Thursday, April 27, 2006

Senators Approve 10 percent Ethanol Requirement

House measure requires ethanol blend for gasoline by 2008

Jefferson City — Senators this week approved legislation requiring most gasoline sold in Missouri to contain a fuel additive derived from agricultural products.

After lengthy debate, which pitted members of the same party against each other, senators this week approved a House measure implementing a 10 percent ethanol standard for unleaded gasoline. House Bill 1270 requires the ethanol standard to be in place by Jan. 1, 2008. Jet fuel and premium gasoline are exempt from the measure, and the mandate would be suspended if ethanol blends cost more than regular unleaded gasoline. Ethanol is a motor fuel derived from agricultural products, most often corn.

Supporters of the bill say it will create new markets for farmers, temper increases in the cost of gasoline, reduce Missouri’s dependence on foreign sources of fuel and protect the environment. Opponents say the market, not state government, should decide whether the fuel additive is widely used. The bill has been returned to the House. The House and Senate must approve identical versions of the legislation for it to be sent to the governor, who has expressed support for an ethanol mandate.

Senators gave final approval to a bill requiring Missourians to submit a government-issued photographic identification card in order to vote. Senate Bill 1014 prohibits potential voters from using paychecks, utility bills or bank statements as valid identification. The bill also requires the state to issue photo IDs to all citizens unable to obtain them for financial reasons.

SB 1014 exempts from the photo-ID requirement voters with disabilities and individuals born before 1941 who have completed an authorized affidavit. The measure, which would take effect this year, contains an exemption for 2006 elections. The bill allows those lacking photo IDs to cast a provisional ballot that would count if they sign an affidavit, present another form of ID and can be verified as registered voters. SB 1014 has been sent to the House.

Legislation implementing stricter laws on illegal immigration this week received final approval from the Senate. SB 1250 requires members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol to receive training on federal immigration laws from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The legislation also allows police officers in Missouri to apprehend illegal immigrants and transfer them to federal immigration officials. Also under the measure, illegal immigrants are prohibited from attending public colleges and universities in Missouri.

A House bill restricting the use of eminent domain this week was approved by the Senate Pensions, Veterans’ Affairs and General Laws Committee. HB 1944 prohibits governments from taking private property “for predominantly economic development purposes.” The measure also requires property to be determined fully blighted before it can be taken by eminent domain and exempts farmland from being designated as blighted. HB 1944 also requires factors such as fair market value, willingness of the owner to sell the property, heritage value, and the costs of relocation to be considered when deciding fair compensation for property taken through eminent domain. Approval by the full Senate sends the bill back to the House.

The Senate Transportation Committee approved House legislation strengthening penalties against Missouri drivers who do not pull over for emergency vehicles. HB 1310 increases the penalty from a class B to a class A misdemeanor for motorists who fail to yield the right-of-way to emergency vehicles. If drivers have acted with criminal negligence to cause the death of emergency personnel, they will be charged with second-degree involuntary manslaughter and second-degree assault.

The House and Senate gave final approval to a Senate bill changing laws on emergency medical treatment. Under SB 765, consent for an experimental medical treatment is not required if the patient is subject to a life-threatening emergency and the review board responsible for approving the research has endorsed the procedure and a waiver of informed consent. The board must ensure that all exceptions for federal informed consent requirements have been met. The legislation is now on its way to the governor.

Senate legislation creating a new option for public education was approved this week by two House committees. SB 912 establishes a virtual school program to be made available over the Internet. Virtual schools are intended to be used by students who are temporarily homebound or who want to take advanced courses not offered in their districts. Under the program, students would use a personal computer to access lessons modeled on in-class instruction, and an estimated 2 to 4 percent of public school students would be enrolled. Virtual schools would be subject to all laws applicable to Missouri public school districts. Approval by the full House sends the measure back to the Senate.

A Senate bill imposing regulations on various blasting and excavation activities was approved by the House Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee. SB 882 establishes and outlines statewide licensing requirements for the blasting and excavation industry and charges the Missouri Division of Fire Safety with issuing licenses. Blasters must also notify the division, appropriate municipalities, fire-protection officials and nearby residents two days in advance of any explosive excavations.

