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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.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Almost three years have passed since Charles "Cookie" Thornton attacked the Kirkwood City Council in one of the deadliest assaults on a government body in modern American history.

In a two-minute fusillade on the evening of Feb. 7, 2008, the high school track star turned charismatic community leader turned town pariah murdered five city officials before he was killed. A sixth official, Mayor Mike Swoboda, was critically injured and died several months later.

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.

A uniform policy for the use of traffic enforcement cameras was approved unanimously today by the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission.

The new standards require that all tickets for red-light violations be issued by an actual police officer.

For the second year in a row, the Missouri Senate is seeking direct public input for ways to, in its words, "reboot government."

Senate members are holding seminars this week to discuss the ideas sent in via email.

The Missouri House has passed a resolution urging state officials to join a multistate lawsuit challenging the federal health care overhaul and calling on Congress to repeal the law.

The House approved the resolution Tuesday on a vote of 115-46.

The resolution also urges Missouri's attorney general to defend a voter-approved law that bars the government from requiring people to have health insurance or penalizing them for not having it. The federal law requires that most people have health insurance or face penalties starting in 2014.

Did your favorite Missouri candidate lose a close election?

Well, a southern Missouri lawmaker wants to make it harder for close-election losers to get an automatic recount.

Currently, candidates for public office in Missouri can request a recount if they lose by less than 1 percent point of the total vote.

Missouri has a new State Auditor.

Tom Schweich was sworn in today during a ceremony inside the State Capitol Rotunda. 

Legislation that would block pay raises for judges in Missouri has been introduced in the State Senate.

The raises were recommended by a special commission to bring salaries for state judges closer to their federal counterparts.

The Missouri state budget is already due for more cuts this year, and that's the reason Republican Sen. Jim Lembke, of St. Louis, cites for filing a resolution to block a recommended pay raise for judges.

The Associated Press reports that "Judges have argued for several years that higher salaries are needed to persuade qualified people to serve as judges instead of working as private-sector attorneys where they might earn more money."

Lawmakers weren't the only ones filing into the Missouri Capitol today.

Around 200 people attended a Tea Party rally inside the Capitol Rotunda.  Most of the speakers sounded off on national issues, primarily taxes and the Democratic agenda.

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