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Friday, March 30, 2007

Four Disgruntled Constituents

Thursday I had the pleasure of welcoming 4 disgruntled constituents to Jefferson City. They were Joe and Elaine Daus (my mom and dad) Patricia Chavez (my wife) and Mate Daus (our son). Their complaints ranged from me not "cleaning my room during my formative years" to "upset that I refused to play the 'Frosty the Snowman' video After Feb. 15th." Fortunately we were able to set aside our differences and it was great to have my family there even though it was only for a couple of hours. I also announced to the House that the Daus/Chavez family is expecting baby #2 in August.

Upcoming Legislation

Upcoming Legislation (announced Thursday, March 29, 2007)


HJR 19 – Proposes a constitutional amendment guaranteeing a citizen's First Amendment right to pray on public property and reaffirming a citizen's right to choose any or no religion. http://www.house.mo.gov/bills071/bills/hjr19.htm

HCS HB 889 – Prohibits illegal aliens from receiving public assistance. http://www.house.mo.gov/bills071/bills/hb889.htm

HCS HB 820 – Requires the Director of the Department of Corrections to select an execution team and creates the crime of knowingly disclosing the identity of an execution team member. http://www.house.mo.gov/bills071/bills/hb820.htm

HB 213 – Establishes the Emily Brooker Intellectual Diversity Act, which defines intellectual diversity for reporting purposes at public higher education institutions. http://www.house.mo.gov/bills071/bills/hb213.htm

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Debate on legislation to repeal Missouri’s unique casino loss limit ended at 4 a.m. on March 28 with both supporters and opponents of legalized gambling unhappy with the bill.

Missouri limits casino gamblers to losing $500 every two hours. It is the only casino loss limit in the nation. SB 430 sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, calls for eliminating the limit in exchange for increasing taxes on casino operators and restricting the number of casinos that can operate in Missouri.

Anti-gambling lawmakers oppose lifting the loss limit while casino supporters oppose limiting the number of casinos in the state to 13. Shields said he won’t revive the bill again this year unless an acceptable compromise can be negotiated. Here's the bill: http://www.senate.mo.gov/07info/BTS_Web/Bill.aspx?SessionType=R&BillID=10736


Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan on March 28 ruled unconstitutional a year-old law establishing a moratorium on fundraising by political candidates during the legislative session. The ruling makes permanent a temporary order Callahan issued in January preventing the fundraising blackout period from being enforced.

Another provision of the law that repealed Missouri’s voter-approved limits on individual donations to candidates wasn’t affected by Callahan’s decision. As a result, candidates may accept unlimited amounts year-round.


The House Health Care Policy Committee on March 27 passed a proposed constitutional amendment to ban stem cell research in Missouri. HJR 11 sponsored by state Rep. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis, seeks to ask voters to undo a constitutional amendment they narrowly approved last year protecting stem cell research.

For weeks, the committee had been deadlocked at 5-5 on the measure. The absence of an opponent at the March 27 committee hearing, however, prompted Chairman Wayne Cooper, R-Camdenton, to unexpectedly bring up the measure. After just a few minutes, Cooper unilaterally shut off discussion and called for a vote. The panel approved the measure 5-0 after four committee members – two Democrats and two Republicans -- walked out in protest.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

More FAQ on the SLPS

I received more FAQ regarding the SLPS. This is from the SLPS and there was no link so I will post it in its entirety.

What Happens If The St. Louis Public Schools Becomes Unaccredited?

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the St. Louis Public School District currently unaccredited?

No. The unaccredited status goes into effect June 15, 2007, as a result of recent action taken by the State Board of Education. However, the St. Louis Board of Education may appeal the designation within 30 days.

What happens now?

