Kurt Schaefer

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Missouri state Auditor Tom Schweich so far has amassed $293,825 in the bank for his expected 2014 re-election bid, thanks in part to a $100,000 donation from prominent St. Louis businessman Sam Fox.

(via Flickr/Mooganic)

Legislation to redefine the relationship between liquor distributors, wholesalers and retailers has stalled in the Missouri Senate.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

The federal investigator who requested Missouri’s list of conceal carry weapons holders testified under oath Wednesday before a State Senate committee.

Keith Schilb of the Social Security Administration's Inspector General's office told the Senate Appropriations Committee that part of his job is to seek and develop projects that could indicate whether there is enough evidence of fraud to warrant an investigation.  He says that’s how the inquiry into Missouri’s conceal carry database began.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

After nearly eight hours of debate Monday, the Missouri Senate has passed next year’s state budget.

The roughly $25 billion spending plan still does not include Medicaid expansion, but not for a lack of trying by Democrats.  Minority Floor Leader Jolie Justus offered up an amendment that would’ve added $890 million to the Social Services budget, enough to expand Medicaid to around 260,000 Missourians next year.

File photo by Marshall Griffin I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Senator Kurt Schaefer (R, Columbia) says the Department of Revenue (DOR) has continued to withhold information from his legislative committee about the list of conceal carry weapons (CCW) holders that the agency compiled for the federal government.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Governor Jay Nixon (D) has announced that Brian Long has resigned as Director of the Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR). The resignation is effective immediately.

“I want to thank Brian [Long] for his service to the state of Missouri in heading up this department, and wish him well in his future endeavors,” Nixon said in a statement regarding the resignation.  In addition, Nixon's Press Secretary, Scott Holste, said that Long voluntarily stepped down and that he was neither asked nor encouraged to resign.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Budget writers in the Missouri Senate turned their attention today Thursday to the Highway Patrol and the Department of Public Safety as they continue to question why the state’s list of conceal-carry weapons holders was given to the federal government.

Colonel Ron Replogle testified that the Patrol received a request for the list in November of 2011 from the Social Security Administration, which was conducting a fraud investigation.

“And our employees felt this was a legitimate criminal investigation, so therefore they released the information," Replogle said.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Department of Revenue (DOR) officials underwent more grilling Wednesday from a Missouri Senate committee over the agency’s practice of scanning source documents for driver’s license applications, conceal-carry weapon endorsements, and other license applications.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

The Missouri Senate has given first-round approval to legislation that would prohibit the Department of Revenue (DOR) from scanning and storing source documents for driver’s license, conceal-carry, and other applications.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Some concerns have been raised in the Missouri Senate over a proposed constitutional amendment that would create a temporary one-cent sales tax to fund transportation needs.

The one-penny sales tax is expected to raise nearly $8 billion over ten years.  All money raised would go directly to the Missouri Dept. of Transportation (MoDOT), and that provision is not sitting well with some Senators.  Republican Kurt Schaefer of Columbia says lawmakers should have at least some say into how that money would be spent.

Free gun locks will be given out Friday at City Hall in St. Louis
M Glasgow | Flickr

 (Updated story)

A Missouri Senate Committee has unanimously passed a proposed constitutional amendment that would expand the State Constitution’s right to bear arms.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

The superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol is defending the agency’s purchase of a new airplane.

Colonel Ron Replogle told House budget writers that it was his idea to buy the $5.6 million aircraft.  More than one committee member asked him about the quick timetable on the plane’s purchase, as the bid went out around December 6th and was awarded on the 17th.  Replogle says Beechcraft was offering a discount on that particular King Air 250 because it was a year-old model.

(Courtesy Hawker Beechcraft)

Governor Jay Nixon’s (D) choice to head up his Office of Administration will have to wait a bit longer before permanently taking over.

Acting Commissioner Doug Nelson’s confirmation is being delayed in the Missouri Senate after news broke that the State Highway Patrol spent around $5.6 million on a new airplane, which has been designated for use by the Governor and other statewide officials.  State Senator Kurt Schaefer (R, Columbia), who sponsored Nelson’s nomination, first wants to know who made the decision to buy the plane, and why.

House and Senate budget negotiators resumed talks today, but still have not resolved differences over how to fund veterans homes and health care for the blind.

They agreed on numerous budget items that have garnered little to no controversy.  The House won out on its proposed pay raise for state workers – those earning under $70,000 a year would get a 2 percent raise starting in July.  Kirk Schaefer (R, Columbia), the Senate’s chief negotiator, says he didn’t mind accepting the House’s position on pay raises.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri Senate took the next step Tuesday toward beginning final negotiations with the House on next year’s state budget.  But Senate members struggled with whether to bind themselves to various positions they support.

via Flickr | jennlynndesign

Budget writers in the Missouri Senate have passed that chamber’s version of the state budget for next year.

The Senate plan is about $86 million smaller than the version passed by the House last month.  Cuts include $13 million from child care provider grants, $7 million from other childcare services, and $1 million from meals at state prisons.  Budget Chairman Kurt Schaefer (R, Columbia) acknowledges that many of the cuts target Medicaid.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Budget writers in the Missouri Senate have crafted a proposal designed to preserve funding for blind pensions.

The plan announced by Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer (R, Columbia) would use $18 million in federal Medicaid money to create a new blind pension health care fund.

“We’re gonna add language that everyone in that program has to go through Medicaid eligibility, so that we determine who is Medicaid eligible and who’s not…that’s the first threshold," Schaefer said.  "The second is we’re gonna put in language to establish a premium.”

(via Flickr/jimbowen0306)

Budget hearings have begun in the Missouri Senate, and already there are notable differences with the House in where that chamber wants to make cuts.

While the House budget would give state workers earning less than $70,000 per year a two percent raise, the Senate version would limit those raises to workers making less than $45,000 per year.  Kurt Schaefer (R, Columbia) chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee.

(via Flickr/Fried Dough)

Yet another bill has been filed in the General Assembly this year that would raise Missouri’s cigarette tax, currently the lowest in the nation.

This one would raise it to 75 percent of the current national average – in other words, from 17 cents per pack to $1.09-1/2 cents per pack.  Missouri’s tax per pack would also rise or fall as the national average changes, and it would require a referendum by Missouri voters to take effect.  The bill was filed by State Rep. Jeanette Mott Oxford (D, St. Louis), who spoke in favor of raising the cigarette tax during budget debates on Thursday.

Adam Procter | flickr

Missouri's legislative budget leaders may not go along with Gov. Jay Nixon's proposed cuts to public colleges and universities.

Nixon has proposed a 12.5 percent reduction to higher education institutions for the next academic year.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Kurt Schaefer said Wednesday he does not intend to follow Nixon's recommendation. The Columbia Republican says the cut would be a huge blow to higher education.

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