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   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A state senator from eastern Missouri is forgoing a re-election bid, potentially setting off a scramble among Republicans vying to replace him in the reliably GOP district.
   Republican Sen. Brian Nieves (nee-EH'-vehz), of Washington, withdrew Thursday after initially filing for re-election.
   One candidate, House Republican Dave Schatz, of Sullivan, had already filed to challenge Nieves. But with Nieves' exit, Republican House Speaker Tim Jones, of Eureka, is now also considering a run.
   Jones says he will take time next week to weigh his options. Nieves did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
   A potential primary could be an expensive contest. Schatz loaned his campaign $350,000, and Jones reports having $900,000 in his campaign account.
   The Senate district includes Franklin County and parts of western St. Louis County.
 
Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois Senate Democrats are crafting concealed carry legislation that doesn't also curb local firearms laws and toughens alcohol-related prohibitions.

Senate President John Cullerton's office says the measure will leave local firearms regulations in place. A plan the House adopted last week allowing the carrying of concealed guns would invalidate city ordinances like Chicago's assault-weapons ban.

The Senate Executive Committee will hear the plan Tuesday morning.

The proposal sponsored by Chicago Democratic Sen. Kwame Raoul would also prohibit firearms in businesses that serve alcohol. The House plan would nix toting guns only if liquor sales are more than half of the establishment's gross revenue.

The Raoul plan would make penalties for carrying under the influence of alcohol tougher too.

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A former state senator from St. Louis has been fined more than $270,000 by the Missouri Ethics Commission for violating numerous campaign finance laws.

A decision released Wednesday by the commission found that former Democratic Sen. Robin Wright-Jones used campaign money for personal expenses such as food and clothing. She also received vehicle mileage reimbursements both from the state and her campaign committee. The commission also found numerous instances where the campaign failed to report contributions and expenditures by deadlines.

St. Louis attorney Bernard Edwards Jr. represents Wright-Jones. He called the fine arbitrary and excessive and said the expenses for clothes, food and mileage were legitimately related to her political and official duties. Edwards says he plans to appeal the case to the state Administrative Hearing Commission.

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton says he will keep working to pass a pension reform bill he believes can survive a court challenge.

Rikeesha Phelon says Cullerton and fellow Democrat House Speaker Michael Madigan have "the same goal but different approaches" to solving Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis.

Madigan filed his pension plan on Tuesday. It caps the salary on which a pension can be based at $110,000 and limits annual cost-of-living increases.

Madigan's legislation also removes language from a plan backed by Cullerton that got Senate approval last month. Cullerton's plan offers affected state-government employees and teachers a choice of benefits instead of unilaterally cutting them.

Cullerton believes the state must give retirees a choice in benefits in order for the legislation to be considered constitutional.

Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Senate has advanced a proposed one cent sales tax to fund state and local transportation projects.

The tax would need approval by Missouri voters and would automatically go to another statewide vote after 10 years. It's expected to generate nearly $8 billion over a decade, with 10 percent dedicated to local transportation needs.

Senators gave the measure first-round approval Wednesday.

The legislation requires the Highways and Transportation Commission to develop a list of projects before the tax goes on the ballot. The commission would prepare an annual status report for the governor and the Legislature.

When the increased sales tax is in effect, Missouri's gas tax would be frozen and existing roads could not be become toll roads.
Published in Local News

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