Missouri law gives the State Board of Education the authority to intervene in the governing of St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS) by creating a “transitional school district.” The State Board did reinstitute the “transitional school district” in February. As a result of that State Board action, the District was to have a three-member advisory panel appointed by the mayor, the president of the Board of Aldermen, and our elected school board. If the District becomes unaccredited effective June 15, then the three-member board will become the governing body overseeing the school system. The member who would have been appointed by our elected school board would be replaced by someone selected by the governor.

What about the elected board?

The elected board will remain intact but will have no governing authority. School board elections will continue as required by law.

Who will serve on the governing committee?

According to state law, the Missouri governor, the mayor of St. Louis , and the president of the city’s Board of Aldermen must each select one person to sit on the governing board. Governor Matt Blunt has already appointed St. Louis businessman Rick Sullivan to lead the committee and serve as the school district’s chief executive officer (CEO). This appointment is subject to Senate confirmation. Other appointments do not need Senate confirmation.

How will the unaccredited status affect graduating seniors seeking admission into colleges?

This year’s seniors will graduate while the district is still provisionally accredited.

SLPS recently conducted a phone survey of approximately 20 primary universities and colleges to which St. Louis graduates apply. The answer provided by each of the schools surveyed was the same. All said that they would consider each applicant from SLPS just the same as from any other school district, even if the district became unaccredited this school year.

We have identified only two schools – one public university and one private college – where students may have to submit additional information, and possibly face increased rigor, if they graduated from an unaccredited high school. However, please note that six of our high schools are independently accredited (see below).

What about students who don’t graduate this year? What are their chances of getting admitted to college?

Most of the colleges surveyed said that they would continue to accept graduates from SLPS for admission in subsequent years. A few said that they would also consider the student’s school to be accredited if that school is recognized by the independent school accrediting organization known as the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI). Six high schools in SLPS are currently accredited by the NCA CASI. – Central, Cleveland , Metro, Roosevelt , Soldan and Sumner.

Will I need to get my GED?

No. Students who graduate from a St. Louis high school will not have to get a General Equivalency Diploma (GED). A diploma from the St. Louis Public Schools will still be accepted as students apply to colleges, universities and vocational schools, or as they pursue employment.

May SLPS students transfer to another school district?

Yes, if another district will accept them. According to state law, students in an unaccredited school district are eligible to transfer to an accredited district in the same or an adjoining county. Accredited districts, however, may choose to accept or not accept transfer students from an unaccredited district.

SLPS would have to pay the tuition and transportation costs for any student who elects to transfer to an accredited district. SLPS may designate a single district to which students will be transported at its expense. Students who transfer to other districts would be responsible for their own transportation, but SLPS would still be obligated to pay their tuition. If a significant number of students transfer to other districts, the cost of tuition and transportation could be financially devastating for St. Louis schools.

How long will St. Louis Public Schools be “in transition”?

The transitional district is expected to be in place for six years.

Will students and families be affected in other ways?

State law requires that students not performing at grade level must attend summer school (with the exception of special education students).

Students reading at grade level or above, or at one grade level below, may be promoted to the next grade. However, the law states that students not meeting this requirement must be retained. For example, an 8th grader who cannot read at the level of at least a 7th grader will not be able to move on to high school with his or her peers. Again, there is an exception for special education students.

Will schools be affected?

Specific to schools, the statutory language that authorizes the transitional school board also provides the following powers and duties to the new board:

“(1) Creating an academic accountability plan, taking corrective action in underperforming schools, and seeking relief from state-mandated programs;

(2) Exploration of alternative forms of governance for the district;

(3) Authority to contract with nonprofit corporations to provide for the operation of schools;

(4) Oversight of facility planning, construction, improvement, repair, maintenance and rehabilitation;

(5) Authority to establish school site councils to facilitate site-based school management and to improve the responsiveness of the schools to the needs of the local geographic attendance region of the school;

(6) Authority to submit a proposal to district voters pursuant to section 162.666 regarding establishment of neighborhood schools.”

