MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 1 of 50 Blunt considering a run for GOP Senate conference post By Robert Koenig, Beacon Washington correspondent Posted 11:33 am Thu., 9.22.11 WASHINGTON - Less than nine months after moving across the Capitol from the House to the Senate, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., is considering a run for a Senate Republican leadership post. As part of the domino effect started by upcoming vacancies, Blunt's office confirmed Thursday that he is "taking a look" at the position of vice chairman of the GOP conference, which would give him a voice in the Senate's Republican leadership. "Sen. Blunt is considering how he can best contribute to next year's debate regarding who we are going to be as a country," said Blunt's spokeswoman, Amber Marchand. "He has received a lot of encouragement from his colleagues in the Senate and is taking a look at the conference vice chair race." One reason that Blunt is being encouraged by some colleagues to run for the position -- which will open in January -- is that the only announced candidate so far, freshman Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., had no previous legislative experience and won election with strong tea party backing. Considered to be a more establishment Republican, Blunt rose to high GOP leadership positions during his 14 years in the U.S. House, elected as the Republican whip and, briefly, as the acting minority leader. On the day he was sworn into the Senate in January, Blunt became a member of the GOP whip team in the Senate, helping to line up votes. Senate GOP Vice-Chairs Milton R. Young (N.D.) 1946-1971 Norris Cotton (N.H.) 1971-1972 Wallace F. Bennett (Utah) 1973-1974 Robert T. Stafford (Vt.) 1976-1976 Clifford P. Hansen (Wyo.) 1977-1978 E.J. "Jake" Garn Utah 1979-1985 William Thad Cochran (Miss.) 1985-1991 Robert W. Kasten, Jr. (Wisc.) 1991-1993 Trent Lott (Miss.) 1993-1995 Connie Mack (Fla.) 1995-1997 Paul Coverdell (Ga.) 1997-2000 Kay Bailey Hutchison Texas 2001-2007 John Cornyn Texas 2007-2009 John Thune (S.D.) 2009 Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) 2009-2010 MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 2 of 50 John Barrasso (Wyo.) 2010-Present The GOP conference vice-chair vacancy results from the announcement by the current Republican conference chair, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., that he would step down from the GOP's Senate leadership in January. As part of the domino effect, the GOP policy committee chair, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., plans to run for Alexander's position, and the current GOP conference vice chair, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., has said he is likely to run for Thune's current post. Those musical chairs are sometimes filled in backroom deals well before the official GOP Senate votes in January, so it seems likely that Blunt's non-announcement is a way for him to gauge his potential support for a leadership position. In announcing this week that he would leave the No. 3 GOP Senate leadership position, Alexander said he was "giving up my seat at the [leadership] table in exchange for some more independence" to vote as he pleases, without having to toe the party line. However, Senate observers said Alexander was also facing the reality that he would be unlikely to beat Sen. John Cornyn, R-Tex., in the race to succeed retiring Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., for the No. 2 Senate Republican leadership job, GOP whip. The current GOP leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., appears likely to keep his post. Blunt has backed mainstream GOP Senate positions on most issues this year -- with a major exception being last week's Senate vote on disaster aid. He has been taking a higher profile in recent months. Earlier this week, GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney announced that Blunt would help spearhead his efforts to gain support among Republicans on Capitol Hill. U.S. farm payments on block MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 3 of 50 President calls for ending 'direct payments' to farmers of nearly $5 billion yearly. BY GEORGINA GUSTIN • email@example.com > 314-340-8195 STLtoday.com | Posted: Friday, September 23, 2011 12:25 am Midwestern commodity growers could lose billions in federal funding in the coming year — and many people, including some farmers, say it's about time. The federal government pays nearly $5 billion to American farmers in "direct payments" that are dished out each year regardless of economic or crop conditions. Many of these direct payments go to farms that make millions of dollars a year, or can end up in the bank accounts of city-based companies and landowners who haven't seen farmland or crops in years. President Barack Obama's deficit reduction plan, unveiled this week, calls for eliminating these controversial direct payments, as well as shrinking the government's contribution to crop insurance and conservation programs. Despite tough economic times, farm income is predicted to hit record highs this year and has been soaring, particularly for grain farmers, over the past decade. A recent White House report called the payments indefensible and targeted them to help reduce the deficit. Overall, the president's cuts would result in a savings of about $33 billion over the next decade. But talk of the proposals has been rippling through farm country where many farmers say they depend on the payments to cope with the risks and unpredictability of farming. "We're uncomfortable with the level of the cuts the president has recommended," said Blake Hurst, who heads the Missouri Farm Bureau. "All those programs are part of a safety net. We think they're deep enough it would make it difficult for the safety net to work. They're a little severe." Direct payments were launched in the early 2000s as a temporary program to wean farmers from subsidies and move them to insurance. But the payments were never halted, even as new price supports and programs came into being. "What we have right now looks nothing like a true safety net," said David DeGennaro, a legal analyst for the Washington-based Environmental Working Group, which tracks subsidies and has been highly critical of them. "It's just a foot below the high wire. ... We support the president's call to eliminate direct payments. There's no reason to be paying farmers. It hurts taxpayers and we can't afford to do it." Some farmers — even those whose farms have gotten millions in direct payments — agree. Corn farmers, who collectively get the most in direct payments, say they are willing to forgo direct payments as long as crop insurance is not cut and other price support programs are improved. "We understand the needs of the government to cut spending and we're there to do our part," said Jeff Scates, whose family farm in southeastern Illinois, near the Kentucky border, has received almost $1.4 million in direct payments since 2002. "We just hope we're treated as fairly as other sectors." MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 4 of 50 Scates, who is vice president of the Illinois Corn Growers Association, said the group's members are pushing for programs that pay farmers "only in times of stress." "What's important to our members is a viable safety net," he said. But other commodity growers say direct payments are critical for their survival. "We still have a hard time, even with the subsidy," said Robert Price, whose family's farm in Caruthersville, Mo., near the Bootheel area, has gotten more than $1.2 million in direct payments since 2002. "... Costs are tremendously high, it's difficult to make money, and the risk is great. We have droughts. We have floods. Farmers need money for that." Indeed, growers of rice and cotton — the 'southern" crops — receive more in individual direct payments than other commodity growers. Corn, soybean and wheat growers have come to depend on the payments less, farmers say. "Direct payments aren't important to corn farmers," said John Doggett, of the National Corn Growers Association, based in St. Louis. "Yields have come, revenues have come up." Details of the president's proposal will be worked out over the next couple of months as a congressional supercommittee tries to cut the deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next decade. But, ultimately, attitudes about the president's plan will come down to individual farmers. A farmer who spends thousands of dollars to irrigate a crop, for example, is less prone to drought damage. So, in theory, that farmer cares more about direct payments than crop insurance that would guard against lack of rain. Until details of the president's proposal emerge and the next Farm Bill is written, farmers will be watching carefully to see just how much more they will be getting through other price supports and how much they will be paying for crop insurance. "Some growers will buy lower levels of protection," Doggett said. "Some will go ahead and pay an extra premium. But they'll all grumble." MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 5 of 50 Consumers, pharmacists, lawmakers weigh in on Express Scripts merger plan By Robert Koenig, Beacon Washington correspondent Posted 9:53 am Thu., 9.22.11 WASHINGTON - It's a mega-merger that could impact consumers, pharmacies and company health-care plans across the country — not to mention a thriving St. Louis based-company and the obscure but important culture of "pharmacy benefit management." That's why the Federal Trade Commission is taking a close look at the proposed merger of Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions. And it's the reason that a House Judiciary panel delved into the issue this week — hearing opposing predictions about the impact of the planned merger on the price and availability of prescription drugs. Pharmacy benefit managers, known as PBMs, are third-party administrators of prescription drug programs of employers and insurers. By buying in large quantities, they aim to get lower prices using their leverage to negotiate with drug makers and pharmacies. Medco and the St. Louis-based Express Scripts are two of the three largest PBMs, accounting for a combined historical share of about 30 percent of the PBM market. (The second-largest PBM is the CVS Caremark Corp., which is affiliated with the giant CVS pharmacy chain.) The proposed $29 billion merger, first announced in July, has become a lightning rod, attracting the interest of an array of interest groups and the attention of Congress. While lawmakers have no direct role in influencing the FTC's decision on whether to grant antitrust approval to the merger, congressional hearings often influence the wider public debates about such important deals. To the extent that it impacts Express Scripts, the FTC's decision would have an impact on the St. Louis region. An economic impact study by faculty members of the University of Missouri at St. Louis, found that Express Scripts "is providing significant economic benefits to Missouri." Aside from the 5,906 jobs and $732 million in payroll at its St. Louis headquarters, the study found that the firm and its suppliers spent about $902 million last year, paid about $25.5 million in taxes and made more than $3 million in charitable contributions in Missouri. Would consumers pay more or less after merger? While there are numerous side issues related to antitrust questions, the main question about the planned merger boils down to whether it would make drug prices higher or lower for the majority of consumers. Witnesses on both sides of that debate made their points Tuesday at the House Judiciary Subcommittee on MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 6 of 50 Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet's hearing. On the positive side, the chief executives of Express Scripts and Medco contended that the merger would lead to greater efficiencies in the health-care system and protect consumers from the rising costs of prescription medicine. "A combined Express Scripts and Medco will be well-positioned to protect American families from the rising cost of prescription medicines," said Express Scripts chief executive George Paz in his written testimony. His Medco counterpart, David Snow, argued that "by joining with Express Scripts and combining the complementary expertise of the two companies, we will be able to significantly accelerate efforts to reduce overall costs in the health-care system and improve the quality and efficiency of care delivery." But many of those independent pharmacies, chain drugstores and supermarket pharmacies are joining with consumer groups in opposing the merger — arguing that it would lead to less choice of pharmacies and perhaps higher costs for prescription drugs for consumers and the sponsors of health plans. "If allowed, this merger would have grave consequences for consumers and the nation's community pharmacies that serve them, as well as for health plans and employers that utilize PBM services, specialty pharmacy services, and mail-order pharmacy services," said Texas pharmacy executive Dennis Wiesner, speaking on behalf of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. Also opposing the merger is the Food Marketing Institute, which represents supermarket pharmacies. Independent local pharmacies are also up in arms and have made their objections known to lawmakers. "These PBMs or 'middlemen' already have so much control over the marketplace that it greatly concerns me about what could happen should this merger take place," said Pennsylvania pharmacist Joseph Lech, a member of the National Community Pharmacists Association. "Over my 25 years in pharmacy, I have seen the large pharmacy benefit managers relentlessly gobble up smaller and medium-sized PBMs to reduce competition," Lech said in his statement. "The result is a highly concentrated, consolidated marketplace." He called the planned Medco/Express Scripts merger a "mega-PBM." Asked about such concerns, Snow of Medco said that more than 