JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - People fired for missing work and not following company rules could have a harder time claiming unemployment benefits under a bill sent to Gov. Jay Nixon.
The House voted 98-57 to pass the measure Wednesday. The Senate passed the same bill in February.
Fired workers who engaged in "misconduct" at the workplace can be denied benefits under current law. But the legislation expands the definition of "misconduct" to include chronic absenteeism and "knowing" violations of an employer's rules. The current standard requires "willful disregard" of an employer's regulations.
Supporters say many workers fired for reasons such as sleeping on the job are allowed to collect benefits under the current system. Opponents say the measure could deny benefits to people fired wrongly.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Gov. Jay Nixon says he remains opposed to a bill that would raise the state sales tax while cutting income taxes for individuals and businesses.
Nixon released a statement Thursday saying that a sales tax increase would shift the tax burden to seniors and veterans on fixed incomes. He said it "is not the right approach to growing our economy or creating jobs."
His reaction comes after the House passed a bill Wednesday that would gradually cut the individual income tax by two-thirds of a percentage point over five years while also reducing business taxes.
To offset part of the lost revenue, the bill would gradually raise the sales tax by three-fifths of a cent.
Nixon also had opposed an earlier version of the bill passed by the Senate
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri House wants to block the scanning and computer storage of personal documents needed to get a driver's license or state identification card.
Legislation given initial approval 141-14 on Wednesday would bar the Revenue Department from scanning documents needed for driver's licenses or concealed weapons permits. Documents that have been scanned would need to be destroyed.
The bill needs another vote before moving to the Senate, where members have criticized the driver's license procedure.
Previously, license clerks looked at applicants' documents, took a photo and printed the license. Under the new system, licenses are printed and mailed by a contractor several days after people apply. Revenue Department officials have said the new procedure makes licenses more secure and saves money.
Some Missouri senators are pressing the state's driver's license agency to stop collecting documents from people with concealed gun permits.
But the head of the agency said Wednesday he's reluctant to halt the practice.
Since December, clerks in Missouri's local license offices have been making electronic copies of concealed weapons permits for a state database of driver's license applicants. Concealed gun endorsements are noted on driver's licenses.
Some Republican lawmakers have expressed concern about the document database. During a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Wednesday, Chairman Kurt Schaefer asked the Revenue Department to stop making and keeping copies of concealed gun permits.
Revenue Director Brian Long said he's unwilling to commit to that, because the scanned documents provide protection against fraud. But Long also said he will consider it further.
The national standards define the skills and knowledge students should have. And proponents say Missouri students need Common Core in order to stay competitive with students from 45 other states that have adopted them.
But some state lawmakers are balking, claiming that the move to Common Core will give federal education officials too much control over local schools. Senator John Lamping co-sponsored a bill to repeal Common Core in Missouri. The Ladue Republican has accused federal education officials of coercion. He and other opponents have also questioned the cost of implementation, since the standards call for computerized testing.
The State's Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro says the new standards only outline what students should know, not how schools and teachers should go about teaching, because Common Core doesn't dictate curriculum.
Both Missouri and Illinois adopted the standards in 2010. Illinois will achieve full implementation in the 2013-14 school year, a full year ahead of the Show-me state.
A bill sponsored by Republican state Representative Bryan Spencer, would grant immunity from minor drug possession charges to overdose victims and people who get medical help for them. Ten other states, including Illinois, have already enacted the so-called "good Samaritan" laws. Spencer's bill is based on the Illinois model.
St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he supports the measure, saying that saving lives is more important than pursuing minor drug charges. But St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch expressed doubts that the law would make much difference, telling the paper that people who abuse alcohol or heroin "aren’t the most responsible" people.
Advocates say the state can't afford to ignore the problem. They cite research by the Missouri Recovery Network and Roosevelt University, which suggests that heroin and opiate abuse poses a particularly deadly and growing threat in Missouri, especially the St. Louis area.
The legislation outlined Monday would also prevent welfare recipients from using their electronic benefit card for sporting events, lottery tickets, amusement parks, zoos or museums.
Repeatedly misusing welfare money would carry a felony charge and prison sentence.
The measure would stop short of preventing welfare recipients from purchasing banned items, because electronic benefits could still be converted into cash.
Republican Sen. Will Kraus, of Lee's Summit, and Democratic Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, of University City, are sponsoring the measure.
A 2008 law approved by voters requires investor-owned utilities to use renewable energy sources for gradually increasing amounts of their electricity generation. That law restricted how hydroelectric power could count toward the requirement.
The House bill (HB44) would allow all hydroelectric power produced in Missouri or owned by a Missouri power company to count starting in 2018. Beginning in 2021, hydroelectric power generated elsewhere could count.
The bill cleared the House Thursday on a vote of 95-46 and now goes to the Senate.
Sponsors of the 2008 ballot measure criticized the bill, saying it would reverse possible economic development benefits from the law.
Senators stayed late Monday night to debate SB29, legislation that would bar public-sector unions from deducting dues out of employee paychecks.
Republican supporters say the legislation would give public employees the choice of how they want their dues spent. But Democrats blocked a vote on the measure, arguing it would hurt organized labor.
The measure would also require union members to annually give consent for their dues to be spent on political contributions. It would not apply to unions representing "first responders," such as police or firefighters.
The Senate passed a similar measure two years ago, but it died in the House.
The House and Senate usually meet from Monday until mid-day Thursday each week. But with a mixture of ice and snow expected on Thursday, the Senate has decided to quit for the week around noon Wednesday -- early enough to give lawmakers time to get home before the weather hits.
The State House will also give members a chance to leave early, planning only a technical session on Thursday, in which no bills will be debated.
One proposal could require residents to pay a higher sales tax in order to pay for transportation projects, and another would let electric utilities seek a surcharge to recoup costs from infrastructure projects.
A third measure would call for issuing several hundred million dollars in bonds to fund improvements on college campuses and state facilities. Taxes that Missourians pay could go to paying off the bonds.
Lawmakers say the influx of ideas comes because there is a new willingness to discuss major challenges facing Missouri. They are skeptical everything would pass in the same year.