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Showing posts from August, 2007

Senate Completes Work on House Bills 1 and 2

Legislation Now Goes to Governor for Approval

Lawmakers have completed their work after passing two bills that address the issues the governor asked the Legislature to address in his call for the special session. Senators were at the Capitol late on Wednesday night completing their work on House Bills 1 and 2.
House Bill 1, an omnibus economic development package, was brought about by the veto of HB 327, an economic development bill passed during the regular session. Lawmakers worked throughout the summer to craft a new economic development bill with a price tag of approximately $70 million a year, deemed to be more fiscally palatable compared to the approximately $200 million cost of the vetoed HB 327.
House Bill 1 includes increases in the amount of credits available for businesses participating in the Quality Jobs Act. Qualifying businesses are those that provide jobs with pay above the county’s average wage and pay 50 percent of health insurance costs for employees. Similar cap inc…

Senate Approves Bridge Building, Economic Development Bills

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Senate yesterday (8/29) approved two bills addressed by the governor in a call to special session. Debate went into the early morning hours as senators discussed House Bill 1, an economic development package, and House Bill 2, a measure designed to get the Missouri Department of Transportation’s (MoDOT) bridge repair started.
House Bill 1 is an omnibus economic development bill brought about by the veto of HB 327, an economic development bill passed during the regular session and vetoed by the governor due to concerns over cost. Lawmakers worked throughout the summer to craft a new economic development bill with a price tag of approximately $70 million a year, deemed to be more fiscally palatable compared to the approximately $200 million cost of the vetoed HB 327. House Bill 1 includes increases in the amount of credits available for businesses participating in the Quality Jobs Act. Qualifying businesses are those that provide jobs with pay above the coun…

Senate’s School Funding Bill Upheld by Circuit Court

JEFFERSON CITY — A state circuit court judge yesterday (8/29) upheld the equity, adequacy and constitutionality of Missouri’s school funding “foundation formula,” which is used to appropriate state money to Missouri’s 524 public school districts.
The ruling came some three years after more than 200 of these districts together launched a suit against the state contesting how — and how much — state money flows to districts via the funding formula.
In 2005, after the suit was filed, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 287, revising the foundation formula to where it now keys off of the needs of a district’s students — rather then the old model based on the taxes a district’s properties could generate.
As now written, the formula applies a universal minimum per-pupil dollar figure and adjusts this base to account for aspects like each district’s property values and living costs. The revised foundation formula has an increase phase-in schedule that eventually infuses an added $800 million…

Senate Committees Move Special Session Bills on to Full Senate

JEFFERSON CITY — The two bills regarding the subjects of the special legislative session have been approved today by their respective committees and have been sent to the full State Senate for debate and possible votes. The Senate Economic Development, Tourism & Local Government Committee has approved House Bill 1, the omnibus economic development bill, while the Senate Transportation Committee has approved House Bill 2, a measure to move forward the Missouri Department of Transportation’s plan to fix more than 800 of the worst bridges in the state.
House Bill 1 is an all-encompassing economic development bill brought about by the veto of HB 327, an economic development bill passed during the regular session. In his veto message, the governor said HB 327 had grown too large with an anticipated price tag of more than $200 million a year when it reached maturity in a few years. Lawmakers worked throughout the summer to craft a new economic development bill with a price tag close…

Most Senate Bills Take Effect on Aug. 28

Healthcare Reform, Higher Education Package, and Tax Incentives Among New Laws

JEFFERSON CITY — Most of the legislation passed during the regular session that ended in May will take effect on August 28. Among the new laws becoming effective are senate bills making changes to heath care, higher education, and tax incentives.
Senate Bill 577 makes several reforms to Missouri’s state-sponsored medical insurance, now called MO HeathNet. The new program focuses on preventative measures, rather than the more expensive reactive care by encouraging patients to take steps toward a healthy lifestyle such as losing weight or quitting smoking. In order to better combat fraud in the system, the program asks providers to keep stricter records and creates protections for “whistleblowers.” Programs to benefit the working disabled and low-income women are also contained in the legislation.
An extensive higher education package will also go into effect on Aug. 28. Senate Bill 389 calls for several constru…