SLPS and unaccreditation

During the coarse of the last several weeks I have had many discussions with constituents regarding the pending unaccreditation of the SLPS. Some of the conversations have focused around the issue of allowing children form an unaccredited school district to enroll in a neighboring school district. It seems that many people have been getting a number of diffrent answers to this question. In order to try and clarify the answers I encourage people to visit the following link from DESE's website.

Legislation regarding SLPS

This email went out to the members of the General Assembly today. In my personal opinion the bill is being filed to late in session to gain any traction but it gives you an insight as to what other legislators think on the issue. Because the bill has not been filed there is no link for the specific language of the bill. I will add the link when then bill is filed.
Update: the bill must be filed by 3:00 on March 30th. When the bill is filed it will be listed at the following link: http://www.house.mo.gov/bills071/bills/hb1281.htm

Representative Stream will be filing legislation tomorrow to address the issues of the St. Louis Public School system. Here is a summary of the legislation:

St. Louis Neighborhood Schools Improvement Act

Representative Rick Stream – District 94 (Kirkwood/Des Peres)

This plan will begin the reform of the St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS) that
is needed to bring a quality education to the children of the city and hope to their parents.

From the yearly DESE funding to SLPS and utilizing existing staff:

1. Earmark funds for literacy and numeracy programs, Kindergarten-Grade 3. Every student, K-3, will be placed in reading and math programs until he/she is proficient at grade level.

2. Earmark funds for Alternative Schools. These programs will be
modeled after the school that Kirkwood School District (KSD) participates in. This school will enroll students who are discipline problems and those that have trouble learning in a typical classroom.

3. Earmark funds for Principal training. Strong leaders as principals will
set a positive tone for each building. Principals hire and evaluate the teachers and interact with parents.

4. Establish a teacher Evaluation and assessment program, utilizing the
plan that the Kirkwood School District has.

5. Split the St. Louis Public School System into six (6) to eight (8) smaller and independent districts of approximately 5,000 students.

The new districts will be approximately equal in size and geographically tight (no gerrymandering). Each district will have one high school, two middle schools and four to five elementary schools.

Each district will elect its own School Board, which will in turn hire the Superintendent. The Superintendent will hire the administrative staff, including building principals. Principals will hire the teachers.

Funding for the new districts will be equally distributed from the existing tax base and will be based on the current Foundation formula.

If you would like to sign on this legislation please let us know

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Upcoming Legislation

HCS HB 111 – Establishes a scholarship program for the survivors of veterans killed or injured in action after September 11, 2001. http://www.house.mo.gov/bills071/bills/hb111.htm

HCS HB 182 – Establishes the Outside the Hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate Act to permit the execution of do-not-resuscitate orders for use by emergency medical providers for patients receiving treatment outside a hospital. http://www.house.mo.gov/bills071/bills/hb182.htm

HCS HB 180, 396 & 615 – Allows police or sheriffs' departments to sell or trade certain confiscated firearms to a licensed firearms dealer and exempts federal flight deck officers from the crime of unlawful use of weapons. http://www.house.mo.gov/jointsearch/default.aspx?Q=hb111&Search=Go&Action=Search

And all Appropriation bills HB1-HB13

Candidate Forum for SLPS Board

Right here in the 67th District. Saturday, March 31, 7:00-9:00 p.m., at Kennard Classical Junior Academy, 5031 Potomac, 63139. Co-sponsored by the Kennard CJA PTO. Moderated by the League of Women Voters. All School Board candidates on the April 3 ballot have been invited.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


On March 22, the State Board of Education voted 5-1 to strip the St. Louis Public Schools of its accreditation. As a result a three-member transitional school board will take over the district on June 15. The elected St. Louis Board of Education will remain in place but have no authority. A student protest temporarily delayed the board’s action. According to the AP, about three minutes into the meeting dozens of students began chanting “no takeovers.” The board then adjourned, as it warned it would do in the event of disruptions. The meeting resumed a short time later. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Blunt is expected to name Rick Sullivan, an executive with the St. Louis-area homebuilding firm McBride and Sons, to lead the transitional school board. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Aldermanic President Jim Shrewsbury will each name a member to fill out the board.


