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Nixon names new Mo. economic development chief
By Chris Blank, Associated Press, Southeast Missourian

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced Friday that he appointed the leader of a state-
funded technology agency as his new state economic development director.

Jason Hall, the executive director for the Missouri Technology Corp., has been tapped to head the Missouri
Department of Economic Development as particular attention is being paid to the economy. Since 2009, Hall has
been the director of the Missouri Technology Corp., which was created to promote economic development
through technology in businesses. It is a nonprofit entity with a board partially appointed by the governor and
employees paid by the state.

Nixon met Friday with business groups in Kansas City and Springfield to announce the appointment, and the
governor's office released statements praising the choice from various business leaders, including the president
of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Nixon said he looked forward to working with Hall to create more jobs and improve the state's economy. The
Democratic governor said Hall has helped rejuvenate the Missouri Technology Corp. and played an important
role in implementing the newly created Missouri Science and Innovation Act to offer state incentives to science
and technology companies. Hall also developed the application for the State Small Business Credit Initiative that
invests $27 million for high-tech, small business job growth.

"Jason Hall is exactly the type of bright, energetic leader we need to help create jobs and move Missouri's
economy forward," Nixon said.

The appointment requires Senate confirmation when lawmakers return to the state Capitol next month. If
confirmed, Hall would be the third director of the Economic Development Department since Nixon took office in
January 2009. The first was St. Louis attorney Linda Martinez, who resigned after less than a year following
apparent disagreements with Nixon. The current director is David Kerr, who said last month he would step down
at the end of the year to spend more time with his family.

Hall has an economics degree from Bates College in Maine and a law degree from Vanderbilt University. He spent
one year as a law clerk for a federal appeals court judge and has worked in private law practice. In a statement
released Friday by Nixon's office, Hall said he plans to focus on expanding manufacturing, boosting exports and
growing high-tech science and innovation companies.

"Missouri is turning the corner after a tough national downturn, and our economy is beginning to move in the
right direction," Hall said.

Last December, the Missouri Technology Corp. was sharply criticized in an audit released by then-state Auditor
Susan Montee, a Democrat. Montee accused Hall of making political threats against her as her staff worked on
the audit and she campaigned for re-election before losing to Republican Tom Schweich. Montee said Hall at one
point highlighted that he was a "good friend" of Schweich.
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Schweich has said he knows Hall from previous work at the same law firm but does not consider him a close
friend and did not recall speaking with Hall about the audit. In response to the findings, the Missouri Technology
Corp. said last year that most of the problems cited by the audit happened before Hall started.

Missouri's economic development efforts have faced scrutiny this year, including over a failed plan for an
artificial sweetener facility in Moberly in which state and local incentives were offered. Work stopped after
Mamtek missed a bond payment and no state incentives were ever paid. Lawmakers have held hearings, and the
Missouri attorney general and the federal Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating.
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Governor picks new head of Missouri economic
development
By Tim Logan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Gov. Jay Nixon has tapped Jason Hall, head of the Missouri Technology Corp., to lead the state's Department of
Economic Development, his office said Friday.

Hall will replace David Kerr, who served in the job for about two years and steps down today. A former attorney
at Bryan Cave in St. Louis, Hall has run the quasi-governmental MTC since 2009, and been one of the state's
pointmen on efforts to grow high-tech and science jobs. He also helped to craft MOSIRA, the fund recently
approved by lawmakers to spark investment in those areas.

"Jason Hall is exactly the type of bright, energetic leader we need to help create jobs and move Missouri's
economy forward," Nixon said in a statement. "Under Jason's leadership, the Missouri Technology Corporation
has developed into a strong force for innovation and job-creation in our state."

Now he'll have his hands on the wheel of the whole DED, the agency that controls a broad array of tax incentives
and works closely with large companies and local governments on job creation across Missouri.

It has been a bumpy couple of years.

