Monday, November 27, 2006

Senate Committee on Adoption & Child Support To Hold Hearing

The Senate Interim Committee on Adoption Promotion and Child Support Enforcement will hold a public hearing Tuesday, Nov. 28 in Senate Committee Room 1 beginning at 11 a.m.
The duties of the committee include:
1) To study the recruitment and retention of foster and adoptive parents in Missouri.
2) To examine the use and effectiveness of funding with regard to promoting the adoption of foster children in this state.
3) To examine the practices and outreach efforts this state has undergone in the past and make recommendations to improve their effectiveness.
4) To evaluate the current adoption processes and review them in order to identify obstacles and barriers associated with the adoption process.
5) To review current law relating to adoption and termination of parental rights (TPR) to determine whether modifications could be made to encourage adoptions in Missouri and to make the adoption and TPR processes more efficient and more cost effective.
6) To explore ways to improve customer service, and the timeliness and accuracy of processing and disbursing child support collections.
7) To study the state's responsibilities including locating parents, establishing paternity, establishing child and medical support orders, monitoring and enforcing compliance with child and medical support orders, reviewing and initiating modification of support orders and distributing support collections.
The committee shall issue a report and make recommendations, as deemed appropriate by a majority of the members of the committee, to the general assembly for legislative action no later than January 26, 2007.
For a list of committee members, click here.
For the most current listing of Missouri Senate hearings, click here.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Pay Panel Seeks Public Input

On November 7, Missouri voters approved Amendment 7 by a five-to-one margin. The amendment requires a two-thirds majority vote of the General Assembly in order to change or disapprove the salary recommendations of the Missouri Citizens’ Commission on Compensation for Elected Officials. The purpose of the amendment, as stated in the ballot language approved by voters, is to prevent the General Assembly from changing the commission’s recommended compensation schedule for elected officials through the appropriations process.
Amendment 7 also prevents statewide elected officials, members of the General Assembly and state judges from receiving a state pension if they are convicted of a felony while in office or if they are removed from office for misconduct or after impeachment.
The Missouri Citizens’ Commission on Compensation for Elected Officials meets today (11/20/06) in the Senate Lounge at the Capitol Building from 10:30 until noon today, although public comment will not be received until the afternoon session. The commission will receive public comment in the Senate Lounge from 2-4 p.m. this afternoon. Citizens are invited to submit comments during the hearing in writing or in person. Those who wish to speak are asked to be brief to allow everyone who wishes to comment an opportunity to speak within the two hour time frame. Comments received during the public hearing will be considered when the commission prepares its schedule of compensation for elected officials.
Members of the General Assembly cannot receive any compensation increase approved by the Citizens’ Commission until Jan. 1, 2009.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Senators Elect Leadership

Senate Republicans and Democrats have nominated their colleagues for leadership positions for the First Regular Session of the 94th Missouri General Assembly.
Senate Republicans unanimously endorsed Sen. Michael R. Gibbons, R- Kirkwood, to serve as President Pro Tem of the Missouri Senate for the 94th General Assembly beginning Jan. 3, 2007. Gibbons must be elected to the post by the full Senate when they convene. He was elected unanimously as Senate President Pro Tem in 2005.
“When I became pro tem, my goal for the Missouri Senate was to work together with the House and Governor to give every Missourian the opportunity to pursue their dreams, improve their lives and make our state the best place in America to live, work and raise a family,” Gibbons said. “The reforms we accomplished over the past two years have put Missourians on a strong foundation for decades to come and I want to continue that work as president pro tem.”
Others elected to Senate Majority Caucus leadership positions include:
§ Sen. Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, re-elected as Majority Floor Leader
§ Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, re-elected as Assistant Majority Floor Leader
§ Sen. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, elected Majority Caucus Whip
§ Sen. Chris Koster, R-Harrisonville, re-elected as Caucus Chair
§ Sen. Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City, re-elected as Caucus Secretary
Senate Democrats have chosen Maida Coleman, D-St. Louis, to retain her position as Minority Floor Leader. Coleman was elected Assistant Minority Floor Leader in November of 2002, and Minority Floor Leader in 2004.
Others elected to Senate Minority Caucus leadership positions include:
§ Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, re-elected as Asst. Minority Floor Leader
§ Sen. Frank Barnitz, D-Lake Spring, elected as Minority Caucus Chairman
§ Sen. Yvonne Wilson, D-Kansas City, re-elected as Minority Caucus Secretary.
The First Regular Session of the 94th Missouri General Assembly will convene in Jefferson City on Jan. 3.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Republicans Retain State House, Senate Majorities