On March 19, Blunt appointed Rudolph Farber, a Neosho Republican and bank executive, to the Missouri State Highways and Transportation Commission. According to Missouri Ethics Commission reports, Farber has contributed $11,375 to Republican candidates since 2003, including $3,600 to Blunt. Others in Farber’s household contributed additional amounts to Republicans during that period. Farber replaces Marge Schramm of Kirkwood in suburban St. Louis, whose term ended March 1. His appointment leaves both of Missouri’s major urban centers without representation – at least temporarily -- on the six-member panel that oversees the Department of Transportation. The Kansas City area has been without a representative since 2005. The term of Commissioner Bill McKenna, a Crystal City Democrat, also ended on March 1, but the governor has yet to name his replacement.


On March 19, Gov. Matt Blunt cancelled state contracts with Planned Parenthood clinics in Springfield and Joplin that were providing free health screenings for poor women. In a statement explaining his action Blunt said: “Patients should not have to go to an abortion clinic to access lifesaving tests.” The two clinics in question, however, have never provided abortion services.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Tipped Workers Get Raise

Adhering to the Minimum Wage law passed in November, Blunt has acknowledged that all of Missouri’s workers deserve a raise. Since the new minimum wage went into effect at the beginning of this year, workers who receive tips have had to keep their hourly wage at $2.13. After a group of law professors publicly announced that the Governor’s Department of Labor had incorrectly interpreted the law, Blunt changed his position.

Journalist ‘Shield’ Law

The House endorsed a bill to protect journalists from revealing their sources to law enforcement agents. According to the bill a judge would have an opportunity to look at a journalist’s notes to determine if the information is in the public interest and should be protected. The judge could also determine whether an investigator has exhausted all other means of obtaining information before subpoenaing a journalist’s notes.

Annual Franchise Tax Rates

House members voted to reduce the levy on business assets, inventory and property in 2008 and 2009, then repeal the levy in 2010 if the business covers half the health care premiums for full-time workers.


The fate of MOHELA is unknown at this time. After a 16-hour filibuster in the Senate, SCS SB 389 has been laid over to the informal calendar. Bills on the informal calendar can be brought up at any time, but may remain until the end of session. The Governor proposed selling off the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority to fund construction at public university campuses 15 months ago. After pressure from pro-life groups who said the university buildings could possibly be used for stem-cell research, the Governor cut several buildings out of the proposal. The cut buildings were almost all in districts with Democratic state senators. Now, in an effort to garner votes from rural Democrats, the proposal includes building projects geared toward agriculture research. The President Pro-Tem of the Senate has expressed that attempts at a compromise have failed; meanwhile, the Governor has gone on record saying that he knows that his proposal has the votes to clear the Senate.

Real ID

Yesterday the Majority Floor Leader posted that HCR 20 would be on the calendar for debate at a future date. Never did I expect it to come up the next day, but it did. HCR 20 is a resolution the calls for the State of Missouri to reject implementaion of the Real ID act. The resolution was debated briefly and overwhelmingly passed the house the day before spring break began.
For more on the Resolution see the following link: http://www.house.mo.gov/bills071/bills/hcr20.htm

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Video Service Regulations

We just took up SB 284 on the house floor this afternoon. It's a complicated bill but here' the link to the summary.

The big issue is that it would allow AT&T to compete with Charter Cable in providing cable service in the City of St. Louis and other areas in the State.

