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Thursday, July 12, 2007


House Speaker Pro Tem Carl Bearden, the No. 2 ranking House member, resigned July 12 to take an unspecified lobbying job. The Associated Press reported that Bearden, R-St. Charles, would announce details about his new job on July 13.

Bearden’s departure leaves a further void in top House leadership. House Majority Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles and the No. 3 ranking House member, is running in a Sept. 4 special election for the Senate in a heavily Republican district. On the Democratic side, House Minority Leader Jeff Harris, D-Columbia, will step down from his leadership post in September to pursue a 2008 bid for Missouri attorney general. Harris will retain his House seat through 2008.

Bearden was first elected to the House in 2000. Term limits prevent him from seeking re-election next year. Gov. Matt Blunt will have to call a special election to fill Bearden’s seat.


State budget officials on July 9 said Missouri will have an estimated $320 million in available but unappropriated revenue for the 2008 fiscal year, which began on July 1. When the General Assembly granted final approval to the FY 2008 budget in May, it was expected that about $200 million was being left unspent.


Two of Missouri’s three abortion clinics face closure or expensive upgrades under new regulations on abortion providers Gov. Matt Blunt signed into law on July 6. The law also prohibits people affiliated with abortion providers from providing sex education materials to public schools.

HB 1055 requires abortion providers to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers. Officials from Planned Parenthood told The Associated Press the new standards will force it to spend $2 million to upgrade its Columbia facility. Its Kansas City office, which only provides abortions induced by medication, will likely have to cease offering the service. Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis facility already meets the new standards.


In a surprise move, Gov. Matt Blunt on July 6 vetoed an omnibus economic development bill that would have cost the state at least $200 million a year and perhaps substantially more. The governor’s action could prompt a special legislative session in September to pass a scaled-back version on the bill.

The governor originally proposed HB 327 to expand the amount of tax credits available under the Quality Jobs program the General Assembly enacted in 2005. The legislature, in particular the Senate, loaded up the bill with all manner of additional tax breaks for various special interests, including $100 million over several years for a single St. Louis-area developer.

In addition to the cost, Blunt cited numerous flaws in the bill among his reasons for vetoing it and said many of the proposed tax breaks would have done little to improve the state’s economy. Blunt said he’s willing to call a special session on the issue if legislative leaders agree on a package that costs $50 million to $70 million. House Speaker Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, seemed cool to the idea in telling The Associated Press: “I would vote to override that veto.” An override, however, appears unlikely. “I am not interested in overriding the governor,” Senate President Tem Michael Gibbons, R-Kirkwood, said.

Sunday, July 8, 2007


Gov. Matt Blunt on July 5 signed a bill into law that expands the exemption on Social Security benefits from state income taxes. The bill will gradually be phased in costing the state an estimated $27 million in lost revenue in the first year and $154 million a year once fully effective in 2012.

Under the previous law, individuals with incomes under $25,000 a year and married couples earning less than $32,000 a year – the bulk of Missouri senior citizens – didn’t pay state taxes on Social Security benefits. HB 444 raises the exemption threshold to $85,000 for an individual and $100,000 for couples.

Another part of the bill increases taxes on those who own property in another state by repealing a provision of Missouri’s tax code that allowed people to deduct property taxes paid to another state from their Missouri taxable income. Eliminating the deduction is estimated to bring in $11 million a year for the state.


Gov. Matt Blunt on July 2 signed legislation closing a loophole in Missouri law that allowed some people arrested for drunken driving to have evidence of their intoxication ruled inadmissible in court. The provision of HB 574 was prompted by the 2004 DWI arrest of state Rep. Charles Portwood, R-Ballwin, following an accident in which his vehicle ran through a fence and hit a pool house.

A 1982 law required medical personnel collecting a blood sample from a DWI suspect to use a non-alcoholic swab to sterilize the area from where the blood is drawn. That didn’t happen in Portwood’s case, forcing the St. Louis County prosecutor to dismiss the charges against him in 2006.

Following the publicity raised by the dismissal, several medical experts said use of an alcohol swab doesn’t taint the results of blood samples used to determine a suspect’s blood alcohol content because medicinal alcohol is chemically different from alcohol that is consumed. “This legislation ensures those guilty of driving while intoxicated will not be able to escape conviction merely because our guidelines on testing alcohol levels were too explicit,” Blunt said in a statement.


Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce on July 3 issued a temporary restraining order preventing a new state law that legalizes the practice of lay midwifery from taking effect. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Aug. 2.