The House Local Government Committee approved Senate legislation modifying Missouri law on financing development. SB 832 changes laws on tax increment financing, or TIF, which uses tax revenues generated by development projects to help subsidize construction. The practice often is used to redevelop blighted parts of urban areas. SB 832 bans the use of TIF on certain undeveloped, vacant or agricultural lands and on 100-year flood plains. It also permits citizens to petition against some TIF projects and prohibits the use of eminent domain by local governments for certain projects.

The Missouri Senate will reconvene at 2 p.m. Monday, May 1. The Second Regular Session of the 93rd Missouri General Assembly runs through Friday, May 12.

Missouri Senate Approves 10 percent Ethanol Standard

Measure requires regular gasoline to contain corn-based fuel additive

JEFFERSON CITY — Senators on Tuesday, April 25, approved legislation requiring most gasoline sold in Missouri to contain a renewable fuel derived from agricultural products.

After considerable debate between members of the same party, senators this week approved a House measure implementing a 10 percent ethanol standard for unleaded gasoline sold in Missouri. House Bill 1270 requires the ethanol standard to be in place by Jan. 1, 2008.

Ethanol is a motor fuel derived from certain agricultural products, such as corn. All motor vehicles manufactured since the 1970s can run on a 10 percent ethanol blend. Jet fuel and premium gasoline are exempt under HB 1270, and the mandate would be temporarily halted if ethanol blends cost more than regular unleaded gasoline.

Supporters of the bill say it will create new markets for farmers, temper increases in the cost of gasoline, reduce Missouri’s dependence on foreign sources of fuel and protect the environment. Opponents say the market, not government, should decide whether the fuel additive is widely used.

HB 1270 has been returned to the House. The House and Senate must approve identical versions of the legislation for it to be sent to the governor, who has expressed support for an ethanol mandate.

For more information about the Missouri Senate, visit http://www.senate.mo.gov/. To contact Senate Communications, dial (573) 751-3824.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Senate Advances Budget for 2007 Fiscal Year

Thirteen budget bills make up $20.8 billion spending plan

Jefferson City — The Senate this week approved the state budget after receiving the budget bills from the Senate Appropriations Committee. The budget, made up of House Bills 1001-1013, represents Missouri’s expected appropriations and revenues for the 2007 fiscal year, which begins July 1 of this year.

Lawmakers dedicated much of the latter half of the week to passing the approximately $20.8 billion budget, which is marked by a 4 percent pay raise for state employees and the return of some state health-care services compromised last year. Services that had been subject to appropriations last year, such as funding for eyeglasses and wheelchair accessories for adult Medicaid recipients, are now guaranteed.

Under the budget plan approved by the Senate, the Department of Social Services receives the most funding with an approximately $6.2 billion appropriation. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is due to get $5 billion, and the Missouri Department of Transportation will receive $2.6 billion. Higher education is slated to collect $1.1 billion.

Members of the Senate and House now must meet to settle any differences between the budgets they’ve approved. Once passed by a conference committee, the budget bills will return to the House and Senate for final approval before being sent to the governor.

Several other bills also received Senate approval, including legislation modifying Missouri law on financing development. SB 832 revises state law concerning tax increment financing, or TIF. TIF uses tax revenues generated by development projects to help subsidize construction. The practice often is used to redevelop blighted parts of urban areas. SB 832 bans the use of TIF on certain undeveloped, vacant or agricultural lands and on 100-year flood plains, permits citizens to petition in opposition to some TIF projects, and prohibits the use of eminent domain by local governments for certain development projects. The bill has been sent to the House.

The Senate also gave final approval to a bill designed to protect storm victims from unethical insurance practices. An amendment to SB 895 prohibits insurance companies from raising the rates or ceasing to cover Missourians who inquire about or file claims for property damaged by severe weather.

Legislation requiring closer inspections of Missouri dams and reservoirs also received final Senate approval. Among the bill’s provisions, SB 1236 requires all high- and significant-hazard dams to be inspected periodically to determine if they constitute a threat to public safety. The bill also removes regulation exemptions for dams constructed for soil and water conservation, irrigation or wildlife conservation.

A measure requiring Missourians to submit a government-issued photographic identification card in order to vote received initial approval after another round of lengthy debate. SB 1014 prohibits potential voters from using paychecks, utility bills or bank statements as valid identification. The bill also requires the state to issue photo IDs to all citizens unable to obtain them for financial reasons. SB 1014 exempts from the photo-ID requirement voters with disabilities and individuals born before 1941 who have completed an authorized affidavit. Final approval is needed to send the bill to the House.