Removal of the Helmet Law

Another surprise today in Jefferson City. Every year that I have served in Jefferson City I have been on the transportation committee. Every year we have heard this bill that removes the requirement to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle in the State of Missouri.
Right now we are debating the bill on the floor. The surprise is that the bill was sent to the Homeland Security committee where it passed 7-0. What isn't a surprise is that Rep. Dusenburg, the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, is also the sponsor of the bill.
The bill requires anyone under the age of 21 to wear a helmet but makes it optional for those over the age of 21. The debate is now turning towards dangerous behavior on the roads. Rep. Page has just offered the amendment banning cell phone use while driving.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Critical Analysis

The debate going on right now on HB469 has taken an interesting turn ever since Rep. Brian Baker has attached an amendment that deals with “Critical Analysis”. The amendment reads “School districts shall provide education free from legal, political, and administrative intimidation, harassment, or constraint. No public elementary or secondary school teacher shall be refused employment, disciplined, denied advancement, transferred, or otherwise discriminated against for using a critical analysis in teaching.”

This may be enough to kill the bill.

Thursday, March 8, 2007


On March 8, the House rejected a bill to provide tuition vouchers to allow certain students in the St. Louis and Kansas City school districts to attend private schools. The bill, HB 808, failed on a 62-96 vote. Under the bill, individuals and companies would have received a 65-percent tax credit for donating to scholarship funds. Eligibility for the scholarships was to be limited to children whose family’s income was less than 135 percent of the income threshold necessary to qualify for the free school lunch program and whose grade-point average in public school was 2.5 or lower.


On March 2, U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple ordered Missouri to reinstate coverage for durable medical equipment under the Medicaid program. Medicaid cuts championed by Republicans in 2005 eliminated coverage for some durable medical equipment but allowed it in other cases. Although states aren’t required to provide the equipment, Whipple said the state violated federal Medicaid rules by not setting a reasonable standard explaining why some equipment is covered while other equipment isn’t.


On March 2, the State Public Defender Commission backed off of a threat to stop accepting new clients in order to reduce caseloads. Missouri public defenders carry an average of 305 cases – well above the maximum 235 cases set by law. Missouri ranks 49th among the states in per capita spending on public defenders. Because of the heavy caseload, public defenders say they often are unable to provide their clients with adequate representation.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Legislation to be debated the week of March 5th

Impoundement of Animals:

COMMITTEE ACTION: Voted "do pass" by the Committee on Conservation and Natural Resources by a vote of 10 to 0. Currently, any neglected or abused animal may be impounded. This bill prohibits a farm animal weighing more than 50 pounds from being impounded until the district state veterinarian of the Department of Agriculture has examined the animal and determined the animal to be in imminent danger of loss of life or has determined that the condition or conditions deemed to be inviolation cannot reasonably be rectified before the disposition hearing. If before the disposition hearing, reasonable attempts to correct the condition have not been made and approved by the veterinarian during a required follow-up visit, the animal may beimpounded or destroyed. If an abused or neglected farm animal in the possession of a caregiver is impounded, the authority having custody of the animal is required to make a diligent effort to notify the owner in writing that the animal has been impounded.

PROPONENTS: Supporters say that caring for an animal that hasbeen seized from its owner can be very expensive, and often the animal is determined to be safe and the abuse case is notpursued. The bill changes the laws to permit the owner to continue to care for the animal while the state veterinarian examines the animal and investigates the case. Owners should have an opportunity to rectify the situation before their animals are taken from them. Testifying for the bill were Representative Viebrock; MissouriFarm Bureau; and Missouri Federation of Animal Owners.

OPPONENTS: Those who oppose the bill say that they are concerned about the exacerbation and suffering by animals that need better care. A one-day delay by the state veterinarian in checking onthe animals could mean life or death for the animals. Testifying against the bill were Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation; and Humane Society of Missouri.

OTHERS: Others testifying on the bill say that there arecurrently only four state district veterinarians and four federal veterinarians in the state who are able to examine the animals. Due to a statewide veterinarian workforce shortage, they feel that it is critically important to have an unbiased expert to evaluate the animals. Testifying on the bill was Department of Agriculture.