85 percent of prescriptions filled for Medco customers are now filled through retail pharmacies and "there is nothing we plan to do to change this." Consumer groups, although not represented directly at this week's hearing, also have weighed in. Five big consumer organizations — the Consumers Union, the Consumer Federation of America, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, the National Consumers League and the National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices — sent a joint letter to the FTC this week expressing concerns about the merger. "This merger will significantly reduce competition among the major PBMs," the groups wrote. "By reducing market rivalry, Express Scripts-Medco is likely to charge more for its services as well as to pass on less savings obtained through rebates to public and private payors. Ultimately, consumers will bear these price increases in the form of higher premiums." MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 7 of 50 But both Paz and Snow said competition among the nation's 40 or so PBMs is intense, and that the merger of two of the largest of those firms won't change that. "Express Scripts' fundamental mission is to make medicines safer, more affordable and more accessible," Paz said. "PBMs make prescription drugs more affordable for clients by creating old-fashioned American competition among brand-name and generic drug manufacturers as well as among more than 60,000 chain drugstores, mass merchandisers, independent pharmacies, and grocery pharmacies." Some critics contend that the planned merger of Medco and Express Scripts would dominate the market for mail- order prescriptions, as well as the specialty pharmacy market, which serves patients with chronic and complex illnesses. The two companies dismiss those concerns as unfounded. With about 13,000 employees nationwide — including the 5,900 in the St. Louis area — Express Scripts has plenty of allies on Capitol Hill. On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said he didn't think the planned merger would create antitrust concerns. Responding to a question from the Beacon, Blunt described Express Scripts as "a great Missouri company that's produced lots of opportunity and jobs in our state." In fact, the senator said he thinks Express Scripts "would run Medco better than Medco is running Medco." MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 8 of 50 Wagner announces support from former UN ambassador Bolton By Jo Mannies, Beacon political reporter Posted 9:26 am Thu., 9.22.11 Republican Ann Wagner’s 2nd District congressional campaign announced this morning that she's garnered the first 2012 election endorsement awarded by former U.N. Ambassador, John Bolton, now a prominent conservative commentator and fellow with the American Enterprise Institute. Bolton's backing is seen as a move by Wagner to bolster her conservative credentials with tea party activists as she competes with St. Louis lawyer Ed Martin, a tea party favorite, for the open 2nd District seat in the August 2012 Republican primary. Wagner has a long history as a major player in Republican politics, serving as chair of the Missouri GOP before co- chairing the Republican National Committee and most recently serving as President George W. Bush's ambassador to Luxembourg. Bolton, by the way, jumped in Missouri's 2010 contests by headlining an early fundraising event for now-state Auditor Tom Schweich. Said Bolton in a statement: "Washington needs leaders who stand on conservative principles, stand for the Constitution and have deep roots in the district. That is why I am proud to announce my endorsement of Ann Wagner in Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District. "Ann Wagner is a principled conservative who will shake things up in Washington with her hard-charging, no- nonsense approach to problem solving. Nobody outworks Ann Wagner and nobody is more connected to the people than Ann. Her deep roots in the district and long history in the grassroots movement have earned her the respect of countless activists in Missouri and nationwide. "Ann is a winner and the fighter we can trust to stand up to the special interests that dominate Washington these days. She has defeated liberals for decades as a party leader and activist and now, for the first time, it is time for all conservatives to stand up for Ann and send her to Congress." Wagner replied in turn: "Nobody has faced down more enemies to freedom than Ambassador Bolton. To have Ambassador Bolton’s support is truly humbling and a clear indication that our campaign for Congress is taking hold among the conservative scholars around the country." MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 9 of 50 Graves’ bill clarifies future management of Missouri River Bill — H.R. 2993 becomes latest move by legislators to keep water out of homes and fields Ken Newton St. Joseph News-Press High waters recede in Northwest Missouri, but Congressman Sam Graves believes clarity of future river management needs to complement cleanup from the historic flood. The lawmaker filed legislation in the U.S. House on Thursday spelling out priorities for the Army Corps of Engineers in its management of the waterway. It places flood control as the top priority in controlling river flow, and it deletes fish and wildlife considerations from the “authorized purpose” list. The bill — H.R. 2993 — becomes the latest move by mid-America legislators wanting to refocus the corps on administering upstream dams and their water releases in a manner that keeps the river out of farm fields and people’s homes. “It’s obvious (corps officials) are juggling way too many responsibilities, and this clarifies what’s important,” Mr. Graves said Thursday. “I think flood control ought to be the number-one priority.” The Republican representative said the bill also takes into account the spending disparity between the corps’ environmental recovery efforts ($73 million this year) and its levee operational and maintenance program ($6 million). He called the fiscal priorities “out of whack.” Mr. Graves sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, whose purview includes inland waterways. He voiced concern Thursday about the corps’ decision to manage the river into the next year using previous data benchmarks. “At the very least, they could adjust the (river) manual based on the amount of snowfall we had in the mountains and the snowmelt that went along with that,” he said. “Their decision to manage the river, once again, under the old numbers, I think it’s a serious problem.” Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, working in the other legislative chamber on river concerns, believes corps managers have gambled in their plans for this winter: limiting releases, getting water off the levees so repairs can be made and hoping for better weather conditions in 2012. “The chance you take by doing that is that you’re essentially going to leave the same storage space in the reservoirs for next year as we left for this year,” the Republican senator said in a Wednesday conference call. “If next year happens to be as wet as this year, we will, I believe, have the same problem.” Mr. Graves recruited several lawmakers with districts touched by the Missouri River to sign on as co-sponsors of his legislation. They include Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer and Vicky Hartzler, both Missouri Republicans. Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, on Wednesday praised the inter-party cooperation she has seen in trying to rework the corps’ view on river management. She pointed to a Senate working group that includes lawmakers from all seven states impacted by this year’s flooding. “I know that the working group, that is a bipartisan group of senators, feels just as strongly that the priority of the corps has to be on flood control,” she said in a conference call with reporters. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 10 of 50 S&P downgrades Moberly's bonds for sweetener plant BY DAVID NICKLAUS • firstname.lastname@example.org > 314-340-8213 STLtoday.com | Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2011 6:10 pm | Standard & Poor's has dramatically downgraded the bonds that Moberly, Mo., issued to pay for a Chinese- owned sweetener plant. The credit rating agency lowered its rating (registration required) on the bonds late Thursday to CC from A-minus. As my colleague Tim Logan reported this morning, Mamtek USA has laid off the employees it hired in Missouri, and work on the Moberly plant has halted. Moberly had guaranteed $39 million in bonds to get the plant built, and Mamtek recently missed a $2.2 million payment on the bonds. S&P analyst John Sauter said in a statement: The rating actions are based on our view of the city's limited ability to meet its financing agreement obligations without receipts from third-party Mamtek. S&P says a CC rating means that debt payments are "currently highly vulnerable." Its ratings notice adds, The ratings have been placed on CreditWatch with negative implications as we monitor further developments with respect to the availability of sufficient revenue streams to support payments on the bonds. S&P also cut Moberly's issuer credit rating to B from A, and it downgraded a series of 2008 bonds to B-minus from A-minus. The debacle, therefore, will cost Moberly money on any borrowing it does in the future. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 11 of 50 Mamtek troubles making Missouri lawmakers wary The Associated Press JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The financial problems of a company that promised to open an artificial sweetener factory in Moberly are making some lawmakers wary of approving new business incentives during a special session. Missouri officials had said Mamtek U.S. Inc. could eventually employ 600 people at the plant. Moberly issued $39 million of bonds for the facility, and the state pledged $17 million of aid. But Mamtek missed its first bond payment, leaving the city on the hook for it. House Majority Leader Tim Jones says Mamtek has "become a real hot point" for lawmakers who are hesitant to give greater discretion over tax incentives to the Department of Economic Development. Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer says Mamtek "dampens the enthusiasm" to create new incentives for a St. Louis air cargo hub. Read more: http://www.bnd.com/2011/09/22/1870580/mamtek-troubles-making-missouri.html#ixzz1YnF0hVQj MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 12 of 50 How state lawmakers pump up pensions in ways you can't By Thomas Frank, USA TODAY Most workers must retire from their jobs before getting retirement benefits. But Thomas used a one-sentence law that he and his colleagues passed in 2002 to let legislators receive a taxpayer-funded pension instead of a salary after serving for 30 years. INTERACTIVE: How state legislators inflate pensions MORE: State-by-state pension rules and methodology Thomas' $32,390 annual retirement benefit — paid for the rest of his life — is more than triple the $10,400 salary he gave up. His pension exceeds the salary because of another perk: Lawmakers voted to count their expenses in the salary used to calculate their pensions. No other South Carolina state workers get those perks. Since January 2005, Thomas, a Republican, has made $148,435 more than a legislative salary would have paid, his financial-disclosure records show. At least four other South Carolina lawmakers are getting pensions instead of salaries, netting an extra $292,000 since 2005, records show. Pension perks aren't unique to legislators in South Carolina. More than 4,100 legislators in 33 states are positioned to benefit from special retirement laws that they and their predecessors have enacted to boost their pensions by up to $100,000 a year, a USA TODAY investigation found. Even as legislators cut basic state services and slash benefits for police, teachers and other workers, they have preserved pension laws that grant themselves perks unavailable to voters they serve or workers they direct. In some states, lawmakers add expenses, per diem allowances and stipends to their base salaries. That inflates the compensation that's used to calculate retirement benefits, which are typically a percentage of final pay. In other states, legislators have written a special definition of salary that applies only to their pensions. Additional tactics include: •Basing pensions on salaries legislators are not paid or were paid in non-legislative jobs. •Collecting state pensions while also collecting legislative paychecks. •Retiring earlier — at a younger age or after fewer years — than other state workers, or with richer benefits. "It's mind-blowing hypocrisy," says state Rep. Stephen Webber, a Democrat from Missouri. State lawmakers there meet for roughly five months a year and are paid slightly more on average than a state worker, but records show a typical lawmaker's pension averages 30% more than a state worker's. The reason: rules legislators wrote MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 13 of 50 for themselves. "The whole two-tiered system really encapsulates how we've operated here in Missouri and in the rest of the country," he says. "Lawmakers treat themselves differently." The generous systems mean that at least 570 lawmakers in 19 states have qualified for pensions that will pay them as much as — or in one case 17 times more than — their base legislative salaries, USA TODAY found. That represents nearly 10% of the 5,900 lawmakers in the 40 states with legislative pensions. About 450 are lawmakers in Mississippi, Kansas, South Carolina, Texas and New Mexico, a state where lawmakers receive no salary but can get a pension with five years of service. More than 100 other lawmakers have collected about $15million total in state pensions while holding office, USA TODAY found. They serve in states that allow "double dipping" for legislators but bar or restrict other workers from getting state pensions while holding state or municipal jobs. Most