Wes Duplantier
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Wes Duplantier


Duplantier is studying English and political science at the University of Missouri. He came to Missouri Digital News in the fall of 2012 as a newsroom editor and a print and broadcast reporter. This year, he is covering the spring legislative session as a broadcast intern for KMOX-AM.

Before joining MDN, Duplantier reported on politics for The Hartford Courant and covered the 2011 and 2012 regular legislative sessions for The Associated Press. He has also previously covered local news for The Mexico (Mo.) Ledger, The Sedalia Democrat and The Jefferson City News Tribune and has covered local news in Gasconade and Montgomery Counties for a website called County News LIVE.

Duplantier hopes to develop his political reporting experience and one day cover legislative politics for a major newspaper.


Stories by Wes Duplantier in 2013 include:
Stories by Wes Duplantier in 2012 include:

Wes Duplantier's Tweets @MDNnews

  • 01/14/2013: Inauguration ceremonies about to start on South Lawn. God Bless America playing to an audience trying to stay warm politicsmo
  • 01/14/2013: Inauguration ceremonies about to start on South Lawn. God Bless America playing to an audience trying to stay warm politicsmo
  • 01/14/2013: Gov. Nixon expected to give his Inaugural Address shortly after 12 p.m. politicsmo
  • 01/14/2013: State lawmakers now making their way down Capitol steps escorting Nixon and his wife politicsmo
  • 01/14/2013: Chris Koster has been sworn in by Supreme Court Judge Mary R. Russell politicsmo
  • 01/14/2013: Chris Koster has been sworn in by Supreme Court Judge Mary R. Russell politicsmo
  • 01/14/2013: Chris Koster has been sworn in by Supreme Court Judge Mary R. Russell http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp politicsmo
  • 01/14/2013: Clint Zweifel has been sworn in as treasurer http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp politicsmo
  • 01/14/2013: Newly elected Secretary of State Jason Kander, a Democrat, has been sworn into office. http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp politicsmo
  • 01/14/2013: Republican Peter Kinder has been sworn in for his third term as Lt. Gov. #mo #politics http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp politicsmo
  • 01/14/2013: Ceremonial blasts rang out and helicopters flew over the Capitol as Nixon was sworn into a second term http://bit.ly/zmrZqm Politicsmo
  • 01/14/2013: Nixon says the state's politics are not more partisan than ever, calls for cooperation http://bit.ly/zmrZqm Politicsmo
  • 01/14/2013: Nixon: I am more optimistic than ever about our future http://bit.ly/zmrZqm Politicsmo
  • 01/14/2013: State Sen. John Lamping tweets that Nixon's remarks are a do nothing speech from a do nothing gov. http://bit.ly/zmrZqm Politicsmo
  • 01/14/2013: New Secretary of State Kander calls for easier absentee voting, campaign reforms http://bit.ly/VGkjBL
  • 01/14/2013: New Secretary of State Jason Kander calls for easier absentee voting, campaign reforms http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 01/14/2013: Nixon, Kander, Kinder, Koster and Zweifel sworn in to office http://bit.ly/13wJ7ie
  • 01/15/2013: Republican lawmaker moves to halt tighter federal gun laws in Mo. http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 01/15/2013: Rep. Casey Guernsey moves to stop Obama gun proposals in MO http://bit.ly/V2XYMm
  • 01/15/2013: House panel endorses special election bill to fill potential lt. gov. opening http://bit.ly/ZV2kW6
  • 01/15/2013: House panel endorses special election bill to fill potential lieutenant governor opening http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 01/22/2013: Sen. Scott Rupp says "time to please everyone" is over on SB1 (2nd Injury), calls for compromise #mo http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp Politicsmo
  • 01/22/2013: Western District Court decision could open possibility of worker lawsuits for unpaid 2nd Injury claims #mo http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp Politicsmo
  • 01/22/2013: Chamber's Rich AuBuchon says occupational disease claims should make a comeback in SB1 negotiations http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp Politicsmo
  • 01/22/2013: MATA member says 2nd Injury Fund situation could affect #MO bond rating http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp Politicsmo
  • 01/24/2013: Senate panel looks at slashing of business taxes http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 01/24/2013: Senators look to slash business taxes to match other states http://bit.ly/10PK6KO
  • 01/25/2013: GOP seeks to slash business tax rates to match other states http://bit.ly/Y3I19z
  • 01/29/2013: House panel looks at requiring photo ID to vote http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 01/29/2013: Rep. Brandon Ellington (D) has appeared at a house hearing on voter ID in rare testimony against it. http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp politicsmo
  • 01/29/2013: House Republicans push to require photo ID from state's voters http://bit.ly/WsOSKu