Senate Convenes for Special Session

Lawmakers returned to Jefferson City this week to begin a special session meant to address two issues. The gavel calling the Senate into an extraordinary session fell on Monday at 1 p.m.
During the regular session, which ended in May, the General Assembly passed an omnibus economic development package. House Bill 327, a bill created to increase caps on the Quality Jobs Act, passed the Senate and House, but was vetoed by the governor due to concerns over the cumulative cost of the various tax breaks contained in the bill. House Bill 1, a slimmed down version of HB 327, was introduced this week.House Bill 1 provides for a series of tax credits meant to stimulate economic development in the state. It includes increases in the amount of credits available for businesses participating in the Quality Jobs Act. Qualifying businesses are those that provide jobs with pay above the county’s overage wage and pay 50 percent of health insurance costs for employees. Similar cap increases are co…

Judicial Commission Invited to Meet With Senate Committee

JEFFERSON CITY — Senator Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, today extended an invitation to the members of the Appellate Judicial Commission to meet with the Senate Committee on Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics next month to discuss the process used to select candidates for the Missouri Supreme Court.
“As a member of the Commission you will have the opportunity to explain to the committee as well as other interested Missourians how the process was used to select the panel and why you believe the work of the Commission is not covered under the State’s open meetings law,” Shields wrote in a letter dated and sent to each commissioner today, August 23, 2007.
The seven-member Appellate Judicial Commission is comprised of four lawyers including Supreme Court Chief Justice Laura Denvir Stith and three commissioners appointed by governors. The commission met earlier this summer without publicly posting the times or locations of their meetings, which Shields contends violates state “Sunsh…

Senate Interim Committee Formed to Protect Consumers

JEFFERSON CITY—Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons, R-Kirkwood, this week created a five-member Senate Interim Committee on Consumer and Financial Protection. The committee will be examining opportunities for the Legislature to protect consumers from dishonesty and fraud.
The committee is charged with examining ways to prevent consumer fraud in investing, real estate, and insurance. Examples of issues being examined by the committee will include Stranger-Owned Life Insurance (STOLI) schemes that take advantage of seniors by promising “free life insurance,” mortgage fraud that employs dishonest real estate practices, and the practice of “naked short selling” where investors profit off of shares they have never possessed. The committee will hear from experts on these and other matters to make legislative recommendations to the General Assembly by Jan. 31, 2008.
The bipartisan committee will include Senators Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, (Chair); Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City; Carl Vogel,…

Special Session Officially Called For August 20th; Majority of Senate’s Work Expected Week of August 27th

JEFFERSON CITY — The governor has officially called lawmakers back into special session this coming Monday, August 20th at 1:00 p.m. to consider legislation to speed up the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Safe and Sound Bridge Improvement Plan, a strategy to fix 800 of Missouri’s worst bridges and keep them maintained for 25 years after, and to work out a new economic development bill and funding. The recent tragedy of the bridge collapse in Minnesota and the veto of House Bill 327, an omnibus economic development bill, have precipitated the call.
While the official start of the session is set for Monday with all Senators and Representatives asked to be present, the bulk of the Senate’s work won’t begin until a week later. The Senate will have two technical sessions that only a few senators would need to attend next week. On Monday, August 27th, the Senate will hold hearings on the bills considered by the House, and debate before the full Senate is expected on August 29th.
T…

Senators Prepare to Come Back Into Session

JEFFERSON CITY — Lawmakers will come back to Jefferson City on August 20th as part of a special legislative session. The governor is calling the session to speed up the fixing of the state’s bridges and to address issues with a new economic development bill and funding. The recent tragedy of the bridge collapse in Minnesota and the veto of House Bill 327, an omnibus economic development bill, have precipitated the call.
The collapse of the Minneapolis-St. Paul bridge last week has prompted the Missouri Department of Transportation to re-examine other bridges of similar designs in this state to make sure there are no problems. In addition, MoDOT has been working to implement the Safe and Sound Bridge Improvement Program to fix about 800 of the worst bridges in Missouri in the next few years. Transportation officials say the amount of funding to fix roads and bridges in Missouri drops off dramatically from about $1.2 billion a year now, to just $569 million in 2010. Legislation to b…

Transportation Panel Considers Options

JEFFERSON CITY — The Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight met Tuesday at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City to discuss funding options for transportation infrastructure in Missouri. The meeting featured presentations by MoDOT Director Pete Rahn and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation David Horner.
The meeting was billed as the 2007 Transportation Funding Summit, and attendees reviewed what other states are doing regarding transportation infrastructure funding.
“Today we want to take a look at where Missouri is as far as funding for transportation is concerned, then we want to go to a national panel that will help us learn what’s coming down from the federal level, and hear what other states are doing and how other people are addressing the issue,” said Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, co-chair of the Joint Committee.
The other co-chair of the Joint Committee is Rep. Neal St. Onge, R-Ellisville.
“The needs are very real for Missouri a…