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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Two bills making their way through Missouri's Republican-led Legislature represent the state's latest attempt to oppose the federal health care law.
 
Senators passed measures last week that would impose additional regulations on insurance navigators, who help consumers sign up for health plans on the exchange marketplace.
 
One bill would require navigators to take a written exam and undergo a criminal background check before working with consumers. Another would require navigators to purchase a $100,000 bond and be liable for unlawfully sharing a customer's personal or financial information.
 
Republicans say the measures would protect Missourians from fraud. But Democratic opponents say the bills are designed to block access to health care.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The state of Missouri faces the loss of nearly $70 million this year in tobacco settlement payments due to a unique pricing advantage enjoyed by some cigarette companies.
 
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Missouri is the only state which signed a landmark settlement agreement more than 15 years ago to not eliminate a loophole allowing small cigarette manufacturers and retailers to avoid making escrow payments. The payments are required of companies that didn't sign the settlement.
 
State lawmakers have refused requests by two Missouri attorney generals over the past 12 years to neutralize the pricing advantage. And a federal arbitration panel found that Gov. Jay Nixon neglected to file lawsuits against the smaller tobacco companies to force them to pay into the escrow fund when he was attorney general.
 
Missouri could also lose tens of millions in tobacco money each year for at least seven years.
Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers could clear up a legal thicket entangling communities' red light cameras while also applying the brakes to cameras designed to nab speeders.

State approval would be required for speed or red light cameras on state highways, and communities seeking to place them elsewhere would need to follow specific requirements. Speed cameras on local roads would be limited to school zones, work zones and areas where serious traffic accidents are excessive.

Legislation endorsed by a House committee also seeks to address recent court cases over red light cameras. Appeals courts have focused on how points are assessed for violations caught by red light cameras.

The bill would specify that traffic infractions captured by speed or red light cameras would not lead to points on a motorist's driving record.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Republican former U.S. Senate candidate John Brunner says he is contemplating a run for Missouri governor in 2016.

Brunner told The Associated Press on Friday that he has received encouragement to run but doesn't plan to make a decision until after the 2014 elections.

His comments came several days after former U.S. attorney and Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway announced her Republican candidacy for governor. Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich (shwyk) is another potential Republican candidate, but he first faces re-election this year.

Democratic Governor Jay Nixon is barred by term limits from seeking re-election. Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster already is building a gubernatorial campaign.

Brunner is a former St. Louis area businessman who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in the 2012 Republican primary.

Published in Local News
Wednesday, 12 February 2014 16:37

Missouri Senate delays debate on tax cuts

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Senate has delayed a debate on tax cuts while negotiations continue with Gov. Jay Nixon's office.
 
Senators had been expected to debate legislation Wednesday that would cut income taxes for individuals and many businesses.
 
But Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard said that debate will wait until next week to give more time for the Republican sponsor of the measure to try to work out a compromise with the Democratic governor's office.
 
Nixon vetoed an income tax-cut bill passed last year, citing technical problems and concerns that the measure could drain money available for public schools.
 
Richard said negotiations are focused on the dollar amount of the proposed tax cut and whether it should apply both to individual and businesses that report income on individual tax returns.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking to force Missouri to recognize same-sex marriages performed in states or countries that allow them. Here are five things to know about Missouri's law.
 
   ---
 
   CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT: Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment - with 70 percent support - in August 2004 that prohibits same-sex marriage. The measure states: "That to be valid and recognized in this state, a marriage shall exist only between a man and a woman." Missouri was a trailblazer of sorts, becoming the first state to enact such an amendment after the Massachusetts high court permitted gay marriage there. Other states adopted similar measures in subsequent years.
   ---
 
   MISSOURI HIGH COURT: Last October, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled against a man seeking state survivor benefits after his same-sex partner, Highway Patrol Cpl. Dennis Engelhard, was killed while working in 2009. Missouri's law governing state survivor benefits defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The state's high court said Kelly Glossip was ineligible for the benefits because he was not married to Glossip.
   ---
 
