St. Louis Public Radio News
10:31 am
Wed January 22, 2003

Missouri Lawmakers Discuss Retirement, AMBER, & Felons

Jefferson City, MO – Missouri lawmakers are considering barring felons from running for public office. The legislation is apparently aimed at stopping a repeat of last year, when Al Hanson ran for State Auditor (Hanson was convicted of fraud in the 70s).

The measure would apply to all felons, whether they were convicted or whether they pleaded guilty or no-contest. Hanson says such a law would be unconstitutional because people regain their individual rights when they get out of prison.

Lawmakers are also moving to create a statewide kidnapping alert system.

Governor Bob Holden set up such a system three months ago, but the legislation would tweak that system. Committees heard testimony yesterday on three different proposals that set up an AMBER Alert system, which usually asks radio and TV stations to air descriptions of missing children when kidnapping is suspected.

A group of State Senators are voicing concerns over Governor Bob Holden's plan to save money by offering more state employees early retirement.

The senators, including Democrat Wayne Goode, say the plan could cost more in the long run because of higher pension payments and a loss in employee experience.

Meanwhile in Illinois, the casino lobbyists are telling lawmakers gaming can help plug a huge budget gap. The gaming industry wants the law changed so there are fewer limits on the number of tables and games at each casino.

Tom Swoyk, with the Illinois Casino Association, says Illinois is losing customers to neighbor states like Missouri. He says fewer limits would bring in more gambling money.

Gambling opponents say casinos are using the budget crisis as an excuse to get more favorable regulations.