JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - People who fraudulently sign petitions for ballot initiatives could face stiffer penalties under legislation passed by the Missouri Senate.
Senators voted 30-3 Thursday for a bill that would make petition signature fraud a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of between $1,000 and $25,000.
Violators currently can face a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The legislation now goes to the House.
The proposed criminal charges also could cover petition circulators who use trickery to obtain signatures or who knowingly submit forms with false signatures.
Charges also could be filed against those who hire petition circulators and should have known that the circulators were committing fraud.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri House has passed a bill that would allow school districts to hire police resource officers.
Sponsoring Republican Rep. Sheila Solon, of Blue Springs, says the measure is part of efforts to keep schools safer after the Connecticut elementary school shooting that killed 20 children.
She says that school resource officers are considered county or municipal employees but her bill would allow school districts to hire them directly.
The bill would also strengthen the state's mandatory child abuse reporting laws by preventing supervisors from impeding a report.
The House voted 129-20 to the send the measure to the Senate Wednesday.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri has used a state budget reserve fund to improve its cash flow.
The Office of Administration reported that $175 million was borrowed from the Budget Reserve Fund in March. The state now has used $375 million during the current year. All the money will be repaid by May 15.
Budget Director Linda Luebbering said Tuesday the state regularly uses the reserve fund during March. She says those who receive tax refunds frequently file faster than those who owe additional taxes.
Officials also reported Tuesday that state revenues through the first three-quarters of the fiscal year have increased 8.3 percent compared with last year.
Individual tax collections are up about 5.3 percent and corporate income taxes are up 4.3 percent. Sales taxes are up less than 1 percent.
BENTON, Mo. (AP) - Two southeast Missouri teenagers missing since Saturday have been found in Mississippi.
The Southeast Missourian reports that 16-year-old Tyler Austin Crider and 15-year-old Hailey Nicole Haynes were found by police near Lexington, Miss., on Tuesday after the pickup truck they were in experienced trouble.
Scott County, Mo., Sheriff Rick Walter says the parents have been notified and were traveling to Mississippi to pick up the teens.
The teens left sometime after 10 p.m. Saturday. Tyler was staying at his grandparents' home near Sikeston at the time. His mother says he left a note on his pillow, then took a pickup truck registered to his grandparents and camping gear.
Hailey lives near Sikeston. Her mother says she left a note, too. Authorities believe Tyler picked her up.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - An organization that analyzes Missouri financial issues has begun running a radio ad against legislation that would cut state income taxes while raising the sales tax.
The Missouri Budget Project said Tuesday that this marks the first time in its 10-year history that the St. Louis-based nonprofit has paid for ads against a policy proposal.
The ad targets legislation scheduled for a House committee hearing Tuesday that would cut income taxes by three-quarters of a percentage point while increasing the sales tax by a half cent. The bill already has passed the Senate.
The Budget Project claims the measure could reduce state revenues by $960 million annually once fully implemented. Other legislative estimates have put the cost at almost half that amount.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Newly obtained records show that Missouri senators were informed two years ago about a new driver's license system but were not briefed about one of its most controversial aspects.
Republicans have complained about the new system in which applicants' personal documents, such as birth certificates and concealed weapons endorsements, are scanned and retained in a state computer system.
Audio records reviewed by The Associated Press show that members of the Senate Appropriations Committee were briefed in 2011 about the new licensing procedures but were never told that applicants' documents would be scanned and retained in a state database.
Republican lawmakers have accused the department of sharing that information with the federal government or a private company. Revenue Department officials have denied that charge in legislative committee hearings.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — State lawmakers have sent to Governor Jay Nixon an extra budget for the current fiscal year which includes a $14 million increase for a fund that reimburses schools for the cost of special needs children.
The "High Needs" fund pays schools for students that cost more than three times the amount of a typical student in the same district.
The spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education says the fund typically increases by about 10 percent every year, but this year's increase is 18 percent, which she called "unusual."
The cost increase isn't only because there are more kids with special needs. School districts have also been getting better at documenting high-cost students and collecting the reimbursement money.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri House has passed a nearly $25 billion budget that would fund modest increases for public education but not the Medicaid expansion sought by Gov. Jay Nixon.
House approval of the budget Thursday sends it to the Senate, where more changes are likely.
The 2014 budget plan would provide a roughly 2 percent increase in basic aid for public K-12 schools, colleges and universities. But school funding would still fall $620 million short of what's called for under a state formula.
Missouri's Tourism Division would get one of the largest percentage increases in the budget - from nearly $14 million this year to almost $20 million next year.
The budget leaves out more than $900 million of federal funds that Nixon had recommended for a Medicaid expansion.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is continuing to push for a Medicaid expansion, but he's open to alternatives that could use federal money to buy private insurance for lower-income adults.
Nixon said in an interview Thursday that he's willing to consider an Arkansas model that would use Medicaid money to purchase policies through an online insurance exchange created under President Barack Obama's health care law.
The 2010 law called for states to expand Medicaid to adults earning up to 138 percent of poverty, or $32,500 for a family of four. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year made that optional for states.
Nixon is visiting Hermann and Perryville to build support for a Medicaid expansion. Republican legislators have rejected his plan. But Nixon says he hopes for a compromise.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri House committee is considering bill that would allow lottery winners to remain anonymous after claiming their prizes.
Sponsoring Rep. Rochelle Walton Gray, of Black Jack, told the House Local Government Committee Thursday that winning the lottery can subject a person to hardship. Her measure would prevent the Missouri Lottery from releasing the names or addresses of prize winners without their written consent.
Officials from the Missouri Lottery say revealing a winner's identity provides legitimacy to games and helps sell more tickets. The names of lottery winners are also subject to Missouri's Sunshine Law, making identity information available to open records request.