  • 01/29/2013: Senate pushes tax credits that could bring more college sports to Missouri http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 01/31/2013: Sales tax increase possible if business taxes get slashed http://bit.ly/TiCTPS
  • 01/31/2013: Sales tax increase possible if business taxes get slashed http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 02/05/2013: Mo. senators push one-cent sales tax to fund road improvements http://bit.ly/12rceEJ
  • 02/12/2013: Mo. Republicans push records laws to get info on Nixon's plane http://bit.ly/Xz8MAt
  • 02/12/2013: House, Senate move to tighten open records laws http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 02/14/2013: Mo. Republican pushes to allow more evidence in child sex abuse cases http://bit.ly/12OYjIO
  • 02/14/2013: Mo. Republican pushes to allow more evidence in child sex abuse cases http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 02/14/2013: Mo. Republican pushes to allow more evidence in child sex abuse cases http://bit.ly/VhLwfR
  • 02/19/2013: Mo. lawmakers target sales tax to fund road repairs http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 02/19/2013: Democratic senator seeks to soften immigration laws http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 02/19/2013: Mo. senator says gun bill could increase urban violence http://bit.ly/UEEyjA
  • 02/21/2013: Governor declares state of emergency in response to snowstorm http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 02/28/2013: Mo. House panel stakes out its position in tax credit fight http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 02/28/2013: House panel signals its position in fight over tax credits http://bit.ly/Y82TNC
  • 03/05/2013: Senators say they should approve all future plane purchases for the governor http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 03/05/2013: Senate moves to block big-ticket buys like the governor's plane in the future http://bit.ly/XRCaWS
  • 03/07/2013: House panel considers official title for man's best friend http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 03/07/2013: Revenue department under fire from GOP for disclosing gun owner information http://bit.ly/16d1kCI
  • 03/12/2013: Senate Republicans push for more legislative control of transportation tax dollars http://bit.ly/ZxX3mU
  • 03/12/2013: House backs vehicle sales tax measure http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 03/12/2013: Republicans push through conscience bill for medical workers http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 03/12/2013: Senate Republicans push for more legislative control of transportation tax money http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 03/13/2013: State officials beat back allegations of sharing gun owners info as southern judge rules practice must be halted http://bit.ly/XIVaHp
  • 03/14/2013: Senate panel to consider tax amnesty proposal http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 03/14/2013: Senators move one step close to giving big break to people who owe thousands in taxes http://bit.ly/WfDSCb
  • 03/26/2013: Rep. Jeff Roorda, of Jeff County, has moved to send the budget back to the House committee over Medcaid spending. http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 03/26/2013: House votes down Dems motion to send budget back to committee by vote of 110-47. http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 03/26/2013: STL County Dem Margo McNeil says House should take money from charter school commission and give to foundation formula http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 03/26/2013: STL County Dem Margo McNeil says House should take money from charter school commission and give to foundation formula
  • 03/26/2013: House votes down McNeil amendment on foundation formula, 111-47.
  • 03/26/2013: Gov. Jay Nixon's FY2014 budget proposal totals $25.7B; House budget proposal totals $24.8B. Difference mostly Medicaid expansion.
  • 03/26/2013: Medicaid fireworks open House budget debate http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 03/26/2013: House opens budget debate with Medicaid fireworks http://bit.ly/11Iijgo
  • 03/26/2013: State Senate Subpoenas Department of Revenue Over Licensing Program http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 03/26/2013: Democrats again move to add Medicaid expansion into state budget with amendment from state budget http://bit.ly/11Iijgo politicsmo
  • 03/26/2013: GOP-controlled House strikes down an amendment to put Medicaid expansion in budget in 105-50 vote http://bit.ly/11Iijgo politicsmo
  • 03/26/2013: The Senate continues to debate a con amendment on gun rights, Maj Leader Richard says it could go a while http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp politicsmo
  • 03/26/2013: House panel takes emotional testimony on day care centers law http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 03/28/2013: The Missouri House has given final approval to the state's supplemental spending of $219 million in 148-2 vote politicsmo
