Missouri Senate

The Missouri Senate Chamber
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

The Missouri Senate will be led by new people when it convenes for the 2013 session.

Majority party Republicans on Thursday nominated Sen. Tom Dempsey, of St. Charles, to serve as president pro tem - the top position in the chamber. Dempsey still must be elected by the full Senate when it convenes in January, but that is expected to be a mere formality.

McCaskill Re-Elected, Beats Akin In Senate Race

Nov 7, 2012
(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill defeated GOP challenger Todd Akin Tuesday to hold on to a Missouri Senate seat that Republicans once considered vulnerable.

McCaskill won with about 54-percent of the vote in the election. She told supporters in St. Louis' Central West End Tuesday night that the victory means more to her because many pundits had predicted she would lose her seat.

"They all said 'it's over, it's done, it's too red, it's just too red, there is no way that Claire McCaskill can survive.' Well, you know what happened? You proved 'em wrong," McCaskill said.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

The U.S. Senate race in Missouri has drawn national attention with Republican Congressman Todd Akin vying to unseat Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. Most recently, Akin garnered national ire for saying McCaskill is like a dog that fetches taxes and regulations from D.C. and brings them back to Missouri.

Akin defended that analogy on Monday.

Jane Cunningham official website

A long-time St. Louis County lawmaker is leaving office this year because her Senate district was moved to the Kansas City area.  Republican Jane Cunningham of Chesterfield has spent eight years in the Missouri House and four in the Senate, making a name for herself as an outspoken social conservative. 

During her last visit to the Capitol as an elected official last week, she sat down with St. Louis Public Radio’s Marshall Griffin to talk about her record in office and where she goes from here.

Education reform & Proposition C

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Republican Rep. Todd Akin says Missouri TV viewers should expect to see his U.S. Senate ads all the way until Election Day.

One of the biggest questions surrounding Akin's campaign has been whether he will be able to raise enough money to spread his message. Some big-dollar donors dropped their support because of his remarks last month about rape and abortion.

Adam Allington/St. Louis Public Radio

Embattled Missouri Republican Congressman Todd Akin says he plans to stay in the race for U.S. Senate.

The fallout from Akin’s comments about pregnancies caused by “legitimate rape” has prompted a storm of criticism, including fellow Republicans, many of whom say Akin should withdraw his candidacy for Senate immediately.  

The conservative PAC Crossroads GPS is pulling its ads from the Missouri race.  The group had originally booked a new round of ads to start Wednesday but opted instead to cancel them.

Thousands of emails and letters are flooding the Missouri governor's office as he decides whether to sign health insurance legislation.

The Republican-led Legislature approved a measure stating no employer or health plan provider can be compelled to provide coverage for abortion, contraception or sterilization if those items run contrary to their religious or moral convictions.

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon has until mid-July to veto the bill, or it will take effect.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Around 200 people rallied at the Missouri Capitol today against President Obama’s mandate that employers provide coverage for contraceptive services.

Churches are exempt from the mandate, but religious non-profit organizations, such as schools and hospitals, are not.  John Gaydos is bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City.

“Religious freedom is not merely about our ability to attend church on Sunday," Gaydos said.  "It is impossible to exercise that religious freedom and at the same time compromise the faith that inspires us to action.”

(via Flickr/brains the head)

Missouri senators have passed legislation specifically allowing employers to refuse, on religious ground, to provide health insurance that covers contraception, sterilization or abortion.

The Senate's 28-6 vote Friday moved the bill to the Missouri House, where it was passed during mid-afternoon.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated 5-17-2012, 2:31 p.m.

Missouri Senator Jane Cunningham (R, Chesterfield) has been released from a Jefferson City hospital and is resting at her Capital-area residence.

She left the State Capitol Wednesday afternoon after becoming light-headed during debate on an education bill.  Her Chief of Staff, Kit Crancer, did not disclose the nature of her illness.  He described it as a serious but non-life threatening situation.

(via Flickr/KOMUnews)

It appears unlikely that Missouri lawmakers will pass any legislation this year that would turn Interstate Highway 70 into a toll road.

Senate Transportation Chairman Bill Stouffer (R, Napton) says the proposal has gotten a lot of negative feedback.

“We had excellent hearings this year, but it became very clear that until we raise the awareness of the public and the need in the public that we would be spinning our wheels to move any further," Stouffer said.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri Senate took the next step Tuesday toward beginning final negotiations with the House on next year’s state budget.  But Senate members struggled with whether to bind themselves to various positions they support.

(via Flickr/s_falkow)

Updated 4: 14 p.m.

Missouri senators have endorsed changes in the procedure for nominating candidates for the state Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.

A seven-member commission screens applicants for vacancies on the state's high court and the three districts of the Court of Appeals. The panel recommends three finalists, from which the governor makes the appointment.

The commission is currently made up of a judge, three lawyers and three people selected by the governor.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri Senate passed a $24 billion state budget early this morning, following several hours of debate and closed-door negotiations.

The Senate spending plan for FY2013 directly challenges the Missouri House's position on blind pensions.  By a narrow margin, Senators restored $28 million in state funding cut by the House last month, while leaving in $18 million in federal Medicaid dollars.  Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer (R, Columbia) says they now have more room to maneuver when negotiations with the House begin on the final version of the budget.

The Missouri Senate Chamber
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

The Missouri Senate convened Monday afternoon preparing to debate next year's state budget, and almost immediately Senator Jason Crowell launched a filibuster.