of those lawmakers have retired from jobs such as state police officer or public school teacher, but others are drawing pensions solely for their legislative service. For South Carolina's Thomas, the choice to trade a legislative salary for a legislative pension was easy. "You get paid more," he says. Perks are not always obvious Most 55-year-olds don't have pensions. Just 26% of people older than 55 get a retirement benefit from a former employer, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. The average pension in 2009 was $13,007 for private-sector retirees and $25,286 for public retirees. In Congress, retiring lawmakers get pensions worth up to 80% of their $174,000 salary — or $139,200 — if they serve 32 years. The average pension for 455 retired federal lawmakers is $57,590, according to the Congressional Research Service. Discerning the state lawmakers' pensions isn't so easy. Legislators must reach a certain age — generally from 55 to 65 — or serve a certain number of years to get a pension. Many states deem an individual's retirement records confidential, however, and will not release details about payouts. Lacking that information, USA TODAY reviewed thousands of pages of laws from 40 states to understand how legislative salaries and pensions are computed. The newspaper calculated how much every legislator in the 40 states would get for a pension if he or she retired this year. Ten states do not pay lawmaker pensions. Several states let lawmakers start collecting their retirement benefits while still in office. Six years before he left the New York state Senate in December, Republican George Winner began collecting a MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 14 of 50 pension for his legislative service. He was 55 when the pension began adding $80,000 to the roughly $90,000 salary he was getting to represent New York's 53rd Senate District, state records show. In his final six years in office, Winner received $1 million in pension and salary. New York state has barred legislators elected after 1994 from getting legislative pensions while in office. Nonetheless, 15 lawmakers who took office before 1995 are collecting a legislative pension and salary, state records show. Their earnings average $154,000 a year. Other perks are shrouded in the minutiae of state law: Kentucky legislators add their annual allowance for stationery — up to $1,500 for senators and $750 for House members — plus another $15,000 to $17,000 a year in expense payments to the salary on which pensions are based. Mississippi legislators get two pensions that on average add up to 165% of their salary. Connecticut lawmakers can increase their pensions up to 50% by including mileage reimbursements that add as much as $15,500 a year to the salaries used to calculate their pensions. "That's just a small example of what's wrong with the (pension) system and why it's become unsustainable," says Connecticut Rep. Lawrence Cafero, House Republican leader. The expense payments, mileage and leadership stipend he received in 2008-10 will add $26,341 to the $28,000 legislator's salary used to calculate his pension, state records show. In Illinois, lawmakers who move to lucrative state jobs can apply the higher salary to their legislative pension, which pays richer benefits than pensions for state workers. In July, Democratic former House member Gary Hannig began collecting a $123,057 legislative pension, even though his legislative salary was $86,902 when he left office in 2009. His pension, however, is based on his $150,228 salary as state Transportation director after leaving the Legislature. "It's legal corruption," says Bill Zettler of Chicago-based Taxpayers United of America. At least 42 of 139 Illinois legislators retiring since 2000 have boosted their legislative pensions by taking higher-paying government jobs, USA TODAY found. Some states play make-believe. Kansas calculates lawmakers' pensions as if they were paid 372 days a year. Texas pension calculations stray even further from reality. Lawmakers there haven't raised their pay since 1975. They convene every other year and get a $7,200 annual salary. But because of a law they passed in 1981, their pension is based on whatever the lawmakers decide to pay Texas trial judges. Since 1981, Texas lawmakers have nearly tripled a judge's salary — and, by extension, their own pensions — raising the pay from $42,500 to $125,000. Legislators also removed a sentence that limited their pensions to 60% of a judge's salary. Now, the pensions can equal 100% of a judge's salary. The changes mean that state Rep. Tom Craddick, a Republican who took office in 1969, is guaranteed a $125,000 pension — more than 17 times his $7,200 salary. Another 58 state lawmakers are guaranteed pensions of more MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 15 of 50 than $40,000, USA TODAY found. "That's just the way the system is," says Craddick, who owns Craddick Properties, an investment business. 'It's hard politically to raise your own salary' Some states offset part of the extra cost of legislative pensions by requiring lawmakers to pay more of their salary into the retirement fund than ordinary state workers contribute. But for the lawmakers who collect them and the taxpayers who fund them, pensions can prove more substantial than salaries because lawmakers often spend more time retired than in office. Lawmakers say they have increased their pensions to make up for salaries that are meant to be a part-time wage. And they say voting to change an obscure law that hikes a pension payout gets far less attention than a vote to boost pay. "It's hard politically to raise your own salary," says Kansas Senate President Steve Morris, a Republican. Texas' legislative pension plan "acts more like deferred compensation," said Texas former House member Talmadge Heflin, now advocating public retirement cuts as director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation's Center for Fiscal Policy. Although most states' legislative sessions last just part of the year, legislative duties can be time-consuming. "It's a full-time job even if the Legislature is convening six months or four months in a year," says Ron Snell, a pension analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Eight state legislatures have written special, expansive definitions of salary that apply only to legislative pensions. North Carolina pension law says the compensation of a retiring worker "shall not include any payment … for the reimbursement of expenses." But for North Carolina legislators, "compensation means salary and expense allowance." Many legislative salaries include stipends that can pay up to $41,500. In seven states, more than a third of lawmakers get stipends for holding leadership positions or for chairing a committee. Illinois, with 177 legislators, increased the number of leadership stipends to 167 from 30 in 1987. Delaware, New York and Ohio also pay more than 70% of lawmakers' stipends that cost taxpayers up to $2.5 million a year. Although the bonuses are paid only while a legislator holds a special post, they enrich lawmakers for life when they get a pension. "Legislators go around telling their constituents, 'I'm only getting the basic salary,' and they don't say, 'We've got all these other ways of getting compensation that I'm not telling you about,'" says Edward Zelinsky, a pension expert at Cardozo Law School in New York City. "There are some real manipulations that occur here." Adding days to the year to boost pensions In Kansas, legislators have cast three crucial votes to boost their pensions far above the benefit they would get MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 16 of 50 from a salary that pays $88.66 each day the Legislature convenes, or $7,979 for a typical 90-day session. Lawmakers voted in 1973 to calculate their pensions as if they were paid every day of the year. The vote also declared that legislators were paid 31 days a month for 12 months — or 372 days a year. "It's a little shocking," says Jane Carter, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, which represents 10,000 state workers. "Our members have to work every single day for their pensions." In 1982, Kansas lawmakers boosted their pensions again by adding per diem allowances to their salaries for pension purposes. They also pretended the allowances were paid 372 days a year when in reality they are paid only when legislators are in session. And they added to the pension equation the expense payments they get between legislative sessions. But many lawmakers could not collect because they, like other state workers, needed 10 years of service to retire. "A lot of legislators in the past didn't serve 10 years and weren't eligible for a pension," says Morris, the Kansas lawmaker. The Legislature changed that in 2007, voting to let workers retire with five years' service while requiring they pay more into the retirement fund. Though the lower retirement age helps all Kansas state workers, the effect on its 165 lawmakers was profound: an extra 44 of them instantly qualified for a pension. Now, 93 of the state's 165 legislators have qualified for a pension, and another 15 will be eligible if they finish their current terms. Lawmakers now have an $85,821 salary for pension purposes and get a pension that exceeds their base pay by serving just six years. "Until we find a way to increase compensation for the rank-and-file legislators, I think it's OK," Morris says of the pension plan. His 19-year tenure in the Senate qualifies him for a pension equal to three-and-a-half times his salary. Kansas enacted a law this year, sponsored by Morris, that creates a commission to study several ways to cut the state's pension costs. Evaluating legislative pensions "is not part of their charge," Morris says. The Legislature as 'an aristocracy' As legislatures have cut state worker pension costs, some have targeted their own benefits. Arizona and Wisconsin enacted laws this year that sharply increase how much legislators and other elected officials must pay into the state retirement fund and cut benefits for new lawmakers. Seven states have never given their lawmakers pensions, and voters in three states eliminated legislative pensions in the 1990s. "Voters see this as a part-time, citizen Legislature," says Nebraska state Sen. Jeremy Nordquist, a Republican and chairman of the Legislature's retirement committee. Not having legislative pensions made it easier for lawmakers this year to require state workers to pay more of their salary to their retirement, Nordquist says. "You're not affected by the decisions you're making." But when Pennsylvania raised retirement ages last year for state workers hired after Dec. 31, legislators kept a perk that let them retire 10 years before most state workers. Legislators in office last year still retire at age 50, vs. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 17 of 50 60 for most state workers. New lawmakers retire at 55, vs. 65 for most state workers. Since 1996, 67 retired Pennsylvania legislators have collected $7 million in pension checks that they could not have received if they' had the same retirement age as most state workers, USA TODAY found. Another 40 who took early retirement also benefited from the younger retirement age. Those benefiting include seven former state legislators now in Congress, earning $174,000: Democrats Chaka Fattah and Allyson Schwartz and Republicans Charlie Dent, Jim Gerlach, Tim Murphy, Todd Platts and Joseph Pitts. Pitts began collecting a state pension as soon as he went to Congress in 1997, when he was 57. Since 1997, he has collected $1.3million from the Pennsylvania retirement system, state records show, in addition to $2.3 million in total congressional salary since 1997. That's $245,000 a year. "It's galling that they get preferential treatment in their normal retirement age," says Tim Potts, president of Democracy Rising PA, which advocates for government openness. "Our Legislature has become an aristocracy … granting themselves benefits that are unavailable to others." Pitts said Pennsylvania legislative pensions are "indeed generous," but added that he paid up to 17% of his salary into the state retirement fund. Pitts' pension includes credit for eight-and-a-half years he spent in the Air Force and as a public-school teacher before becoming a legislator. Rep. Dwight Evans, a Democrat who sponsored the pension law last year, says he struggled to win support for any retirement cuts that would save taxpayers money. Lawmakers agreed to raise retirement ages, but only for new workers and only if legislators still retired earlier. "I was fortunate enough to be able to get the changes we did," says Evans, who was House Appropriation Committee chairman. At age 57, Evans could retire immediately and collect a $97,000-a-year pension for life — $17,000 more a year than his base legislative salary. Florida's Legislature also protected itself this year when it began requiring state workers to pay 3% of their salary into the state pension fund, the first time state workers have had to make contributions. Most states have long required worker contributions between 2% and 10% of salaries. Florida's legislators and other elected officials get a pension equal to 3% of salary multiplied by years of service. For state workers, the comparable figure is 1.6%. "That is wrong — absolutely wrong," says state Sen. Mike Fasano, a Republican who this year proposed lowering elected officials' payout to 2%. "You lead by example." Fasano's bill died in committee without a vote. Compensating for cuts Even legislatures that have reformed their own pensions have at the same time taken less-visible steps to offset MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 18 of 50 cuts. In 1989, the Indiana Legislature became the first to create a 401(k) plan for itself. Lawmakers taking office after April 1989 are shut out of the state's traditional pension plan and instead get individual retirement accounts. Each legislator's tax-exempt account accumulates money that can be tapped upon retirement. Lawmakers divert 5% of their annual salary into the account. State taxpayers make a contribution that is a percentage of a legislator's salary. In creating their 401(k) plan and revising it in 2007, Indiana legislators broadened the definition of salary to include roughly $5 million a year they get in per diem allowances, expense payments and leadership stipends. Legislators also hiked their annual salary to $22,616 from $11,600 and tied their compensation to that of state trial judges, which increases regularly with little fanfare. The result: By raising their salary and counting expenses and stipends as salary, Indiana legislators have forced state taxpayers to put an extra $7 million in their retirement accounts from 2004 through 2010, records show. Some lawmakers have focused on improving retirement for a subset of legislators. In 2005, the Kentucky Legislature began allowing retiring lawmakers who held full-time state jobs to base their legislative pensions on that full-time salary, rather than on their relatively paltry legislative salary. That's a boon for two reasons. Their full-time salaries are typically higher. And legislative pensions are equal to 2.75% to 5% of the salary times the number of years of service. Regular state pensions are equal to 1.1% to 2.5% of salary times years of service. Late last year, J.R. Gray started collecting a $132,252 legislative pension after 29 years in the Kentucky House, state records indicate. That's $107,601 more than he was paid in his final year in the Legislature. The pension is based on Gray's salary as state Labor chief, where he served after leaving the Legislature. Kentucky legislative pensions are based on an individual's average salary over the three years when their earnings are highest. Gray held the Labor post for three years. "Obviously that was a consideration," Gray, 73, says of his decision to retire last year. The Kentucky law could benefit 20 incumbent lawmakers who hold or have held other public-sector jobs, USA TODAY found. Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo was in the legislature from 1980 to 2004, was state attorney general for four years and returned to the legislature in 2009. Most of his public service has been in the legislature, but Stumbo, a Democrat, can get a legislative pension based on his $110,346 attorney general salary rather than on his legislative salary and expenses, which were $66,000 last year. Stumbo has enough credit for a pension equal to 100% of his attorney general salary — $110,346. A state report says the 2005 perk costs Kentucky taxpayers $1 million a year. State Sen. Dennis Parrett, a Democrat, introduced legislation this year to kill it. "My bill didn't have a prayer," Parrett says. "It didn't even get MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 19 of 50 a hearing." Business legislation advances in Missouri By STEVE KRASKE The Kansas City Star JEFFERSON CITY | Lawmakers appear poised today to pass a bill, years in the making, aimed at boosting the science and technology industries in Kansas City and across the state. A House committee Thursday endorsed the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act and sent it to the full House for consideration. The measure, known as MOSIRA, has been a priority of Kansas City leaders for several years. But legislators said they remained at loggerheads over the chief focus of the special session, which is a bill aimed at converting St. Louis’ Lambert airport into an international cargo hub. One sticking point is how to pay for the measure. Senate and House leaders continued to disagree over cuts in two leading tax credit programs aimed at historic preservation and developing low-income housing. The Senate continues to advocate ending the programs in seven years through sunset provisions, while House Republicans balk at that idea. “They have to be there,” Senate Majority Leader Tom Dempsey, a St. Charles Republican, told reporters Thursday about the sunset provisions. The House Economic Development Committee did not take up the cargo hub bill Thursday. As a result, the full House cannot address it today. With the future of that bill murky, some lawmakers are advocating ending the special session today. The inability of Republican leaders to reach a compromise on the cargo hub legislation is disappointing, said House Minority Leader Mike Talboy, a Kansas City Democrat. “People are frustrated that we can’t seem to reach a consensus,” he said. The House is to convene at 9 a.m. today, with the Senate meeting at 2 p.m. Legislators could pass the MOSIRA bill and another bill aimed at fixing a law passed by the General Assembly this year that regulates social network communication between teachers and students. The so-called Facebook law would give local school districts the authority to set their own policies on social network communication. Under the MOSIRA legislation, which has been considered almost every year since 2003, a portion of the new increase in tax revenue from science and technology businesses in the state would be siphoned off to help MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 20 of 50 promote the industries. The bill is regarded by some as a competitive response to the Kansas Bioscience Authority. House delays action, further risking economic-development deal By Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum Updated 11:09 am Fri., 9.23.11 The proposed economic development package that prompted the Missouri General Assembly's special session remained in limbo Thursday, after a House committee — acting on leaders' orders — opted to delay a vote on the bill amid continued private negotiations with the Senate. The House Economic Development Committee is delaying a vote until Friday. But that means the full Missouri House can't take a floor vote on Friday, as planned, unless House leaders suspend the rules. The House did approve Friday morning the Senate version of the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act, sending it on to the governor. But Thursday's delay of the economic development bill by the House also could, in turn, further incense state Senate leaders, who passed their version more than a week ago and remain angry that the House crafted an alternate package earlier this week by negotiating with Gov. Jay Nixon's office. Senate leaders reaffirmed Thursday that they were pessimistic about any agreement. The Senate is set to meet at 2 p.m. Friday, and may decide to simply adjourn for good. Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, told reporters that the rest of the bills on the Senate's plate also could die as well. They include the proposals to give St. Louis local control of its police department and to move Missouri's presidential primary to March. The special session's focus was to be on the economic bill, Mayer said, and if that falls through, "people's energy levels are at a point where they don't have a desire to work on those other pieces of legislation." House Majority Leader Tim Jones, R-Eureka, emphasized to reporters that the House previously passed such bills before zeroing in on the economic development package. Jones confirmed that House-Senate talks were continuing but emphasized that no economic-development deal has been struck. "Whether we come back next week or the week after is still up in the air," Jones said. House Republicans plan to caucus Thursday night to discuss the matter. Jones acknowledged that many Republican legislators were concerned about the provisions in the economic MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 21 of 50 development bill aimed at encouraging the Chinese to locate a cargo hub at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Some rural legislators are critical of the whole project, while some in the Kansas City area would prefer to see their airport in contention. There's also the longstanding difference between the two chambers over imposing "sunsets'' on state tax credit programs. The Senate is adamant that the programs should face sunsets of four or seven years, unless the General Assembly reauthorizes the program. House leaders object to sunsets in general, saying they fear one or two senators could kill off a worthy program. In any case, Jones contended that Nixon and his economic development team should shoulder some of the blame for the House-Senate dispute. Jones said that House legislators have become warier about the Senate's proposed package because of an increased public outcry over a failed economic-development effort in Moberly, Mo. "The common flashpoint in all of this is the governor's involvement and the Department of Economic Development,'' Jones said. At issue is the increased press attention on the troubled Mamtek U.S. project that was supposed to bring 600 jobs to Moberly, for a new plant to manufacture an artificial sweetener, Sweet-O. The city issued $39 million in bonds to help build the plant. Nixon appeared at an event in 2010 to announce $17 million in state tax incentives for the project, should the jobs materialize. (Click here to read the Beacon's story earlier this month about Mamtek.) The project has collapsed. Nixon's staff has noted that no state money was wasted because state tax credits are issued only after the jobs are in place. But some Moberly officials say the state's involvement contributed to their decision to guarantee the $39 million in bonds. Mamtek has defaulted on the first payment, potentially putting the city on the hook. But Jones said the episode was an example of too much discretion by the governor in awarding tax credits. He contended that the Mamtek debacle is a key reason the House is opposing the "Compete Missouri" provision in the Senate bill, which combines several existing tax credit programs within the Department of Economic Development. Economic Development director David Kerr told the House committee earlier this week that Compete Missouri offers the same safeguards and accountability that are in the existing tax credit programs that would be merged. Jones disagreed, contending that Compete Missouri "removes oversight and discretion like never before." Nixon's staff declined comment Thursday. MOSIRA SURVIVES The full House is expected to vote Friday on one aspect of the economic development package: the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act, also known as MOSIRA, which offers tax breaks to attract scientific and high-tech firms to the state. The Senate had shifted MOSIRA into a separate bill. The House committee swiftly approved that bill, 18-3, after chairwoman Anne Zerr, R-St. Charles, said she had assurances from House leaders that there would be floor debate over wording that anti-abortion groups want to add. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 22 of 50 MOSIRA advocates have said that constitutional questions could arise over the proposed wording, which seeks to bar the act from helping to fund any research involving cloning or human embryos. Some of the research the anti-abortion groups oppose is allowed under Amendment 2, a provision of the state constitution narrowly approved by Missouri voters in 2006. House Speaker Steve Tilley has promised a floor vote on the issue. He did so after some anti-abortion groups sent out emails citing the hefty campaign donations that Tilley has received over the years from the political action committee, Supporters of Health Research & Treatments, that is aligned with groups that supported Amendment 2. SENATE FIRM ON 'SUNSETS' Thursday's turn of events in the House overshadowed the earlier news conference by Senate leaders who detailed their objections to the unofficial House draft they had received late Wednesday. Mayer, R-Dexter, and Senate Majority Floor Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, asserted in particular that in the House version of the economic-development package, "the taxpayer protections are too lax." The duo cited, in particular, six major concerns: The House's elimination of the Senate's proposed seven-year sunsets on the state's two largest tax- credit programs, which deal with historic preservation and low-income housing. Mayer cited the two programs' combined annual cost of more than $250 million annually and the lack of mandatory reviews of the programs or their recipients. The House's new language for the existing BUILD program related to "projected jobs," as tied to a building's square footage, "and the failure to require a dollar-for-dollar return on investment" for warehouses and distribution centers. The House bill's "expedited process of awarding historic preservation credits without state verification of the expenses actually incurred." Extending the existence of the Missouri Development Finance Board to 2014. Mayer's bill kills off the board upon the measure's enactment. House language regarding the operating budget of the Missouri Housing Development Commission, which the Senate leaders say are "beyond the scope of the governor’s call" which set up the perameters for the special session. A House provision that senators say "would limit the state’s ability to recapture tax credits for entities that have failed to meet their obligations." During the Thursday news conference, Mayer also reaffirmed his aim to curb overall state spending on tax credits. "Every day we delay reining in spending on state tax credits, we are putting funding for education, social services and other critical functions of state government more at risk," said Mayer. "We’re spending half a billion dollars a year on tax credits, plus the state has more than $2.5 billion in tax credit liabilities. The writing is on the wall, we must corral spending on these credits." The Senate bill, he and Dempsey said, focused on "performance-based tax incentive programs to help spur job creation while requiring mandatory reviews and caps to dramatically reduce the amount spent on tax credits MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 23 of 50 annually." The Senate contends its version will save taxpayers $947 million over the next 15 years. ILLINOIS WOOING CHINA? Missouri's scuffle over the economic development bill comes as neighboring Illinois appears to be seeking to strengthen economic ties with China. Earlier this week, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced $300 million in new trade agreements with China. And on his Twitter account, Quinn even posted a humorous picture of him eating Asian carp. That fish has wreaked havoc on the Great Lakes. Quinn's actions put on display the competition between Chicago and St. Louis over Chinese trade. Supporters of the Lambert China Hub effort have pointed to overcrowding at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport as a reason to steer cargo to places like St. Louis. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and other politicians have said that the Chinese would consider looking elsewhere if Missouri doesn't act. When asked if the focus on tax credit austerity was providing an advantage to other states, Mayer said he's "not fearful of competing with any other state for business or economic development." "Missouri has some good tools to attract business and industry," Mayer said. "Obviously there is talk about the Aerotropolis project going to another city. And so we believe that project, like a lot of the other economic development provisions, hold a lot of promises to create jobs and economic commerce. So we'd like to see that happen in Missouri." But he acknowledged that, barring a last-minute deal with the House, that debate may need to be continued until the regular session begins in January. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 24 of 50 Mo. lawmakers remain without deal on economic development measure BY JASON HANCOCK • email@example.com > 573-635-6178 STLtoday.com | Posted: Friday, September 23, 2011 12:25 am | JEFFERSON CITY • Republican legislative leaders moved no closer Thursday to a deal on a massive economic development bill that includes provisions aimed at helping turn Lambert-St. Louis International Airport into a freight hub for Chinese cargo. And with the special legislative session about to complete its third week, many lawmakers were beginning to question if the bill could be salvaged or if both chambers should give up and go home. The main areas of dispute remain the same — whether two major tax credit programs should have expiration dates and whether six state business incentives should be lumped into a single program called Compete Missouri, which would be under the control of the executive branch. The Senate included the expiration dates and the Compete Missouri provision in its version of the bill. The House version eliminated the expiration dates on low-income housing and historic development tax credits and pared down the Compete Missouri provision. The House economic development committee adjourned Thursday without voting on the bill. House Majority Leader Tim Jones, R-Eureka, said the delay would give House and Senate leaders more time to try to work out differences, "although I would say we've been trying to work them out for nine months now." But the committee's inaction means the bill can't be taken up for debate today by the full House as originally scheduled unless House rules are suspended, Jones said. Lawmakers have said all week that if a deal isn't struck by today they would consider ending the special session. Jones said House Republicans would meet late Thursday to discuss whether to move forward. Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, held firm to his position Thursday that sunsets on the low income and historic tax credits must be included in any bill in order to garner the support of the Senate. "These two programs together cost the state $250 million a year, and right now they are the only two tax credit programs in Missouri that don't have a mandatory review and sunset date," Mayer said. When asked whether today would be the final day of the special legislative session, Mayer said "more than likely," hinting at doubts that House and Senate leaders could come to a consensus. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 25 of 50 The House version of the bill is "85 percent" what the Senate wanted, said House Speaker Steven Tilley, R- Perryville. "We went way, way beyond halfway," he said. "If they can't get it done, it just reiterates that the Senate is broken." Jones said the House would debate and potentially vote on two bills today. One would revise a law restricting teacher-student interaction on social networking sites such as Facebook. The other is the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act, which would slice off a stream of tax revenue created by new jobs at high-tech companies and use it to create a fund the state could invest back into those industries to help them grow. Whether there will be any action beyond those two bills is still not clear, Jones said. The Senate is scheduled to return at 2 p.m. today. If a deal hasn't been reached with the House, Senate leaders have said they may end the special session and go home. If the economic development bill dies, it will take the other items on the agenda of the special session with it, including a bill ending 150 years of state control of the St. Louis Police Department, Mayer said. "The reason why we wanted to come back into special session was to do an economic development bill," Mayer said. "That was the focus, and to have worked so hard for so many weeks and so many months, people's energy levels are at a point where they don't have a desire to work on those other pieces of legislation." MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 26 of 50 Speaker Tilley: House may not move forward with tax credit bill BY JASON HANCOCK • firstname.lastname@example.org > 573-635-6178 STLtoday.com | Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2011 12:13 pm | JEFFERSON CITY • If a tax credit reform deal worked out between House leadership and the governor has no chance of passing the Senate, then there is little point in moving forward during the special legislative session, House Speaker Steve Tilley said Thursday. House Republicans announced Wednesday a deal with Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon on legislation overhauling the state's 61 tax credit programs and set up several new ones. Upon learning some details of that deal, Senate Republicans questioned whether a consensus between the chambers could be worked out and considered ending the special session. Ultimately, the Senate adjourned until Friday to try to work toward salvaging a bill. The House economic development committee will consider the bill this afternoon, Tilley said, and Republican members will gather tonight. A decision on whether or not to move ahead with a jobs bill will be made by tomorrow morning, Tilley said. “I think we can pass the deal we agreed upon (with governor),” he said. “Even though there are some concerns among our members about some of the details, we could still pass the deal. But if the Senate has already said it’s a nonstarter, then I don’t know if we want to spend all the time and effort to send them a bill that is a nonstarter.” Differing from the version of the bill passed in the Senate, the House removed sunsets on low-income housing development and historic preservation tax credits. They also set higher caps on the programs than the Senate did. In addition, the House included additional oversight requirements on Compete Missouri, the governor's proposal to consolidate six incentive programs, and set aside $25 million for a program to help finance warehouses and factories around Lambert-St. Louis International Airport to build a China trade hub. The vast majority of the bill is what the Senate wanted, Tilley said. “We went way, way beyond half way,” he said. “If they can’t get it done, it just reiterates that the Senate is broken.” MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 27 of 50 Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, said Wednesday that the House’s bill “won’t fly” with his members and that any legislation that doesn't include sunsets is “dead on arrival.” Tilley countered that he couldn’t support any legislation that would allow a Senator to use the filibuster to single- handily kill a program “that I think does a lot of good.” This summer, when an agreement on the tax credit reform package was announced, the House “swallowed some sunsets to get what we thought were good economic development tools,” he said. Facing resistance from a handful of Senators, the bill was dramatically altered last week. “We thought we had a deal with the Senate,” Tilley said, later adding: “*Majority Leader Tim Jones+ and I would have never agreed to ask the governor to call us into special session if we thought the Senate couldn’t live up to their end of the deal." Mayer and Senate Majority Floor Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, plan to meet with the media this afternoon to discuss their ideas to move the process forward. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 28 of 50 Hope fades for passing Missouri economic development bill September 23, 2011 | Filed under: Featured | Posted by: Tim Sampson JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – It seems increasingly likely that the Missouri legislative special session will amount to nothing more than three weeks of debate practice. The House economic development committee adjourned Thursday without taking up the contentious economic development and tax credit reform bill at the heart of the special session, casting further doubt over the already dim chances the General Assembly will produce any legislation from this month’s meeting. Closed-door negotiations were ongoing at the capitol Thursday night, where House and Senate leaders were trying to work out differences between the two chambers over issues like sunsets for the historic preservation and low-income housing tax credits and whether to include Gov. Jay Nixon’s “Compete Missouri” tax credit program in the final piece of legislation. After choosing to adjourn her hearing without taking up the bill, the chair of the House economic development committee, Ann Zerr, R-St. Charles, said that negotiations were “cordial” but not fruitful. And although her committee did pass a separate bill containing the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act with little debate, she said there was no hope of passing the tax credit and economic incentive bill before Friday. This raises doubt about whether the session will continue. Senate and House leaders have both dropped hints they may walk away from the table on Friday if an agreement is not reached. And with the economic development committee choosing to adjourn for the day with no further meetings schedule, the House would have to suspend its own rules to take up an economic development bill before the weekend. “I don’t know the time line, but I do know that that it’s not over,” Zerr said of the negotiations. But Zerr’s may have been the most positive appraisal of the negotiations. House Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones, R-Eureka, was more strident in his criticism, describing the three-week- old session as a waste of tax money so far. He said that House Republicans would be meeting Thursday night to decide their next course of action. “Do we come back next week and keep this tax payer funded debate society going on or do we try and move forward with the bill we passed out of committee tonight?” Jones said. “That’s another question we’ll have for the caucus.” Jones said a sticking point for the House has been the Senate’s decision to insert “Compete Missouri.” Championed by the governor, Compete Missouri would combine six existing tax credits into a single program. The Senate has offered up the program partly as an alternative to the $300 million in warehouse development MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 29 of 50 funds for the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport – the so-called “Aerotropolis” provision – which the upper chamber stripped from the bill. Supporters argue Compete Missouri could provide tax incentives to a broader range of developers besides those clustered in St. Louis. But Jones said the program comes with too much gubernatorial authority. “Compete Missouri expands gubernatorial power in this area like never before and removes oversight and discretion of the legislature like never before,” he said. On the opposite side of the capitol building, Senate leaders added to the speculation that the session would come to a swift end. Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, drew a line in the sand at a press conference, saying his chamber would not budge on the issue of placing seven-year sunsets on the state’s historic preservation and low-income housing development tax credits. The issue has become a major point of contention between the House and the Senate. “We need to see some movement (from the House),” Mayer said. “They need to realize that sunsets have always been one of the main issues in regards to this bill. So those sunsets need to be placed back into the legislation.” Mayer’s comments came less than 24-hours after he claimed that the special session was on “life support” due to the House’s unwillingness to take up the Senate version of the economic development bill. The House instead crafted its own version of the bill, which Mayer said Senate leaders were not consulted about in advance. The House version of the bill takes out the sunsets that the Senate added. Under the Senate plan, the historic preservation and low-income housing tax credits to developers would have to be renewed by the legislature after seven years. The Senate version also caps the two programs at $70 million annual. Currently those programs are funded at well over $100 million and are among the largest of their kind in the country. Senate Majority Floor Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, pointed out that these two programs were the only tax-credits in Missouri that don’t currently have sunsets. He argued that lawmakers should have the ability to regularly review all tax programs to make sure the state is still getting the best value as the economic landscape changes. “I’m not saying I’m in favor of eliminating these programs, but I think the historic preservation and low-income housing tax credit programs are over-funded,” Dempsey said. But House leaders see it differently. House Speaker Steve Tilley said that placing sunsets would give individual lawmakers too much authority to diminish the programs over time, noting the ability of lone Senators to get their way through filibustering. Members of both chambers seemed particularly grim about the special session’s prospects going forward. Both chambers are scheduled to come in on Friday, but Mayer has said that may be the day the Senate votes “sine die” to unilaterally end the special session by walking out. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 30 of 50 If the upper chamber chooses that option, it would kill any hopes of passing several other pieces of legislation, including the St. Louis police local control bill and a piece of legislation to push back the date of Missouri’s presidential primary. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 31 of 50 Missouri's presidential primary may be special-session casualty By Jason Rosenbaum, special to the Beacon Posted 7:15 pm Thu., 9.22.11 Trapped amid Missouri's grappling over passage of economic development legislation is a push -- sought by leaders of both major parties -- to move Missouri's primary from February to March. That legislation was included Gov. Jay Nixon's special session call after the governor vetoed a more wide-ranging election bill earlier in the summer. Some Missouri politicians in both parties want to move the primary because of fears the national parties will punish states who hold contests too early. As it stands, both parties have agreed that only Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina are to hold primaries before March 1. The House quickly passed the bill earlier in the session . But when the bill was brought up late last week in the Senate, it got held up when two senators -- Republican Jason Crowell of Cape Girardeau and Tim Green of north St. Louis County -- raised objections. Crowell proposed that Missouri drop its primary in favor of a caucus, to save money. Green called for keeping Missouri's primary in February, so the state would get more attention from presidential contenders. As passed by the House, the primary bill also dramatically increases the filing fees for presidential candidates -- to $5,000 in 2012 and $10,000 thereafter -- with the money going to the state parties. Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, said several times this week that other issues brought up in the special session - such as the primary bill -- may falter without passage of the stalled economic development package. Mayer observed Thursday that Missouri isn't the only state with a pre-March primary still pending. "There's several states all across the country that at this point have not passed that legislation either,'' he said, citing Florida and Arizona among them. Senate Majority Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, said a Senate vote on Friday is "still under consideration." In a statement to the Beacon, Missouri Republican Party Chairman David Cole expressed hope that the Senate would pass the primary legislation. "Across the country, state legislatures are acting to ensure their presidential nominating contests comply with RNC & DNC rules," Cole said. "...We actively support this change, and we are confident that the majority of senators do as well." Matt Teter, executive director of the Missouri Democratic Party, said in an e-mail to the Beacon that the party is "still hopeful the Legislature will deliver a clean bill to the Governor's desk that would move the primary election MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 32 of 50 date to March." Sep 23, 10:40 AM EDT MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 33 of 50 Teacher-Facebook bill could come up in Mo. House JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Missouri lawmakers have approved a revision to a contentious new law that limits online discussion between teachers and students. The House voted Friday to send Gov. Jay Nixon a bill repealing a Missouri law that barred teachers from using websites that allow "exclusive access" with students, such as private messages on Facebook. The governor has not said whether he will sign the bill. When he called lawmakers into special session, he asked them to simply repeal the controversial provision. But the bill they passed goes a step further by also requiring school districts to develop their own policies on electronic communications between employees and students. Missouri's original law was to take effect Aug. 28, but it was put on hold by a judge because of free-speech concerns. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 34 of 50 White House ready to leave No Child Left Behind behind By Dale Singer, Beacon staff Updated 11:16 am Fri., 9.23.11 If education officials in Washington want to give states more flexibility in spending about $1 billion in federal money, and more freedom from the strict mandates of No Child Left Behind, their counterparts in Missouri and Illinois are more than ready to consider the deal. On Friday, President Barack Obama announced in Washington plans to ease the requirements of the Bush-era education act that increasingly have been seen as impossible to meet and unfairly labeling many good schools as failures. "I want to say the goals behind No Child Left Behind were admirable," Obama said, "and President Bush deserves credit for that. Higher standards are the right goal. Accountability is the right goal. Closing the achievement gap is the right goal. And we’ve got to stay focused on those goals. But experience has taught us that, in its implementation, No Child Left Behind had some serious flaws that are hurting our children instead of helping them. "Teachers too often are being forced to teach to the test. Subjects like history and science have been squeezed out. And in order to avoid having their schools labeled as failures, some states, perversely, have actually had to lower their standards in a race to the bottom instead of a Race to the Top. They don't want to get penalized? Let’s make sure that the standards are so low that we’re not going to be seen failing to meet them. That makes no sense." A year ago, the White House sent a comprehensive plan to Congress to change the law -- including leaving behind the old title in favor of the more bureaucratic Elementary and Secondary Education Act -- so that initiatives for improvements in the nation's schools could come from states and local districts, not from Washington. It wanted changes in place before classes reconvened for the 2011-12 school year. Read more from the Beacon Educators want changes in No Child law, but want to see details of Obama's proposals But the administration's plan failed to win bipartisan support and, in the words of a senior administration official who briefed education reporters on Thursday, "the reality is, another school year started under a broken law." So, using the authority that the White House said it had under the law, Obama said that the Department of Education should take advantage of what an administration official called the "absolutely stunning" reform movements by states across the country and relieve them from many of the burdens imposed by the law -- in exchange for progress in very specific areas. "Keep in mind," the president added, "the change we’re making is not lowering standards; we’re saying we’re MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 35 of 50 going to give you more flexibility to meet high standards. We’re going to let states, schools and teachers come up with innovative ways to give our children the skills they need to compete for the jobs of the future. Because what works in Rhode Island may not be the same thing that works in Tennessee -– but every student should have the same opportunity to learn and grow, no matter what state they live in. "Let me repeat: This does not mean that states will be able to lower their standards or escape accountability. In fact, the way we’ve structured this, if states want more flexibility, they’re going to have to set higher standards, more honest standards, that prove they’re serious about meeting them." Chris Nicastro, Missouri commissioner for elementary and secondary education who attended Friday's White House announcement, welcomed the opportunity, though she added she needed to study the details before determining whether Missouri would actually apply for a waiver. “We are pleased to be able to consider such a waiver, but it is too early to say whether the state of Missouri will apply,” said Nicastro in a statement released Friday morning. “We remain absolutely committed to accountability, but we believe the outdated NCLB accountability system is broken. The need to fix it is urgent.” Matt Vanover, a spokesman for her counterpart in Illinois, Christopher Koch, who also attended Obama's announcement, said a newly reauthorized law would have been preferable to waivers from existing requirements. But if that isn't going to happen, the ability to get out from under some of the more onerous mandates of No Child Left Behind would be a good option. "We agree with the broad outlines that are out there," Vanover said, "and we agree there need to be major changes. We still need to see what states and districts would be committing to." NO RETREAT FROM ACCOUNTABILITY Administration officials emphasized that this swap -- easing mandates in exchange for new reform efforts -- is not a step back from requiring schools and states to be accountable. Instead, said one, it is a recognition that "the best ideas will always come from the states and school districts that want to do the right thing. Our role is to get out of the way." It's also a recognition that when the original law was passed 10 years ago, many innovations and reforms had not yet been developed, so in some ways No Child Left Behind has hindered states that wanted to try out new ways of improving student performance. Such experimentation should increase under the waiver plan, the official said, adding: "We are not interested in giving flexibility in return for business as usual." Announcing the requirements to win a waiver from the mandates of No Child Left Behind, the White House set out a three-part test. First, states have to show they are moving to standards and assessments that determine whether students are graduating ready for college or a career. Specifically, the administration said that students have to show proficiency in reading and language arts as well as math. The standards and tests would apply to all students, including those who are learning English and those who have disabilities. Second, states have to develop systems that recognize and reward the highest-achieving schools that serve students from low-income families and those that show the greatest student progress. For schools among the lowest-performing in a state, generally the bottom 5 percent, state would have to put into place strict MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 36 of 50 interventions to improve the levels of achievement sharply. For another 10 percent with low graduation rates, large achievement gaps or poor performance in student subgroups, specific strategies will have to be put into place to turn the situation around. Finally, states have to evaluate and support teachers and principals for effectiveness. Using systems developed through consultation with teachers and principals, states must determine how well their students have performed over time and how teachers can improve as the result of specific feedback. NOT A COMPETITION Administration officials stressed that the waiver program will not be a competition, like the Race to the Top program where states vied for a share of federal money. They expect and encourage all states to apply for the waivers, rather than be governed by the No Child Left Behind mandates that they said have unintentionally become barriers to reform, not incentives. For states that meet the criteria set by Washington for waivers, the rewards include a greater degree of flexibility in several areas: Instead of having to meet the current requirement of having 100 percent of students score proficient by 2014, states may establish their own goals -- characterized in a White House fact sheet as "ambitious but achievable" -- that would support progress for all schools and all students. Instead of being tagged as failing when in fact students were making acceptable progress, states may design a system of measurements and accountability targeting the poorest-performing schools and tailored to the needs of students there. Schools that perform the best or make the most progress may also win recognition in such systems. Instead of using federal money in strictly defined ways, states, districts and schools can use the funding for various programs in ways that will best serve what students need. In introducing the waiver program Friday morning, Obama stressed the urgency and the stakes. "This isn’t just the right thing to do for our kids," he said, "it’s the right thing to do for our country. We can’t afford to wait for an education system that is not doing everything it needs to do for our kids. We can’t let another generation of young people fall behind because we didn’t have the courage to recognize what doesn’t work, admit it, and replace it with something that does. We’ve got to act now." ALREADY IN PROGRESS States that have already made progress on school reform may begin applying for waivers in mid-November, administration officials said, with the waivers to be granted beginning next year. A second round of applications could come in January. Though there will be a strict peer review process to determine whether a waiver is given, an administration official emphasized that the