Missouri Republicans will maintain majority control of the Missouri House and Senate for the First Regular Session of the 94th Missouri General Assembly, although their margins shrank a bit in Tuesday’s election.
Senate Republicans held a 23-11 advantage heading into the November 7 election, but Democrats picked up the seat held by Republican John Cauthorn in the 18th Senatorial District. Cauthorn, who is vacating the seat due to term limits, will be replaced by Rep. Wes Shoemyer, D-Clarence, who defeated Rep. Bob Behnen, R-Kirksville.
Incumbent Senator Bill Alter, R-High Ridge, was defeated Tuesday night by former Rep. Ryan McKenna, a Democrat from Crystal City who follows in his father’s footsteps in representing Jefferson County in the state senate.
There will be a few other new faces in the Missouri Senate next year. Democrat Jolie Justus is a Kansas City attorney who defeated Republican Jerry Mounts to succeed Charles Wheeler in Missouri’s 10th Senatorial District.
Rep. Brad Lager, R-Maryville, won the chance to succeed Sen. David Klindt, R-Bethany, by defeating Democrat Jim Neely in Tuesday’s election. Klindt is leaving the senate due to term limits.
Finally, St. Louis Democrat Jeff Smith will take over the 4th District seat held by veteran legislator Patrick Dougherty, D-St. Louis, who also is stepping down due to term limits. Smith ran unopposed in Tuesday’s election.
All other incumbent senators won re-election November seventh.
The Republican and Democratic parties will caucus tomorrow (Nov. 9) at noon to elect their leaders for the 94th General Assembly.
In the House, Democrats picked up five seats Tuesday; Republicans now have a 92-71 majority in the House.

Monday, November 06, 2006

17 Senate Seats on Ballot in Tuesday Election

Polling places open at 6 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7 and remain open until 7 p.m. Typically, voter turnout is low for non-presidential election years, but county clerks across the state are forecasting record turnout tomorrow. For example, Boone County Clerk Wendy Noren predicts 65-percent of voters will cast ballots Tuesday. In non-presidential election years, voter turnout typically runs from 20-30-percent.
The high profile U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Jim Talent and Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill and Amendment 2, which would permit embryonic stem cell research in Missouri, are driving voter interest in the elections this year. Voters are also being asked to increase tobacco taxes (Amendment 3) and increase the minimum wage (Proposition B).
In the Missouri State Senate, 17 seats are on the ballot across the state, although two candidates face no formal opposition.
Incumbent Democratic Sen. Rita Heard Days, D-St. Louis, was not challenged in the primary and faces no Republican opposition Tuesday.
Democrat Jeff Smith won his primary to replace term-limited Senator Patrick Dougherty, D-St. Louis; no Republican candidate is challenging Smith.
Two other senators, John Cauthorn, R-Mexico, and David Klindt, R-Bethany, also are leaving due to term limits. Three of the four candidates seeking those two seats are current members of the Missouri House; the fourth candidate is a doctor/farmer.
Two incumbent senators, Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City, and Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, are being challenged by independent candidates.
One incumbent senator, Charles Wheeler, D-Kansas City, chose not to pursue another term in the Senate and is seeking elective office in Kansas City.
The ten other incumbent senators all face opposition in Tuesday’s election. For a complete listing of Missouri State Senate races, click here.
For a complete list of all candidates on the ballot in Missouri, click here.
For a complete list of all of the ballot initiatives, click here.
And for an explanation of acceptable identification needed to cast a ballot, click here.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Senate Committees Wrapping Up Work

With just two months to go before the start of the First Regular Session of the 94th Missouri General Assembly, lawmakers will be spending a lot of attending committee hearings. The various committees are each tasked with studying a particular issue, gathering public testimony, drafting proposed legislation, and then issuing a report to the General Assembly.
For example, next week the Senate Administration Committee (link) and the Senate Interim Committee on Pandemic Preparedness (link) will meet November 9 in Jefferson City.
The Senate Administration Committee, chaired by Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons (link), is meeting next Thursday in closed session to consider personnel matters.
The Senate Interim Committee on Pandemic Preparedness, chaired by Sen. Rob Mayer (link), is meeting next Thursday to hear a presentation by Dr. R. Gregory Evans, Director of the Institute for Biosecurity, Saint Louis University, School of Public Health. The public hearing begins at 10 a.m. in the Senate Lounge.
The following week, the Senate Interim Committee on Adoption Promotion and Child Support Enforcement (link), chaired by Sen. Norma Champion (link), will hold a public hearing Nov. 14 in St. Louis, while the Joint Committee on Tax Policy (link), chaired by Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons (link), will hold a public hearing Nov. 15 at the UMKC Conference Center in Kansas City.