Missouri’s commissioner of education has been buffeted by two controversies that have led to calls for her resignation but also expressions of support from her bosses on the state board of education.
To explain the controversy swirling around Chris Nicastro, Missouri’s embattled commissioner of elementary and secondary education, state school board member Mike Jones invokes the words of a legendary Texan, Jim Hightower:
The only things you find in the middle of the road are yellow lines and dead armadillos.
Legislation is moving through the Missouri Senate that would strictly limit where Electronic Benefits Transfer, or EBT cards, can be used in the state.
State Senator Will Kraus (R, Lee’s Summit) is sponsoring Senate Bill 251. He says a new federal law that just took effect will ban EBT card use in casinos, liquor stores and adult entertainment venues.
“We’re taking that federal law (and) putting (it) into state statute," Kraus said. "But we’re also adding a few places that we think these cards shouldn’t be used at: amusement parks, entertainment events, athletic events, (or) to purchase alcohol, tobacco (or) lottery tickets.”
The Missouri Senate spent more than two hours debating legislation Monday that would keep the state’s ailing Second Injury Fund alive.
The proposal being considered would raise fees that businesses across the state currently pay into the fund while placing restrictions on future claims. State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D, University City) said in floor debate that raising the cap on businesses was a good move, but expressed concern that people with pre-existing conditions would be left out.
iPad photo of (l-r) State Senators Jamilah Nasheed (D, St. Louis) and Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D, University City). Chappelle-Nadal is sponsoring SB 124. Nasheed and other lawmakers attended the news conference announcing the bill.
If passed, parents would have to provide written notification that they own a firearm within 30 days of enrolling their child in school or within 30 days of becoming a gun owner if the child is already enrolled. Failure to do so would be an infraction and result in a $100 fine. It would also make it a Class A misdemeanor if the parent or guardian knows that their child is illegally in possession of a firearm and does nothing to stop it or does not report it to police -- and the parent or guardian would be guilty of a Class D felony if their minor child kills or wounds someone with an illegally-possessed gun. The bill’s sponsor, State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D, University City), told reporters today that their goal is to prevent minors from illegally possessing firearms and to also keep them out of the hands of gang members.
In a voice vote Wednesday, the Senate backed a measure that would allow charter schools to be set up in districts that have been declared unaccredited. It would also allow charter schools in some districts that would have been provisionally accredited for three straight years, starting with next school year.