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WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats are determined to cast an election-year spotlight on Republican opposition to raising the minimum wage and overhauling immigration laws.

To try to accomplish that, Democrats are planning to rely on an infrequently used and rarely successful tactic.

It's known as a "discharge petition."

It requires the minority party — Democrats, in this case — to persuade some two dozen Republicans to defy their leadership, join Democrats and force a vote on setting the federal minimum wage at $10.10 an hour.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says Democrats will push the wage issue when Congress returns from break Feb. 24.

Forcing a vote on immigration could occur in a few months.

The odds are daunting for Democrats in what clearly is political maneuvering ahead of this fall's elections.

Published in National 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
CHICAGO (AP) - Treasurer Dan Rutherford was set to make a big splash in the Republican race for governor this week with his television ads scheduled to hit the airwaves. Instead, he's seeing headlines about allegations of misconduct made by an employee.
 
The Republican called a last-minute news conference last week to say unspecific claims by an employee in his office were untrue and connected to his rival Republican Bruce Rauner.
 
Political experts say the move was risky weeks from the March 18 primary.
 
For one, he opens himself up to more scrutiny. Democratic campaign strategist Pete Giangreco says there are more questions than answers.
 
However, Rutherford could use the attention to his advantage. Political analyst Thom Serafin says it raises Rutherford's exposure level and if handled correctly could benefit him.
Published in Local News
   CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn heads into a critical election-year State of the State address this week with his top priority of pension reform inked into the law.
   The speech on Wednesday is a chance for Quinn to lay out goals for the year and recap his accomplishments.
   But how much credit the Chicago Democrat can take for what he's called the signature achievement of his governorship is up for debate.
   Quinn has won praise for keeping pension reform in the public sphere with his populist tactics, like withholding legislator pay. Pension reform was once a topic more common among economists and business groups.
   However, he's also been criticized for those methods and not doing more to broker the deal himself. Some say he only took notice when there weren't other options.
 
Published in Local News
Sunday, 26 January 2014 10:16

Farming ballot measure campaign heats up

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Opposition is starting to form around a ballot measure that would enshrine a "right to farm" in Missouri's Constitution.

A former Democratic state senator has started a political action committee to fight the ballot measure. Wes Shoemyer says the amendment would take away the people's ability to use the initiative petition process to regulate agriculture.

A coalition of farming and livestock associations, known as Missouri Farmers Care, argues the amendment is necessary to protect farmers from groups that use the ballot box to restrict farming and ranching.

Missouri lawmakers referred the measure to the ballot last year. It will appear on the November ballot unless Gov. Jay Nixon moves up the date. North Dakota voters approved similar constitutional protection in 2012.

Published in Local News
   BURBANK, Calif. (AP) — House Speaker John Boehner says he likes his life too much to run for president.
   Making his first appearance Thursday night on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," Boehner was asked by the host whether he'd ever consider seeking the nation's highest office.
   "No," Boehner said immediately. "No?" Leno said. "No," Boehner repeated.
   "Listen, I like to play golf," Boehner said by way of explanation. "I like to cut my own grass. You know, I do drink red wine. I smoke cigarettes. And I'm not giving that up to be the President of the United States."
   The line got a round of applause from the Burbank, Calif. audience.
   Boehner also got a laugh when he was asked if GOP infighting in Washington is the worst that he's seen.
   "Oh, no, it's, well, maybe it is," Boehner said. "Probably. Yeah, probably."
   But he went on to downplay the conflict.
   "The funny thing about the so called infighting is that we agree on all the goals," the speaker said. "We think Obamacare is bad for the country. We think we shouldn't spend more than what we bring in. We think the President is ignoring the law. It's all a fight over tactics. It's not over what our goals are."
Published in National News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Openings for the top job at Missouri state agencies no longer could mean an extended reign by a temporary leader under legislation proposed in the state Senate.

Missouri department directors chosen by the governor require Senate confirmation, but acting leaders do not. Two state agencies currently are led by acting chiefs, and Governor Jay Nixon this past week announced he was elevating two other acting directors to permanent positions.

Under the Senate legislation, state department directors would file a designation with the governor and the Legislature naming a deputy director who has the authority to exercise the director's powers during a vacancy. Acting directors could serve for 120 days.

Published in Local News

   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has taken a new, more left-leaning approach in his second term.

   Nixon has long been a Democrat. But he could have passed himself off as a moderate Republican during his first four years as governor. He cut taxes, spending and thousands of government jobs. And Nixon shied far away from President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

   Since he won re-election a year ago, however, Nixon has sought to expand Missouri's Medicaid eligibility under Obama's health care law. He vetoed a big income tax cut and numerous other bills passed by the Republican-led Legislature. And this past week, Nixon came out in support of gay marriage.

   Some political scientists say Nixon appears to be re-positioning himself to appeal to national Democrats.

 
Published in Local News
Saturday, 16 November 2013 10:27

NJ Christie's political move disappoints mentor

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie seldom makes a political miscalculation.

But when the likely 2016 presidential candidate tried to dump Tom Kean Jr. as state Senate Republican leader, he suffered a rare defeat — and alienated his political mentor, the popular former Gov. Tom Kean Sr.

The elder Kean, who is 78, tells The Associated Press Christie's maneuver surprised and disappointed him.

The question of the governor's loyalty has come up before.

His 2012 Republican National Convention speech was panned as self-serving. Christie's allegiance to Mitt Romney was questioned again when the governor embraced President Obama days before the election.

Obama's win — and Romney's loss — gives a Republican like Christie an open shot at the party's presidential nomination in 2016.

Published in National News
Saturday, 16 November 2013 10:24

McCaskill plans to introduce POW legislation

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Sen. Claire McCaskill says she'll introduce legislation requiring U.S. defense officials to address mismanagement in a military-led unit responsible for finding service members missing in action.

McCaskill's remarks come several months after an Associated Press story revealed an internal Pentagon report harshly critical of the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command, which searches for missing soldiers' remains. The Pentagon report included accusations of misconduct among those responsible for overseas missions to investigate prospects for recovering remains.

McCaskill, a Democrat, said Friday at a news conference in Kansas City that she's preparing an amendment to the annual defense authorization bill. The amendment would give the Defense Department one year to submit a plan for reorganizing the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command and improving its accountability.

Published in Local News
Page 3 of 10

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