  • 03/28/2013: House sends supplemental budget to governor http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 03/28/2013: In a 93-62 vote, the House has passed a bill to cap non-economic damages in medical lawsuits. It now heads to the Senate. politicsmo
  • 03/28/2013: House has begun passage votes on budget. Democrats rankled over ed spending, labor inspector cuts & lack of Medicaid expansion politicsmo
  • 03/28/2013: House has begun passage votes on budget. Democrats rankled over ed spending, labor inspector cuts & lack of Medicaid expansion politicsmo
  • 03/28/2013: House has begun passage votes on budget. Democrats rankled over ed spending, labor inspector cuts & lack of Medicaid expansion politicsmo
  • 03/28/2013: House has begun passage votes on budget. Democrats rankled over ed spending, labor inspector cuts & lack of Medicaid expansion politicsmo
  • 03/28/2013: House has begun passage votes on budget. Democrats rankled over ed spending, labor inspector cuts & lack of Medicaid expansion
  • 03/28/2013: House begins passage votes on its version of budget. Dems rankled over ed spending, cuts to labor inspectors and lack of Medicaid expansion
  • 03/28/2013: Rep. Marsha Haefner knocks Jay Nixon for not putting enough tuition $$ for vets in FY14 budget. House version gives an extra $1.5 million.
  • 03/28/2013: Rep. Jeremy LaFerve rips into fellow freshmen Rep. Caleb Rowden for skipping vote on ed budget bill; Grisamore says he needs "Medicaid meds"
  • 03/28/2013: Minority Leader Jake Hummel says GOP has been the "party of 'No'" on Medicaid expansion effort. politicsmo
  • 03/28/2013: Rep. Kevin Engler says the Bible doesn't call for government to support welfare benefits politicsmo
  • 03/28/2013: House passes measure capping non-economic damages in medical lawsuits http://bit.ly/104tADO
  • 03/28/2013: $24.8B budget clears House without Medicaid expansion http://bit.ly/104A3Pe
  • 03/28/2013: House passes measure capping non-economic damages in medical lawsuits http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 03/28/2013: House sends $24.8B budget to Senate without Medicaid expansion http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 03/29/2013: Medicaid debate fireworks begin as House passes 2014 budget http://bit.ly/10jGyeE
  • 04/02/2013: The Senate is debating the elimination of the "circuit breaker" tax credit for renters. Could be a close vote.
  • 04/02/2013: The Senate is debating the elimination of the "circuit breaker" tax credit for renters. Could be a close vote. politicsmo
  • 04/02/2013: The Senate has voted 21-12 to pass a bill eliminating property tax credits for renters.
  • 04/02/2013: Senate votes to nix "circuit breaker" tax credit for low-income renters http://bit.ly/17c16wc
  • 04/02/2013: Senate votes to nix property tax credit for low-income renters http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 04/04/2013: Democratic rep: sale of driver data a bigger problem than sharing with feds http://bit.ly/16zx8RF
  • 04/04/2013: Democrat: sale of driver data a bigger problem than sharing with feds http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 04/09/2013: Nixon presses Medicaid expansion with Senate GOP; Republicans say no deal http://bit.ly/Z6M5bE
  • 04/09/2013: Nixon presses Medicaid expansion with Senate GOP; Republicans say no deal http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 04/09/2013: Lawmakers work to recognize baseball great Jackie Robinson http://bit.ly/YbPd2E
  • 04/11/2013: Senate Appropriations Committee continues grilling Highway Patrol on gun owner data http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 04/11/2013: Senators grill Public Safety, Highway Patrol officials on releases of gun owner info http://bit.ly/ZM8f64
  • 04/11/2013: Mo. House fires back in gun information controversy http://bit.ly/16XoGKi
  • 04/16/2013: Governor: Revenue won't scan gun owners' info into driving license records. http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 04/18/2013: Senate panel backs in-state tuition for veterans http://bit.ly/115NuNW
  • 04/18/2013: Senate panel backs in-state tuition for veterans http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 04/23/2013: Stoddard County lawyer subpoenas Nixon to testify in concealed carry drivers' license case http://bit.ly/14N8hMQ
  • 04/24/2013: Nixon ordered to testify in Stoddard County gun lawsuit http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 04/30/2013: House votes to allow armed school teachers http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 04/30/2013: House backs measure to allow school teachers to carry guns http://bit.ly/101NQmV
  • 05/03/2013: Spring forward no more: Mo. lawmakers push to end daylight saving time http://bit.ly/11GCCXh
  • 05/03/2013: Spring forward no more: lawmakers push to end daylight saving time http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 05/09/2013: As session winds down, House backs $1.2B bond measure http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 05/09/2013: As session winds down, House backs $1.2B bond measure http://bit.ly/10lvPjE
