Well over a thousand labor union members rallied outside the State Capitol Tuesday against various bills in the General Assembly they say is anti-worker.
In particular, they oppose legislation that would suspend the prevailing wage law in tornado-ravaged Joplin and other parts of Missouri declared to be federal disaster areas. Governor Jay Nixon (D) spoke at the rally, accusing Republican lawmakers and their backers of attacking working people in Missouri.
Two rallies in Jefferson City today each called for the repeal of the 2010 Affordable Care Act and for employers to have the right to not provide coverage for birth control.
Several hundred people attended the rally held at the State Capitol, led by several religious leaders. Maggie Karner with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod told the crowd that President Obama’s birth control mandate is an attack on religious freedom.
“This debate is simply about us being forced to pay for products and services that are contrary to our religious beliefs, and we cannot be expected to check our faith at the door," Karner said.
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.
This one would raise it to 75 percent of the current national average – in other words, from 17 cents per pack to $1.09-1/2 cents per pack. Missouri’s tax per pack would also rise or fall as the national average changes, and it would require a referendum by Missouri voters to take effect. The bill was filed by State Rep. Jeanette Mott Oxford (D, St. Louis), who spoke in favor of raising the cigarette tax during budget debates on Thursday.
The Missouri House has passed all 13 bills that make up the state’s $24 billion budget for FY 2013.
The process took longer than expected, because of the large number of Democrats who took issue with cutting funding to blind pensions and for not spending enough on K-12 schools. Sara Lampe (D, Springfield) urged fellow lawmakers to look for other ways to balance the budget besides cutting services.
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.
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.
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).
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.