Missouri General Assembly

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The effort in the Missouri legislature to abolish local foreclosure mediation ordinances, such as those in St. Louis and St. Louis County, had all the right kind of legislative momentum.

State Rep. Stanley Cox and House Majority John Diehl's legislation had unchallenged support from Republican legislators. It was a major priority for the state's banking and real estate industry, two powerful and influential interest groups that opposed the ordinances in St. Louis County and St. Louis. And some Democratic legislators in the Missouri House supported it.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: In an apparent backlash to the "puppy mill wars" of a couple years back, the Missouri General Assembly has approved a proposed "right to farm" constitutional amendment for the 2014 ballot.

The proposed ballot measure, which won’t require Gov. Jay Nixon’s approval, has general, seemingly non-controversial ballot language:

"Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure that the right of Missouri citizens to engage in agricultural production and ranching practices shall not be infringed?"

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Although chances of passage this legislative session remain slim, bills to extend Missouri’s anti-discrimination protections to gays are still attracting a lot of attention in Jefferson City -- because of the number and prominence of their backers.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster this week became the latest of three statewide Democratic officials – including Secretary of State Jason Kander and state Treasurer Clint Zweifel – who are featured in new videos promoting two companion bills (SB96 and HB615) that seek to prevent discrimination in housing, jobs and public accommodations on the basis of someone’s sexual orientation.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Missouri lawmakers finished work on the bills that encompass the state's budget, sending the 2014 fiscal year plan to Gov. Jay Nixon a day before a mandated deadline.

But the bills passed by the legislature include several provisions that have raised the governor's ire, including partial funding of the Department of Revenue's Division of Motor Vehicles.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: With only two weeks to go in the Missouri General Assembly's session, those who favor revamping the state's troubled Second Injury Fund -- in limbo for years -- are optimistic.

Dan Mehan, chief executive of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, and business allies are encouraged that the House acted Thursday to approve, with some changes, the Senate bill (SB1) overhauling the fund. The Senate had approved the bill months ago.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Missouri Capitol's continued debate over the state's scanning of personal documents, including concealed-carry permits, has taken another turn as state Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, has raised the prospect of doing away with the state’s new system for producing drivers licenses and returning to the old over-the-counter setup.

Meanwhile, Gov. Jay Nixon’s office has swiftly sought to dispute questions raised by Republicans, including Schaefer, about a 2010 letter from the federal Department of Homeland Security that lauded Nixon for complying with aspects of the federal REAL ID mandate.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: With time ticking on a number of key issues, including the state budget, the Missouri House returned on Tuesday to one of its favorite topics this session: guns.

The chamber acted to approve several bills or amendments dealing with firearms, including measures that:

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: For all the buzz in the Missouri Capitol about guns, education and the budget, a different issue is attracting all the bucks – alcohol.

At least two dozen lobbyists are wandering the halls, representing one side or another in a complicated case that is fueling an array of lawsuits, has given birth to two bills and has now entangled a disparate band of regional politicians and national political groups.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Save it, spend it or give it back? That, in essence, is the growing debate in the Missouri Capitol as legislators are monitoring the state’s apparently improving income picture, which could result in a budget surplus when this fiscal year ends June 30.

House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, is adamantly in favor of the “save’’ option, and he displayed a bit of pique Monday as he blasted the state Senate for approving a FY2014 budget last week that earmarks some of the possible windfall for needed physical repairs to the state Capitol, among other things.

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.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

The 2012 Missouri legislative session is underway, and much of the first-day talk revolved around the challenges facing the state’s public schools.

In addition to Missouri’s K-12 schools not being fully funded, suburban school districts near St. Louis and Kansas City may be forced to accept thousands of transfer students from the inner cities, thanks to the State Supreme Court’s ruling in Turner v. Clayton.  House Speaker Steven Tilley (R, Perryville) says any solutions to those problems should include tuition tax credits for kids in unaccredited areas, and statewide expansion of charter schools.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Missouri lawmakers return to Jefferson City Wednesday for the start of this year’s legislative session.  2011 was marked by House and Senate Republicans fighting with each other over tax credits and redistricting, while still managing to take pot shots at Democratic Governor Jay Nixon’s handling of the state budget.  St. Louis Public Radio’s Marshall Griffin takes a look at how the 2012 session may play out.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Missouri lawmakers began pre-filing bills today for next year’s legislative session, which begins January 4th.

One bill was influenced by the deadly Joplin tornado.  If passed, it would allow Missouri residents to deduct up to $5,000 from their state income taxes for building storm shelters on their properties.  It’s sponsored by State Representative Terry Swinger (D, Caruthersville).

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Sen. Jason Crowell may not be a household name to most Missourians.

But the Republican from Cape Girardeau is getting a lot of credit -- and blame -- for what passed and what didn't make it through the Missouri General Assembly's meandering seven-week special session, which ended today.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

A state legislative committee heard testimony today on what options should be considered for students enrolled at unaccredited schools in Missouri.  It’s part of another effort to address a recent State Supreme Court ruling.

Turner v. Clayton affirmed that students not only have the right to transfer away from an unaccredited school district, but that the failing district has to pick up the tab.  State and local officials fear it could lead to a mass exodus from schools in St. Louis, Kansas City and Riverview Gardens.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Today was the Republican-led Missouri General Assembly’s annual veto session, but neither chamber made any attempt to override any of the 14 vetoes issued by Democratic Governor Jay Nixon this year.

However, House Budget Chairman Ryan Silvey (R, Kansas City) used the occasion to blast the governor for withholding money from various state agencies.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

A package of bills that Gov. Jay Nixon says is about "dignity and practicality" for the 100,000 Missouri individuals with a developmental or intellectual disability is now law.

Gov. Nixon signed the legislation today at Paraquad, one of the largest centers in the country dedicated to helping disabled individuals live independently. Its founder, Max Starkloff, died Dec. 27.

(Tim Bommel/Mo. House Communications)

Legislation that would have returned oversight of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department back to City Hall has failed in Jefferson City.

Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

The GOP-controlled Missouri General Assembly has sent a few controversial bills to Democratic Governor Jay Nixon early enough for any veto to be overridden during the regular session.

They include the rollback on dog breeding regulations in Proposition B, and a bill that makes discrimination a “motivating factor," rather than a “contributing factor” in wrongful termination lawsuits.

St. Louis City Hall is ratcheting up pressure on Jefferson City to relinquish control of the city's police department, or pay for it themselves.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay says he expects the Missouri legislature to return control of city police department this year.

If not, the Mayor says St. Louis is within its rights to bill the General Assembly for part of the cost of running it.

Pages