  • 05/09/2013: All of the budget bills have moved through the Senate. Little debate from Democrats on Medicaid being left out politicsmo
  • 05/14/2013: Medicaid director replaced during session's final week http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 05/14/2013: Mo. Medicaid director replaced as session nears its end http://bit.ly/16y3fnp
  • 05/14/2013: Nixon vetoes repeal of renters' tax credit http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 05/14/2013: Lawmakers send 'right-to-farm' measure to 2014 ballot http://bit.ly/18JAXFL
  • 05/14/2013: Lawmakers send 'right-to-farm' measure to 2014 ballot http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 05/16/2013: Second Injury Fund fix heads to Nixon http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 05/16/2013: House sends Second Injury Fund fix to Nixon http://bit.ly/18ObYBd
  • 05/16/2013: Groups backing Medicaid expansion line Capitol steps with memorial http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 05/16/2013: Groups line capitol steps with paper lanterns in Medicaid protest http://bit.ly/19Bkscz
  • 09/05/2012: Missouri lawmakers return Wednesday to take up vetoes by Gov. Jay Nixon. http://bit.ly/NSPXnS
  • 09/06/2012: Car taxes, contraception among Nixon vetoes likely to see legislative action http://bit.ly/y7eJ0o
  • 09/07/2012: Car taxes, contraception likely on tap for Sept. 12 veto session http://bit.ly/P8laYq
  • 09/12/2012: Mo. lawmakers voted 109-45 to pass contraception bill into law over Nixon objection, did not challnege car tax veto http://bit.ly/TM3Efg
  • 09/19/2012: State Supreme Court to hear arguments on MOSIRA funding bill http://bit.ly/y7eJ0o
  • 09/20/2012: Mo. abortion groups challenge contingency in opposing MOSIRA funding http://bit.ly/PVTwyk
  • 09/26/2012: Propsition E will put on the ballot another part of the federal health care law: exchanges http://bit.ly/SB9Fer
  • 09/26/2012: Proposition E will put health care exchanges on the November ballot http://bit.ly/y7eJ0o
  • 09/28/2012: Proposition E puts health care back on Missouri ballots http://bit.ly/RoaEN7
  • 10/05/2012: Rep. Chris Kelly, Missouri convenience store group bring their arguments to Columbia on cigarette tax http://bit.ly/PETZ49
  • 10/10/2012: FEMA trailer rent could be too high for some Joplin tornado victims http://bit.ly/Qjcdd9
  • 10/10/2012: State rep: FEMA trailer rent could be too high for poor families http://bit.ly/y7eJ0o
  • 10/12/2012: Trailer rent for Joplin tornado victims could be too high for low-income families when FEMA starts charging rent http://bit.ly/TcvxYV
  • 10/17/2012: @EdMartin4MO camp counters P-D column, says it IS talking to newspaper ed boards http://bit.ly/T0D9l4
  • 10/17/2012: Martin campaign counters P-D story, says it is meeting with editorial boards http://bit.ly/y7eJ0o
  • 10/18/2012: Mo. Department of Social Services: no TANF drug tests to date http://t.co/4UQqPrMj
  • 10/18/2012: Mo. Department of Social Services: no TANF applicants or recipients have been drug-tested under 2011 law http://t.co/hhjaRi4g
  • 10/31/2012: Secretary of State projects 3 percent increase in election turnout. http://bit.ly/y7eJ0o
  • 11/01/2012: Mo. Secretary of State projects 3 percent turnout increase http://bit.ly/YrOOKU
  • 11/06/2012: With about 2% of precincts reporting statewide, Prop B (tobacco tax), 56.6% No, 43.4% Yes. politicsmo
  • 11/06/2012: With about 2% of precincts reporting statewide, Prop B (tobacco tax), 56.6% No, 43.4% Yes. politicsmo
  • 11/06/2012: With about 2% of precincts reporting statewide, Prop B (tobacco tax): 56.6% No, 43.4% Yes politicsmo
  • 11/06/2012: With about 4.5% of precincts reporting statewide, Prop B (cigarette tax): 54.5% No, 45.5% Yes politicsmo
  • 11/06/2012: With about half of precincts reporting statewide, Prop B (tobacco tax): 53.8% No, 46.2% Yes politicsmo
  • 11/06/2012: With about half of precincts reporting statewide, Prop B (tobacco tax): 53.8% No, 46.2% Yes politicsmo
  • 11/06/2012: With about half of precincts reporting statewide, Prop B (tobacco tax): 53.8% No, 46.2% Yes politicsmo
  • 11/06/2012: With about half of precincts reporting statewide, Prop B (tobacco tax): 53.8% No, 46.2% Yes politicsmo
  • 11/06/2012: With about half of precincts reporting statewide, Prop B (tobacco tax): 53.8% No, 46.2% Yes politicsmo
  • 11/06/2012: With more than 77% of precincts reporting statewide, Prop B (tobacco tax): 52.1% No, 47.9% Yes politicsmo
  • 11/07/2012: Missouri voters shot down Proposition B, which proposed an increase on the state's tobacco tax. http://bit.ly/PW3TEw
  • 11/07/2012: Mo. House speaker: Gov. Nixon will need to do "true, actual negotiation" with GOP lawmakers http://bit.ly/TM6NuP
  • 11/07/2012: Mo. House Speaker challenges Nixon veto power with new majority http://bit.ly/TM7x2T
  • 11/28/2012: STL developer Paul McKee's attorney call for court to restore his $390M TIF in north city http://bit.ly/WvP8Ft
  • 11/28/2012: St. Louis developer takes massive TIF case to state Supreme Court http://bit.ly/y7eJ0o
  • 12/06/2012: Nixon meets with Mo. troops in Kuwait, Afghanistan on third Mideast tour http://bit.ly/y7eJ0o

Wes Duplantier's Blog in 2013
An Interest in the Law

Posted 02/16/2013:  This week, the biggest news in the Capitol was the Senate passage of legislation that lawmakers hope will "fix" the state's Second Injury Fund, which compensates certain injured workers. The Senate vote was interesting in its own right, but for me this legislation demonstrated the power of interests groups because the measure includes provisions dealing with one short but controversial phrase: occupational diseases.

The state's Second Injury Fund provides compensation to workers who have previously sustain some kind of disabling injury and then sustain another injury at their job that either partially or fully disables them, preventing them from working. Originally set up to make it easier for injured World War II veterans to find jobs when they came home, the Second Injury Fund takes the risk of previously injured workers out of the worker's compensation system, in the same way that high-risk health insurance pools might be used to provide coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. In exchange for the existence of the fund and the certainty of its payments to qualified victims, the state's workers gave up their right to sue employers for the costs related to their on-the-job injury.The state's businesses supply the fund with cash through a surcharge on their workers' compensation insurance.

The problem is that the fund is insolvent, that is, it has more money in claims piling up against it than money flowing into it. The state attorney general said earlier this year that the fund has debts of $28.1 million and a backlog of 30,000 claims filed by injured workers who aren't being paid. The attorney general's office, which is responsible for defending and administering the fund, has stopped processing claims because of cash flow problems with the fund.

That caused workers to sue the state, claiming that it was not following its own law. The case appears headed to the state Supreme Court, but a lower court ruling a few weeks ago sided with the workers and detailed two possible avenues for recourse if the fund isn't operational: either the state pays the debt from its tax revenue or the law is voided and injured workers could sue their employers for the massive costs of their disability. Lawmakers heard about this and rushed Second Injury Fund legislation to the Senate floor, saying it must pass this year (it has failed in others). 

In the middle of all of this, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry insisted that the legislation include provisions lumping claims from occupational diseases into the state's workers' compensation system. Diseases such as mesothelioma are sickening and killing workers, whose families are filing suits against employers, sometimes with high-dollar awards. The Chamber wants such cases put into the state fund to limit the award to a predictable number with the cost borne by all of the state's businesses. 

This has been tried before and opposed by Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Jay Nixon, who say that such diseases are so life-altering that the payments offered by the workers' compensation system simply don't suffice.

The legislation was a study in the power of interest groups. On the one hand, Republicans sided with the Chamber of Commerce and pushed for occupational disease provisions. On the other, Democrats took a position previously supported by the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys and said such cases should stay in the courts. There was filibuster from the Democrats, but eventually occupational diseases became part of the bill, with provisions to give more benefits to people with especially terrible occupational diseases, such as mesothelioma.

It left me wondering about the power interest groups have in the Capitol. Two years ago, Republicans based their entire initial legislative platform on a plan from the Chamber called "Fix the Six." By the end of last session, then-Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer said he could barely recall any of the six planks in that platform. But a few months later, a bill was pushed through with the provisions the Chamber wanted.

A quick search Missouri Ethics Commission records turned up little in the way of direct contributions from either the Chamber or MATA to candidates in the General Assembly. But both groups have strong membership bases that might have made individual contributions to the candidates, which gives them significant influence on key issues like the Second Injury Fund. In the weeks ahead, I'll be looking to see if this is one of the common factors that could apply to my study of legislative factors across states.


The Power of Term Limits
Posted 02/10/2013:  Last week I wrote that I'd be looking for factors that are common between state legislatures, patterns that I can study to understand why laws are passed.

One significant factor in the passage of laws in Missouri's legislature is term limits. Enacted by a 1992 statewide vote, term limits in Missouri mean that members can serve eight years in each the state House and Senate. Under a 2002 amendment to those term limits, they might be able to serve more if they fill a partial term.

But the effect of term limits is that people do eventually leave their chamber. According to the Senate's website, the average years of experience in the Senate decreased from 6.7 to 1.85 years after the 2005 legislative inauguration, in part because of term limits (Source: http://goo.gl/uEwpQ).

Those people who do leave usually seek higher office: at least one termed-out state senator ran for statewide office and the current state Senate has many former House members.

I believe the ascension of the latter group and the departure of some of the Senate's longtime fiscal conservatives were key factors in the passage this week of legislation extending five tax credits for charities in the state.

This measure had strong support in the House last year, but was held up by Senate conservatives, worried that the state was spending too much through credits even while it made cuts to appropriations.Those conservatives are gone now and have been replaced by some of the same House members who previously supported the measure, which resulted in it easily passing the Senate and being sent to an apparently receptive House.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 15 states limit the service of their lawmakers (Source: http://goo.gl/kFGbF). In the coming weeks, I'll be searching for stories of similar situations in other states, where term limits might have contributed to the passage (or failure) of legislation, to see if it can be the first of my interstate legislative factors.


Finding the Forces behind Laws
Posted 02/03/2013: 

As the Missouri Legislature settles into its springtime rhythm, I find myself back in a very familiar place: the state Capitol in Jefferson City, and often times in committee rooms or chamber press galleries covering members two days per week as they work to shape our state's laws.

I've been each of the past two years as a reporter for The Associated Press. In that reporting, I've come to understand the mechanics of how laws are made and the general flow of a session, from the prefiled bills about various topics to the hectic budget process to the sprint in the final weeks of the session, as lawmakers work to turn their proposals from pipe dreams on paper to statute book realities.

This year I have a new title, a new outlet and a new mission. I'm here as a radio reporter for KMOX, working with a group known affectionately around the Capitol as "Phill's kids." And, as I've previously laid out this semester, I come to this building twice each week asking not what will pass, but why.

In addition to this course, I'm taking a class in Columbia about state legislatures under MU political science Professor Peverill Squire. We've only just begun our lessons there, but already I'm forming one conclusion: states are different from each other, but analogous or the same in many ways. Almost every state (Nebraska excepted) has two legislative chambers, for instance. And most states have constitutional provisions requiring their budgets to be balanced (Missouri's is in Article X, Section 20).

Those similarities could be seen as constants that are true even across a number of diverse states. During this legislative session, I want to see if there are any discernible patterns with regard to which proposals do and do not pass Missouri's legislative chambers. I also want to see whether those patterns are related to any of these interstate constants and whether the patterns can be predicted with any accuracy across other state legislatures.

I will have a couple of different testing grounds for this idea over the course of the session. As part of my KMOX work, I am currently following and covering legislation related to voter identification requirements (HB48, HJR5) and the lowering of taxes on business income (SB11).

These measures have analogues in other states (in fact, Missouri's business tax bill was provoked by similar action in Kansas) which means I could conceivably compare them. This will be my academic goal for the semester.


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