Missouri House of Representatives

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

The Missouri House has given first-round approval to another workers’ compensation bill.

Governor Jay Nixon (D) vetoed a similar bill last month that originated in the Senate.  The House version contains most of the same provisions – it would bar employees from suing each other over workplace injuries and illnesses, and it would restore occupational disease claims within the workers’ comp system.  State Rep. Jacob Hummel (D, St. Louis) debated with the bill’s sponsor, Dave Schatz (R, Sullivan).

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri House has passed legislation that would exempt doctors and other health care workers from being forced to perform medical procedures that violate their religious beliefs.

The bill re-ignited intense debate over women’s reproductive rights.  State Rep. Margo McNeil (D, Hazelwood) argued that allowing health professionals to opt out of performing certain procedures could result in a public health threat.

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The Missouri Senate today overrode a veto by Governor Jay Nixon (D) that would make changes to the state’s workers’ compensation system.

But the likelihood that the House will also override the Governor’s veto is virtually nonexistent, according to Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones (R, Eureka).  He says they just don’t have the votes, even within their own party.

“We would have to first convince our caucus," Jones said.  "And even if we did, we’re still simply three votes short on a bill that no Democrat, I believe, has supported to this point…that’s a tough vote.”

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With less than two months left in this year’s legislative session, House Republicans still haven’t scheduled a wide-ranging public school bill for debate.  It would create tax credit scholarships that would pay for students to transfer from unaccredited schools to adjacent better-performing schools, and expand charter schools beyond St. Louis and Kansas City. 

Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones admits there are wide differences of opinion on the bill, even among Republicans.

(via Wikimedia Commons/Noahudlis)

A House committee heard testimony Wednesday evening on legislation that would abolish the death penalty in Missouri.  The bill would also commute sentences of all current Death Row inmates to life without parole.

Several people testified in favor of the bill, including Kevin Green, a California man who spent 16 years in prison on charges that he raped his wife and killed their unborn baby.  He was eventually exonerated after DNA evidence showed another man had committed the crime.  Green says doing hard time in prison is a harsher punishment than being executed.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri House is debating all 13 bills this afternoon that make up the state’s proposed budget for next year.

Lawmakers are offering up several amendments to the budget – one in particular would have shifted $150,000 from the state’s biodiesel fund to Alzheimer’s patients.  It was sponsored by State Rep. Tracy McCreery (I, Olivette).

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

A Missouri House committee heard testimony Monday on legislation that would make cuts to the pension system for St. Louis firefighters.

The bill would not go as far as a proposal made by Mayor Francis Slay:  Among the differences, Slay’s plan would have all firefighters put 9 percent of their salaries into the system, and new hires would not get any of that money back upon retirement.  The bill in the State House would have new firefighters put in 8 percent, and upon retirement would get back 25 percent of what they paid in.  F.I.R.E. Chairman and St. Louis firefighter Abram Pruitt, Junior, traveled to Jefferson City to support the bill.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

House Democrats are backing legislation they say would toughen Missouri’s ethics standards.

The bill would restore many provisions recently struck down by the State Supreme Court:  They include banning committee-to-committee money transfers and giving the Missouri Ethics Commission the authority to launch its own investigations.  The High Court struck them down because they were tacked onto another bill that had nothing to do with ethics.  State Rep. Tishaura Jones (D, St. Louis) says she’s filing a new bill because GOP leaders have so far done nothing following the Supreme Court ruling.

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Missouri House Democrats are proposing new criteria and a requirement for bipartisan approval before people are inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians - a reaction to criticism of the selection of Rush Limbaugh for the honor.

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Supporters say a bill that would allow convicted drug felons to be eligible for foods stamps is gaining momentum among Missouri lawmakers. The bill would repeal the state's lifetime ban on food stamps for drug felons.

Three Republicans and one Democrat in the House are sponsoring the bill, according to The Kansas City Star. The sponsors say it isn't fair that child molesters and murderers are eligible for food stamps, but people with felony drug convictions aren't.

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Mo. House member proposes restriction on vasectomies

A Missouri House member frustrated with recent legislative debates over birth control and reproductive health is proposing to restrict vasectomies. 

Legislation sponsored by Democrat Stacey Newman would only allow vasectomies when they are necessary to protect a man from serious injury or death. The vasectomies would have to be performed in a hospital, ambulatory surgery center or health facility licensed by the state Department of Health and Senior Services.

(via Flickr/alkruse24)

State education officials could step in quicker to assist failing Missouri school districts under legislation backed in the House.

Districts that lose state accreditation currently are given two years to improve before the state officials can intervene. The new legislation removes the waiting period.

When the state Board of Education revokes a district's accreditation, it then would decide whether to set conditions for the local school board to remain in place or determine when an alternative governing system for those schools would take effect.

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Missouri's Supreme Court judges will hear arguments this afternoon in a legal challenge to the new districts for the state House of Representatives.

The suit argues that the new map, which was drawn by a judicial commission, creates districts that are not as compact and equal in population as they should be.

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Missouri House members have voted to reject a tax plan that would increase property taxes for the best farms.

Property taxes for farms are based on the land's "productive value." Farms are divided into eight groups based on land quality, with the best in Grade 1 and the worst in Grade 8. The Missouri Tax Commission has recommended increasing productive values for the four highest grades.

The property tax changes for 2013 and 2014 take effect unless the Legislature approves a resolution to reject them. House members voted 117-39 on Tuesday to reject the tax proposal.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

The Missouri House has given first-round approval to legislation that would require driver’s license exams be given only in English.

Currently, the state of Missouri provides the written driver’s exam in English and eleven other languages.  House Member Mark Parkinson (R, St. Charles) says his bill follows the spirit of the state constitution’s mandate that public proceedings be conducted in English.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Legislation that would move the candidate filing period for the August primary back by one month is now moving through the Missouri House.

On Monday it passed the House Elections Committee and it next goes to the Rules Committee.  However, House Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones (R, Eureka) seems to favor an alternate approach:  Having a two-week filing period that would begin sometime in mid-March and end on March 27th as currently scheduled.

(Missouri State Redistricting Office)

It's been a busy day in Missouri courts today.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Missouri Supreme Court struck down an ethics law because the measure originally dealt with state procurement.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

The Missouri House has passed legislation that would require voters to show photo identification at the polls.

Before the vote, Democrats hammered away at Republicans’ arguments that the bill would combat voter fraud, saying there hasn’t been a documented case of voter fraud in decades – and that the bill does nothing to deal with voter registration fraud.  State Representative Todd Richardson (R, Poplar Bluff) disagreed.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Legislation that would redefine workplace discrimination standards in Missouri has passed the State House.

The bill would change the definition by making discrimination a motivating factor in any action taken by an employer against an employee, instead of a contributing factor as established by court rulings in recent years.  House Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones (R, Eureka) argued that the current standard is killing small businesses in Missouri.

Bill Greenblatt | UPI

The Missouri House has given first-round approval to legislation that would require voters to show photo identification at the polls.

Democrats and Republicans remain deeply divided over the issue:  The 104-54 vote split along party lines, with every Republican present voting “yes,” and every Democrat “no.”  Supporters argued that the bill would help prevent voter fraud.  But State Representative Leonard Hughes (D, Kansas City) countered that the bill is unnecessary.