While Kerr helped to land two big auto plant expansions and led an overhaul of the state's broad economic
strategy, his tenure also saw failures to convince lawmakers to reform tax credits and a controversy over the
state's role in the failed Mamtek sugar plant in Moberly. Perhaps most importantly, job growth has been slow.
Missouri has actually lost about 4,000 jobs since the end of 2009, while the nation as a whole has slowly gained
them back.

Still, there has been progress lately, progress Hall said he hopes to build upon.

"Our economy is beginning to move in the right direction," he said. "I look forward to working closely with the
Governor to continue to focus on building strength in Missouri's modern manufacturing sector, expanding our
exports, educating a workforce for the careers of tomorrow, and growing more high-tech science and innovation
companies in our state."

The news won praise from business leaders around the state. Hall must still win confirmation by the Missouri
Senate.
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Nixon names new state economic development
director
By Tim Sampson, Missouri News Horizon

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – With state economic development poised to be a key issue in the 2012 legislatives
session, Gov. Jay Nixon unveiled his new pick to run the Missouri Department of Economic Development on
Friday.
Speaking at an even in Kansas City, Nixon named Jason Hall, the current executive director of the Missouri
Technology Corporation, to serve as his new economic development director.
“Jason Hall is exactly the type of bright, energetic leader we need to help create jobs and move Missouri’s
economy forward,” Nixon said. “Under Jason’s leadership, the Missouri Technology Corporation has developed
into a strong force for innovation and job-creation in our state.”
Hall was appointed by Nixon to lead the Missouri Technology Corporation in 2009. During his tenure at MTC, Hall
was instrumental in helping Missouri seeking funds for high-tech business development. In his new position, Hall
said he would work to continue implementing the Nixon administration’s five-year plan for business growth.
“I look forward to working closely with the Governor to continue to focus on building strength in Missouri’s
modern manufacturing sector, expanding our exports, educating a workforce for the careers of tomorrow, and
growing more high-tech science and innovation companies in our state,” Hall said during his announcement.
But in addition to attracting businesses to Missouri to help alleviate the 8.2 percent unemployment rate, Hall will
also have to deal with the fallout of a recent economic development scandal that has placed his new department
squarely in the crosshairs of state legislature.
The Senate and House have already launched investigations into the business development debacle at Moberly,
Mo., where that city is now on the hook for $39 million in construction bonds to build an artificial sweetener
plant that never came to fruition. The so-called “Mamtek” project was orchestrated by the state Department of
Economic Development, even though the state never actually paid Mamtek any money.
The scandal has raised serious concerns about how the department of economic development vets corporate tax
incentive deals. Although outgoing economic development director David Kerr insisted that his office did proper
due diligence, relying heavily on the A- rating the bond received from Standard and Poor’s Credit Rating Bureau.
But Mamtek is not the only major development on the horizon for the department of economic development.
When state lawmakers return to Jefferson City next week to begin the 2012 regular legislative session, there will
be no shortage of legislation related to taxes and economic development.
A number of bills have already been prefiled to try and salvage pieces of an omnibus tax credit reform bill that
died in a legislative stalemate in October. Some proposals include subjecting all tax credits to the legislative
appropriations process to help curb their growth, while others look to modify labor rules to make Missouri more
attractive to out-of-state companies.
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A bill has already been prefiled to reintroduce “Right-to-Work” legislation that would give individual employees
the ability to opt out of a union if their workplace unionizes. Many conservatives, like bill sponsor and Senate
President Pro Tem Robert Mayer, say it’s a necessary provision to make Missouri competitive against neighboring
right-to-work states like Kansas. But opponents say the legislation would lower the quality of life for many
Missouri workers.
Economic development is hardly a new focus for lawmakers. Last year’s economic development bill aside,
lawmakers instituted a number of proposals aimed at making Missouri more competitive when attracting
businesses to the state, including the elimination of the corporate franchise tax.
At 8.2 percent Missouri’s unemployment rate in November was at its lowest level in 34 months and nearly half-a-
point below the national average. The state has added 10,900 manufacturing jobs so far in 2011 and exports to
other countries have increased by $1.2 billion.
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Mo. lawmakers consider more health care measures
By Associated Press, Joplin Globe

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri lawmakers are preparing a second salvo over the federal health care law. The
most recent push comes after the state became the first to use a referendum to challenge the federal law’s
requirement that most people eventually get health insurance.