The Republican from Cape Girardeau had promised weeks ago that he would block the budget over its use of one-time funds to fill holes in next year’s spending plan.  Gradually throughout the evening, other fiscally conservative Senators joined in, including Jim Lembke (R, Lemay), Rob Schaaf (R, St. Joseph), and Luann Ridgeway (R, Smithville).

Early on, Crowell spent part of the filibuster lampooning the Missouri House for cutting pensions for the blind.

(via Flickr/alkruse24)

The Missouri Senate has passed bills that would allow for more charter schools in the state and would also allow the state to take over failing school districts more quickly.

In a 31-2 vote Wednesday, the Senate gave final backing to a measure that would allow charter schools to be set up in districts that have been declared unaccredited.

Kansas City and St. Louis are the only districts allowed to have charter schools under current Missouri law.

via Flickr | jennlynndesign

Budget writers in the Missouri Senate have passed that chamber’s version of the state budget for next year.

The Senate plan is about $86 million smaller than the version passed by the House last month.  Cuts include $13 million from child care provider grants, $7 million from other childcare services, and $1 million from meals at state prisons.  Budget Chairman Kurt Schaefer (R, Columbia) acknowledges that many of the cuts target Medicaid.

(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.

(via Flickr/alkruse24)

The Missouri Senate has given first-round approval to legislation that would double the amount of time required for public school teachers to earn tenure.

Currently, a teacher has to work in the same school district for five years to earn tenure.  The bill sponsored by State Senator Jane Cunningham (R, Chesterfield) would expand that requirement to 10 years.

“As long as the teacher does not own their job, if you will, then they’re going to be really working to prove (themselves) and do a good job," Cunningham said.  "It gives us five more years of encouraging and giving motivation to teachers to really produce.”

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Budget hearings have begun in the Missouri Senate, and already there are notable differences with the House in where that chamber wants to make cuts.

While the House budget would give state workers earning less than $70,000 per year a two percent raise, the Senate version would limit those raises to workers making less than $45,000 per year.  Kurt Schaefer (R, Columbia) chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee.

(via Flickr/brains the head)

Updated 3:34 p.m. with correction from The Associated Press - the legislation was approved on a 26-5 vote, not a voice vote.

The Missouri Senate has approved legislation letting employers refuse to provide health insurance coverage for birth control in some instances.

The legislation, passed Thursday on a 26-5 vote, would let employers deny coverage unless an employee has a medical need for birth control. The measure now goes to the Missouri House.

(via Flickr/jimbowen0306)

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.”

Flickr/david_shane

The Missouri Senate has endorsed legislation making it a crime to disturb a religious worship service.

The bill given initial approval Wednesday would make it a misdemeanor to intentionally disturb or interrupt a "house of worship" with profane language, rude behavior or noise. The crime would be punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine, with harsher punishment for repeat offenses.

(Harrison Sweazea/Mo. Senate)

One day after the Missouri House gave first-round approval to the state budget, a state Senator is threatening to derail the entire budget process.

Jason Crowell (R, Cape Girardeau) is objecting to the use of one-time sources of money to plug holes in the FY2013 budget.  He singled out both Democratic Governor Jay Nixon and House GOP leaders for plans to divert $40 million from a federal mortgage settlement to the state’s Higher Education budget.

(via Flickr/david_shane)

The Missouri Senate is considering legislation that would beef up security at the State Capitol.

The bill would increase the number of security cameras at the State Capitol and allow the Governor’s Office of Administration to hire private, armed security guards if needed.  It’s sponsored by Robin Wright-Jones (D, St. Louis).  She filed the bill shortly after someone placed rifle target stickers outside her office and the offices of several other Democratic Senators and one House Republican lawmaker.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Good morning! Here are some of the starting headlines of the day so far:

Nixon to hold news conference Tuesday on proposed cut in state aid to the blind

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is taking his case to the public to try to reverse a proposed cut in state aid to the blind. The Democratic governor is holding a news conference Tuesday in Columbia with leaders from organizations for the blind to oppose a cut made by the Republican-led House budget committee.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri Senate has sent the House version of the workplace discrimination bill to Governor Jay Nixon.

Senate Democrats spent five hours Wednesday blocking the bill before sitting down.  Today, there was no debate, only a 23 to 8 straight party-line vote.  Brad Lager (R, Savannah) handled the bill in the Senate.  He says he fully expects the governor, a Democrat, to veto the bill.

(via Flickr/s_falkow)

Update at 5:46 p.m.:

According to Mo. Sec. of State Robin Carnahan's office, Judge Daniel Green of the Cole County Circuit Court has denied the temporary restraining order. The decision means candidate filing for Missouri state Senate districts will begin Tuesday morning, as scheduled.

Updated at 4 p.m. with comments from plaintiff

There's another twist in the ongoing legal battle over the new districts for the Missouri State Senate.

(via flickr/jimbowen0306)

A new measure passed in the Missouri Senate would limit statewide officials to eight years in office.

Missouri currently limits the governor and treasurer to two four year terms each. Members of the state House and Senate are also subject to term limits.

A proposed constitutional amendment would extend the two-term limits to the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general and auditor.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Legislation that would have moved back Missouri’s filing period for the August 7th primaries has been withdrawn from consideration by the State Senate.

Instead of debating the bill itself, some St. Louis-area Senators began criticizing the citizens’ commission that drew up the latest State Senate district map Jim Lembke (R, Lemay) and Jane Cunningham (R, Chesterfield) both had harsh words for the proposed map, which would move Cunningham’s 7th District to the Kansas City area.

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