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).
A small cutaway of new Missouri House of Representatives district map submitted to the Missouri Secretary of State. This view shows a portion of the St. Louis region. For more maps and to explore further, see the maps and links in the story below.
Updated at 6:42 p.m. with comments from Mo. Sen. Jane Cunningham (R, Chesterfield).
New redistricting plans and maps for the Missouri General Assembly have been filed with the Missouri Secretary of State's office.
Redistricting occurs every 10 years, and is based on results from the census. Missouri's most recent census data, with shifts and increases in population, required significant changes to be made.
“We have worked collaboratively to draw maps that comply with the constitution, the Voting Rights Act, and other legal requirements,” Lisa White Hardwick, chair of the Missouri Appellate Apportionment Commission, said in a release.
The St. Louis area has lost a State Senate district. The 7th District is represented by Jane Cunningham (R, Chesterfield) and mainly consists of western St. Louis County. Starting in 2013, it will consist of six counties to the north and west of the metro area and a small portion of St. Charles County. Cunningham says she’ll now run for the 27th District Senate seat, which will include parts of St. Louis and Jefferson Counties.
“I had expected much of this area to be mine anyway, I’ve already been working in many of what would be new areas, and so they know me," Cunningham said. "Our home is in another area, but this is my stomping grounds.”
Cunningham will have to move to a new home in order to live in the new 27th District, which she calls a minor inconvenience. The new State Senate boundaries also have Cunningham’s current home in the same district as fellow Republican Senator John Lamping.
Here are the newly submitted maps for the St. Louis region (click within each to expand and explore):
MoDOT’s downsizing includes laying off 1,200 workers, closing over 130 facilities, and selling off hundreds of pieces of equipment. State Maintenance Engineer Beth Wright says, though, that the number of workers assigned to remove snow and ice will remain the same.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon says he's monitoring the situation in Washington, following the so-called congressional supercommittee's failure to reach an agreement on reducing the nation's debt. He admits it's possible that the lack of action by Congress could impact Missouri's state budget next year:
"The uncertainties that you have in this job about the dollars coming in are very real…if they fail to reach the continuing resolution to move things forward by the end of the year is something we're looking at, to measure what that would do to the state," Nixon said.
Missouri will receive nearly $14 million, as part of a settlement of a multi-state lawsuit against drug manufacturer Merck.
The lawsuit centers on the prescription drug Vioxx, which the company marketed as a painkiller for people diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Merck has agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor for promoting the drug before receiving FDA approval, and it will pay $950 million in criminal and civil penalties. The company halted sales of Vioxx in 2004 after evidence showed the drug doubled the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Governor Jay Nixon (D) is defending his decision to explore the possibility of the state jointly running several county parks in St. Louis County that are being targeted for closure.
The parks in question include Lone Elk Park in West County, home to wild elk, turkey, deer and buffalo. State Senator Jim Lembke (R, Lemay) is questioning whether the governor has the authority to enter into such an agreement.