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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois lawmakers have convened a special session in Springfield, where they're expected to move ahead with plans to form a committee to deal with pensions.

Moving to committee requires a vote by both the House and Senate.

Gov. Pat Quinn met separately with Democratic and Republican legislative leaders Wednesday morning.

Republican House Leader Tom Cross says the governor wants to move ahead quickly so pension reform can be voted on by early July in another special session.

House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton each would get three appointees to the 10-member committee. Cross and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (rah-DOH'-nyoh) each would get two.

Illinois' $97 billion unfunded pension liability is the worst in the nation.

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's legislative session is over, but the work may continue for some lawmakers.

Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey says he is considering appointing at least three committees to study issues before the 2014 session.

A joint panel of Senate and House members could look into potential changes to the Medicaid health care program for the poor.

Another committee could study potential projects to be included in a bonding proposal that would be put before voters.

Dempsey said an interim committee also could look into changes to the state's regional solid waste management districts.

All of those committees would be continuing work on measures that failed to pass during the legislative session that ended Friday.

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's legislative session is over, but the work may continue for some lawmakers.

Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey says he is considering appointing at least three committees to study issues before the 2014 session.

A joint panel of Senate and House members could look into potential changes to the Medicaid health care program for the poor.

Another committee could study potential projects to be included in a bonding proposal that would be put before voters.

Dempsey said an interim committee also could look into changes to the state's regional solid waste management districts.

All of those committees would be continuing work on measures that failed to pass during the legislative session that ended Friday.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - With time running out on the legislative session, The Missouri Bar and state lawmakers are acknowledging that an overhaul of the state's criminal laws won't cross the finish line.

But that group pledged on Wednesday to push for the criminal code revision next year when lawmakers have more time.

The measure is the product of a Missouri Bar committee charged with updating the criminal code for the first time since 1979. It would create new classes of felonies and misdemeanors and give judges more flexibility in sentencing.

Democratic Sen. Jolie Justus, of Kansas City, is one of the overhaul's sponsors. She says time ran out to pass the 1,000-page bill this year.

Missouri lawmakers end their annual session at 6 p.m. Friday.

 
Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri Senate panel had endorsed a new funding source for a program that serves developmentally disabled children.

A Senate health committee amended a bill Monday to create a $55 million state fund from general revenues to be used for services to the disabled and low-income seniors.

The bill is intended to ensure there is no drop in funding for the First Steps program for disabled preschoolers, nor for several other initiatives.

Last week, the Legislature voted to fund First Steps and those other initiatives with revenues from the repeal of a tax break for low-income seniors and disabled people who live in rental housing. But Gov. Jay Nixon has said he is likely to veto that tax-credit repeal if it is not part of a broad-based tax credit overhaul.

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers have prepared a budget that could force Gov. Jay Nixon to choose between developmentally disabled children and low-income seniors.

The nearly $25 billion operating budget being considered Thursday by lawmakers assumes more than $55 million of savings from the elimination of a tax break for low-income seniors and disabled residents who live in rental housing.

The budget would spend that money on early childhood programs for the developmentally disabled, health care for the blind and medical clinics that treat low-income people.

Nixon has said he would veto a repeal of the renters tax break unless it's part of a broader tax-credit overhaul. But if he does, then the early childhood programs and health care initiatives would lose money.

Lawmakers hope that will compel Nixon to accept the plan.

 

Published in Local News

 

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers have until Friday to finalize the state's roughly $25 billion operating budget.

The House and Senate have each passed their own budget and now must hammer out an agreement on the spending plan that will take effect July 1. Budget negotiators were scheduled to begin formal talks Monday, but delayed that until Tuesday.

The House and Senate must reconcile differences on higher education funding and whether to keep intact cuts made to state agencies over concerns about the new drivers' license procedures.

One item not up for debate this week is Gov. Jay Nixon's plan to draw down nearly $1 billion from the federal government to expand Medicaid coverage for about 260,000 adults. Neither the House nor Senate included the federal money in their budget proposals.

 

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Amid the risk of losing millions of dollars in federal transportation funding, Missouri lawmakers are considering changes to rules for commercial driver's licenses.

State House members this week gave initial approval to legislation that seeks to comply with federal regulations dealing with learning permits for commercial driver's licenses and with restrictions on texting and using hand-held cellphones while driving a commercial vehicle.

The Missouri Transportation Department says the state could lose $30 million for one year and $60 million annually after that if it doesn't act quickly enough.

The legislation needs another round of approval in the House before it can move to the Senate. Lawmakers have until their mandatory adjournment on May 17 to approve new legislation.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri senators are considering a measure to impose tough attendance requirements for students receiving state-sponsored scholarships.

Sponsoring Republican Sen. David Pearce, of Warrensburg, says the bill is designed to help students finish their degrees on time. It would require them to take a defined number of credit hours per semester to remain eligible for aid.

The Bright Flight, Access Missouri and the A+ Schools Program would be affected.

The measure has already won first-round approval and is expected to be sent to the House this week.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri social service officials have told a House panel the state could save $28 million annually by moving people from welfare programs onto federal disability payments.

The Republican-led committee is investigating a contract that pays Boston-based Public Consulting Group $2,300 for every Missouri resident moved onto disability payments.

Officials with the Department of Social Services told the panel Monday the contracts saves money for the state and assigns people to the appropriate program.

People on welfare are required to engage in job-seeking activities. Committee Chairman Rep. Jay Barnes, of Jefferson City, says people receiving disability payments are unlikely to seek work because it would negatively affect their federal benefits. Barnes called for the hearing in early April.

 

Published in Local News
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