   EXECUTIVE ACTION: In November, Democratic Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced that he was directing state tax officials to accept joint tax returns filed by same-sex couples who were legally married elsewhere. Nixon noted that Missouri's tax code is tied to the federal one, and that federal officials had recently decided to allow legally married gay couples to file joint federal tax returns. Officials from the Missouri Baptist Convention were among several plaintiffs who sued in January contending that Nixon's policy violates the Missouri Constitution. Some Republican state House members have filed articles of impeachment against Nixon because of the policy, though no hearings have been held.
   ---
 
   DISCRIMINATION LAWS: Missouri law does not currently prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. The state Senate, on the final day of the 2013 session, passed a measure that would have added sexual orientation to a list of anti-discrimination categories that already includes race, color, gender, religion and disabilities. But the bill never was considered by the House. Nixon has called for passage of the measure this year, but no legislative hearings have been held on it.
   ---
 
   GAY FOOTBALL PLAYER: The ACLU's lawsuit isn't the first significant event in Missouri this week pertaining to gay rights and discrimination. Michael Sam, an All-American football player at the University of Missouri, publicly announced he is gay. Sam is preparing for the National Football League draft, and if he makes a team, he could become the first openly gay NFL player.
Published in Local News
Wednesday, 12 February 2014 15:14

Missouri ending some diesel fuel inspections

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri is curtailing inspections aimed at people who may illegally use farm diesel fuel in their over-the-road vehicles.
 
In response to concerns from lawmakers, acting Revenue Department Director John Mollenkamp said Wednesday that his agency would stop proactively looking for violations of the diesel fuel law and only respond to requests from law enforcement officials.
 
Missouri imposes a 17-cent tax on diesel fuel. But that tax is not charged on diesel used only for farming purposes. To distinguish between the two uses, farm diesel fuel is mixed with a dye.
 
The Revenue Department had been doing random inspections to see whether dyed fuel was being used in vehicles driven on highways.
 
Republican Sen. Mike Parson, a former Polk County sheriff, has called the program an unreasonable search of private property.
Published in Local News
Wednesday, 12 February 2014 13:53

Missouri woman facing rare, bigamy charge

PARK HILLS, Mo. (AP) - A 28-year-old woman is facing a rare criminal charge in Missouri - bigamy.
 
The Daily Journal newspaper in Park Hills, Mo., reports that Michelle Sykes was charged with the misdemeanor on Tuesday. Authorities say bigamy charges are rarely filed because, while people sometimes marry more than one spouse, it is not often reported.
 
St. Francois County prosecutors say Sykes was married in the county in 2010. In December, her husband told deputies he had recently discovered that she had married in 2008 in St. Clair County, Ill., and was apparently still married to that man, too.
 
St. Francois County prosecutor Jerrod Mahurin says the 2008 marriage would nullify the union made in Missouri.
Published in Local News
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 17:30

Missouri House takes aim at synthetic drugs

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri House members have given first-round approval to legislation taking aim at synthetic drugs.
 
The bill would add several specific substances to what is considered synthetic marijuana.
 
It was endorsed by a voice vote Tuesday and needs a second vote before moving to the Senate.
 
In recent years, Missouri has tried to keep pace with evolving synthetic drugs and twice has approved legislation targeting them. Sponsoring House member Shawn Rhoads says the current bill is needed to stay ahead in the effort.
 
Lawmakers in 2010 barred spice cannabinoids sold as incense known as K2. A year later, the definition of marijuana in state drug laws was expanded to cover synthetics. The 2011 measure also barred substances marketed as incense or "bath salts" that mimic the effects of cocaine and marijuana.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Supporters of a higher wages are urging Missouri lawmakers to let voters decide whether to increase the state's minimum wage to $10 an hour.
 
Missouri's minimum wage currently is $7.50 an hour - 25 cents higher than the federal minimum wage.
 
Several low-income workers testified Tuesday before a Missouri Senate committee in support of a proposed ballot measure increasing the minimum wage. The workers said they often must skip meals because they don't earn enough to pay all the bills for food, housing, utilities and transportation.
 
A Webster University economist said a minimum wage increase would help the economy, because workers likely would spend the additional money.
 
Lobbyists for several business groups testified against the measure, citing concerns that it could squeeze low-skill workers out of jobs.
Published in Local News

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