Committee Set to Investigate Missouri AG Koster
November 13, 2014

(AP) – Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones on Wednesday created a committee of lawmakers to review allegations that Attorney General Chris Koster has been influenced by lobbyist perks and campaign contributions.

Jones, a Eureka Republican, said the committee will look into claims that Koster, a Democrat, changed policies and negotiated more favorable settlements in consumer fraud cases following lobbying by companies. The allegations were raised by a New York Times article that was published last month and cited similar examples involving attorneys general across the country.

Republican state Rep. Jay Barnes, of Jefferson City, will chair the review committee. Republican Rep. Stanley Cox, of Sedalia, will serve as vice chairman.

“I am confident the oversight committee can delve deeper into these issues so that the truth is revealed and we know once and for all whether the attorney general’s office was for sale,” Jones said in a written statement.

The New York Times reported that Koster received $13,500 in campaign contributions from a law firm representing Pfizer and $20,000 directly from the drugmaker. He later met with lobbyists and spoke to political action committees while the company was under investigation by his office.

Koster ultimately negotiated with Pfizer for the company to pay Missouri $750,000 in a legal settlement over the marketing practices of some drugs. Some other states took part in a joint investigation and were able to receive more than $1 million from Pfizer.

Koster has said the New York Times report distorts how his office dealt with the companies. A spokesman for Koster declined further comment Wednesday.

Nixon Says More Cuts Could Be Coming as GOP Plots Override
June 12, 2014

(AP) — Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a package of special sales tax breaks Wednesday for Missouri power companies, restaurants, computer data centers and others, setting up another showdown with a Republican-led Legislature that already has triumphed over him on a historic income tax cut.

Nixon denounced the tax break measures as a “grab bag of generous giveaways” providing “secret sweetheart deals” and “special interest favors” that could bust a $425 million hole in the state budget while also jeopardizing hundreds of millions of dollars of local tax revenues.

While vetoing 10 bills, Nixon also said he would make “dramatic spending reductions” in the coming weeks to guard against the potential for lawmakers to enact the tax breaks by overriding his objections during their September session.

“My vetoes today are the first step toward restoring fiscal sanity to a budget process that has gone off the rails,” Nixon said at a Capitol news conference.

Some Republican lawmakers and business groups immediately vowed to pursue veto overrides. They disputed Nixon’s cost projections and defended the bills as a mixture of important business incentives and mere clarifications of existing tax policies that they contend have been misinterpreted by the courts and Nixon’s administration.

“By vetoing these bills, he has reemphasized the fact that the focus of his tax and spend administration is on growing the size of government rather than growing our economy,” said House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka.

Republicans hold a two-thirds majority required for veto overrides in the Senate and are one seat short of that threshold in the House. But the GOP is likely to gain seats when special elections are held in August for four vacant House districts.

Mel Hancock Enshrined In Hall of Famous Missourians
May 15, 2014

— A southwestern Missouri man who led a petition effort to limit state revenue and local taxes was inducted Wednesday into the state Capitol’s Hall of Famous Missourians.
Mel Hancock was a businessman when he sought a Missouri constitutional amendment voters passed in 1980. Now known as the “Hancock Amendment,” the measure establishes a state revenue limit, bars state government from imposing unfunded mandates on local governments and requires voter approval for local tax increases.

When revenue exceeds the cap, tax refunds are triggered. It happened regularly from 1995 to 1999 when $972 million was refunded to taxpayers.

Hancock later served four terms in Congress and built a reputation as a fiscal and social conservative. He died in November 2011.

The Hall of Famous Missourians is a collection of bronze busts that honor people generally chosen by the House speaker that are displayed between the House and Senate chambers. Among those already included are President Harry Truman, Walt Disney, Mark Twain, George Washington Carver, Betty Grable and Ginger Rogers.

House Speaker Tim Jones selected Hancock for inclusion and said Hancock’s vision and leadership have helped put Missouri onto the right path.

Jones Won’t Run for State Senate
March 21, 2014

. (AP) – Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones says he won’t run for a state Senate seat being vacated this year and will focus instead on a 2016 campaign for an unspecified statewide office.

Jones, a Republican from Eureka, had previously expressed interest in running to succeed Republican Sen. Brian Nieves, who is not seeking re-election in his eastern Missouri district.

But in a statement released Friday, Jones said a Senate race would “greatly distract” him from important work. Term limits prevent Jones from seeking re-election to the House.

The reliably Republican Senate district includes Franklin County and part of St. Louis County.

Democrat Lloyd Klinedinst and Republican Rep. Dave Schatz, of Sullivan, are currently the only two candidates to file for the seat. Candidate filing closes at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

Nieves Drops Out of Re-Elect Primary
March 14, 2014

Post Dispatch:

JEFFERSON CITY • Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, is no longer seeking re-election.

Nieves withdrew his papers this afternoon, following a 1,600-word Facebook post this weekend hinting that he might do just that.

Nieves could not be reached for comment.

In his Facebook post, he endorsed House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, to run for the primary. Jones is term limited out of his position.

It was reported that Nieves — known for controversial bills such as one that would nullify federal gun laws — would drop out of his re-election race for the 26th district seat, making room for Jones.

Jones — who has been raising support for a run in the Republican primary for state attorney general — would not say if he would file for the primary. Filing ends March 25.

Rep. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, filed in the primary against Nieves for the 26th district seat.

In a news release sent this week, Schatz pledged a full, four-year term in the seat.

“The people of Franklin and St. Louis counties deserve a State Senator who will focus on them, not the next office they plan to run for,” Schatz said.