Transportation Tax Bombs in Missouri. Now What?
August 6, 2014

(AP) — Missouri voters have said they don’t want to hike sales taxes to pay for roads and other transportation projects. But there appears to be no immediate Plan B for plugging a looming gap between the state’s available highway funding and its anticipated needs.

The defeat of the transportation sales tax in Tuesday’s primary elections marked the second time in a dozen years that Missouri voters have turned down a major highway tax plan. The measure commanded the most votes on a ballot that lacked competitive races for the top statewide and congressional offices.

The proposed three-quarters cent sales tax known as proposed Constitutional Amendment 7 would have raised at least $540 million annually for 10 years, making it the state’s largest-ever tax increase. The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission had approved a list of over 800 projects that would have been funded, led by the widening of Interstate 70 to three lanes in each direction between Kansas City and St. Louis.

That list now will be shelved, and transportation commissioners are to meet later Wednesday to discuss what to do next.

Commissioners have said previously that the state’s road and bridge budget is projected to drop to $325 million by 2017 from a recent high of $1.3 billion annually, leaving the agency without enough for needed maintenance, much less major new projects.

“I think Missourians have a clear understanding that more resources need to be invested in our transportation infrastructure, but there just isn’t any consensus on how to pay for it,” state transportation commission Chairman Stephen Miller said in a written statement after Tuesday’s election. “We need to continue working toward that end.”

Mayor Sky Thinks Old West Had Tougher Gun Control Laws Than Missouri
July 31, 2014

Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sly James said the Old Wild West would have tighter gun control laws than Missouri, if the state permits openly carrying of firearms.

James said that as he and the Kansas City Council voted to ban openly carrying guns within the city limits.

“You used to have to drop your guns off at the sheriff’s office when you got to town,” James said.

Kevin Jamsion of the Western Missouri Shooters Alliance said the Mayor has his history of the Old West wrong.

“If you read the ‘Oxford History of the American West’, you’ll see those laws were selectively enforced,’ said Jamison.

He added, “Doc Holliday had a concealed weapons permit in Tombstone because he was a friend of the marshal’s.

James says citizens openly carrying guns in Kansas City might make the work of police officers more difficult. They would have to determine if someone with a weapon on display had criminal intentions.

Jamison asked the Mayor to cite any example in Kansas City’s history of an advocate of openly carrying a weapon of doing something unsafe.

James also used the small town of lake Ozark, Missouri as an example of an outstate Missouri community that thought open carry was not fitted for that town either.

The city changed another portion of it gun law.

It re-worked laws to comply with the Missouri laws that permit an intoxicated person to have a firearm. Earlier this year, the Council refused to change its local ordinances on the matter even though the Council was told it had no choice.

The latest Kansas City Council move could place the city on the opposite side of the state’s gun laws again.

Missouri legislators may try to override Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of the open carry law lawmakers passed this session. The veto session takes place in September.

Another member of the Kansas City Council also used the comparison to the Old West.

Councilman Scott Taylor told the council of what one citizen said to him.

“That person said, I love to live in the Midwest. I just don’t want to live in the Old West. And that’s what this would be like, with people walking around with guns,” Taylor said.

Nixon Comsiders Day Care Regulation Expansion
May 27, 2014

(AP) – Legislation pending before Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon would require new oversight of some unlicensed child care centers.
The legislation would require state workers to visit unlicensed facilities that receive federal money. It also would require the development of quality indicators that parents could use to evaluate the safety and caliber of child care centers.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (http://bit.ly/1jpYdut ) the legislation was prompted by changes in federal regulations. Missouri could lose more than $100 million in federal funding if it doesn’t increase oversight. It says the monitoring visits would apply to all child care centers, including about 3,900 in homes, churches and schools that are not currently inspected by state child care regulators.
The Missouri provisions would take effect no sooner than October 2015.

Missouri Lawmakers End Session, GOP Claims Victory
May 17, 2014

(AP) — Missouri lawmakers gave the OK for teachers to carry guns in the classroom Friday as they closed out a historic session in which they cut income tax rates for the first time in nearly a century, approved one of the nation’s longest abortion waiting periods and overhauled the state’s criminal laws for the first time in decades.

The final day of the 2014 session was generally anticlimactic, because many of the priorities of the Republican majority already had passed and some of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s top goals – particularly a Medicaid expansion – had long been presumed dead.

Yet lawmakers passed several additional state sales tax breaks for particular industries that Nixon said could “blow up” the budget. He said the legislature had “abysmally failed” and pledged to veto bills or cut spending.

Republican lawmakers defended the budget, touted the business tax breaks as a means of boosting the economy.

“This was a significant, substantive year,” said Republican House Speaker Tim Jones.

The biggest intrigue on the closing day was whether lawmakers would pass an even more expansive gun rights measure than the one allowing specially trained teachers and administrators to carry concealed guns. Republicans made one final push on a separate measure attempting to nullify unspecified federal gun-control laws, but Senate Democrats waged a filibuster against it until the 6 p.m. deadline to pass legislation had expired.

“We are pro-gun,” said Sen. Paul LeVota, D-Independence. But “this goes too far.”

That loss aside, Republicans rejoiced in their success at cutting taxes and targeting abortions, two long-held party priorities.

Democrats joined Republicans in touting the first overhaul of the state’s criminal laws since the 1970s, which Nixon allowed to take effect without his signature. There was also bipartisan support – and opposition – to successful measures that will ask voters to raise the sales tax for transportation and rewrite a 20-year-old education law by allowing local tax dollars to be used for students in some unaccredited districts to transfer to nonreligious private schools.

Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey called it a noteworthy year because of “the overwhelmingly bipartisan support for many priority bills.”

Senate Minority Leader Jolie Justus, who helped pass the criminal code overhaul, described it as a “standout” year in which “some amazing things” were accomplished. But she expressed frustration with passage of the tax cut and abortion bills.

Missouri’s 24-hour abortion waiting period would be lengthened to 72 hours – matched only by Utah and South Dakota – under a bill pending before Nixon, which he has denounced as an “extreme proposal.”

In the final hour of their session Friday, lawmakers approved sales tax breaks for fitness centers and several specific industries, including electric utilities and computer data centers. Business groups had unsuccessfully pursued the data center tax breaks for years while arguing that Missouri was losing the battle for new high-tech businesses to neighbors such as Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma.

“This is a big deal. This is a true business economic develop bill here,” said Rep. Myron Neth, R-Liberty.

Gun Nullification Bill Doesn’t Make It
May 17, 2014

(AP) — Missouri’s Legislature failed to advance highly publicized legislation that sought to nullify some federal gun laws as its session concluded Friday, but it did send the governor a measure that could allow specially trained teachers to carry concealed weapons in the classroom.

Despite being a top priority that majority GOP leaders pledged would be one of the first bills passed this year, a dispute among Republicans ultimately derailed the attempt to void any federal law that “infringed on people’s right to keep and bear arms.”

Supporters were divided until the closing hours of session over how aggressive the measure should be in punishing federal agents who enforced unspecified gun laws. House sponsor Rep. Doug Funderburk, R-St. Peters, said it was difficult to come to a compromise that protected gun rights while easing the concerns of law enforcement groups.

“The problem is how to deal with a very fine line of language that isn’t overprotection but still has elements to keep our community safe,” he said.

The House adopted the final compromise and sent it to the Senate with less than 30 minutes remaining in the session. Democratic senators were able to stall for a vote for the remaining time.

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