Politics & Issues

Political news

Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

One day after deciding to remain in session despite the severe winter storm, Missouri legislative leaders have reversed course.

The House will conduct non-voting technical sessions that only require a handful of lawmakers to attend.

Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri General Assembly will remain in session this week, despite the approaching winter storm that's predicted to dump lots of snow and ice across the state.

A number of lawmakers, including House Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones (R, Eureka), say that since they're already in Jefferson City, they might as well get some work done.

Tim Bommel / House Communications Office

A state representative has announced plans to introduce a bill to increase penalties for human trafficking convictions in Missouri.

Democratic Rep. Jason Kander said the measure he plans to introduce this week would boost Missouri penalties for human trafficking to the same level as federal statutes. He said federal penalties for human trafficking range from fines to five years and up to life in prison. Most Missouri human trafficking penalties go up to 15 years in prison.

State Auditor's office

New Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich plans to rate the entities he audits on a scale of excellent to poor.

Schweich said Friday his grading scale is intended to provide an evaluation that's easy to understand both for the general public and the agency being audited. He hopes the new system will provide some context about the severity of problems that get pointed out in audits.

The best rating will be excellent, followed by good, fair and poor.

He plans to start using the rating scale for audits released in February.

Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

Some Republican lawmakers in Missouri are suggesting the state reject a $189 million federal payment for K-12 public schools.

Others want to accept it, but also want to spend it differently than Governor Jay Nixon (D) has proposed.

A Missouri Senate panel has given its approval to a bill changing the state law for dog breeders.

The Senate agriculture committee endorsed legislation Thursday that would modify a ballot measure, known as "Prop. B," approved by voters in November.

The bill would delete the limit of 50 dogs per breeder and give licensed breeders up to 180 days to correct serious violations before they face criminal charges.

Flickr/curran.kelleher

Two bills have been filed in the Missouri House that would raise the state's tax on cigarettes, which is currently the lowest in the nation at 17 cents a pack.

The first bill would only raise the tax on cigarettes by 12 cents a pack, while the second would raise it by a dollar a pack.

Bill Greenblatt/UPI

Missouri lawmakers are considering two different options for enticing people to pay overdue taxes.

A tax amnesty proposal presented Thursday to a House committee by Republican Rep. Tom Flanigan, of Carthage, would waive all interest and penalties for delinquent taxpayers who pay up between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31.

Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

A Missouri Senate committee conducted a hearing today into legislation that would restore local control over the St. Louis Police Department.

The department has been under state control since the Civil War.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri House has given first-round approval to legislation that would require drug testing for some welfare recipients.

The bill would require work-eligible recipients and applicants of the state's Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program to pass drug tests in order to receive assistance.

A Missouri Senate committee has approved legislation that bars all drivers from texting while driving.

Currently, only drivers 21 years old and younger are prohibited from sending cell phone text messages while driving.

But what's the problem with that system according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol?

It's hard to tell how old a driver is if an officer sees them texting.

Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

A series of public hearings began today for legislation that would repeal, amend, and place exemptions on Proposition B.

Missouri voters narrowly approved the measure in November.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is taking steps he hopes will improve water quality at the Lake of the Ozarks, one of Missouri’s most popular tourist destinations.

The recent move of Missouri House of Representatives members to vote in favor of continuing to allow smoking in their Capitol building offices has drawn some criticism - in the form of a formal complaint.

Rossie Judd of Fenton, Mo. has filed an Americans with Disabilities Act complaint against the policy, saying in her complaint that it denies her "meaningful access to the House of Representatives" as a result.

Mo. House of Representatives

The Missouri House is expected to debate legislation this week that would require drug testing for some welfare recipients in Missouri.

The bill would target applicants and recipients of the state's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF) who are classified as work-eligible.

Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

Republican and Democratic House members gathered today to unveil several proposals they say will improve K-12 education in Missouri.

The idea getting the most attention is school choice - allowing students from failing school districts to transfer to better-performing schools statewide.

An attorney who successfully challenged Missouri's photo ID law for voters in 2006 plans a new legal argument if the requirement is revived.

Governor Jay Nixon spent a few minutes with reporters in Jefferson  City today, answering questions about education and other topics.

At least one labor union that represents state workers in Missouri is lashing out at Governor Jay Nixon's plan to eliminate more than 860 state jobs.

Nixon made that announcement during Wednesday's State of the State Address.

Governor Jay Nixon is calling for cuts to higher education, fewer state jobs, and holding public school funding at its current level in his proposed state budget for next year. But he kept his State of the State Address upbeat while acknowledging that Missouri is still in a financial hole.  St. Louis Public Radio’s Marshall Griffin reports.

Tonight Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon gave his annual speech to the Missouri General Assembly - the State of the State address. 

We'll have a full report from our statehouse reporter Marshall Griffin tomorrow during Morning Edition, but here are the highlights of tonight's event and corresponding issues, along with key points from the Republican response given by Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder.

A Missouri House committee has voted in favor of legislation to give St. Louis control over its police department, which has been under state control since the Civil War.

Those arguing in favor of local control say it's past time for St. Louis to regain authority over its police force.

(Mo. Atty. General's Office)

Missouri lawmakers are urging Attorney General Chris Koster to challenge the federal health care law.

The Republican-led Senate passed a resolution Wednesday asking the Democratic attorney general to either file his own lawsuit, join a suit by other attorneys general or join a suit filed by Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder.

Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri House leaders from both political parties are targeting Governor Jay Nixon's practice of having various state agencies pay for his travel expenses.

Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

A Missouri Senate committee is receiving budget requests this week from agencies and non-profit groups as lawmakers prepare to craft the state's spending plan for next year.

Several groups appeared today before the Senate Appropriations Committee, asking that funding for the Department of Social Services be raised, or at least not cut any further.

The state of Missouri paid tribute today to Martin Luther King, Jr., at a ceremony in Jefferson City.

About 150 people attended the event.  The diverse audience was encouraged to pay tribute to the slain Civil Rights leader by treating others with kindness and looking for ways to serve others.

Missouri Capitol building
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Some Republican senators want to prohibit union-only work places, which they contend could deter some businesses from locating in Missouri.

Missouri businesses currently have the option of requiring union fees from employees.

Legislation filed Thursday by Republican Sen. Jason Crowell, of Cape Girardeau, would refer the union issue to voters next year.

school buses
Flickr

Governor Jay Nixon has released $7.5 million for public school busing that he had earlier withheld due to Missouri's budget troubles.

The amount is just a fraction of the $70 million budgeted for public school transportation, the rest of which remains frozen.

Flickr | jimbowen0306)

Though the recent trend in Missouri has been to go smoke free, the Missouri House voted today to continue to allow smoking in members' offices in the Capitol building.

Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

A Missouri House committee has passed legislation that would require some welfare recipients to undergo drug testing in order to receive benefits.

Members of the House Committee on General Laws took testimony from supporters and opponents before casting their votes.

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