Tax Breaks for Rams Stadium Deal Getting Blitzed
August 26, 2015

(AP) – Missouri’s legislative budget leaders said they oppose spending taxpayer money on a new St. Louis football stadium, casting serious doubts on whether supporters can cobble together enough money for the facility before an approaching NFL vote on whether to relocate the Rams.
House Budget Chairman Tom Flanigan sent a letter Wednesday to Gov. Jay Nixon warning that he will block any effort to put money in the state budget for payments on a new stadium unless the Legislature or voters first approve the additional debt.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Kurt Schaefer told The Associated Press he doesn’t believe there is legislative support for using taxpayer money for a new St. Louis stadium.
Their reluctance further complicates an already fragile plan that requires buy-in from a number of public and private entities to pay for the estimated $998 million stadium.
Nixon, a Democrat, and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority are working to piece together money for a new stadium as a counterproposal to efforts by Rams owner Stan Kroenke to move the team to the Los Angeles area.

Judge Rules- No ‘ Right to Record’ State Senate Meetings
July 1, 2015

(AP) — A Missouri judge dismissed Tuesday an advocacy group’s lawsuit that challenged restrictions on filming Missouri Senate committee meetings.

Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem dismissed the petition brought by Progress Missouri, which claimed decisions by Senate committee chairmen to prohibit filming by the group violates the state’s open meetings law. The liberal advocacy group also said the prohibition infringes on its freedom of speech and association.

The state’s Sunshine Law allows public bodies to establish guidelines on recording to minimize disruption, but the lawsuit said Progress Missouri’s filming wouldn’t have been disruptive. Senate rules state that cameras may be allowed with the permission of the committee chairman “as long as they do not prove disruptive to the decorum of the committee.”

The attorney general’s office, which represented the Senate, wanted the case dismissed because the Missouri Constitution gives the Senate the authority “to determine the rules of its own proceedings,” including rules on recording meetings.

Beetem agreed, saying the Senate was within its constitutional powers to establish its own rules that don’t violate other provisions. Beetem also said a state legislature’s authority to set up rules for its own proceedings “is a political question not subject to judicial review.”

“The inquiry ends here,” Beetem wrote in the nine-page decision.

The judge also said there is no constitutional right to record open public meetings.

Sean Soendker Nicholson, executive director of Progress Missouri, vowed to “continue this fight.”

“We don’t think that the Senate should be able to ignore the Sunshine Law just because they find it inconvenient,” he said.

Several senators, including Senate Leader Tom Dempsey and Majority Floor Leader Ron Richard, said in a joint statement they were pleased with the judge’s decision.

Senate Passes RTW, Now Back to House
May 13, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Missouri Senate Republicans used a rare procedural motion Tuesday to shut down debate and pass a right-to-work measure – a move Democrats say will bring business to a halt as this week’s deadline to pass bills nears.

The Senate voted 21-13 to approve the bill that prohibits workplace contracts in which union fees are collected from nonmembers. Supporters say it would attract more businesses to Missouri and improve the state’s economy.

The motion to force a vote hadn’t been used since 2014, when it was employed to override Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a measure tripling the waiting period for abortions. Prior to that, it had not been used since 2007.

The right-to-work legislation, which opponents say could lead to lower wages and make training more difficult, now goes back to the state House, which passed a similar version earlier this year. A final House vote would send the bill to Nixon, who has indicated he likely would veto it.

Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard, a Joplin Republican, had said the right-to-work issue was a priority of his and would be handled before anything else as Friday’s deadline to approve bills approaches. But Democratic Sen. Scott Sifton of St. Louis County called Republicans’ use of the motion “the nuclear option.”

“This session has already gone badly enough for working Missourians. We can’t allow it to get any worse,” Sifton said.

He and other Democrats, in an attempt to block any other moves by the Republicans, were forcing roll-call votes on multiple motions on Tuesday.

