500 payments have been made under the new extension.

The department was unable to identify how many of the 10,000 persons cited in earlier arguments are actually still unemployed and have received the extended benefits.

Former head of Al Qaeda Osama bin Laden was killed Sunday night in a raid by American military.

Bin Laden was the leader of the attacks on September 11, 2001 in New York and Washington D.C.

He has been on the run in the Middle East since those attacks.

Missouri legislators spoke about their feelings on his death and what it means for both the military and for the war on terror.

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