The sponsor of last year’s state law – later ruled unconstitutional -- to require voters to show government-issued photo identification at their polling place in order to cast a ballot is giving it another go. The latest voter ID bill by state Sen. Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City, is essentially the same as his previous attempt. As a result, it overcomes none of the constitutional problems the Missouri Supreme Court identified in throwing out the 2006 law last October in Weinschenk v. State of Missouri. Scott’s current bill is SB 596. For more information on the bill visit: http://www.senate.mo.gov/07info/BTS_Web/Bill.aspx?SessionType=R&BillID=45625


On Feb. 22, Senate Majority Floor Leader Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, filed long-awaited legislation to overhaul Medicaid. Under Republican legislation enacted in 2005, Medicaid will cease to exist in 2008 unless renewed this year. Shields’ bill calls for renaming Medicaid MO HealthNet and renaming the Division of Medical Services the MO HealthNet Division. It would offer financial incentives to doctors and hospital for providing good care and give recipients bonuses for making healthy lifestyle choices, such as quitting smoking. It would also shift Medicaid recipients into one of three managed care systems by 2013. The bill would not restore health care coverage to any of the 177,000 Missourians kicked off Medicaid since the cuts of 2005. See the following link for more information: http://www.senate.mo.gov/07info/bts_web/Bill.aspx?SessionType=R&BillID=28834


On Feb. 26, Missouri Department of Agriculture Director Fred Ferrell was forced to resign over sexual harassment claims. The allegations first surfaced in May, prompting Gov. Matt Blunt to suspend Ferrell with pay for two weeks while the Missouri State Highway Patrol investigated. Blunt ultimately reinstated Ferrell, who at the time issued a vague, semi-apology “if my words or actions have offended anyone.”

The Blunt administration kept the patrol’s report on its investigation secret for nine months before it finally became public on Feb. 23, prompting Ferrell’s resignation three days later. The report included interviews with several agriculture department employees who said Ferrell made comments demeaning to women and criticizing their presence in the workplace. Witnesses also told the patrol Ferrell often hugged and kissed female employees. Following Ferrell’s resignation, Missouri Farm Bureau President Charlie Kruse issued a statement calling Ferrell “a visionary individual who exemplifies competence, strength and integrity.”

Several women legislators asked the governor to explain why he waited until details of the matter became public before dismissing Ferrell. Speaking to the media about it for the first time on Feb. 28, Blunt explained that Ferrell’s firing became necessary only when the former department employee at the center of the allegations refused to settle. “When it became clear that the offended employee was not satisfied and we were not going to settle the matter, it was necessary to ask for and accept his resignation,” Blunt said.

The former employee, Heather Elder, sued the state for sexual harassment and gender discrimination on Feb. 23. Her suit came after the state sued her in an attempt to force acceptance of a settlement of $70,000 plus $12,500 in attorney fees. On Feb. 5, the department sent her a settlement check, which she returned.

Although the check was returned, State Treasurer Sarah Steelman stopped payment on Feb. 27. The check was issued from the department’s equipment and expense fund, rather than the state’s legal defense fund, as is usually the case when settling litigation. Steelman suggested the department’s action in issuing the check directly was improper and was done without the legally required oversight by the Office of Administration. Steelman is investigating.

Blunt said the department issued the check because Attorney General Jay Nixon’s office refused to represent Ferrell. That, however, is not true. Following standard practice, Nixon’s office declined to get involved in the pre-litigation stage. Once the Missouri Commission on Human Rights issued Elder a right-to-sue letter, Nixon’s office agreed to take the case. In a letter dated Dec. 7, 2006, to Department of Natural Resources counsel Kurt Schaefer, who had been representing Ferrell, Deputy Attorney General Karen King Mitchell said “it is now appropriate for this office to provide representation to Mr. Ferrell.” That letter came two months before the agriculture department cut the attempted settlement check.