Missouri General Assembly

James Cridland via Flickr

Legal questions surrounding Michael Brown’s death and events in Ferguson again dominated the conversation among our legal roundtable.

Justice Department Investigations

The Justice Department has three roles in Ferguson, said William Freivogel, director of the school of journalism at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. First: A criminal investigation, independent of the state’s investigation.

Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

As of Thursday, all Missouri state laws will be revised to remove references to “mentally retarded’’ and “mental retardation.’’ In their place will be the phrases “intellectually disabled’’ and “intellectual disability.”

Owners of surface mines will have to notify more property owners before starting operations. Insurers must cover oral anti-cancer medications if they cover intravenous ones. Casinos can offer lines of credit to gamblers.

And breastfeeding mothers can be excused from jury duty.

Gov. Jay Nixon speaks to a class at Rockwood Summit High School in Fenton.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

(Updated at 1 p.m. Monday with additional comments from House Speaker Tim Jones.)

Gov. Jay Nixon proved that he can outdo himself, at least when it comes to vetoing legislation. 

Jason Rosenbaum/St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Senate had seven new members after the smoke cleared from the 2006 election cycle. Only two served for the maximum time allowed under term limits – Senate Minority Leader Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, and state Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah.

The two lawmakers are at the opposite ends of the political spectrum. Justus entered the General Assembly as a combative fighter who fought tooth-and-nail against the Republican majority. Lager, who was arguably more conservative than his Republican counterparts, seemed on a course for higher office.

Wikipedia

Barring last-minute resurrections before 6 p.m. Friday, several hot issues before the Missouri General Assembly this session are stone cold and legislatively buried.

After several days of vigorous debates and votes this week, leaders of the state House and Senate have had to make tough choices on which issues they have time to handle before adjournment -- and which ones they must jettison until next year.

Here are the most likely casualties:

Jason Rosenbaum/St. Louis Public Radio

The final days of the Missouri General Assembly's session can produce triumph, frustration, anger and befuddlement -- all in the span of an hour or two.

All of these disparate emotions take place in the living, breathing Missouri Capitol. And while describing that "last few days of session" essence can be difficult, it can perhaps be portrayed in a series of photographs.

St. Louis Public Radio reporter Jason Rosenbaum spent a couple of days in Jefferson City this week. He found time in his jam-packed schedule to take some pictures.

(via Flickr/kcds)

Differences between the Missouri House and Senate may once again kill an effort to nullify federal gun laws.

The Missouri House voted Tuesday evening by a veto-proof margin, 109-42, to approve a conference committee’s proposed final version of the bill, officially known as the “Second Amendment Preservation Act.”

But the chief Senate sponsor, state Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, declined to sign the panel’s compromise and told reporters that he may not bring up the version for a final Senate vote before this session ends on Friday. The result would be to kill the bill.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri House passed legislation on Thursday curtailing two of the state’s largest tax credit programs. 

State Rep. Anne Zerr’s bill would reduce the historic preservation tax credit’s cap to $90 million from $140 million. That program helps refurbish older buildings and has been used extensively throughout St. Louis.

The bill would also gradually reduce the cap on the tax credit for low-income housing to $110 million from $140 million. That credit provides an incentive for developers to build housing for the working poor, elderly and disabled.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio) / St. Louis Public Radio)

Alderman Antonio French is sponsoring legislation to require videotaping or transcribing various meetings and hearings in city government. French is one of several people seeking to use the web to make government more transparent to the public. 

St. Louis Alderman Antonio French knows something about putting a camera in the face of government. 

Flickr | jimbowen0306)

Leaders in the Missouri House and Senate have just one day left to reach agreement on a number of unresolved issues, including an ongoing dispute over how to control spending on state tax credits.

"There's four or five things I've promised senators that we'd get to," said Republican floor leader Ron Richard, including some form of an economic development bill.

The two chambers remain divided over the cap on historic preservation and low-income housing credits. The House has sent a proposal over to the Senate, but it's likely to fail.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

A new audit of the Missouri state House and Senate knocks both chambers for their failure to comply with portions of the state Sunshine law.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Lawmakers have returned to Jefferson City and begun the new year’s regular Missouri legislative session. 

So, what do they want to get done?

Senate Republicans are focused on:

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

A joint House-Senate committee met today at the Missouri Capitol to discuss a proposed review of wages and benefits paid to state workers.

State Senator Mike Kehoe (R, Jefferson City) sits on the Joint Interim Committee on State Employee Wages.  He says they’d like to hire a company to review Missouri’s entire compensation package for state employees.

(via flickr/ensign_beedrill)

Term limits have been in effect in Missouri’s General Assembly for 20 years.

Tomorrow a public conference held in St. Louis will explore how the limits have changed Missouri politics for both good and bad.

Representative Chris Kelly, a Democrat from Columbia, served in the state house for 12 years before voters passed the term limits and two terms since then.

Kelly says the General Assembly still attracts smart, hard-working people, but he says they don’t have as much time to learn the ropes.

(via Flickr/brains the head)

Updated 9/13/2012, 4:51 p.m.

A Kansas City-based labor group is seeking to block the new law allowing Missouri employers to deny health insurance coverage for birth control pills and other contraceptive procedures.

The new law took effect after the Missouri General Assembly overrode Governor Jay Nixon’s (D) veto during Wednesday’s veto session.  Attorney E.E. Keenan represents the Greater Kansas City Coalition of Labor Union Women.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

The state of Missouri and the city of St. Louis will go in front of the state Supreme Court on Thursday to argue over who can decide where city employees live.

(Tim Bommell/Mo. House Communications)

It's the final day of the regular legislative session for the Missouri General Assembly.

Lawmakers have spent the past week clearing a backlog of bills that accumulated during a showdown over the state budget.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Larry Rice arrested at new homeless camp

The Rev. Larry Rice was among four people arrested last night at the site of a new homeless encampment in south St. Louis.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri General Assembly has sent its first bill to Governor Jay Nixon (D) this year, which would revamp the state’s workers' compensation system.

The House passed the bill today, while the State Senate passed it last month -- it passed both chambers on partisan votes.  The bill would bar employees from suing each other over workplace injuries and illnesses, and would restore workers’ comp coverage of occupational diseases.  State Rep. Dave Schatz (R, Sullivan) argued that it would give Missouri a more business-friendly climate that would be less subject to massively expensive court judgments.

The Missouri Supreme Court has struck down a 2010 ethics law that took a long and twisted path to its final form.

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