Marshall Griffin

Statehouse Reporter

St. Louis Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a native of Mississippi and proud alumnus of Ole Miss (welcome to the SEC, Mizzou!).  He has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off an old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Liberty Belle, and their cat, Honey.

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St. Louis fire chief, Dennis Jenkerson, is all smiles on April 6, 2016 after city voters overwhelmingly approved the earnings tax and a bond issue.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

The overwhelming votes in St. Louis and Kansas City to keep the earnings tax may short-circuit efforts at the state level to eliminate it in St. Louis.

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, is spearheading the measure, which would phase out the 1 percent tax over 10 years. On Thursday, Senate Republican leader Ron Richard said he will not push to bring his colleague's bill up for a vote.

Christopher Buchanan / Insignia Films

Updated April 8, 1:04 a.m. -- A proposed exemption to Missouri's motorcycle helmet law continues moving forward.

The state House passed HB 1464 Thursday by a vote of 103-43.  It's not enough to survive a potential veto from Governor Jay Nixon, who vetoed an outright repeal of the helmet requirement in 2009.

Quadrangle at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
(Flickr Creative Commons User Adam Procter)

A review commission designed to implement changes to the University of Missouri System is one step closer to becoming a reality.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 66 would create an eight-member commission to recommend changes in the wake of last year's campus unrest. And refusal to implement any changes from the commission would result in future budget cuts.

Shell gas station
(via Flickr/dno1967b)

A revised version of a proposed fuel tax hike has received first-round approval in the Missouri Senate.

A substitute version of Senate Bill 623 was adopted Wednesday evening, which would raise the tax on both gasoline and diesel fuel to 23 cents per gallon from 17.

(Jerry W. Lewis' Flickr page)

Missouri has the highest growth rate in the Midwest when it comes to creating clean energy jobs – so says a new survey released Tuesday by a group of clean energy advocates.

And a coalition of advocates, consisting of the Missouri Energy Initiative (MEI), Clean Energy Trust (CET), and Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), is pushing for the Show-Me State to adopt President Barack Obama's Clean Energy Plan.

Marshall Griffin|St. Louis Public Radio

Peace and quiet have descended on the Missouri Capitol as lawmakers are on spring break.

House Republicans are touting quick action on such things as ethics reform, a stricter abortion requirement for parental notification, and getting the state budget through the chamber. But Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, laments the Medicaid spending hike they passed for the current fiscal year.

Eric Greitens found himself fending off questions about a controversial donor at Thursday's Missouri Republican gubernatorial debate in Columbia, the first one this year to be televised.

Both Catherine Hanaway and Peter Kinder called on Greitens to return a $1 million campaign contribution from Michael Goguen. The California venture capitalist is being sued by a woman who accuses him of holding her as a sex slave for 13 years.

Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications

The Missouri House has voted to restore $925,000 to the current year's state budget.

Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, withheld more than $46.1 million from the fiscal year 2016 state budget last fall after a court ruling allowed the tobacco industry to skip out on a $50 million settlement payment.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated March 15, 12:15 p.m. -- The slow-down in the Missouri Senate has entered its third day and forced Republicans to adjourn Tuesday after less than an hour in session.

Democrats began by forcing another full reading of the prior day's journal, which only took about 14 minutes.  Monday's journal reading was much longer, taking nearly an hour.

House budget chair Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, at right, directs debate on budget bills Tuesday.
Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications

Missouri's $27 billion state budget is on its way to the Senate.

The House Thursday passed all 13 budget bills, which includes a nearly $9 million cut to higher education.

For that reason, several state representatives voted against the higher ed bill, HB 2003.

Wikimedia Commons

Republicans in the Missouri Senate have given first-round approval to legislation that would shield clergy and business owners from state penalties for refusing to work on same-sex weddings.

Democrats had filibustered Senate Joint Resolution 39 nonstop since Monday afternoon, but early Wednesday morning GOP leaders used a procedural move, known as "moving the previous question," to cut off debate and force a vote.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Legislation designed to allow business owners and clergy to refuse to participate in same-sex weddings is being blocked in the Missouri Senate.

Senate Joint Resolution 39 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would bar the state from "penalizing clergy, religious organizations, and certain individuals for their religious beliefs concerning marriage between two people of the same sex."

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri's proposed $27 billion budget for next year is up for debate this week in the Missouri House.

Last week, House budget writers cut $7.6 million from the University of Missouri System's proposed budget over the way it handled last fall's racial protests and over a perceived cozy relationship with Planned Parenthood. Rep. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, was unable to persuade House budget writers to restore the funding, but he plans to try again this week.

(via Flickr/Tracy O)

The Missouri Senate has expanded one of the proposed ethics bills passed by the House in January.

Originally, House Bill 2203 required that any money held by former lawmakers be held in bank accounts that could make that money readily available.  It was part of the House Republican leadership's approach to reforming Missouri's ethics system.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 3:27 p.m. March 3 with final passage. - A bill that prohibits labor unions from automatically withholding fees from the paychecks of public employees is on its way to the governor's desk. The Missouri House passed the Senate version of the bill today 109 - 49. The House support is the exact number needed to override a veto. Opponents say the bill will weaken workers' rights, but supporters say it's necessary to check the power of union lobbying.

(via Flickr/Mooganic)

Updated 3/3/2016 - Legislation designed to expand the sales of cold beer in the Show-Me State is now on tap in the Missouri House.