A measure proposed in the Missouri Senate would amend the state constitution to bar governments from
requiring people to have health insurance and from penalizing them for paying their own medical bills. It follows
on a nearly identical state law approved overwhelmingly by voters in August 2010. Lawmakers are expected to
renew their focus on health care during the annual legislative session that starts Wednesday.

Sen. Jane Cunningham, a leading supporter of the state law, said the new constitutional amendment will
strengthen those protections and shield Missouri residents from being forced to buy something they do not
want.

“The federal government will mandate, require that Americans buy a product against their will. That is just
wrong. It’s not American. It’s not freedom,” said Cunningham, R-Chesterfield. “So it’s a fundamental correction
and protection of Missourians against the federal government.”

Missouri’s health insurance law — and the proposed constitutional amendment — clash with the federal health
care overhaul’s requirement that most Americans have health insurance or face penalties starting in 2014. The
courts likely will need to decide whether the federal or state law prevails, and federal statutes generally have
trumped state measures.

Nonetheless, several states have approved similar laws targeting the individual insurance mandate and most
states have at least considered legislation. Missouri’s measure was the first to appear on the ballot and passed
with 71 percent of the vote. Two states now have constitutional amendments, and Arizona has both a state law
and a constitutional amendment.

The individual insurance mandate has been one of the most controversial provisions of the federal health care
overhaul signed into law in March 2010. The mandate is meant to broaden the pool of healthy people covered by
insurers and thereby hold down premiums that otherwise would rise because of separate elements keeping
companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Legal challenges also have been filed,
and the U.S. Supreme Court has scheduled five hours of oral arguments.

Opponents of the proposed constitutional amendment contend Missouri lawmakers are more concerned with
politics than policy. They say state legislation is unlikely to overturn the federal health care law or block Missouri
from complying.

“It seems that the majority party in Missouri wants to continue to run against the president and what they call
Obamacare and they are finding it fertile political ground,” said Amy Smoucha, a health care organizer for the
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group Missouri Jobs with Justice. Smoucha added: “Political motivations appear to be trumping problem-
solving.”

Missouri lawmakers considered a constitutional amendment in 2010 but settled on a state statute so Senate
Democrats would permit a vote. Still, the Missouri House passed a constitutional amendment aimed at the
individual insurance mandate, though it did not win final legislative approval.

House Speaker Steven Tilley, R-Perryville, said he would consider a second crack at a constitutional amendment
but does not consider it a priority.

Lawmakers also have expressed concern about a portion of the federal health care law dealing with health
insurance exchanges that will allow people to shop for insurance through an online marketplace. Missouri
insurance officials dropped plans this fall to spend federal money for the computer technology needed to
prepare a state-run exchange after objections from some Republican senators.

A measure proposed in the Senate would bar the establishment of a state-based health insurance exchange
without approval from the Legislature or the voters. Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, said setting up an exchange
could have significant implications and demands input from lawmakers or the electorate.

“Just because the federal government says jump doesn’t mean we have to say how high,” Schaaf said. “We are a
sovereign state and determining how insurance is delivered is our prerogative, not the federal government’s.”

Under the federal health care law, states have until 2014 to either set up their own insurance exchanges or have
their online marketplace run for them by the federal government. Sen. Joe Keaveny said it seems some
legislators want to avoid supporting any piece of the federal health care law, no matter what.

“We can make a much better system than to have someone come in from the federal government and create a
totally autonomous system,” said Keaveny, D-St. Louis.
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McKee receives $2.1 million in state tax credits
By Tim Logan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

State officials late Friday awarded $2.1 million in tax credits to NorthSide Regeneration LLC, developer Paul
McKee's long-delayed plan to rebuild roughly two square miles of north St. Louis.

