House Committee Gives Pot. Hearing
March 12, 2014

A Missouri House committee Monday considered legislation for the first time this year that would legalize marijuana use for most adults, but the Democratic proposal faces an uncertain fate in the state’s Republican-dominated Legislature.

Under the measure, Missouri would join Washington and Colorado as the only states to legalize recreational marijuana use. Missouri’s version would guarantee the right of people older than 21 to produce, sell, distribute and use pot.

The bill’s sponsor said he was against legalizing marijuana use until he changed his mind after serving on the bench.

“I saw too many young people whose lives were ruined by using small amounts of marijuana,” said Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, and a former Boone County judge.

Some Republican committee members were skeptical about the bill during Monday’s hearing. Rep. Kenneth Wilson, a retired police officer, said he was concerned about the effect of secondhand smoke if marijuana was used in homes around children.

“We often forget about the ills that this is going to cost society,” said Wilson, R-Smithville.

Although marijuana possession remains a federal crime, the federal government has announced that it will not challenge the laws in Washington and Colorado.

Missouri’s legislation would allow the state to adopt various regulations on marijuana distribution and usage, as well as levy an excise tax up to 25 percent of the drug’s original cost. The state could choose to restrict usage within 1,000 feet of a public school or university. It could also limit advertisements for the drug and the amount people are allowed to buy at a given time.

Missouri Trying to Expand Parental Notice on Abortions
March 11, 2014

(AP) – The Missouri House has given first-round approval to legislation that would impose an additional requirement on minors who seek abortions.

Missouri currently requires girls younger than 18 to get consent from one parent before terminating a pregnancy. The measure endorsed with a 117-37 vote Monday would require minors to notify the second parent within five days of having the procedure.

Supporters say the bill would allow divorced parents to both be involved in a minor’s decision about an abortion. Opponents say the measure would be hinder minors who don’t have healthy relationships with both parents.

The bill would only apply if the non-consenting parent had custody of the child and has not been convicted of child or sexual abuse.

The legislation needs another vote before moving to the Senate.

Student Transfer Reforms Clear Senate
February 27, 2014

(AP) – Students at troubled Missouri schools could switch to nearby quality schools or choose a private school at local taxpayers’ expense under legislation the Senate passed Thursday.

The legislation overhauls a student transfer law dating to 1993 that has led to recent financial problems for unaccredited districts that currently must pay for students who want to attend better-performing schools in other districts.

Under the Senate legislation, individual schools would be accredited along with entire districts. Students who attend a struggling school could move to a better one within their home district. Transferring out of a school district would remain an option, but only for students who would attend a failing school within an unaccredited school district and who cannot move to a higher-performing school there. There would be a 12-month residency requirement for students to transfer.

“We are giving those students a choice,” said Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, a Democrat from St. Louis County.

Addressing transfers and unaccredited school districts has received significant attention this year, and the Senate spent much of its time this week debating the bill.
In a statement, Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro said, “”We look forward to working with the Missouri House and Senate as the legislature addresses this critical issue.”

Senators approved the measure 27-5. It now moves to the House, where an education committee was considering separate proposals Thursday.
Flur lf the five botes against the plan came from Kansas City area Senators, Democrats Paul LeVota, Jolie Justus and Jason Holsman and Lee’s Summit Republican Will Kraus.
Supporters of the Senate bill said additional work would be needed

‘Border War’ Cease Fire Bill Advances in Missouri
February 27, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Missouri senators have given initial approval to legislation seeking a potential truce in an economic competition with bordering Kansas.

Under legislation endorsed Wednesday, Missouri would stop offering incentives aimed at getting businesses to come from several Kansas counties. The moratorium would take effect if Kansas enacts a similar moratorium through legislation or executive order.

The proposal would apply to Jackson, Clay, Platte and Cass counties in Missouri, and to Wyandotte, Johnson, Douglas and Miami counties in Kansas. The states have waived hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues competing with each other for businesses around Kansas City.

Missouri’s legislation requires another vote before it moves to the state House

Missouri House Passes 2 Tax Cut Plans
February 20, 2014

(AP) – The Missouri House has endorsed a pair of tax cut plans that could reduce state revenues by hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

The bills given initial approval Wednesday in the Republican-led chamber could set up another showdown with Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, who vetoed an income tax cut bill last year.

One of the bills could eventually cut taxes by $700 million annually. It would gradually reduce Missouri’s top individual income tax rate to 5.3 percent from 6 percent and phase in a 50 percent deduction for business income reported on individual tax returns.

The other bill includes a similar business income deduction paired with a 50 percent cut in Missouri’s corporate income tax rate. It’s projected by legislative researchers to cost up to $347 million annually.

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