Can I Drive 75?
January 5, 2015

(AP) – A state lawmaker wants to increase the speed limit on Missouri’s rural interstates and freeways from 70 mph.
State Rep. Mike Kelley of Lamar filed legislation recently to boost the speed limit on those roads to 75 mph.
Kansas increased speed limits from 70 mph on some roads in 2011.
The Kansas City Star reports traffic-related fatalities and injuries in Kansas are up on roads with newly increased 75 mph speed limits. But transportation officials say it’s too early to blame that on the speed limit.
Numbers from the Kansas Transportation Department show a 54 percent increase in highways deaths on those roads since the speed limit was raised. Injuries are up about 13 percent compared with the two years before the new speed limit went into effect

Missouri Senate Plans to Look at Ferguson During 2015 Session
November 7, 2014

(AP) – Missouri senators said Thursday they hope to pursue legislation next session to address issues that have arisen from a fatal police shooting of an 18-year-old in Ferguson that sparked sometimes-violent protests.

Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey said Republicans still are hashing out the details of what those proposals might look like.

Sen. Joe Keaveny, who was chosen to be the next Senate minority leader on Thursday, said Democrats aim to discuss topics such as school funding, job creation and other underlying issues that surfaced after Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown in August.

The shooting of Brown, who was unarmed and black, by a white officer stoked underlying racial tensions in the predominantly black St. Louis suburb that is patrolled by a mostly white police force. It also has brought attention to a variety of social and legal issues, including the fact that some cities in the lower-income parts of St. Louis County draw a substantial portion of their revenues from court costs and fines.

“We need to address some of the inequities up there, and there’s a myriad,” said Keaveny, of St. Louis. “And it’s not just Ferguson.”

But Senate efforts to pass legislation related to issues that have come from Ferguson could face resistance in the House.

Newly nominated House Speaker John Diehl said Wednesday that Republican House members are reluctant to pass legislation involving the shooting.

“The temptation is to run out and say, ‘Let’s pass a law to fix this,'” said Diehl who’s from the St. Louis suburb of Town and Country. He added that he doubts statutory changes are the best way to help.

The potential division between Republicans in the House and Senate over how to address Ferguson shows that even though the GOP won commanding supermajorities in Tuesday’s elections, its members may not always agree on priorities.

But the two chambers may align more closely on budget and job issues.

Diehl and Dempsey both said helping the economy – whether through job creation or support for small businesses – was among their top priorities for next session. Republicans also could use new voter-approved powers to override Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s decision to freeze about $700 million in spending for state programs.

Dempsey, of St. Charles, was nominated to serve another term as president pro tem, but must be confirmed by the full Senate when it convenes in January. Diehl also must be confirmed by the House.

Democrats in the Missouri House have voted to retain their current leadership in next year’s legislative session.

The caucus on Thursday elected Jacob Hummel of St. Louis as minority leader and Gail McCann Beatty of Kansas City as assistant minority leader.

Tuesday’s elections and the decision by a Democratic incumbent to join the Republican Party widened the partisan gap in the 163-member House. Republicans gained eight seats this week and head into 2015 with 118 House members to the Democrats’ 45.

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 ( ) 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.


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