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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Floor Action for the week of Feb. 25th

HB 1313 - gives preference in state purchasing contracts to certain disabled veterans doing business as Missouri companies.

HB 1311 - ensures write-in candidates for municipal office meet all required qualifications, deadlines, and tax obligations for holding elective office.

HB 1305 - allows individual school districts to exempt high school transfer students from the requirement to pass certain government courses.

Student Protection Act
Listen to the Audio

House Gives Initial Approval to Student Protection Act

Concern about adverse effect on teachers

Protection Against Unsubstantiated Claims

Committee Action for the week of Feb. 25th

Special Committee on Family Services heard HB 1831 which would change the laws regarding consent requirements for obtaining an abortion and creates the crime of coercing an abortion.

The Special Committee on Tax Reform passed HB 1773, which would authorize an income tax dependency exemption for stillborn children.

Special Committee on Government Affairs heard HB 1440, which would require certain public officials to receive training regarding open meetings, open records and public information laws.

House Committee Considers Federal Income Tax Deduction Legislation. Listen to the audio.

House Transportation Committee Considers Plan to Increase Highway Funding

From the Desk of State Rep. Mike Daus

This week the House Transportation Committee heard HJR67. HJR67 would put a small dent in our transportation funding crisis by taking 10% of all new general revenue in the future and putting it into the transportation fund. Of coarse the proponents of the resolution repeat over and over again how this proposal would increase funding for transportation without raising taxes.
The first problem with HJR67, as I see it, is that it doesn't come close to solving the transportation funding issue. The second problem is that transportation funding in this state has been traditionally funded by the gas tax and the sales tax on automobiles. When you start dipping into the general revenue fund to pay for transportation you're taking away future dollars that will no longer be able to be used for healthcare, education, and senior programs to name just a few.
To pay for the transportation needs of this state the voters of Missouri will have to approve a tax increase. Until they feel the time is right we should keep MoDOT's hand in their own cookie jar.

Three New Members Sworn Into the Missouri House of Representatives

The Missouri House of Representatives welcomed three new members. Mary Kasten, R-Cape Girardeau, Mark Parkinson, R-St. Charles, and Michele Kratky, D-St. Louis, became the newest members of the Missouri House of Representatives. Although a new member this session, Representative Mary Kasten is no stranger to the Missouri House. She served in the House from 1983 until 2001 representing the 158th district. Rep. Kasten has also served as a member of the Cape Girardeau School Board for 20 years and she founded the Community Caring Council in addition to other service. Representative Michele Kratky was elected to fill the seat previously held by her husband Fred Kratky in the 65th district. Rep. Kratky previously worked as the Legislative Director for the St. Louis Association of REALTORS. Representative Mark Parkinson is also a veteran of Missouri politics. Rep. Parkinson, elected to fill an open seat in the 16th district, volunteered for Senator John Ashcroft's reelection campaign, and then worked in the Senate offices of Christopher "Kit" Bond and John Ashcroft. With the new members, there are now 91 Republican House members and 70 Democratic members. Two seats remain vacant - districts 18 and 70. Elections for these open seats and all House seats will be held this November.


By a unanimous vote, the Senate on Feb. 27 sent to the House legislation to limit property tax increases caused by property reassessments. Under existing law local governments are supposed to roll back their tax rates following reassessments so they don't profit from rising property values. However, many taxing jurisdictions that are charging a rate below their legally authorized rate ceiling often forgo post-reassessment rollbacks.

SB 711 would make rollbacks mandatory even if a taxing jurisdiction is charging a rate below the ceiling. Supporters of the bill say the failure of local governments to roll back rates has resulted in excessive property tax bills for homeowners, especially the elderly.


With the bare minimum number of votes required, the House of Representatives on Feb. 25 voted 82-51 to establish highway memorial sign program for drunken driving victims. The bill, which now goes to the Senate, would also prohibit unofficial memorial markers.

The Missouri Department of Transportation would administer the program. Families would have to pay $1,040 for the markers, which would appear on both sides of the road where a DWI death took place for 10 years, with renewal allowed for another fee. The signs would read: "Drunk Driving Victim!" and be followed by the person's initials and the phrase "Who's Next?"