A bill making changes to state laws concerning illegal immigration was approved this week by the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. SB 1250 requires the state to ensure that undocumented immigrants cannot participate in family-literacy, parents-as-teachers, vocational or tutoring programs. The state is also charged with prohibiting any form of financial assistance for non-citizens at Missouri public institutions of higher education. Also under the bill, Missouri law enforcers are authorized to investigate, apprehend, detain, or remove non-citizens located in Missouri.

The House Transportation Committee has approved Senate legislation modifying Missouri’s emissions-inspection program. SB 583 decentralizes the emissions-testing program, which applies to residents of the St. Louis metropolitan area, and loosens emissions restrictions on some vehicles. Instead of the specialized emissions-testing stations now in place, certified motor-vehicle repair workers at private repair shops would be able to perform emissions tests. Approval by the full House would require agreement with the Senate before the bill is sent to the governor.

An omnibus bill reforming state education laws passed the House Higher Education Committee. SB 590 gives the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education power to fine educational institutions that disregard board policies. The board was created to limit redundancy among college curriculum in Missouri, yet it has limited means of enforcement. The bill also calls on state education officials to work together to improve higher education in Missouri and offers tuition grants to Missourians who have served in the Iraq war.

Senate legislation creating a panel to investigate the environmental health of children was approved this week by a House committee. The House Children and Families Committee approved SB 568, which establishes the Children’s Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council. The council, which would replace the Advisory Committee on Lead Poisoning, is charged with gathering information on the environmental health and protection of children, evaluating existing environmental health programs and identifying children’s environmental health issues not being addressed, and recommending policies to improve children’s environmental health.

The Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee this week approved legislation providing funding for umbilical-cord-blood banks and adult stem cell research. SB 774 would use a portion of Missouri’s tobacco-settlement money to establish and expand cord-blood banks and fund research into therapies involving human stem cells derived from non-embryonic and non-fetal sources. Opponents of embryonic stem cell research site umbilical-cord blood and adult stem cells as non-controversial sources of cures for medical conditions.

Legislation creating the “Prevention First Act” also was heard this week by the judiciary committee. SB 943 requires Missouri pharmacies to fill all valid prescriptions, establishes the Women’s Health Services Program to reduce unintended pregnancies, and prohibits governments from interfering with access to safe methods of contraception. The legislation also requires health-care facilities to provide rape victims with emergency contraception, if requested, and allows Missourians to request an investigation by the state auditor into a local school district’s curriculum on human sexuality.

The Missouri Senate will reconvene at 2 p.m. on Monday, April 24. The Second Regular Session of the 93rd Missouri General Assembly runs through Friday, May 12.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Senate Approves Medicaid, Development Reforms

Bills target Medicaid providers and limit use of TIF

Jefferson City — The Missouri Senate this week approved bills to reduce Medicaid fraud at the provider level and tighten tax breaks for developers.

Senate Bill 1210, which received final approval, enhances penalties against health-care providers who commit Medicaid fraud and offers financial incentives to whistleblowers. Under the legislation, penalties for first-time and repeat offenders are increased, those who defraud the system are prohibited from participating in the system and offenders must serve at least 85 percent of their prison sentence. The bill also implements felony penalties against those who willfully obstruct Medicaid-fraud investigations. Further, individuals who come forward to identify instances of Medicaid fraud are allowed to keep a portion of the money recovered from any subsequent investigations. The legislation is on its way to the House for similar consideration.

Senators this week gave initial approval to legislation modifying Missouri law on financing development. SB 832 revises state law concerning tax increment financing, or TIF. TIF uses tax revenues generated by new economic development projects to help pay for project construction. The practice often is used to redevelop blighted parts of urban areas. SB 832 bans the use of TIF on certain undeveloped, vacant or agricultural lands and on 100-year flood plains, permits citizens to petition in opposition to some TIF projects, and prohibits the use of eminent domain by local governments for certain development projects. The bill is now slated for a final Senate vote.

Lawmakers also gave final approval to legislation offering restitution to Missourians found to have been wrongfully imprisoned. SB 1023 makes eligible for compensation individuals incorrectly found guilty of a felony and later exonerated due to DNA evidence. Those who have been wrongfully imprisoned may receive $50 for each day they were incarcerated after their conviction. The legislation also bars these individuals from filing lawsuits against the state or any political subdivision.

