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Latest Missouri Government News Headlines

Speed-Limit Bill Hits Bumps

Opposition in the Senate stalled plans for rapid approval of a bill to keep down speed limits on urban highways and two-lane roads.

What was supposed to be a final compromise of the versions passed by the House and Senate cleared a House-Senate conference committee and won easy approval in the House.

But a Senate vote was delayed after Sen. Harold Caskey, D-Butler, would not rule out a filibuster to kill the proposal. Caskey has argued for retaining the old speed limits that had been in effect prior to the federal imposed limits.

For more information see:

Higher Ed Budget Approved

The House Education Appropriations Committee approved the governor's recommendations for higher education without any significant changes.

The governor's recommendations represent some of the highest increases in recent years for the state's colleges and universities.

The higher education budget now goes to the House Budget Committee which reviews all the state's budget bills before they go to the full House.

In another higher education issue, the Senate approved legislation that would let the University of Missouri curators set their own meeting-attendance rquirements.

Current law, which is not enforced, provides for removal of a curator for missing just a single meeting.

We have more information on the higher education developments in:

HMO Regulation Stalls

At the request of the Senate President Pro Tem, the Senate Health Committee has delayed action of bills to regulate health maintenance organizations.

More than a dozen bills have been introduced this year to regulate HMOs or impose requirements on what HMOs must cover.

Sen. Jim Mathewson, D-Sedalia, told the committee they should take the time to roll those various ideas into a single bill.

"Let's slow down and look at things," Mathewson said.

You can get more information from the newspaper story on HMO delay.

GOP Ballot Shakeup

One of the top candidates for the GOP nomination for governor has dropped out of the race.

Sen. Mike Kenney announced he will switch to the lieutenant governor's race -- leaving State Auditor Margaret Kelly as the only top-name Republican who's announced for governor.

In the meantime, Missouri's lieutenant governor from two decades ago announced he's considering a race for the Congressional seat held by Ike Skelton.

Bill Phelps had left Missouri 15 years ago to take a job in Texas after he lost the GOP nomination for governor.

Phelps is best remembered by his nickname of "full-time Phelps" which he used in his campaigns for lieutenant governor -- promising that unlike past lieutenant governors he would work at the job full time.

For more details, see:

Abortion Compromise Effort Fails

The efforts of the House Children Committee chairman to find a compromise in the abortion controversy went down in flames.

He had appointed subcommittee evenly divided between abortion supporters and opponents to search for a middle ground.

But instead of a compromise, the subcommittee chair presented a plan -- approved by the full committee -- containing several abortion restrictions that were immediately denounced by abortion-rights supporters.

For more details, see:

Speed Bill Approved

After weeks of on-and-off-again debate, the Senate finally got around to passing a bill designed to retain some of the federally imposed speed limits in Missouri.

But the measure contains speed limits far higher than the governor has recommended and than the House had approved earlier this year.

The measure now goes to a House-Senate conference committee to resolve those differences.

The legislature is facing a tight deadline.

If a speed limit bill is not passed by the end of Feburary, the old speed limits of the early 1970s automatically will take effect - 70 mph. on Interstates and 65 mph. on all other state highways during daytime hours.

Lobbyist Gift-Ban in House and Senate

The House Judiciary Committee has approved for full House debate legislation that would prohibit legislators from accepting gifts or meals from lobbyists.

Also, the Senate had a short debate on a similar proposal. But that proposal was put aside after objections from the Senate's top leader.

For more details, see Senate puts aside lobby-gift ban.

Safe Schools Clears Committee

The House Science and Critical Issues Committee has approved and sent to the full House the governor's Safe Schools Act designed to deal with violent, disruptivee students.

The proposal would empose tougher criminal sanctions for assaulting school staff and also would allow schools to ship disruptive students to alternative education programs.

For more details, see:

Medical Care Mandates Approved

Two of the major medical-care proposals before the 1996 legislative session won preliminary legislative approval Monday (Feb. 12).

The House approved legislation to require insurance companies provide a minimum of 48 hours hospital coverage for delivery of a baby.

The House bill requires another, formal vote in the House before going to the Senate.

On the same day, the Senate approved a measure to require insurance companies cover the costs of child immunization.

The Senate bill faces another Senate approval vote before going to the House.

For more details on the House bill, including digital audio, see: House approves minimum hospital stay for new mothers.

Food Tax Cut Clears Committee

A reduction in the sales tax on food was approved unanimously by the House Ways and Means Committee.

The measure would reduce the state sales tax on food to 3/4ths of one penny per dollar. The measure would cover only groceries. Restuarant meals and other food consumed on site would remain subjected to the full state sales tax of four-cents per dollar.

The committee chairman said reducing taxes on food would assure a greater benefit to the lower income compared to the governor's proposal for a smaller reduction of the tax on all items.

For more details, see:

Speed Bill Stalls in Senate

Opponents to the governor's plan to restrict speeds on urban and two-lane state roads successfully stalled Senate action on the measure for the entire week.

Dominating the Senate's attention on the bill for most of the week was an amendment to allow speeds in urban areas to rise to 65 mph. on multi-lane freeways.

Supporters argue drivers aren't obeying the 55 mph limit now. But opponents to the amendment say it will cause more highway deaths.

The Senate sponsor of the bill threatened to kill his own bill if the 65 mph amendment were tacked on the bill. For more details, see:

Senate Protests Flood Work Plan

The Senate passed a resolution in opposition to a multi-state agreement suggesting the state would restrict it's flood relief efforts in the future.

The memorandum was signed by the head of State Emergency Management Agency.

The document warns that unrestricted flood-prevention efforts can making flooding worse for downstream states.

But opponents complained the memorandum suggested the administration would not be as agressive in sandbagging efforts to protect property.

For more details, see Senate protests state plan to restrict flood protection work.

Education Standard Change Rejected

The Education Department's Show-Me standards program survived a key vote in the Senate Education Committee.

The committee narrowly rejected a bill that would have required the state curriculum standards focus on "basic knowledge" and "quantitative assessments."

Supporters indicated they'll make another attempt at passage in the committee.

One day after the committee's rejection, more than 100 protestors converged on the Capitol to protest the standards which they charge will lead to outcome-based education.

For more information see:

House Approves Aging Department

By an overwhelming margin, the House approved creating a separte department for elderly programs.

The measure, strongly backed by elderly-advocacy groups, would create a Department of Aging.

Supporters say it would put an advocate for the elderly on the governor's cabinet. Opponents say it just expands the bureaucracy of government.

For more details, see: