NewsBook: Missouri Government News for the Week of April 11, 2005
|.||General Assembly stalls motorcycle helmet bill while moving forward with the budget and foundation formula (04/14/05)|
JEFFERSON CITY - A Senate filibuster stopped a bill to make motorcycle helmets optional before the Senate gave approval to the school foundation formula.
Contentious floor debate marked the House's approval of the $19 billion state budget.
|.||House passes budget (04/14/05)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The House passed their version of the state budget.
The budget adds $170 million for education, while making $370 million in cuts to social services.
|.||Missouri Senate gives final approval to school funding changes (04/14/05)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The Senate passed the bill to change the formula allocating money to public schools. It will now go to the House for further debate.
It will cost nearly $700 million to fully fund the formula. The bill doesn't say where the money will come from, just how it should be distributed.
|.||Motocycle helmet law stalls in Senate (04/14/05)|
JEFFERSON CITY - A filibuster blocked a vote on a bill that would remove the motorcycle helmet requirement for riders over 21 years of age.
The bill has made an almost annual, and unsuccessful, trip to becoming law.
|.||Changes to First Steps program gets first round approval (04/13/05)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The program provides in-home services to disabled children under 3, and could lose state funding to Medicaid cuts.
The bill would change the financial responsiblity, placing it into the hands of private insurance providers, as well as families in the program.
|.||Bullfrogs are one hop closer to becoming the state amphibian (04/13/05)|
JEFFERSON CITY - One University of Missouri biology professor says the bullfrog is a pest.
Kansas City representative Susan Phillips says she's not concerned with the arguments made against the bill.
|.||Legislators vote not to cut their own healthcare benefits (04/13/05)|
JEFFERSON CITY - By a margin of only three votes, legislators voted not to cut their own healthcare benefits by twenty percent today.
Many Democrats complain that this was a hypocritical move after making huge cuts to Medicaid, but Republicans say they are just trying to be consistent in their message: Employers should provide their employees with health insurance.
|.||House members kill amendment to cut their own health insurance. (04/13/05)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The amendment died in a 75-78 vote.
Democrat Rep. Trent Skaggs of Kansas City introduced the amendment to the state budget in response to Gov. Blunt's Medicaid cuts.
Get the radio stories.
He says, if the state doesn't have money to give health care to the poor, legislators should take a cut as well.
Republican Rep. Jim Lembke objected to the bill because it is part of the "compensation package" legislators earn by making the sacrifices necessary to represent the people in addition to their full time jobs.
|.||Rise in gasoline prices affects transportation department (04/13/05)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri Department of Transportation Spokesman Jeff Briggs says rising gasoline prices affects department functions in more than one way.
Asphalt is pretrolium based and the cost of which are rising.
|.||The Senate approves a new school funding system (04/12/05)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Just before midnight, the Senate gave preliminary approval to a measure that rewrites how the state distributes more than $2 billion in state funds to the state's more than 500 school districts.
The measure was prompted by a lawsuit filed by about half the districts charging that the current system violates the constitution because of large disparities in per-student education expenditures among the districts.
|.||Missouri House begins budget debate (04/12/05)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Lawmakers have started debating the 13 bills that make up Missouri's budget. The budget covers everything from health care to education.
Democrats and Republicans have six hours each to debate the budget.
|.||High gas prices hurt MODOT and the State Highway Patrol (04/12/05)|
JEFFERSON CITY - A spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Transportation says increased gas prices will cost MODOT about 10 million additional dollars.
Captain Chris Ricks works for the State Highway Patrol.
He says high prices have forced the Highway Patrol to cut back on patrols.
|.||Senate approves tax credits for donations and non-mercury vaccines (04/11/05)|
JEFFERSON CITY - The first bill grants tax credits to donations given to live-in rehabilitation centers
The second bill would prohibit pregnant women and children under age three from receiving vaccines containing mercury
|.||UM open to major changes in higher ed. structure (04/11/05)|
JEFFERSON CITY - University of Missouri President Elson Floyd wants state lawmakers out of higher education. Appearing before a government reorganization task force assembled by Gov. Matt Blunt, Floyd argued for increasing the power of the state's education board and keep legislators out of the picture.
When members prodded Floyd about the possibility of creating a super board that would centralize control in Jefferson City, he said he favored strengthening the current system by beefing up the Coordinating Board for Higher Education, which brings together regional university leaders.
|.||Medicaid chief says program is "awesome;" Secretaries beware (04/11/05)|
JEFFERSON CITY - Throughout the campaign for deep cuts to Missouri's Medicaid program, Gov. Matt Blunt and other Republican leaders described the health care system as wasteful, bloated and filled with abuse. But the program's new leader, a recent Blunt appointee, told the governor's reorganization commission otherwise.
"It's an awesome group of people that have been running Medicaid," said Mike Ditmore, a Republican from Columbia. "I think they do an excellent job."
Blunt's reorganization commission is charged with making recommendations for sweeping changes in the structure of state government. At a round of hearings Monday, Chairman Stephen Bradford hinted that many clerical positions may soon be gone.
"With computer technology I think most people can handle their own letters," Bradford said. "I'm wondering what a clerical person does for an upper managment person. I think we could make some significant savings in those areas."