Religious Liberty Measure Hearing Set for Tuesday in Jeff
April 11, 2016

Missouri’s so-called religious freedom bill is scheduled for a House committee hearing early Tuesday evening.
Notices started going out Monday afternoon.
The measure would prevent anyone from being punished for refusing to do business with a same sex couple.
Business interests in Kansas City and in St. Louis are worried such a measure could cost the state business and some high profile sports events.
The Kansas City Sports Commission says even serious consideration of such a move could jeopardize the Commission’s ability to competitively bid for future NCAA events and championships.
Supporters say the measure is not a sword to discriminate with but a shield to protect Missourians’s their personal or religious convictions.
The measure has already passed the state Senate. If approved by the House the proposed constitutional amendment would gin on the state-wide ballot later this year.

Missouri Lawmaker Says Another Colleague Tried to Punch Him
January 26, 2016

(AP) – A Missouri lawmaker says a colleague upset over a right-to-work bill took a swing at him in an alley outside a Jefferson City restaurant and the two ended up in a fistfight.
Rep. Courtney Allen Curtis released a copy of the restraining order Tuesday that he filed against Rep. Michael Butler. Curtis also asked the House speaker to open an ethics investigation against Butler.
Both are Democratic lawmakers from the St. Louis area.
Curtis alleges Butler verbally confronted him during an AFL-CIO reception at a Jefferson City restaurant Jan. 19 because Curtis had supported a right-to-work bill limiting union powers. He says Butler later took a swing at him in an alley as he was leaving, and Curtis says he fought back.
Butler declined to comment about the incident.

Missouri House Moves 4 Ethics Bills in 2nd Week
January 14, 2016

(AP) – Still reeling from the chaotic end of last session and the resignation of the chamber’s leader, members of the Missouri House started anew Thursday by passing four measures to change loose ethics laws.

The legislation would close the revolving door of lawmakers becoming lobbyists; require candidates, elected officials and others to report their personal finances more often; ban officials from also serving as paid political consultants; and require lawmakers disclose trips paid for by third parties more quickly.

Republicans asserted the bills are step forward after years of failed attempts to enact change, but others, mostly Democrats, argued the measures don’t go far enough. Missouri is the only state with the trio of unlimited campaign contributions, unlimited lobbyist gifts to lawmakers and a policy that allows legislators to immediately become lobbyists after leaving office.

Order, Ethics & Transportation May Carry Missouri Session
January 6, 2016

(AP) – Missouri lawmakers opened the 2016 session under new leadership Wednesday and saw a relatively quiet start after a tumultuous end to last year’s session.

House Speaker Todd Richardson, who took the helm after John Diehl admitted to exchanging sexually suggestive texts with an intern and resigned on the last day of the 2015 session, said changes to the Legislature’s ethics policies are a top priority.

Nixon and legislative leaders of both parties have said ethics changes and a way to pay for repairs to the state’s aging roads and bridges are needed this year. Both issues have been discussed for years in the Legislature with little success.

“This institution should not and will not be defined by the actions of a few,” said Richardson, a Poplar Bluff Republican. He added that while there is no rule or law “that can make our imperfect process perfect, we can, and we must, work to improve the environment in the people’s Capitol.”

After Diehl resigned, former Sen. Paul LeVota, D-Independence, left office in August amid claims that he sexually harassed interns, which he denied.

Proposed changes to ethics policies include banning lobbyist gifts to lawmakers and not allowing lawmakers to immediately become lobbyists after leaving public office. Measures to cap campaign contribution limits appear less likely to pass.

The Senate also is under new Republican leadership. Sen. Ron Richard, of Joplin, took over after former Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey resigned in August to work at a St. Louis-based lobbying firm, although he does not lobby in Missouri.

Richard is the first president pro tem to also have previously been House speaker. He said little in the chamber on the first day of session, adding that he’d leave that up to his colleagues. “Let’s get to work,” Richard said

Missouri House Speaker Calls for Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training for Legislature
October 23, 2015

AP) – Missouri’s House speaker on Friday called for mandatory annual sexual-harassment training for members and staff after a state senator and the former speaker resigned amid allegations they harassed interns and exchanged sexual texts with them.
GOP Speaker Todd Richardson also wants to ban romantic relationships between House members, staff and interns. He recommends requiring an outside investigation for any sexual harassment complaints involving House members, and is proposing additional oversight for intern programs.
“These proposed policy changes are not a cure-all,” Richardson said in a statement, “but they do take significant, substantive steps toward improving the work environment in the Capitol so that interns, staff and members can have a workplace where they are treated with respect and free from harassment.”
Richardson has said review of current House policies would be a top priority since colleagues picked him to succeed Republican former House Speaker John Diehl of Town and Country, who resigned on the last day of the legislative session in May after admitting to exchanging sexually suggestive text messages with a Capitol intern.
Former Sen. Paul LeVota, an Independence Democrat, resigned months later. One intern had accused him of sexual harassment, and the July release of a Senate investigation into that intern’s complaint led another intern to come forward and claim LeVota made unwanted sexual advances toward her in 2010.
LeVota has denied the allegations