State Sen. John Loudon, R-Ballwin, secretly slipped the obscurely worded midwifery provision into a larger bill he was handling related to health insurance. The provision wasn’t discovered until after the General Assembly granted final passage of the bill, HB 818. Gov. Matt Blunt later singed the bill into law.

The Missouri State Medical Association and other physicians’ groups filed a lawsuit on June 29 claiming the midwifery provision is unrelated to the subject matter of the underlying bill in violation of the Missouri Constitution.


Gov. Matt Blunt on June 30 signed into law legislation making it illegal to disclose the identity of those who carry out the state’s executions. HB 820 came in response to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch story published last year that revealed the name of the doctor who oversaw executions for the Missouri Department of Corrections.

The newspaper reported that Dr. Alan Doerhoff of Jefferson City, who participated in numerous executions for the state, had been sued more than 20 times for malpractice. In testifying anonymously before a federal court that was considering the constitutionality of Missouri’s execution procedures, Doerhoff said he was dyslexic and sometimes didn’t give condemned prisoners the proper amount of anesthesia.

The new law, which takes effect Aug. 28, could be subject to a legal challenge as an unconstitutional “prior restraint” on the publication of truthful information. The Missouri Press Association told The Associated Press that it had made no decision on whether to file a lawsuit.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Easy Connection Act

From the RENEW MO website at http://www.renewmo.org/easyconnectionact.html

"The Easy Connection Act establishes uniform procedures to allow Missourians to connect a small renewable energy system to the electric grid in a quick, safe, and reliable manner. The Easy Connection Act makes it easier and more cost effective for a Missourian to install a renewable energy system onto a home or business. This victory is a critical first step to bring Missouri's renewable energy policy up to the national standard.

ECA enables Missourians to utilize renewable energy sources more effectively in two ways:

1) Simple Interconnection Simple interconnection procedures that standardize interconnection for all Missourians are necessary to promote the use of renewable energy in Missouri. ECA makes it easier and more cost-effective for Missourians to connect small renewable energy systems to the grid.

2) True Net Metering (One-for-One Electricity Measurement) The ECA establishes "true net metering", which credits an owner of a renewable energy system at a one-to-one rate for electricity "sold" back to the grid. True net metering is used in 41 states and Washington D.C.

The Easy Connection Act signed into law on June 25, 2007:Representative Jason Holsman (D-Kansas City) and Senator Joan Bray (D-St. Louis) sponsored the bill in the Missouri House and Senate respectively. The Easy Connection Act passed as an amendment to the "Green Power Initiative Bill" in the House on May 8, by a vote of 146-6, and passed the Senate on May 14 by a vote of 34-0. Governor Blunt signed the bill into law on June 25, 2007.

Before ECA:The original procedures for connecting small renewable energy systems to the electric grid in Missouri were time consuming, unclear, and costly. As a result, many Missourians chose not to interconnect or connect illegally to avoid the hassle. Additionally, older Missouri law contained a cumbersome and inequitable "dual metering" policy. Under previous rules, if a renewable electricity system produced more energy than was used by the household or business, the excess energy was sent back to the grid and was "bought" back at just 20% of the retail rate."

You can also contact RENEW MO for more information on qualified installers and cost estimates of renewable energy systems.

Some Great Ice Cream

Yesterday Patricia and I were heading to a family get together and we stopped by the Local Harvest Market to pick up some healthy snacks to serve at the event. While we were there we picked up a carton of home made ice cream they sell. As a politician in St. Louis I'm a bit nervous to say the following but I'm going to step out on a limb and say that the gooey butter cake ice cream they sell gives Ted Drewes a run for the money. Stop by the next time you crave some healthy snacks or your sweet tooth is calling.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Answer This Week's Survey Question

What's your opinion on the Paul McKee/Blairmont development in North St. Louis City? Follow the link to cast your vote.


Sunday, July 1, 2007

Posted on behalf of the Marti Frumhoff Memorial Organization

Dear Friends of Marti Frumhoff: We are officially launching Marti's Tower Grove South Memorial Park site.We need your support in making this happen and providing for long term maintenance of the Memorial in TGS. 10th ward Alderman Joe Vollmer is actively working with us to actualize our vision of the space. We have the support of the TG Business Association. Professional horticulturist and TGS resident Peggy Hoelting has volunteered her time and talent to designing the Memorial Garden. We need donations to make this happen, please consider helping us honor Marti. http://www.martifrumhoffmemorial.org/
Please post this information to your blog and list servs.
Christian Herman
Christopher Thiemet
Project coordinators