The credits come from the Distressed Areas Land Assemblage tax credit program, which lawmakers created in
2007 to help McKee's efforts. In three years he has received roughly $30 million of the credits, which are
awarded to reimburse the cost of buying and maintaining land in large swaths of poor urban neighborhoods, and
of borrowing money to do it.

It has become something of a New Year's Eve ritual for the Department of Economic Development. For the third
year in a row, McKee's Distressed Areas application was stamped "approved" on the last business day of the
year. Now he'll go out and sell them to investors to help fund his project.

But this year's take - $2.1 million - is significantly smaller than previous years, and well below the program's $20
million annual cap. It's a sign of NorthSide's slow progress - McKee bought little land this year, and thus had little
to reimburse.

The figure may yet grow, however.

In a recent interview, McKee said he was hoping to close several purchases - including the 17-acre Bottle District
north of the Edward Jones Dome - before year's end, and would likely amend his state application if the deals go
through. It was unclear late Friday if those deals have closed.

As he did last year, McKee had to agree to pay back the state if a pending lawsuit challenging NorthSide's
redevelopment agreement is successful. That case is now state Appeals Court, with a hearing set for Feb. 1.
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Judge rejects halting transfer of students from Kansas
City Public Schools
By Mara Rose Williams, Kansas City Star

Six suburban school districts were disappointed by a Jackson County judge’s decision Friday against temporarily
halting the transfer of students from the unaccredited Kansas City Public Schools to outlying districts.

Suburban superintendents expect “chaos” as hundreds of new students try in vain to enroll in their schools as
soon as next week.

Because Kansas City’s central district lost accreditation earlier this year, state statute allows its students to
transfer to suburban classrooms at the expense of their old district, effective Jan. 1. Despite the court action
Friday, suburban officials said those Kansas City students would not be admitted unless they come with
thousands of dollars in tuition.

Independence Superintendent Jim Hinson said Judge Brent Powell’s decision “does not change the fact that in
order to comply with state law, Kansas City Public Schools must provide tuition and transportation consistent
with Independence School District board policy before any student transfers can take place.”

While Kansas City district officials said the judge made the right decision, Stephen Green, the interim
superintendent, agreed with his suburban counterparts that “careful thought and planning are needed prior to
the implementation of such a complex process…”

“The entire process represents uncharted waters; no precedent exists…”

The Independence, Raytown, North Kansas City, Lee’s Summit and Blue Springs districts went to court last week
to ask that any transfers be delayed until the settlement of the rate of tuition, when the inner-city district pays it
to the suburban districts, and who transports the students to and from the Kansas City core.

The districts, with Center schools having since joined the suit, met in court Friday morning.

“We need to say ‘time out’ and hold up until these issues are worked out, and we have not had time to plan,”
Hinson said outside the courtroom. “We welcome the kids. That is not the issue.”

Because the transfers come “in the middle of the school year,” Hinson said, no one is prepared for the influx.

Duane Martin, an attorney for the suburban districts, noted that there were inquiries from hundreds of parents
already. A temporary restraining order was wanted, he said, “so we wouldn’t have kids showing up at our schools
and then have to turn them away.”

But an attorney for the Kansas City district, Allan Hallquist, said that granting a temporary restraining order
would have made “a complicated situation even more complicated.”

In a statement Friday, Green said: “We are all caught between an effort to comply with the law on the one hand
and the pressure of a timeline to implement our own reasonable interpretation of the law on the other hand.”
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Powell’s ruling does not affect the plaintiffs’ other requests for relief. At a hearing scheduled for Jan. 12, the
suburban schools will seek a preliminary injunction to halt transfers.

Suburban districts argue that the student transfer policy developed by Kansas City Public Schools does not
comply with the state statute in a lost-accreditation situation.

“Our policy set by our school board says tuition is paid upfront,” said David McGehee, Lee’s Summit
superintendent. “Clearly, Kansas City Missouri School District says they won’t pay. We are not willing to go
month to month.”