Supporters say the markers would help deter drunken driving and eliminate potentially hazardous homemade roadside memorials. Opponents say the signs would have no impact on drunken driving and give travelers a negative impression of Missouri.


The Senate on Feb. 25 voted to repeal a statutory provision enacted last year that allows owners of property in unincorporated areas to establish their land as an independent village regardless of population and with no obligation to provide services. A second vote is required to send the bill, SB 765, to the House of Representatives, where House Speaker Rod Jetton is expected to block it.

Jetton, R-Marble Hill, secretly slipped the village provision into an omnibus local government bill last year. Jetton's Law, as some critics have dubbed it, went unnoticed until the bill took effect on Aug. 28. On that day a group acting on behalf of Lebanon businessman Robert Plaster, a friend and political supporter of Jetton, filed a petition to incorporate land Plaster owns in Stone County into a village. In his attempts to develop the property, Plaster has encountered resistance from local officials and residents. Establishing his land as a village would free him from local land use restrictions. The Stone County Commission voted to reject the village petition, a decision Plaster is challenging in court. A Franklin County landowner is also attempting to take advantage of the law to incorporate into a village property on which he is the sole resident.

State Rep. Sara Lampe, D-Springfield, and several House Republicans have also filed bills to repeal the new village law, but Jetton hasn't assigned any of the measures to committee. In a Feb. 27 editorial, the Lake Sun Leader newspaper in Camdenton called on majority House Republicans to remove Jetton as speaker for deceptively enacting the village law and blocking its repeal.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

From the Desk of State Rep. Mike Daus

Today the house approved HJR 55 which "reconfirms" a citizen's First Amendment right to pray and worship in all public areas. I was the last to speak on the resolution before it was passed by the house. My remarks focused around the fact that while the legislature is in its seventh week and many Missourians are concerned on how they will pay for health care, housing expenses and education, we were spending our time "reconfirming" a right that all Americans already have. "What we are telling Missourians today is that we're not ready to help you solve the many problems you face but we are ready to reconfirm your ability to pray about it." To me this isn't good government. HJR 55, if passed by the Senate, will go before a vote of the people in the November election.


The Senate on Feb. 21 passed a bill to repeal Missouri’s campaign contribution caps and allow individual donors to give unlimited amounts to candidates. The bill passed 24-9, with most Republicans in favor of repealing the limits and most Democrats opposed. The measure must still pass the House of Representatives.

Missouri voters first imposed the contribution limits in 1994 with 73.9 percent in support. Given the overwhelming voter support for the limits, state Sen. Wes Shoemyer, D-Clarence, said voters should decide if they should be repealed. However, Shoemyer’s amendment to place the bill on the statewide ballot was defeated.

Current law limits individual donors to giving $325 to House candidates, $675 to Senate candidates and $1,350 to candidates for statewide office. Political party committees can give 10 times the individual limit.

If the bill, SB 1038 sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, is signed into law, it would take effect on Aug. 28. As a result, the existing caps would remain in place for the Aug. 5 primaries but be lifted before the Nov. 4 general elections.


Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce on Feb. 13 declared ballot language prepared by the Secretary of State’s Office for a proposed constitutional amendment to ban stem cell research to be “insufficient and unfair” and imposed new language. For similar reasons, another Cole County judge last month invalidated the secretary of state’s ballot language on a proposed initiative to ban state and local affirmative action programs.

The stem cell proposal would effectively repeal a constitutional amendment Missouri voters narrowly ratified in 2006 that prohibits the state from outlawing forms of stem cell research that are legal under federal law and specifically declare such research illegal. Supporters of the current effort still need to collect signatures from registered voters to place the measure on the November 2008 ballot.


The Missouri Supreme Court on Feb. 19 struck down a 2006 state law that sought to force registered sex offenders who live within 1,000 feet of a school or day care center to move. The unanimous court said the law violated the Missouri Constitution’s prohibition against laws that are retrospective in operation.

A 2004 law prohibited sex offenders from moving within 1,000 feet of a school or other child care facility but didn’t apply to offenders who lived within such proximity before the law took effect. The General Assembly passed follow-up legislation in 2006 to require such offenders to move.

