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Touring Committee Seeks Ways To Downsize Missouri State Government

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

An interim committee kicked off its statewide tour in St. Louis County on Tuesday, gathering small business owners and other citizens to voice their ideas for ways to shrink Missouri's government.

The "Missouri House Committee on Downsizing State Government" is chaired by Rep. Paul Curtman (R-Franklin County).

Many of the ideas the public put forth were typical conservative fare: a 10 percent cut across all programs in the budget, more regular audits (and ones by private organizations), not expanding Medicaid, issuing school vouchers and, of course, overriding the governor's veto of income tax cuts.

But there were also other ideas that aren't always associated with conservative causes. Jennifer Bird, a Republican committeewoman in St. Louis County, suggested ethics reforms.

"If you have a company giving money to a particular campaign or candidate, that should exclude you from any contracts, any benefits, any anything," Bird told the committee. "Look at sweepstakes. If I work at McDonald's, and my brother pulled the tab and won the million dollars, he can't win the prize because I work at McDonald's."

Several speakers spoke out about legalizing marijuana.

"What we would like to see happen is people given summons instead of booking," Sgt. Gary Wiegert with the St. Louis Police Department said. "What this does is save a lot of money for police departments across the state."

Wiegert added that he was representing Show-Me Cannabis, and not the St. Louis Police Department at the hearing.

The committee heard testimony for an hour, and also allowed a few lawmakers in the audience to briefly discuss their ideas to downsize the state government. Senator Eric Schmitt said over-riding the governor's veto of the income tax cut is a huge part of limiting state government.

Governor Jay Nixon has also been on a PR campaign for HB 253. Monday he spoke in Hannibal, criticizing the bill for inadvertently striking down tax exempt status for prescription drugs. Nixon says it amounts to a sales tax increase of $200 million annually.

The committee continues its tour throughout the state for the next two days.

Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter@csmcdaniel

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