Maria Chappelle-Nadal

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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.

Erin Williams, St. Louis Public Radio.

Every week, St. Louis Public Radio’s Chris McDaniel joins the St. Louis Beacon’s Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum to talk about the week’s politics.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

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.”

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

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.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Legislation filed in the Missouri Senate would require parents to notify their kids’ schools if they are gun owners.

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.

(via Flickr/evmaiden)

The Missouri Senate has endorsed legislation that could allow charter schools to be formed outside of Kansas City and St. Louis.

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.

Flickr Creative Commons/Glamour Schatz

Mo. Senate preparing to send workplace discrimination bill to Nixon today

The Missouri Senate is preparing today to pass the House version of the workplace discrimination bill and send it to Governor Jay Nixon. 

Senate Democrats, however, voiced their opposition Wednesday by blocking the bill for nearly five hours. 

The filibuster was led by Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal of St. Louis County. 

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri Senate has passed legislation that would redefine what constitutes discrimination in the workplace.

The vote was a mere formality following last week’s battle to kill the measure.  Maria Chappelle-Nadal of University City and several other Senate Democrats had conducted a filibuster, but gave in after language guaranteeing jury trials in discrimination lawsuits was added to the bill.  But she still spoke out against it, in particular, the Missouri Chamber’s claim that the bill would help curb frivolous lawsuits.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri Senate has given first-round approval to legislation that would redefine workplace discrimination, after an agreement was reached between the bill’s sponsor and a group of Democrats that had been blocking it.

The agreement took the form of an amendment to the bill, which would guarantee the right to a jury trial in any workplace discrimination case.  State Senator Brad Lager (R, Savannah), the bill’s sponsor, agreed to support the amendment.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

(2-2-2012, 1:47 a.m.:  Filibuster is over...Chappelle-Nadal agreed to stop blocking SB 592 in exchange for allowing her to add an amendment guaranteeing right of trial by jury in discrimination cases...she still voted "no" when bill received first-round approval...new story with full details will be posted.)

(10:56 p.m.:  Filibuster approaching 12 hours...Senators Chappelle-Nadal, Wright-Jones and Curls have been meeting behind closed doors, possibly considering an alternate version of the bill while other Democrats and one Republican, Kevin Engler, fill in...follow @MarshallGReport on Twitter for immediate updates.)

A filibuster launched last week by Senate Democrats to block a vote on a workplace discrimination bill has resumed today.  It would require that discrimination be a motivating factor, not a contributing factor, in any action taken by an employer against an employee.

State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D, University City) restarted the filibuster and has so far talked about numerous topics, including taking salt from the floor of the Dead Sea during a trip to the Middle East.

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