The court ruled unconstitutional only the 2006 changes to the law and let stand the original 2004 statute prohibiting sex offenders from moving near a school. In doing so the court used the same reasoning it applied in a 2006 case that said the state’s mandatory sex offender registry applies only to those who committed sex crimes after the registry was established in 1995.


The Senate Ways and Means Committee on Feb. 18 heard a bill that would allow parents of a stillborn baby to claim the deceased child as a dependent on their state income taxes. SB 1064 sponsored by state Sen. Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, would provide such parents with the $1,200 deduction for one year following a stillbirth.


The Senate on Feb. 18 gave final approval to $46 million in funding for new medical buildings at the University of Missouri’s Columbia and Kansas City campuses. Last year state Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, stripped funding for the buildings from a larger capital improvements bill to punish two Democratic senators for their opposition to related legislation.

Under the bill, the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center in Columbia will get $31 million with $15 million for the expansion of a nursing and pharmacy building at UMKC. The funding will come from the $350 million in proceeds raised by the sale of Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority assets the legislature approved last year. The current bill, which had already cleared the House of Representatives, now awaits the governor’s signature to become law.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bills for Debate on the House Floor

Follow this link to see the bills that will be coming up for debate on the house floor.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

House Committee News

House Health Care Policy Considers House Bill 1625 - February 12, 2008
Jefferson City - The House Health Care Policy Committee today heard testimony on legislation that would provide pharmacies with liability immunity for refusing to assist or participate in any act or service in connection with any drug or device that causes a pregnancy to end prematurely resulting in an abortion.
View the video here.

House Committee Considers Constitutional Amendment That Would Reduce the Size of the Missouri House - February 12, 2008Jefferson City - Members of the House Election Committee met on Tuesday to consider a proposed constitutional amendment (HJR 46) that would reduce the size of the Missouri House of Representatives.
Listen to the audio here.

Ice Cream Cone as the official MO Dessert?Listen to the audio here.


The House Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee on Feb. 12 held a hearing on a bill that would make it a crime for sex offenders to photograph children without the approval of their parents.

Under HB 1537 sponsored by state Rep. Tim Jones, R-Eureka, violators would face a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Some committee members, however, questioned whether such a law could be enforced.


Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, the first Republican to declare his candidacy for governor after Gov. Matt Blunt last month unexpectedly decided to forgo re-election, surprised supporters by dropping his bid for the office. Kinder, who instead seek re-election to his current job, announced his decision on Feb. 8 at the state Republican Party's annual Lincoln Days event in Springfield.

Kinder's withdrawal winnows the GOP field to two candidates - State Treasurer Sarah Steelman and U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof. While avoiding being part of a hotly contested gubernatorial primary, Kinder's decision creates a Republican primary in the lieutenant governor's race. Former state Rep. Jack Jackson, who says Kinder urged him to run for lieutenant governor before abandoning his gubernatorial bid, said he is staying in the race.


By a 145-0 vote, the House of Representatives on Feb. 12 passed a bill to undo a tax hike imposed last year on residents of Kansas who work in Missouri. Sponsored by House Minority Leader Paul LeVota, D-Independence, the bill seeks to head off retaliatory action by the Kansas Legislature.

A bill Gov. Matt Blunt signed into law last year included a provision added by the Senate that ended the practice of allowing people who live in others states but work in Missouri to deduct their home-state property taxes from their Missouri income taxes. This primarily was done to retaliate against Illinois, which doesn't extend the same courtesy to Missourians who work in that state. The impact on Kansans wasn't known until lawmakers there complained.

LeVota's bill, HB 1661, would restore the Missouri tax deduction for out-of-state residents so long as their home state provides reciprocity to Missourians. Blunt initially opposed taking corrective action but eventually relented after intense criticism and threats of retaliation by Kansas lawmakers and now supports LeVota's bill, which heads to the Senate for further consideration.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Another Good Cause

For all those artistic types (and those who just want to have a fun time) take a look at the upcoming fundraiser for the Marti Frumhoff Memorial Garden: http://hatsofftomarti.blogspot.com/.