A bill giving a new look to public education received final approval by the Senate. SB 912 establishes a virtual school program, to be administered via the Internet, to improve the quality of education for certain students. The virtual school would be subject to all laws applicable to Missouri public school districts, and the bill is not designed to replace traditional means of public education or homeschooling. Instead, students who are temporarily homebound or want to take advanced courses not offered in smaller districts would be able to use a computer at home to access lessons based on in-class instruction of students at the same grade level. An estimated 2 to 4 percent of the public school students would be enrolled in the virtual school.

Also receiving final approval was a bill expanding insurance coverage for clinical trials for cancer treatment. SB 567 requires health insurance companies to provide coverage for routine patient-care costs incurred as the result of phase I or II clinical trials undertaken to treat cancer. Current law requires coverage only for phases III or IV.

Legislation designed to protect storm victims from unethical insurance practices has received initial approval. An amendment to SB 895 prohibits insurance companies from raising the rates or ceasing to cover Missourians who inquire about or file claims for property damaged by severe weather.

The Senate Appropriations Committee this week passed the 13 bills that make up the state budget for the 2007 fiscal year, which begins July 1. HBs 1001-1013 contain the approximately $21-billion budget, which is highlighted by funding for the state’s new foundation formula for public schools and a proposed 4-percent pay raise for state workers.

The House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee this week approved Senate legislation requiring greater collaboration between state education and workforce-development officials. SB 580 requires the commissioner of Higher Education, the chair of the Coordinating Board for Higher Education, the director of the Department of Economic Development and others to meet and discuss ways to achieve a more efficient and effective education system.
The officials are charged with developing a system that more adequately prepares students for the workforce, and they must report their recommendations to the governor and Legislature. Approval by the full House would require agreement with the Senate before the bill is sent to the governor.

A House committee this week approved Senate legislation allowing culinary students to taste, but not consume, certain alcoholic beverages that are part of class curriculum. The House Local Government Committee passed SB 725, which allows students who are 18 or older to taste beer, wine and other beverages that are part of a culinary course.

Legislation making several changes to highway-safety regulations was approved by the House Transportation Committee. SB 872 increases fines for various offenses that occur within highway work or construction zones and creates the crime of “endangerment of a highway worker.” The measure also stiffens penalties against motorists who fail to move over when approaching stationary emergency vehicles and imposes an additional fine and driving suspension on any person who fails to yield the right-of-way when the violation results in physical injury or death.

Legislation making changes to state laws concerning illegal immigration was heard this week by the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. SB 1250 requires the state to ensure that undocumented immigrants cannot participate in family literacy, parents-as-teachers, vocational or tutoring programs. The state is also charged with prohibiting any form of financial assistance for non-citizens at Missouri public institutions of higher education. Also under the bill, Missouri law enforcers are authorized to investigate, apprehend, detain, or remove non-citizens located in Missouri.

The Missouri Senate will reconvene on Tuesday, April 18. The Second Regular Session of the 93rd Missouri General Assembly runs through Friday, May 12.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Senate Reforms Medical Malpractice, Expands No-Call List

Controversial cable bill is withdrawn by sponsor

Jefferson City — In a week marked by the withdrawal of one of this year’s most controversial bills, the Missouri Senate took to work on several bills that have not seen many headlines. The sponsor of Senate Bill 816 pulled the legislation, which would have affected how cable and telephone companies compete in cable markets, after lawmakers this week failed to come to a compromise on specific provisions. The Senate went on to pass bills modifying medical malpractice and telemarketing laws.

SB 905, which received final passage from the Senate this week, requires companies that provide medical malpractice insurance to receive state approval for rates. Under the bill, insurers must report rate information to the state insurance director so the Department of Insurance can publish a rate comparison. SB 905 states that rates are not allowed be excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory. The legislation also strengthens penalties against companies that fail to report rate information. The bill has been sent to the House.

A measure protecting consumers from unwanted telecommunications solicitations received final approval this week. SB 613 allows residential and business cell-phone users and residential fax-machine users to sign up with the Missouri No Call list, which keeps the numbers safe from telemarketer calls. Under the bill, telecommunications carriers or customers are allowed to recover damages from those who violate the act. Telecommunications providers that maintain telephone records are also required to establish procedures to protect against fraudulent disclosure of phone records. SB 613 contains an emergency clause, which means it will take effect immediately upon the governor’s approval.

