Rep. Daus is not responsible for any of the comments posted on this blog. Let's keep the comments clean and refrain from bashing. Thanks!

Friday, January 26, 2007

2007 Construction Schedule for I-64

Work is about to begin on the reconstruction of Interstate 64. Gateway Constructors is announcing the construction schedule for 2007. Gateway Constructors is the contractor hired by MoDOT to rebuild 10 miles of I-64 and connect the freeway to Interstate 170. For more detailed information on the scheduled construction please visit the following link. I-64 Project

Thursday, January 25, 2007

State of the State

On Jan. 21, Blunt delivered his third State of the State address outlining his policy agenda and budget priorities. His $21.44 billion budget proposal for the fiscal year beginning July 1 includes additional funds for K-12 and higher education and $102.7 million in net tax cuts. Blunt proposed a total of $132.7 million in tax cuts, but that amount would be partially offset by a $30 million sales tax increase on certain businesses to reverse a recent Missouri Supreme Court decision.
The governor also proposes renaming the state’s Medicaid program Missouri HealthNet. Although Blunt pledged that with the renamed program Missouri “will guarantee that every participant has access to primary and preventative care” it would restore coverage to only a few thousand of the 177,000 Missourians who lost their Medicaid benefits since the governor cut the program in 2005.
The governor recommended that public colleges and universities receive a budget boost of about 4.5 percent – far less than the 12.5 percent recommended by the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education and endorsed by House Democrats. The governor plans to leave $200 million in expected revenue unspent.

First Steps

State Auditor Susan Montee issued a report on Jan. 23 that found the First Steps program, which serves toddlers with autism and other developmental problems, is failing to serve many children in need. Upon taking office in 2005, Blunt attempted to eliminate the program but backed off in aftermath of widespread criticism. The governor instead pushed legislation requiring many families or insurance providers to pay for a portion of the program’s cost. The audit said the program went from serving 3,004 children in FY 2004, the year before Blunt took office, to serving 2,563 children in FY 2006. The audit also found Missouri’s criteria for treating children is stricter than in all but two other states.

Minimum Wage

Several bills have been filed to fix what sponsors say is a problem with Proposition B, a ballot measure 76 percent of Missouri voters approved in November to increase the state’s minimum wage to $6.50 an hour. Proponents of the fix say Prop B inadvertently deleted from state law a provision exempting police and firefighters from overtime requirements. Many firefighters work 24-hour shifts, while law enforcement officers often have 10- to 12-hour shifts that result in work weeks that exceed 40 hours. State law previously followed federal law, which allowed police to work up to 171 hours and firefighters 212 hours in a 28 day period without qualifying for overtime. Many fire districts and municipalities say the change could cost them millions of dollars in unexpected overtime pay. Eighteen local governments have gone to court asking to be exempt from following the new law, including the minimum wage provisions.

Transportation Tax

On Jan. 18, state Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, filed SB 310, which asks voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax earmarked for rebuilding and expanding Interstates 44 and 70. The projects combined are estimated to cost $7.1 billion. The tax would be in place for 10 years. Stouffer chairs the Senate Transportation Committee.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Illegal Immirgant bill is filed

Current Bill Summary
SB 348 - This act creates the Missouri Omnibus Immigration Act.
The Division of Immigration Enforcement is created inside the office of the Secretary of State to implement new provisions in the law that deny housing and employment to illegal aliens.
It is illegal to employ unauthorized aliens and the act mandates that every employer in the state participate in the federal Basic Pilot Program in order to verify an employee's work authorization status as a condition of employment. Certificates of incorporation and other business licenses and registrations will be suspended when an employer employ's unauthorized aliens. Steps for curing violations are enumerated.
It is also illegal, under the act, to rent any dwelling to an illegal alien. Rental licenses and occupancy permits will be denied or suspended for those who knowingly or recklessly rent to illegal aliens and steps for curing violations are enumerated. A process is created whereby the landlord may, through the Division of Immigration Enforcement, verify the immigration status of any individual.
Law enforcement officers must inquire into the immigration status of any individual detained for any violation unless the inquiry would significantly extend the duration of the detention. If the individual is found to be illegal, the officer shall cooperate with any request from federal authorities regarding detention and custody transfer.
The state shall enter into cooperative agreements with the federal government to designate state law enforcement officers to help enforce federal immigration law.
Illegal aliens are barred from attending all public universities in the state and shall not receive any type of public assistance or benefit.
The act also authorizes cities, villages, and towns to enact ordinances prohibiting the employment of unauthorized aliens or unlawful workers and may deny business licenses to employers who employ unlawful workers.
This act is similar to SB 334 (2005), SB 988 (2006), SB 178 (2007), and SB 180 (2007).

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Your chance to be heard on the possible State take over of the St. Louis City Public Schools

State education officials will hold a public meeting in St. Louis next Tuesday evening, Jan. 30, to hear comments from St. Louis residents about the St. Louis Public Schools. The meeting will be from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Harris-Stowe State University, in the main auditorium of the Givens Administration Building, 3026 Laclede Ave. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is conducting the meeting to provide an opportunity for parents, employees and other concerned citizens to express their views about the status of the St. Louis Public Schools and the possibility of state intervention in the district's operations. The meeting will be conducted by Dr. Bert Schulte, deputy commissioner ofeducation; Dr. Charles Brown, assistant commissioner of the department ofeducation; and Dr. Robert Taylor, DESE's representative in the St. Louis area. Those who wish to speak at the meeting will be asked to register when they arrive and to limit their remarks to three minutes. Written comments also will be accepted.
To read the State Statute that explains what would happen with a State take over please go to the following link. http://www.moga.mo.gov/statutes/C100-199/1620001100.HTM

Pay Raises

The General Assembly appears unlikely to reject any hikes for lawmakers, judges and statewide elected officials recommended by the state Salary Commission following a Senate hearing on Jan. 17. Both chambers must approve a resolution rejecting the proposed salary increases by Feb. 1 or they automatically take effect. Senate Majority Floor Leader Charlie Shields, who chairs the panel that heard the resolution, said he doubts there is sufficient support for the measure to clear the committee. However, Shields said the committee will consider forwarding it to the full chamber for debate anyway.
Update: On Jan. 24, the House voted 118-37 to reject pay raises recommended by the state Salary Commission for judges, lawmakers and statewide elected officials. Although the House easily mustered the necessary two-thirds majority, it is anticipated the measure will fall short of the 23 votes needed in the Senate.

Fee Offices

The Missouri Department of Revenue plans to competitively bid the contract to run a second license fee office. The contract will be bid on the Harrisonville office. Using a competitive bidding process for the first time, the department last month awarded the contract for a fee office in west St. Louis County. Fee office contracts typically are given to political supporters of the governor. The state’s other 181 fee offices were awarded as political patronage.

St. Louis City Schools

The State Board of Education could vote next month to takeover the St. Louis School District. The board discussed the issue on Jan. 11 but took no action. According to The Associated Press, Education Commission Kent King said he is leaning toward recommending the appointment of a three-member governing committee to run the 33,000-student district, replacing the district’s elected school board.