All proceeds will help to fund a memorial garden located at Utah and Morgan Ford.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Another New Superintendent

A week after Rick Sullivan was confirmed by the Missouri Senate it was announced that the Special Administrative Board (SAB) of the St. Louis Public Schools will begin a search for a new superintendent. Although they encouraged current superintendent, Diana Bourisaw, to apply for the job she has declined and I can’t say that I blame her.

For all the debate I heard a year ago about the need for stability this seems to be a step backward. I understand the argument from the SAB that they were not the board who hired her and that she was hired without an open process but now was not the proper time given the numerous issues of trust people have with the SAB.

Perhaps the SAB will find their version of the perfect applicant but in my personal opinion it will be difficult to find someone who will perform the job with the grace, integrity and composure of Diana Bourisaw. She was caught in the middle of some incredibly complicated situations and from what I saw she always handled them with the upmost professionalism. I wish her luck in her future endeavors as I do the SAB in their search for her replacement.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Video Update

Here's a link that will take you to a video update of some of the events that happened in Jeff City the Week of the 4th.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


Missouri Department of Transportation Director Pete Rahn warned lawmakers that “the bottom drops out of Missouri’s transportation funding in 2010.” Rahn made his comments during his State of Transportation speech to the General Assembly on Feb. 6.

In 2004, voters ratified Amendment 3, which redirected existing state money to transportation from general revenue and authorized MoDOT to sell billions of dollars in bonds to pay for immediate improvements to the state’s transportation system. However, Amendment will leave the state with a $2.62 billion transportation debt.

Beginning in 2010, the department will be forced to shift a significant portion of its budget to paying off the debt, which won’t be retired until 2029. As a result, MoDOT’s construction budget will plummet by more than half from $1.23 billion this year to $569 million in 2010. With the reduced construction budget, MoDOT will “barely be able to maintain our highways,” according to the department.

Although the looming transportation funding crisis has been known since Amendment 3 was ratified, neither Gov. Matt Blunt nor the Republican-controlled General Assembly has taken any steps to prepare for it.


During her State of the Judiciary address to the Missouri General Assembly on Feb. 5, Supreme Court Chief Justice Laura Denvir Stith promised to provide more openness to the process of selecting nominees for the state’s high court and Court of Appeals. The process came under intense criticism this summer by Gov. Matt Blunt and others during the selection of candidates to replace former Supreme Court Judge Ronnie White.

Under the Missouri Constitution, the seven-member Appellate Judicial Commission headed by the chief justice reviews applicants for court vacancies and submits three finalists to the governor, who must select one of them or forfeit the decision to the commission. Blunt complained that none of his preferred candidates made the final cut before ultimately selecting Patricia Breckenridge to replace White.

Claiming it is exempt from Missouri’s Sunshine Law, the commission has operated in near-total secrecy. Stith pledged that in the future the commission will publicly post the times and locations of its meetings, although the proceedings themselves will remain closed. Stith also said the applications of finalists will be made public, as will general demographic information on all applicants before the finalists are selected.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

House Committee News

The Budget Committee approved supplemental appropriations(HB 2019) for the University of Missouri for the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center at the Columbia campus and a Pharmacy and Nursing Building at the KC campus.

Special Committee on Tax Reform approved a bill (HB1661) that would allow residents from other states who work in MO to deduct property taxes from their state income taxes. This would create property tax equalization across state lines.

Special Committee on Energy and Environment heard a bill (HB 1326) that would give Missourians who buy hybrid vehicles a break on their state income taxes.

Special Committee on Student Achievement heard a bill (HB 1480) that would give the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education authority over public school extracurricular competitive activities.


In the wake of Gov. Matt Blunt surprise announcement on Jan. 22 that he will not seek re-election, three prominent Republican elected officials have entered the race to replace him. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, State Treasurer Sarah Steelman and U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof have all announced their plans to seek the GOP gubernatorial nomination in the August primary.

The changes in plans by the three, who had intended to seek re-election to their current jobs, set off a domino effect as numerous potential candidates in both parties began testing the waters to replace them. The winner of the GOP gubernatorial primary will face Attorney General Jay Nixon, the presumptive Democratic nominee, in the November general election.