Lawmakers also approved a bill modifying laws concerning water vessels. Under SB 778, vessel owners must provide proof that they have paid personal property taxes when certifying or renewing their vessels. The legislation also raises certain application fees related to vessel certification. A portion of the revenue raised from fees is to be deposited in the newly created Missouri State Water Patrol Fund, which is to be used by the Missouri Water Patrol.

Legislation requiring school districts with low levy rates to contact the state has also received final approval. SB 894 requires school districts with levy rates below the state performance rate to provide written notice to the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education asserting whether or not the district is providing an adequate education to its students. The state performance rate is $3.43 per $100 of assessed valuation. If a district states that it is not providing an adequate education, such inadequacy is to be deemed a result of insufficient local effort. Supporters of the bill say it will hold accountable districts that are not meeting the state performance rate, yet are suing the state to receive more education funding. Opponents say the bill works to intimidate low-levy districts and does not account for districts whose residents cannot afford to pay higher property taxes.

Lawmakers also approved legislation modifying state law concerning child abuse investigations. SB 690 prohibits the Missouri Children’s Division from closing a child abuse or neglect investigation if a child subject to the investigation dies during the investigation. The division can close the abuse investigation as soon as any separate investigation regarding the death is completed.

Senators this week gave final approval to legislation creating the Kansas and Missouri Regional Investment District Compact. Under SB 825, the bi-state compact allows the Kansas City metropolitan area to pool funds raised across the region to pay for regional improvements. The bill also creates a governing commission that is charged with working alongside local officials and the public to prepare plans for programs that will benefit the area.

A bill allowing state courts to appoint standby guardians also received final approval by the Senate. SB 596 authorizes courts to appoint a standby guardian to temporarily assume the duties of guardian over a minor child upon the disability, incapacitation or death of an appointing parent or legal guardian. Before the court confirms the appointee, the other parent or another person who has care and custody of the minor may file a written objection to the appointment of the standby guardian. If the parent or guardian should die, the standby guardian may petition the court within 60 days to make a formal guardianship request.

Legislation requiring shipping entities to pay a fee in order to transport radioactive waste through Missouri received initial passage. SB 976 directs shippers to pay $1,800 for each truckload of high-level radioactive waste and $1,300 for the first cask and $125 for each additional cask of waste transported by rail. Shippers are to be charged $125 for each truck or train-car transporting low-level radioactive waste. All revenue is to be deposited in the state’s environmental-radiation monitoring fund. Final approval sends the bill to the House.

First-round approval also was given to legislation regulating various blasting and excavation activities. SB 882 establishes statewide licensing requirements for the blasting and excavation industry. The legislation details the qualifications required of applicants, and the Missouri Division of Fire Safety is charged with issuing licenses. Blasters must also notify the division, appropriate municipalities, fire-protection officials and nearby residents two days in advance of any explosive excavations.

Legislation creating the Urban Flight Scholarship Program was heard by the Senate Education Committee this week. Under SB 920, the program provides scholarships for eligible students who commit to a teacher-education program and agree to teach in an urban or metropolitan Missouri public school with a higher-than-average “at-risk” student population. Students are required to teach for two years for every year they received a scholarship, otherwise the scholarship will be treated as a student loan.

Members of the Senate Small Business, Insurance and Industrial Relations Committee heard legislation requiring construction workers to take drug tests before working on school property. Under SB 1149, positive drug tests preclude construction workers from working on school grounds. Employers can also require employee to participate in a drug-abuse program. If employees test negatively, they are not required to undergo another test for one year.

The Missouri Senate will reconvene on Monday, April 10. The Second Regular Session of the 93rd Missouri General Assembly runs through Friday, May 12.

Monday, April 03, 2006

General Column - Week of March 27, 2006


Senate Committee Approves Medicaid-Reform Package
Week also marks deadline to file for state elections



Jefferson City — This week, the first after the General Assembly’s mid-session recess, was the deadline to file for state elections to be held this year. Of the 17 Senate seats up for a vote, 10 involve incumbents who are being challenged for their seat, three have incumbents running unopposed, three exclude incumbents altogether due to term limits, and one race has an incumbent not seeking reelection. One race is of particular interest. Candidates for the Senate’s Second District, which is vacant, will face off in an April special election before running against each other again in the November general election. The winner of the special election will serve in the Senate for no more than a couple of weeks before senators adjourn in May.

