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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri voters would be asked to approve a one-cent sales tax for transportation funding under legislation endorsed by the state House.
 
The proposed constitutional amendment approved on Tuesday would appear on the November ballot if passed by the Legislature. It needs another affirmative vote in the House before moving to the Senate.
 
State transportation officials estimate the tax to generate about $800 million annually. It would need to be reauthorized by voters after 10 years to remain in effect. Ten percent of the funds raised would go toward local transportation projects.
 
Supporters say the penny tax is necessary for the state to maintain roads and bridges, and to finance new infrastructure projects. Opponents say the sales tax hike would disproportionately hurt low-income Missourians who may not frequently use roads.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri senators are going forward with a two-prong funding plan for public schools that bases their state aid on the strength of the economy.
 
A Senate panel agreed Monday to the basic approach of the House school funding plan but tweaked its specific dollar amounts.
 
The House plan would add $122 million to Missouri's $3.1 billion in basic aid for school districts. But it would authorize an increase of up to $278 million if revenues meet Gov. Jay Nixon's more optimistic projections.
 
The Senate Appropriations Committee decided to provide a minimum $115 million increase, leaving a larger portion of the potential $278 million increase dependent upon improved revenue collections.
 
Senators typically change the House budget plan. Negotiators from the two chambers must work out their differences by early May.
 
Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers are advocating for more restrictions on welfare recipients after a state audit raised questions over whether benefits are being used properly.

The report identified more than 300 cases in which Missouri welfare recipients spent their benefits exclusively outside the state during a three-month period.

Under legislation passed by the House, recipients would be kicked off the program if they don't spend their benefits within Missouri once every 90 days.

Lawmakers are also debating whether to loosen restrictions on where welfare money can be spent and who qualifies for assistance.

The House measure would allow people to use welfare dollars to buy food at liquor stores. A Senate bill would open the federal food stamps program to some drug felons.

Published in Local News

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The vast majority of the country's 32 death penalty states refuse to disclose the source of their execution drugs.

A review by The Associated Press has found that the states cloaked in secrecy include some with the most active death chambers. Texas, Florida, Oklahoma and Missouri are among them.

The secrecy comes as most states now rely on loosely regulated "compounding pharmacies" for execution drugs but refuse to name them. They cite concerns about backlash that could endanger the supplier's safety.

Defense attorneys question how an inmate's constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment can be guaranteed if nothing is known about the drug being used to kill him.

Proponents say forcing states to reveal their drug source can amount to obstruction of justice by delaying executions.

Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri senators have passed legislation that could lead to a reduction in jobless benefits for people laid off in the future.
 
The bill would make Missouri one of only a few states to link the duration of unemployment benefits to the state's unemployment rate.
 
Missouri workers currently can receive unemployment benefits for 20 weeks.
 
Under the bill, the full 20 weeks of benefits would be available only if the state's unemployment rate is at least 9 percent. The maximum duration of jobless benefits would be cut by a week for each one-half percentage point reduction in the unemployment rate - bottoming out at 13 weeks of benefits when the unemployment rate is less than 6 percent.
 
The Senate's 24-8 vote Thursday sends the bill to the House.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A bill revamping the management of Missouri's Medicaid program has been set aside after debate turned tense between two Republican senators.
 
Sens. Ryan Silvey and John Lamping engaged in a sometimes pointed discussion Wednesday during which they questioned each other's conservative ideology and rhetoric.
 
Silvey wants to expand health care coverage to thousands of low-income adults by tapping into an influx of federal Medicaid dollars available under President Barack Obama's health care law. The Republican from Kansas City says it can be done without busting the budget.
 
Lamping remains opposed to taking the new federal Medicaid money for expanded coverage. The Republican from St. Louis County says lawmakers need to stand firm against anything stemming from Obama's health care law.
 
The Senate legislation does not currently include Medicaid expansion
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - High stakes gamblers could find Missouri more alluring if legislation passed by the Senate becomes law.
 
A bill approved Wednesday would let Missouri casinos extend a line of credit to gamblers willing to put up at least $10,000.
 
Supporters said the bill would free big bettors from having to carry large quantities of cash to casinos.
 
Casino officials also hope to attract more high rollers from other states, like professional athletes who may be traveling to Missouri to play in a game.
 
The Senate sent the bill to the House by a 24-9 vote.
 
Among those opposing the measure was Sen. Ed Emery. The Republican from Lamar raised concerns that high stakes gambling could be detrimental to families.
Published in Local News

St. Louis, MO (KTRS) - Missouri law enforcement officials have changed their tactics in the war on meth. New figures show that the changes are having an effect.

 

In 2013, for the first time in a decade, Missouri did not lead the nation in meth busts. The Show-Me state dropped to number 3 behind Indiana and Tennessee. The Post-Dispatch reports that changes in enforcement approaches and new laws may have caused the statistics to drop. The Jefferson County drug task force says they focused on making larger-scale labs.

 

Earlier in March, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported a seizure of 95 meth labs just outside Mountain Grove, Missouri. The drug raid was believed to be a record for a single seizure in Missouri.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri House Democrat has introduced legislation that would repeal the state's ban on gay marriage.

Mike Colona, a House member from St. Louis who is gay, filed a proposed constitutional amendment this week that would go before voters in November. Colona was joined by 30 of his Democratic colleagues as co-sponsors.

Missouri in 2004 became the first state to enact a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage after the Massachusetts high court permitted gay marriage there. The Missouri measure passed with 70 percent of the vote.

With only seven weeks left in the legislative session, Colona's proposal is unlikely to gain traction. And Missouri Republicans, who control both legislative chambers, remain opposed to overturning the state's ban.

Published in Local News
ST. LOUIS (AP) - A company that wants to build transmission lines to move wind energy from Kansas to Indiana has announced its proposed route through Missouri, but opponents say they'll continue the fight to keep the towers and lines away from their land.
 
Houston-based Clean Line Energy Partners hopes to begin construction as early as 2016 on its Grain Belt Express Clean Line. The company on Wednesday asked the Missouri Public Service Commission to approve the route through northern Missouri.
 
The route goes through eight counties: Buchanan, Clinton, Caldwell, Carroll, Chariton, Randolph, Monroe and Ralls.
 
Mark Lawlor of Clean Line says that in addition to providing access to clean energy, the project would create hundreds of jobs.
 
But many rural landowners say the project would reduce property values and create a health risk.
Published in Local News
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