process is not simply a matter of exchanging one set of mandates for another. "This isn't about jumping through hoops," the officials said. "It's about supporting good work that is happening already all through the country." The White House noted that already, more than 40 states have adopted the common standards and assessments that the waiver rules are designed to encourage, and most of them are developing accountability MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 37 of 50 systems guided by principles developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers, which is currently headed by Koch of Illinois. Vanover, his spokesman, noted that No Child Left Behind has brought some good developments, including a focus on making sure that students in certain subgroups meet academic standards. "But many people feel there needs to be a new generation of accountability systems out there," he added. "Rather than punitive measures with unrealistic targets, maybe we should be concentrating on student growth and providing incentives to schools." This year, Vanover said, Illinois' target is having 85 percent of its students score proficient or above on state tests. That goal will rise to 92.5 percent in each of the next two years before hitting the federally mandated 100 percent of adequate yearly progress in 2014. When schools fail to make that grade, he noted, the result can be damaging, even if students are making good progress. "When somebody tells you you're not worthy," Vanover said, "it's going to take a toll on your psyche. We have some very good schools out there not making AYP, and that's because the targets are getting to the point where they are very high. You can have some districts scoring at 95 or 98 percent, but maybe this year the low-income subgroups score less than that and may not be making AYP, even though they're still doing well." Nicastro said that Missouri's move toward a new evaluation system for school districts, known as MSIP5, encompasses many requirements that the White House is looking for before it grants waivers, including consultation with a wide variety of stakeholders in school success. “At first glance, it appears the waiver could support our state’s high standards and accountability principles,” she said. “We are already establishing a framework to push toward excellence, reduce gaps in academic achievement and ensure all students graduate from high school ready for college and careers. Barring any surprises in the fine print, it may be a good fit.” She said that before Missouri determines whether to apply for a waiver, more discussions with such groups would be held. The state Board of Education would make the final determination on whether a waiver would be sought, Nicastro said. Sep 23, 11:54 AM EDT Mo. unsure if will seek waiver to education law MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 38 of 50 JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro says it is too soon to know if Missouri will ask to be exempt from the federal No Child Left Behind Law. President Barack Obama said Friday states will be allowed to eliminate a requirement that all students show they are proficient in math and reading by 2014. States would need to meet conditions such as setting standards to prepare students for college and careers. States could apply for the exemption to the U.S. Department of Education. Nicastro was in Washington on Friday. She says she is pleased states will have a chance to seek a waiver from No Child Left Behind, which she called a broken system. She says it appears the new proposal could help Missouri's support for high standards and accountability. State audit finds patrol mergers cost money September 22, 2011 | Filed under: Budget and Taxes | Posted by: Dick Aldrich JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — State Auditor Tom Schweich says the merger of the State Water Patrol and the State MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 39 of 50 Highway Patrol will cost Missouri $900,000 each year, despite promises that the deal would save the state money. The finding comes in the recently released audit of the State Water Patrol. In a summary, Schweich’s office concludes that “although the state will save some money from cutting support staff, not filling vacancies and terminating a lease, the merger will cost the state nearly $1.8 million more in increased retirement and health care costs each year.” The Missouri Legislature passed a bill at the end of the 2010 session that allowed the patrols to merge. At the time, the state Department of Public Safety estimated savings of $3 million a year. Schweich’s audit found that $2.4 million in savings claimed by the Department of Public Safety from reassigning officers actually just moved the officers’ salaries from one budget item to another. The state audit of the Water Patrol also found about $3,000 missing from boater education fees. In April, Ruth Tiefenbaum, of St. Joseph, was arrested and charged with felony stealing in the case. The audit said lax accounting procedures allowed the theft to go undetected at first. The audit also criticized the Water Patrol for maintaining 28 surplus boats in a warehouse with no clear plans for their use or sale. The patrol says a miscommunication prevented the boats from being prepared for sale in a timely fashion. New civil rights organization hopes to fill mid-Missouri's ACLU void Thursday, September 22, 2011 | 1:39 p.m. CDT; updated 4:34 p.m. CDT, Thursday, September 22, 2011 BY Celia Darrough MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 40 of 50 COLUMBIA — A new civil rights organization for Missouri is becoming formalized after a group of activists decided there was a need for a "truly statewide" organization. The idea for the Missouri Civil Liberties Association grew out of a disagreement between Eastern Missouri's and Mid-Missouri’s American Civil Liberties Union affiliates earlier this year, which ended in the dissolution of mid- Missouri's chapter, organizers said. But that’s not the only reason the new entity was formed, said Dan Viets, a Columbia attorney and one of the group coordinators. “We’re going to form an organization that is more statewide in scope and broader in philosophical appeal,” Viets said. Although there are Eastern Missouri and Kansas and Western Missouri ACLU affiliates, Viets said the ACLU is not truly statewide in Missouri because it is only in those two areas and no longer in mid-Missouri. He said the Eastern Missouri affiliate deprived all members of the ability to amend bylaws and have their own leadership and agenda. Viets also said it dissolved the Mid-Missouri affiliate. The Missouri Civil Liberties Association, also known as the MoCLA, will allow its members to decide on their policies and bylaws. However, Brenda Jones, executive director of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri, said the Mid-Missouri affiliate did not dissolve, but that it is on hiatus and that the ACLU is still involved in the area. Viets disagreed. "There's nothing that remains in mid-Missouri," he said. Despite the disagreement, the two organizations said they are on good terms and that they most likely will end up working together on some projects. "There's enough civil liberties work to go around for everyone," Jones said. "Anytime someone wants to bring new resources to our work, I think it's great. More voices, more fighters, more for the people." Viets said the Missouri Civil Liberties Association has many of the same goals as the ACLU, even though they are separate organizations. The Missouri association aims to promote understanding of the importance of protecting civil liberties, limit the power of government over individual citizens and help those who don’t have the resources to help themselves, he said. The group will consist of a variety of members, including current ACLU members, and many libertarians. But coordinator John Coffman said the new association welcomes people who care about civil liberties from across the political spectrum to fill the civil rights void in mid-Missouri. "There are activists throughout the state who are looking for a new organization closely tied to the grass roots of individuals that doesn't pay too much attention to political party affiliation," he said. "It's interesting how many folks are coming together from different perspectives and sitting down and talking about what they have in common." The first battle the MoCLA has taken on is Linn State Technical College's new policy instituting random drug MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 41 of 50 testing of students. The group wrote a letter to the president of the public college stating that the policy was illegal and that the college needs to stop, or the MoCLA will file a lawsuit, Viets said. Viets said a lawyer for the college wrote back and said the school has good intentions, which Viets said he does not question. Still, what the institution is doing violates the rights of students, he said. The ACLU of Eastern Missouri is also involved in the Linn State Technical College case — the group is representing eight clients and received an injunction to stop the school from proceeding with the testing, Jones said. Viets and Coffman are still taking steps to formalize the creation of the Missouri Civil Liberties Association. A meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Rock Bridge Christian Church, 301 West Green Meadows Rd. Coffman said anyone who is interested can come and have input on the bylaws, structure and priorities of the organization. The MoCLA has yet to establish a procedure for how citizens can get the group's help. Viets said the group doesn't have the resources for everyone who deserves it, but it plans to tackle issues that will make a difference for a large number of people. "There's never a need to go to court or lobby to protect popular speech," Viets said. "It is the unpopular speech that needs protection. It is important that there be groups like the Missouri Civil Liberties Association and the ACLU that fill that role." MISSOURINET MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 42 of 50 Corps of Engineers hires panel to review 2011 Missouri River management by Mike Lear on September 23, 2011 in Fires/Accidents/Disasters,Weather The Corps of Engineers has hired an independent technical review panel to look at how it managed the Missouri River reservoirs both before and during the flood of 2011. The Northwestern Division has selected four people for the group that will look at the way it operated the six main stem reservoirs on the River: Bill Lawrence, Hydrologist in Charge with the National Weather Service Darwin Ockerman, Hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey Cara McCarthy, Senior Forecast Hydrologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service National Water and Climate Center Neil Grigg, PhD, Professor at Colorado State University Michael Swinson with the Missouri River Basin Water Management Division says the team will review whether the decisions made by the Corps fell under the Missouri River Master Manual. It will also question whether the Corps could have prevented or reduced damage from flooding by taking any different actions, whether long-term regulation forecasts accounted for main stem runoff and whether climate change played a role in this year’s record runoff. The panel will begin its work October 4 and is expected to complete a report by December 2. Last day of special session, maybe. Or not (AUDIO) MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 43 of 50 by Bob Priddy on September 22, 2011 in Business,Finance,Legislature,Politics & Government We’ll learn in a few hours whether this special session of the legislature makes major changes in the state’s economic development program…..or whether the session will go on longer… An agreement between the governor and legislative leaders has been crumbling almost from the day it was announced in July, In recent days the House and Senate have been far apart on the economic development bill and have been saying nasty things about one another. Leaders say this will be the last day, no matter what happens. The senate will be watching the House closely this morning as it considers the senate-passed economic development bill. Senate leaders want six things they say the House has taken out of the Senate version. If the Senate doesn’t like what it sees, it can come into session this afternoon and adjourn, not only killing any hope for the jobs bill, but killing several other bills in the process, several of which have been approved by the House.. Senate leader Rob Mayer doesn’t see the situation as penalizing backers of other bills because the Hosue and Senate leaders couldn’t find middle ground. The House is to meet the morning. The senate is to meet at 2 p.m. Members angry about the House’s attitudes almost shut down the special session on Wednesday. Some still want to do it without passing a bill… Listen to Mayer, Dempsey teleconference mp3 BLOG ZONE MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 44 of 50 Judge's party a reminder that part of the federal government still works BY PAT GAUEN • email@example.com > 314-340-8154 STLtoday.com | Posted: Thursday, September 1, 2011 12:15 am | I've seen plenty of people sing at the federal courthouse in East St. Louis. Until this week, I never expected to be one of them. The others 'sang" in the vernacular of the justice system, testifying about the criminal transgressions of others, often in pursuit of a better deal for themselves. In quaint old black-and-white mysteries, they would be called stool pigeons. I 'sang" in the vernacular of the music system, testing the ears of everyone around with the criminal transgressions of my voice. In quaint old black-and-white musicals, I would have been called tone deaf. But there I was just the same, mercifully drowned out by scores of others in a rendition of "God Bless America" delivered at a reception Monday on the occasion of U.S. District Judge William D. Stiehl's 25th anniversary in office. Working our way through a dense crowd of well-wishers, former Post-Dispatch reporter Charlie Bosworth and I happened to be in front of the judge's bench when the speeches started and movement froze. So there we were, front and center, when an a cappella group of talented court denizens who call themselves "The Courthouse Steps" drew the assembly into song. It felt strange, standing where I had watched some of the region's masters of law clash over a generation of thieves and fiends and scoundrels — or those so accused. It's the spot where I saw many trembling defendants stand to learn their fate. I remembered the faces of drug dealers, swindlers, racketeers and a parade of Metro East officials caught with their hands in the public's wallet. I could imagine the echo of a classic violin, played as evidence during a dispute over its authenticity. Maybe the most memorable case involved a robber who had been shoved — empty-handed except for his pistol — out the door of a Mulberry Grove, Ill., bank by its 79-year-old board chairman. The failed crook, 20, was fueling his getaway car nearby when police arrived. He later claimed he just wanted to go to jail to have a home. At sentencing, Judge Stiehl suggested that he find different work because, "Your future in the criminal world is not rosy." Indeed not. The hapless kid was still serving his term three years later when he was stabbed to death in a prison riot at Leavenworth. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 45 of 50 Federal courts always imbued me with awe, from my first visit to the one in Alton, where I watched Judge Harlington Wood Jr. handle a fraud case and then wondered why he gave me such strange looks in the parking lot. (I had inadvertently parked in front of an "FBI Only" sign.) It would not be my last embarrassment covering federal courts. The worst would be with Judge Stiehl, in fact. Years ago, I stopped off for 30 seconds to sit in the back of a routine trial just to check the acoustics of his remodeled courtroom. I was already halfway out the door when the pager I forgot to turn off announced itself with a shriek that brought the proceedings to a stop. I hated that I was so stupid and hated even more that it surely diminished me in the eyes of a judge for whom I had enormous respect. I surrendered myself and my electronic accomplice to his mercy the next day, and we were forgiven with grace. He smiled when I reminded him about it at Monday's party. It was a milestone celebration, by the way, not a retirement. Judge Stiehl, working at will under 'senior status," remains quite busy. I exchanged hugs with Julie Fix, still his chief law clerk, and Sandy Pannier, his courtroom deputy now moved to other duties, and Judy Baehr, his recently retired assistant. And I realized it is a pity that everyone cannot know these extremely intelligent, warm and caring individuals as I did, to better appreciate the humanity that hides behind the court's dense layers of security and bureaucracy and decorum. When we think of the federal government these days, our minds are naturally drawn to an executive branch mired in economic challenges and a legislative branch gridlocked with partisan rancor. I try to think about the judicial branch, where a judge in his mid-80s and the good people in his orbit are quietly continuing to get the job done. Can missing-child law legislate better parenting? MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 46 of 50 BY PAT GAUEN • firstname.lastname@example.org > 314-340-8154 STLtoday.com | Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2011 12:00 am A little neighbor girl disappeared when I was about 8 or 10, and a good part of our Indiana farm town turned out to look for her. It was one for all and all for one in the village of Mount Summit, where pretty much every person knew every child on sight. No description required. The drama continued for a while, until somebody thought to search the closets of the Johnsons' house. Jennifer was safe and sound asleep in one of them. This was around 1960, a time at least perceived as more innocent. A missing child was cause for the kind of alarm that roused the neighbors, not necessarily the police. I don't remember Jennifer's frantic parents calling the sheriff, although I suppose they would have gotten around to it if she hadn't turned up so soon. Crime was not so much on our minds then. I might head out on my bicycle early in the morning, check in at lunch and dinner, and be out who-knows-where until long after dark in a town that, while tiny, was cut two ways by busy highways. Did anybody pause to consider how ripe I was for abduction, and how many hours I could be gone before anybody noticed? I don't think so. And, compared with many of my friends, I had a hovering mother. So how long would I need to have been gone before my mom would be prosecuted for not calling the cops? Odd as the question might sound, some lawmakers in Illinois — including Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon — are proposing a legal deadline: 24 hours. The sponsors are among leaders in several states motivated by the case of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony, missing in Florida for about 30 days in 2008 before her mother, Casey Anthony, claimed a nanny made off with the girl. Cops decided the nanny never existed and charged the mother with murder even before the child's body was found. A jury decided in July that Casey Anthony was not guilty of murder, an outcome that many people found incredible and that raised the question of why an innocent mother would wait a month to report her child was missing. (At trial, the defense claimed, but offered no evidence, that what she really hid was knowledge of her daughter's accidental death.) In any event, those circumstances were widely considered an outrage, and an outrage surely demands some kind of action. Hence, Illinois House Bill 3800, which would make it a felony to fail to call law enforcement if a child under age 13 in your care is missing more than 24 hours. You're probably asking yourself right about now what kind of parent — Casey Anthony notwithstanding — would need to be compelled by fear of prison to do such an obvious thing. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 47 of 50 I also wonder about that, and whether a law would make any difference. The most common killers of children are the victims' parents. It's awful, but that's the way things are. If the parent is responsible for the disappearance, what difference will the law make? In such a case, the circumstances reported to police — including the time given for the disappearance — will certainly be self-serving. But if it is a real kidnapping, 24 hours would be way too long. Studies show that the vast majority of children taken by strangers and killed are dead within the first day. Besides, Illinois already makes it a felony to lose track of a child under 13 in your care for more than 24 hours. The reporting requirement might even do some harm. Consider an instance in which a parent decides on Thursday to tell police that nobody has seen Junior since Tuesday. Oops. A friend points out that such a reporting delay is a Class 4 felony. That could mean prison time. So the police get told that Junior disappeared on Wednesday, a lie that could doom the whole investigation. Admittedly, this would not be a very good parent. But the legislation is, by its nature, aimed at not-very-good parents. The bill looks like an example of a laudable intent that fails to heed a salient warning provided by humorist Will Rogers almost 80 years ago: "You can't legislate intelligence and common sense into people." EDITORIALS … & Letters to the Editor MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 48 of 50 Editorial: Shenanigans on disaster relief example of Congress' failure By the Editorial Board STLtoday.com | Posted: Friday, September 23, 2011 12:00 am | The dichotomy of votes for disaster funding in Congress is easier to understand when placed in the context of a political campaign. After all, that's pretty much what most members of Congress are pursuing these days: campaigning comes first; governing is way down the list. On Wednesday, the House voted down a bill that would have kept federal money flowing to states, including Missouri, recovering from an unprecedented year of natural disasters. Ironically, the biggest bloc of no votes came from Democrats. When the Senate passed a much larger disaster relief bill worth $6.9 billion last week, the Democrats did the heavy lifting, and Republicans, for the most part, said no. How to explain this contradiction? Let's look to Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, for clarity. Mr. Blunt was one of only six Republicans in the Senate to support the first vote on the disaster relief bill. That vote failed. For the Senate to actually pass the bill, Senate leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., first had to allow a vote on two Republican proposals that would have required drastic cuts elsewhere in the budget to pay for the disaster funding. That two-step was part of a dance routine that passes for governance in Washington, D.C. Once conservative Republicans cast their meaningless vote for one or both of the bills offering spending offsets — knowing they would fail — they were free to record the vote that mattered, sending humanitarian and job-producing relief to tornado-ravaged Joplin, to Midwestern states digging out from the Missouri River flood and to Eastern seaboard states with massive infrastructure repair bills from Hurricane Irene. Recalling Mr. Blunt's successful race for the Senate last year with Democrat Robin Carnahan helps explain why Congress handles votes in this peculiar way. Mr. Blunt's initial challenge in that race was proving to conservatives that he was one of them, despite playing a leadership role in Congress during the explosion of budget deficits under President George W. Bush and the Republican-controlled House. On the campaign trail, Mr. Blunt often would redirect a question about his vote for deficit-bloating budgets to previous votes he cast on a budget that was much more frugal but had no chance of passing. It's a variation of the line about Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., during his 2004 presidential race: He was for it before he was against it. Or vice versa. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 49 of 50 Such is the sad case with the congressional debate over disaster relief funding. When the House voted down disaster relief funding this week, the vote failed because Republicans wanted it to fail. They inserted a poison-pill provision that would have paid for some of the relief by cutting loan guarantees that are helping America's automobile industry produce more fuel-efficient cars. These guarantees are creating jobs as the automotive industry recovers from the recession. It's an important program. With the failed vote, Democrats can blame Republicans for being job killers. Republicans can blame Democrats for opposing disaster relief. The politicians get what they want while people in Joplin and elsewhere struggle to recover from massive disasters, hoping that reason will overcome the madness. We suspect the House theatrics created the political atmosphere to do what is necessary. Now it should pass the Senate version, which has an unadulterated $6.9 billion in disaster relief funding, into law. Oversight remains target depite SynCare incident MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS DAILY NEWS CLIPS Collected/Archived for Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 - Page 50 of 50 SynCare case should not change goal of avoiding conflicts. 12:00 AM, Sep. 23, 2011, News-Leader.com The recent extreme difficulties with a state contract to assess eligibility for Medicaid services should not end concerns over conflicts of interest. If anything, it should bring more urgency to this effort. The agreement with SynCare LLC was in part aimed at the perceived problem of the provider also handling the intake and assessment service. Legislation passed by the General Assembly was signed into law in June 2010. The letting of the Syncare contract was the result. The overall goal was to reduce the expenses of Missouri's Medicaid program. SynCare's contract was dropped after it fell far behind in providing assessments for Medicaid recipients wanting in-home care. Far too many citizens, Ozarkers among them, were left in uncertain circumstances and, sometimes, suffering. The firm was paid $1.4 million of a $5.5 million contract. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is addressing a backlog of about 9,300 cases. Temporary employees are being hired to catch up on the cases though it may take over a month. The cost could be up to $8 million to finish SynCare's job if the workers are needed for a year. We urge lawmakers to continue on their course to make Medicaid more efficient. The target of eliminating an "inherent conflict of interest," as a health care consulting firm, The Lewin Group, described Missouri's system for assessment should not be missed as the result of the fallout from the SynCare failure. Another aspect of this story is that a state employee involved in evaluating SynCare's bid along with other proposals went to work for SynCare months later. We believe this incident should be scrutinized by state officials and legislators in regard to the state's conflict-of-interest law. The effort to make Medicaid or any other state service more efficient by letting private contracts must be without question unbiased. We would urge a sense of urgency in this review. The DHSS has its hands full as it assesses thousands of cases. We hope that in the near future the department's officials and legislators will bring together the stakeholders in this issue -- including patients or their representatives -- to consider the next step. That step should continue to emphasize service to Missouri's neediest while providing oversight of those services.
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