May 17, 2014

Mo Legis Session Ends. Time to throw Republicans OUT!

Despite the efforts of out of state millionaires, billionaires and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), two anti-worker bills - Paycheck Deception and “Right to Work” - will not appear on the Missouri ballot.

However, those same shadowy out of state interests managed to undermine important issues for working people and community allies.

Medicaid protest May 6th
PUBLIC PROTESTS ASIDE, Republicans kill Medicaid expansion which the feds fully pay for.

Missouri Medicaid expansion, which would create thousands of jobs, was sabotaged by a small band of ideologues.
And in the most cynical move of the session, after 300,000 signatures were submitted for a historic early voting initiative, legislators hastily passed a sham early voting ballot.  

We can't let them get away with it.

They passed STUDENT TRANSFER/VOUCHER BILL SB493 which does little to improve the educational outcomes in struggling school districts and communities. The legislature has missed the opportunity to increase investment in proven programs to help students, such as early childhood education and extended learning time.

Instead, the bill focuses on moving students out of their communities and hiding them in districts with higher socio-economic demographics or in unaccountable private and charter schools.  Beyond authorizing vouchers, the bill loosens the regulations on charter schools and interferes with local control of school calendars.  Please write or call the office of the Governor Nixon and ask him to veto SB493. We also encourage you to write to Dr. Mike Nietzel (mike.nietzel@mo.gov).  Dr. Nietzel is Governor Nixon's go to person for education issues.

-- from St Charles Dem page

Below, hat tip to 9's Michael Mahoney's blog.  Normally I'd just link to it, but he doesn't archive his stories... he just replaces them so I copied it before it disappears.   He reprinted an AP story on the Republican take of the session:

Missouri Lawmakers End Session, GOP Claims Victory

(AP) — Missouri lawmakers gave the OK for teachers to carry guns in the classroom Friday as they closed out a historic session in which they cut income tax rates for the first time in nearly a century, approved one of the nation’s longest abortion waiting periods and overhauled the state’s criminal laws for the first time in decades.

The final day of the 2014 session was generally anticlimactic, because many of the priorities of the Republican majority already had passed and some of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s top goals – particularly a Medicaid expansion – had long been presumed dead.

Yet lawmakers passed several additional state sales tax breaks for particular industries that Nixon said could “blow up” the budget. He said the legislature had “abysmally failed” and pledged to veto bills or cut spending.

Republican lawmakers defended the budget, touted the business tax breaks as a means of boosting the economy.

“This was a significant, substantive year,” said Republican House Speaker Tim Jones.

The biggest intrigue on the closing day was whether lawmakers would pass an even more expansive gun rights measure than the one allowing specially trained teachers and administrators to carry concealed guns. Republicans made one final push on a separate measure attempting to nullify unspecified federal gun-control laws, but Senate Democrats waged a filibuster against it until the 6 p.m. deadline to pass legislation had expired.

“We are pro-gun,” said Sen. Paul LeVota, D-Independence. But “this goes too far.”
That loss aside, Republicans rejoiced in their success at cutting taxes and targeting abortions, two long-held party priorities.

Democrats joined Republicans in touting the first overhaul of the state’s criminal laws since the 1970s, which Nixon allowed to take effect without his signature. There was also bipartisan support – and opposition – to successful measures that will ask voters to raise the sales tax for transportation and rewrite a 20-year-old education law by allowing local tax dollars to be used for students in some unaccredited districts to transfer to nonreligious private schools.

Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey called it a noteworthy year because of “the overwhelmingly bipartisan support for many priority bills.”

Senate Minority Leader Jolie Justus, who helped pass the criminal code overhaul, described it as a “standout” year in which “some amazing things” were accomplished. But she expressed frustration with passage of the tax cut and abortion bills.

Missouri’s 24-hour abortion waiting period would be lengthened to 72 hours – matched only by Utah and South Dakota – under a bill pending before Nixon, which he has denounced as an “extreme proposal.”
In the final hour of their session Friday, lawmakers approved sales tax breaks for fitness centers and several specific industries, including electric utilities and computer data centers. Business groups had unsuccessfully pursued the data center tax breaks for years while arguing that Missouri was losing the battle for new high-tech businesses to neighbors such as Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma.

“This is a big deal. This is a true business economic develop bill here,” said Rep. Myron Neth, R-Liberty.

Below from ST LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO... Link also contains comments and this copy:

General Assembly Approves Bill Expanding Gun Rights, Lowers Concealed-Carry Age

Just hours before adjournment, the Missouri General Assembly has approved a bill that lowers the state’s legal age for carrying concealed weapons to 19 and allows the open carrying of firearms by any person with a valid concealed-carry permit.

Credit (via Flickr/ M Glasgow)
The bill also allows schools to designate teachers or administrators as "school protection officers" who can carry a concealed firearm or self-defense spray device. But school districts authorizing the armed officers are required to hold a public hearing on the matter.

The measure was among various pieces of legislation that backers were trying to push through on the final day of the session, particularly since higher-profile matters – such as the tax-cut and the school transfer bill – had been completed.

Among other things, the gun bill also prohibits health care professionals “from documenting or disclosing information regarding a person's status as a firearm owner except under certain specified circumstances.”
The bill would bar municipalities  or other jurisdictions from banning the open carrying of firearms by people who have concealed-carry permits.

The Missouri House passed the bill on Friday by a veto-proof margin, 111-28. The Senate had approved the bill on Thursday by a vote of 21-7, which is not veto-proof.

The current minimum age to carry a concealed weapon in Missouri is 21.

The measure would bar people from carrying a gun along with illegal drugs, but makes an exception for "35 grams or less of marijuana or synthetic cannabinoids. "

The Missouri chapter of Moms Demand Action called for Gov. Jay Nixon to veto the bill.

"Reasonable people have differing opinions when it comes to guns— but I think all Missourians can agree that as parents, we have the right to know if there is going to be a gun in our kid’s classrooms,” said the group's spokeswoman, Melissa Brooks. “Missouri moms are deeply disappointed in the legislature’s passage of this dangerous bill, and we urge Governor Nixon to stand with parents across the state by vetoing it.”
Passage of some sort of pro-gun bill had been sought by gun-rights advocates, particularly since other related measures – such as the bill nullifying most federal laws – have died this session.

BALLOT QUESTION:  Voters to be asked to expand privacy protections to electronic data

The House also added another issue to this fall’s ballot by its approval of a proposed constitutional amendment that seeks to protect the privacy of electronic communications.

The chief sponsor -- Rep. Paul Curtman, R-Pacific – said the amendment is needed to guard the public’s privacy.  Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart, questioned whether the proposal would block law enforcement from monitoring terrorists’ cell phone calls or allow people to claim that their Facebook posts were private. Roorda ended up voting “present.”

The Senate already has approved the amendment proposal, so it will go directly onto the ballot. No action by the governor is required.

It is to read as follows:
"Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that the people shall be secure in their electronic communications and data from unreasonable searches and seizures as they are now likewise secure in their persons, homes, papers and effects?"


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