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Mo. lawmakers begin 2010 legislative session

Mo. State Capitol on the opening day of the 2010 session.
Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio
Mo. State Capitol on the opening day of the 2010 session.

By Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson City, Mo. – Missouri lawmakers talked ethics, jobs, and crafting a budget with less money as the 2010 legislative session opened today in Jefferson City.

They especially had a lot to say about ethics reform. Senate President Pro-tem Charlie Shields (R, St. Joseph) says his chamber will work to get some form of ethics legislation passed early in the session.

But GOP leaders are not backing anything that places limits on campaign contributions, which House Democratic Floor Leader Paul LeVota (D, Independence) says is central to any real reform.

"Now in the state of Missouri it's perfectly okay to give a candidate for State Representative a $100,000 donation, where you can't give ($100,000 to) a candidate for the President of the United States," LeVota said.

Shields, meanwhile, is sponsoring a bill that would bar contributions during legislative sessions, expand income reporting requirements to legislative staffers, and provide the Missouri Ethics Commission with a full-time investigator.

On the subject of taxes, Missouri House Speaker Ron Richard (R, Joplin) told reporters that his chamber will not vote to raise taxes this year.

"I think I've said that a couple of times every year, and that is final...we will practice fiscal discipline in our budget processing and balance the budget, I mean, it's not that tough...and of course we will have an economic development package second to none...that's what we do," Richard said.

House Democrats also pledged to pass legislation to provide more jobs for Missouri. And LeVota says they'll closely follow the progress of federal health care legislation in Washington and will be prepared to implement it on the state level if it passes.


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