The Senate on Thursday voted 18-14 to pass Senate Bill 919, with support and opposition coming from both sides of the political aisle.

The bill would allow beer companies to lease portable refrigeration units to grocers and convenience stores, and allow those same stores to sell beer in reusable containers known as growlers.

A photo of the Boone Bridge taken from the St. Charles County side of the Missouri River.
Missouri Department of Transportation St. Charles County camera

Transportation issues, including the possibility of raising the state's fuel tax, are expected to get a lot of attention this week from the Missouri Senate.

Senate Bill 623 would raise the tax on gasoline by 1.5 cents a gallon, and the tax on diesel fuel by 3.5 cents a gallon. Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, says he'll allow the bill's sponsor as much time has he wants to make his case.

human trafficking
FBI website

Senate Bill 804 would make it illegal to advertise the availability of a child for sex. It would also make it illegal to advertise the availability of an adult for sex without her or his consent, a provision that was not included in a similar bill last year.

Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, is one of six lawmakers who is suing to stop Gov. Jay Nixon from extending bonds for a new stadium by fiat.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

The ethics reform freight train that began rolling in the Missouri House has slowed down in the Senate.

Nearly a week after erasing language that would have created a one-year cooling off period before former lawmakers could become lobbyists, the Senate has put the brakes on a House bill to ban lobbyist gifts.

Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications

The top budget writer in the Missouri House is pledging to cut more than $8 million from the University of Missouri System next year.

In a statement released Tuesday, House Budget Committee chair Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, says the vast bulk of his proposed cuts, $7.6 million, will target the overall University of Missouri System.

(WhiteHouse.gov video screen capture)
(WhiteHouse.gov video screen capture)

The Missouri House is thumbing its nose at President Obama. The Republican-controlled chamber passed a resolution Wednesday asking Congress to reject his recent executive order requiring tighter gun control measures.

The order, issued last month, contains more than 20 actions. They include requiring all businesses that sell guns to be licensed and requiring them to conduct background checks on buyers at gun shows and over the internet.

Sen. Paul Wieland, R-Imperial
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

A bill that would have abolished Missouri's death penalty has unofficially become the first bill to die during the 2016 legislative session.

Paul Wieland, R-Imperial, is Senate Bill 816's sponsor. He told reporters he knows there aren't enough votes in the Senate to abolish the death penalty, but calls Monday's debate on the floor a victory in itself.

Missouri House Committee on Workforce Standards hears legislation that would eliminate Missouri's prevailing wage for public works projects.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Legislation being considered by a Missouri House committee would dump the state's prevailing wage for public works projects.

This base wage is set annually for a variety of jobs. It is calculated using what workers are actually earning. House Bill 1931's sponsor, Rep. Warren Love, R-Osceola, says it would allow contractors to start negotiations for salaries at minimum wage instead.

police car lights
Jason Rojas | Flickr

A Cole County judge is weighing a legal challenge over a new state law placing new limits on how much revenue from traffic fines local governments can use in their budgets.

Senate Bill 5, passed last year by Republican lawmakers and signed by Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, caps revenue from traffic fines at 12.5 percent for local governments in St. Louis County and 20 percent for those elsewhere in Missouri.  The new regulations for municipal courts, including not jailing someone for failure to appear in court for minor traffic violations, are not being targeted in the suit.

(via Missouri Department of Transportation)

Gov. Jay Nixon and House and Senate leaders are squabbling over how to approach Missouri's transportation needs.

Nixon, a Democrat, and some Republican lawmakers want to raise the state's fuel tax to help fund roads and bridges, but GOP leaders oppose tax hikes and want to shift state funding to transportation from other programs, including welfare.

Larry Fitzgerald catches a touchdown pass at the 2009 Pro Bowl.
Wikipedia

While Gov. Jay Nixon called for regulating daily sports fantasy sites in his State of the State Address last month, a Missouri House committee is weighing a bill that would do the exact opposite.

House Bill 1941 would exempt those websites from the state's legal definition of gambling. It's sponsored by Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob. He says fantasy sports involves skill and is not a game of chance.

Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Senate leaders are getting behind a push to persuade the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to stay in St. Louis.

The federal spy agency is planning to move to a new site from its current home south of downtown. Mayor Francis Slay wants the NGA to move to the north side of St. Louis, on a site just north of where the Pruitt-Igoe housing complex once stood.

via Wikimedia Commons

Debate has begun in the Missouri Senate on legislation designed to block Gov. Jay Nixon from issuing bonds for any new sports stadium without a vote of the people or the legislature.

Even though the Rams have left St. Louis for Los Angeles, Senate Bill 580 would also require approval from voters or lawmakers to any improvements to the existing Edward Jones Dome. It's sponsored by Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph.

snebtor | Flickr

Owners of the best agricultural lands in Missouri will not see their taxes going up in 2017 and 2018.

The Missouri House and Senate have both passed a measure blocking a 5 percent tax hike on lands graded "1 through 4." That amounts to one-third of the state's most productive farmlands. The increase was authorized in December by the State Tax Commission and would have automatically taken effect without legislative action to stop it.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

A Missouri Senate committee has passed a revised version of a bill that would eliminate the earnings tax in St. Louis.

This version of SB 575 would phase out the earnings tax in St. Louis over a 10-year period but would allow Kansas City to keep its earnings tax.

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