Much-anticipated legislation designed to crack down on Medicaid fraud was passed this week by the Senate Pensions, Veterans’ Affairs and General Laws Committee. Senate Bill 1210, which largely focuses on fraud by health-care providers, strengthens penalties against those who commit Medicaid fraud and offers financial incentives to whistleblowers. Under the bill, penalties for first-time and repeat offenders are increased, those who defraud the system are prohibited from participating in the system and offenders must serve at least 85 percent of their prison sentence. The bill also implements felony penalties against those who willfully obstruct Medicaid-fraud investigations. Further, individuals who come forward to identify instances of Medicaid fraud are allowed to keep a portion of the money recovered from any subsequent investigations. The bill is now up for debate by the full Senate.

Legislation creating the “Missouri Public-Private Partnerships Transportation Act” was approved by the Senate this week. SB 938 allows the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission to contract with a private developer to finance, develop and operate a Mississippi River bridge proposed for the city of St. Louis.

The Senate also this week approved legislation allowing culinary students to taste, but not consume, certain alcoholic beverages that are part of class curriculum. SB 725 allows students who are age 18 or older to taste beer, wine and other beverages that are part of a culinary course.

Legislation requiring closer inspections of Missouri dams and reservoirs received approval from the Senate Commerce, Energy and the Environment Committee. Among the bill’s many provisions, SB 1236 requires all high- and significant-hazard dams to be inspected periodically to determine if they constitute a threat to public safety. The bill also removes regulation exemptions for dams constructed for soil and water conservation, irrigation or wildlife conservation. Committee approval sends the bill to the Senate floor.

The Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee approved a bill offering restitution to Missourians found to have been wrongfully imprisoned. Under SB 1023, individuals incorrectly found guilty of a felony and later exonerated due to DNA evidence are eligible for compensation. Individuals may receive $50 for each day they were incarcerated after their conviction. The legislation also bars these individuals from filing lawsuits against the state or any political subdivision.

The Senate Pensions, Veterans’ Affairs and General Laws Committee approved legislation creating the “Affordable Prescription Drugs for All Missourians Act.” SB 1239 requires the Missouri Rx Plan to research retail prices of the 50 most-frequently prescribed medicines licensed by the state. The Missouri Rx Plan will post drug prices on its Web site and through a toll-free phone number.

A bill making several changes to state laws concerning laborers was approved by the Senate Small Business, Insurance and Industrial Relations Committee. SB 1121 bars Missouri businesses from employing undocumented workers if those businesses have received a loan from any government body in Missouri. The legislation also prohibits employers from misclassifying employees to avoid tax liability or reporting requirements and implements a $200 fine for each offense. SB 1121 also contains provisions affecting misclassified and nonresident workers.

The Senate Aging, Families, Mental and Public Health Committee approved legislation expanding insurance coverage for clinical trials for cancer treatment. SB 567 requires health insurance companies to provide coverage for routine patient-care costs incurred as the result of phase I or II clinical trials undertaken to treat cancer. Current law requires coverage only for phases III or IV.

Members of the Senate Economic Development, Tourism and Local Government Committee debated a measure that would exclude gambling businesses from state tax credits. SB 1151 prohibits businesses that make money from excursion gambling boats from receiving tax breaks under the Missouri Quality Jobs Act, which allows businesses to keep a portion of state taxes for newly created jobs. Although the jobs act prohibits tax breaks for gambling establishments, a gambling company has received tax breaks for the construction of its administrative headquarters in the St. Louis suburbs. This legislation clarifies that gambling businesses’ administrative offices are also exempt from the Missouri Quality Jobs Act.

Legislation requiring Missouri high school students to study personal finance was heard this week by the Senate Education Committee. Under SB 790, students at Missouri public high schools must pass four year-long courses in personal finance. The program, which would begin in the 2007-08 school year, would offer instruction in subjects including banking, checking and savings accounts, credit cards, interest rates, pensions and retirement savings, Social Security, property and life insurance, and the stock market. Committee approval sends the bill to the full Senate.

The Missouri Senate will reconvene on Monday, April 3. The Second Regular Session of the 93rd Missouri General Assembly runs through Friday, May 12.

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