Morning headlines: Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Mo. legislative session begins today
Missouri’s special legislative session begins today and is focused primarily on an overhaul of Missouri’s tax credits. The plan would eliminate existing tax breaks for low-income seniors and disabled residents who live in rented homes. New incentives would be created for international cargo shippers at the St. Louis airport, computerized data centers, science and technology companies and the organizers of major amateur sporting events.
Lawmakers also are expected to push back Missouri's presidential primary from February to March, grant St. Louis officials greater control over their police department and repeal or revise a contentious new law limiting teachers' interaction with students on Internet sites such as Facebook.
St. Louis County Police Chief will seek to change pursuit policy
St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch wants to broaden the use of police pursuits, and he is citing a public opinion poll as evidence that the public supports his idea. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Fitch hired two University of Missouri-St. Louis professors to conduct a survey on police pursuits.
Currently, county police only pursue a suspect in a crime in which deadly force was used or implied. Fitch sensed public outrage that police did not chase copper thieves and those involved in car break-ins. And the survey indicated he was right. Now, Fitch plans to seek approval from police commissioners by the end of the year to allow officers to pursue suspects in drunken driving and first-degree burglary cases.
Ill. democrats to foot bill to fight map
A newly drawn map of Illinois' congressional districts will likely give Democrats an edge in next year's elections. But first, they'll need to pony up money to fight a legal challenge.
The Illinois Attorney General would normally handle such lawsuits with internal staff. But Lisa Madigan's office has instead chosen to hire three outside lawyers. The cost of the court battle could hit an estimated half a million dollars. And that money won't come from state taxpayers. Madigan has told the Democratic Congressional delegation to foot the bill. One report indicated each Democrat will have to immediately give 10-thousand dollars to the effort and then raise additional money.
Congressional Republicans and the League of Women voters are both suing over the new map, which changes district boundaries based not only on population, but also political leanings. Among the complaints is that the map is unfair to minorities and also to Republicans. After last year's gains the GOP made in Illinois, the map would make it hard for the party to hang on to those seats.
Lisa Madigan's father, Illinois Democratic Party Chairman Mike Madigan was among those in charge of drawing the new map. One of Mike Madigan's longtime attorneys, Mike Kasper, is among those hired to defend the lawsuits.