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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(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.

( video screen capture)
( 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.

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.

Patricia Breckenridge
Missouri courts website

Missouri's municipal courts are improving, but more will be done to boost citizen confidence, so says State Supreme Court Chief Justice Patricia Breckenridge.

She delivered the annual State of the Judiciary Address Wednesday to lawmakers at the Missouri Capitol. It focused heavily on issues surrounding the loss of public confidence in municipal courts in the St. Louis area in general, and Ferguson in particular.

Sen. Eric Schmitt
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 6:40 p.m. Jan. 26 with Senate vote - The Missouri Senate has given first-round approval to legislation that would place further limits on cities using fines to collect revenue. Last year's municipal court reform law restricted the percentage of money from traffic fines that could be used in city budgets. The sponsor, Republican Eric Schmitt of Glendale, says this bill would place fines from municipal code violations under the same caps:

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Legislation is being considered in the Missouri House that would block the Nixon administration from creating a new state park in the southern part of the state.

Two bills heard Monday by a House committee would force the Department of Natural Resources to sell any land set aside for the new park that was purchased using funds from lead mining settlements.

Senate Minority Floor Leader Joe Keaveny, left, D-St. Louis, and House Minority Floor Leader Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis, on opening day of the 2016 Missouri legislative session.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Democrats in the Missouri House and Senate have unveiled their agenda for this year's legislative session, and it includes several items Republican leaders have no intention of moving forward.

Those items include expanding Medicaid coverage to more low-income Missourians (HB 2201 and SB 961) and expanding the state's definition of discrimination to include LGBT people (HB 2279 and SB 653).

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Some Missouri lawmakers may want to quote the line from Top Gun: "I feel the need ... the need for speed."

It's a mere 2 1/2 weeks into the 2016 legislative session, and already the Missouri House has sent bills on ethics and voter photo ID over to the Senate. The Senate, in turn, has sent a bill to the House that would put new rules in place for expert witness testimony.

Rep. Justin Alferman, R-Hermann, is sponsoring legislation that would implement a photo ID requirement for voting.
Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications

Two pieces of legislation that would require voters to show photo identification at the polls have been passed by the Missouri House and are on their way to the Senate.

The first, House Joint Resolution 53, is a proposed constitutional amendment to allow for a photo ID requirement, following the Missouri Supreme Court's 2006 decision tossing out an earlier photo ID law passed that same year. It's sponsored by Rep. Tony Dugger, R-Hartville, who has sponsored several photo ID proposals in recent years.

(via Wikimedia Commons/Noahudlis)

A move to abolish the death penalty in the Show-Me State is getting a hearing before a Missouri Senate committee.

Senate Bill 816 is sponsored by Sen. Paul Weiland, R-Imperial. He told the committee on general laws that being a pro-life Republican should also include the end of life.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers will try to make the most of a short week, which could include the next batch of ethics bills.

The shorter work week is due to the Martin Luther King holiday, as well as Gov. Jay Nixon's State of the State Address Wednesday night.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

A Missouri Senate committee is weighing legislation that would eliminate the 1 percent earnings tax in both St. Louis and Kansas City, effective Dec. 31, 2017.

Republican Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, who's also running for attorney general, brought his bill before the Senate committee on ways and means Thursday.  He said that a similar tax in Maryland was ruled unconstitutional, and it could cost Missouri millions of dollars if the same thing happens here.

Floor of the Missouri House during Wednesday's debate on ethics bills.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 5:49 p.m. Jan. 14 - In Missouri, it usually takes a few weeks or even a month for the first bills to be completely passed out of one chamber and sent to the other, but not this year.

The Missouri House fast-tracked four ethics bills and on Thursday passed them on to the Senate, during the first full week of the legislative session.

Shell gas station
(via Flickr/dno1967b)

Legislation being considered by the Missouri Senate would raise the state's fuel tax to provide more money for roads and bridges.

If passed, Senate Bill 623 would raise the state's tax on gasoline by 1.5 cents a gallon, to 18.8 cents a gallon. It would also raise the state tax on diesel fuel by 3.5 cents a gallon, to 20.8 cents a gallon.

A voter enters Our Lady of Guadalupe School on election day in Ferguson.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | File photo

Two companion measures that would require Missouri voters to show photo identification at the polls have been passed by a House committee.

The first one, HJR 53, is a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow for a photo ID requirement, and would need to first be passed by Missouri voters.

Ferguson court
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | file photo

The municipal court systems for the cities of Ferguson and Pine Lawn are being audited by the state of Missouri.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway confirmed in a written statement Tuesday that the audits are already underway.  She says they’re part of the Municipal Courts Initiative launched in 2014 under former auditor Tom Schweich.