Major Issues of the 2006 Legislative Session

1 decade 8 months 2 weeks ago Thursday, March 29 2007 Mar 29, 2007 Thursday, March 29, 2007 4:39:14 PM CDT March 29, 2007 in News
Source: (Copyright 2007 The Associated Press All Rights Reserved.)

BUDGET - The $20.8 billion budget for the 2007 fiscal year increases spending by 8.6 %, with more money for education, roads and employee pay raises as well the restoration of a small portion of last year's Medicaid cuts.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE - Starting Jan. 1, limits on what individuals can give to candidates are lifted, fundraising during the legislative session is barred and lawmakers must get approval before lobbyists can pay the tab for out-of-state travel or lodging.

CHILD SEATS - Vehicle booster seats, currently required for children up to age 4, would now be required for children up to age 8, unless they reach either 80 pounds or 4-feet-9 inches before then, when they can switch to seat belts.

PREGNANCY CENTERS - Creates a tax credit for donations to centers that provide support to pregnant women.

DNA TESTING - Drug dealers would pay double the amount charged to other felons to extend the state's DNA testing program, and a few more people exonerated by DNA evidence would be eligible to receive compensation from the state.

EMINENT DOMAIN - In response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year, lawmakers passed a bill prohibiting the use of eminent domain to take private property solely to increase taxes or create jobs. The bill also requires a bonus payment, on top of the market value, to people whose properties are taken.

ETHANOL - Starting in January 2008, ethanol-blended gasoline is required whenever the price of the alternative fuel is equal to or drops below the price of regular gasoline.

FUNERALS - Gov. Blunt signed legislation making it illegal to protest near a funeral an hour before or after the service -- a response to a Kansas-based church group that has targeted military funerals in Missouri and elsewhere.

SEX OFFENDERS - People who commit sex offenders against children younger than 12 would face longer mandatory sentences, and more information about released sex offenders would be made known on public registries.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFIT - Made it easier to disqualify workers from jobless benefits along with other changes designed to overhaul an unemployment compensation system that has had financial trouble in recent years.

VIRTUAL SCHOOL - Starting with the 2007-2008 school year, the state would offer a virtual school allowing K-12 students to take courses over the Internet instead of in a traditional classroom.

VOTING - Voters must show a Missouri or federal government-issued photo identification before voting, starting this fall. Until 2008, people without a proper ID could vote a provisional ballot, which would count if their identity was verified.

Here is a review of the laws that did NOT pass this session:

CAR TAX BREAK - A waiver of state sales tax for all vehicles made and sold in Missouri failed.

DAM SAFETY - The bill would have more than tripled the number of dams inspected by the Department of Natural Resources, following the failure of the Taum Sauk reservoir in December. That reservoir was subject to federal -- but not state -- inspections.

DEADLY FORCE - Expanded the right of Missourians to use deadly force against anyone trying to unlawfully enter their homes or vehicles, but critics claimed it could encourage a shoot-first mentality.

DEVELOPMENT TAX BREAKS - A plan to curtail the use of tax breaks to help finance local development projects was approved by both bodies, but lawmakers couldn't agree on which areas should qualify for the tax breaks.

EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION - Allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for medicines that they believe will end human life, such as Plan B, was voted out of committee but was never discussed on the floor.

IMMIGRATION - Would have directed Missouri State Highway Patrol members to be trained to enforce federal immigration laws and barred government contractors who knowingly employ undocumented workers from participating in other public works projects for at least three years.

MEDICAID - Restoration of a trimmed-down Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities program, which allows certain disabled people who would otherwise earn too much to keep their Medicaid coverage, failed after being tied to an effort to offer financial incentives for whistleblowers and tough penalties for health care provides who cheat the Medicaid program.

MOHELA - A plan to spend $478 million from the proceeds of a proposed asset sale by the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority failed after it was linked to a controversial bill that would have put state funding constraints on universities.

SEX EDUCATION - Would have required a parental permission slip before students could take sex education courses in public schools and prohibited any organization that provides abortions from teaching sex education classes.

SCHOOL SPENDING - Gov. Matt Blunt's proposal to require school districts to spend 65% of their budgets in the classroom was watered down to a goal but never made it out of either a House or Senate committee.

TELEVISION - Legislation backed by telecommunications provider AT&T would have allowed it to more easily compete with cable television companies by offering video services over lines it uses for high-speed Internet.

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