Lawmakers Over Ride Nixon Welfare Ceto
May 5, 2015

(AP) – Missouri lawmakers voted Tuesday to remove several thousand families from a welfare program by imposing shorter time limits for people to receive the benefits, overriding a veto by the state’s Democratic governor.
The new law will reduce Missouri’s lifetime limit for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cash assistance program from five years to three years and nine months, starting in January. The law also imposes stricter work requirements.
The Republican-led House voted 113-42 Tuesday to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto, largely along party lines. The Senate voted 25-9 to override the veto on Monday.
Shortly after the vote, Nixon announced that he had vetoed another Republican-backed bill paring back the social safety net. That bill would reduce the duration of unemployment rates from the current 20 weeks to as few as 13 weeks by linking the length to the state’s unemployment rate.
Republican lawmakers already have said they will try to override the veto of the jobless benefits bill. But the House fell well short of the two-thirds majority that would be needed when the bill originally was sent to Nixon last month. The House also failed to override Nixon’s veto of a similar unemployment bill last year.
Both measures are part of a push by Republicans in several states to curtail spending on social programs in a way that they say encourages personal responsibility. In neighboring Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, signed a measure earlier this year to prohibit spending cash assistance on recreational activities such as swimming pools and movies.

Missouri Lawmakers Sends Budget to Nixon
April 23, 2015

(AP) – The Missouri Legislature has passed a $26 billion spending plan for next fiscal year.
The budget approved Thursday will cut spending for social services by about $46 million while increasing basic aid for K-12 schools by about $84 million compared to this year.
That increase still falls about $400 million short of what’s need to provide public schools with full funding.
More money will go to public colleges and universities. Lawmakers have proposed a 1.3 percent increase of $12 million in performance-based spending for those institutions.
State employees will not receive a pay raise. Efforts to block the governor from extending bond payments to pay for a new St. Louis football stadium also failed to make it into the budget.
The bill now needs approval from Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.

A look at the department spending totals authorized in the 2016 fiscal year budget passed Thursday by the Missouri Legislature, compared with the amounts included in the 2015 budget.
FY 2015 FY 2016
HB 1 – Public Debt
General Revenue $64,790,980 $59,199,900
Total $67,831,978 $61,948,734
HB 2 – DESE
General Revenue $3,146,905,980 $3,220,532,590
Total $5,863,862,371 $5,789,415,427
HB 3 – Higher Ed
General Revenue $928,930,254 $933,638,908
Total $1,272,140,013 $1,266,819,566
HB 4 – Revenue
General Revenue $84,817,692 $88,434,330
Total $506,493,497 $510,131,760
HB 4 – Transportation
General Revenue $16,094,129 $19,544,129
Total $2,172,720,379 $2,162,212,814
HB 5 – Office of Administration
General Revenue $175,979,939 $174,641,743
Total $502,233,461 $303,318,854
HB 5 – Employee Benefits
General Revenue $553,273,629 $552,246,544
Total $930,454,702 $933,738,426
HB 6 – Agriculture
General Revenue $10,449,767 $11,429,947
Total $37,377,686 $42,331,831
HB 6 – Natural Resources
General Revenue $9,858,085 $10,829,503
Total $558,319,893 $560,481,082
HB 6 – Conservation
General Revenue $0 $0
Total $148,119,522 $149,505,752
HB 7 – Economic Development
General Revenue $88,324,611 $80,948,436
Total $370,604,690 $362,460,962
HB 7 – Insurance
General Revenue $0 $0
Total $40,806,316 $40,668,920
HB 7 – Labor
General Revenue $2,363,480 $2,248,549
Total $185,640,013 $190,989,359
HB 8 – Public Safety
General Revenue $82,676,629 $69,471,854
Total $699,526,424 $734,682,088
HB 9 – Corrections
General Revenue $670,432,531 $661,290,269
Total $725,156,473 $710,168,328
HB 10 – Mental Health
General Revenue $705,514,408 $661,290,269
Total $1,753,047,699 $1,836,521,148
HB 10 – Health
General Revenue $286,713,941 $330,849,608
Total $1,181,112,711 $1,253,241,755
HB 11 – Social Services
General Revenue $1,532,947,954 $1,532,392,881
Total $8,655,534,883 $8,609,187,275
HB 12 – Elected Officials
General Revenue $50,632,537 $51,071,181
Total $123,769,927 $123,556,150
HB 12 – Judiciary
General Revenue $183,428,670 $183,058,930
Total $206,422,446 $208,131,056
HB 12 – Public Defender
General Revenue $39,739,909 $36,422,010
Total $42,847,492 $39,530,303
HB 12 – General Assembly
General Revenue $33,475,985 $34,438,373
Total $33,769,525 $35,732,378
HB 13 – Statewide Leasing
General Revenue $70,562,638 $71,014,354
Total $102,671,259 $102,991,759
Overall Budget
General Revenue $8,734,913,177 $8,854,825,360
Total $26,180,463,360 $26,027,765,727

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