A Republican member of the Missouri House announced today that he is gay during a press conference on a bill that would limit public schools from discussing sexual orientation in the classroom. Zachary Wyatt of Kirksville told reporters he has deep regrets for not taking stands earlier against school bullying, and called for lawmakers to shelve the so-called “don’t say gay” bill.
With his disclosure today, Wyatt becomes the only current openly gay Republican state legislator in the nation.
St. Louis Public Radio’s Marshall Griffin talked with Wyatt about the bill and his decision to come out.
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.
The move was part of the normal procedure for preparing for final budget negotiations. However, some House members took the opportunity to criticize the Senate for cutting more than $3 million from the state’s tourism budget. State Rep. Don Ruzicka (R, Mount Vernon) urged House Budget Chairman Ryan Silvey (R, Kansas City) to try to get the cut restored.
With three weeks left in the legislative session, Governor Jay Nixon (D) is urging lawmakers to fund veterans’ homes, pensions for the blind and other specific needs in the still-unfinished state budget.
Nixon told reporters today that nursing homes for military veterans are woefully underfunded in next year’s $24 billion spending plan, and that a separate bill needs to be passed to insure a dedicated funding source for the homes.
“Missouri’s veterans’ home(s) provide critical services for thousands of men and women who have served our country with honor and bravery," Nixon said. "Let me be clear, that bill must get to my desk without delay.”
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.