Concerned that students will show up to enroll without behavior records, McGehee said that Lee’s Summit “does
not want to be thought of as an elitist district. We want to be part of the solution. We just need to be sure that
we protect our students.”

On the other hand, Kansas City Public Schools officials do not want to pay the tuitions set by the suburban
schools, which could be as high as $10,000 for high school. Kansas City policy is that until tuition requirements
were clarified, it would pay the state allocation of $3,733 per pupil on a monthly basis.

In its policy, Kansas City also wants the other districts to handle transportation and wait for reimbursement.

It also wants to pay tuition only for students who attended schools in the Kansas City district through the last two
semesters. Those who enrolled outside the core district or in charter schools earlier would not be considered.

In court, Hallquist acknowledged that the two-semester rule may violate statutes and need to be changed.
Kansas City district officials declined to comment on his statements.

Hallquist also argued that the case did not belong in Jackson County Circuit Court because the matters should be
handled by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
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Mo. utility regulator to step down next month
By Chris Blank, Associated Press, Southeast Missourian

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A Missouri utility regulator said Friday that he will resign next month from the
state's Public Service Commission.

Jeff Davis said he will step down effective Jan. 16, which is several months before his term was scheduled to
expire in April. Davis was named to the Public Service Commission in 2004 and reappointed to a full six-year term
in 2006. He served as chairman from 2005 to 2009.

He said he plans to pursue an opportunity for a private sector company that is not subject to the jurisdiction of
the Public Service Commission.

"It's time for me to go and do something new," Davis said.

The five-member Public Service Commission is responsible for regulating investor-owned electric, steam, natural
gas, water, sewer and telephone companies in Missouri. Commissioners are appointed by the governor and must
be confirmed by the state Senate. Davis said that by stepping down in January, Nixon will have a full legislative
session to choose his replacement.

Davis said he has enjoyed helping people while serving on the commission and that he has helped to ensure
regulators treat utilities and customers fairly. He said the commission has helped Missouri residents navigate
high natural gas prices after hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.

"I have been truly blessed to have had the opportunity to serve the people of this state for almost 15 years," he
said.

Davis has held several positions within state government. Before joining the Public Service Commission, he was
the chief of staff for Republican then-Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder and previously was the chief of staff
for the Senate minority leader. He also worked as law clerk for a state appeals court judge and as an intern in the
attorney general's office under Nixon.
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Occupy KC marchers take message to downtown
sidewalks
By Tony Rizzo, Kansas City Star

Members of the Occupy KC movement made a loud, spirited and peaceful march through downtown Kansas City
on Friday.

To the accompaniment of drums and other musical instruments, between 150 and 200 people took part in a New
Orleans-style jazz funeral march signifying the death of the social safety net.

Denied a permit to walk in the streets because they could not afford to pay for the police protection required by
the city, the marchers kept to the sidewalks — for the most part — during the 90-minute event.

Police presence was minimal, with only a couple of squad cars shadowing the marchers. Marchers’ occasional
forays off the sidewalk brought short siren whoops from police as reminders.

Chanting “Social Security is under attack” and vowing to “fight back,” marchers started from a park at 12th and
Walnut streets and made their way to the federal office building at 12th and Locust streets and to the Bank of
America offices at 12th and Main streets before finishing back at the starting point.

Some carried black coffins with the words “RIP Medicaid” and “RIP Medicare” written on them. Others carried
signs like “Capitalism is the crisis” and “That stuff trickling down on you isn’t money.”
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Mo. GOP lawmakers refocus their business proposals
By David Lieb, Associated Press, Southeast Missourian



JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Forget the huge rewrite of Missouri's voluminous tax credits. Forget the sweet
package of new incentives for everything from Chinese cargo flights to college basketball tournaments.

Unable to pass comprehensive legislation in 2011, Missouri's Republican legislative leaders are refining their
goals for "economic development" in 2012 to focus on incremental changes to workplace laws that they hope
will cause the business climate to inch upward - even if only by a matter of degrees.

The Republican business agenda for the legislative session that starts this coming Wednesday seeks to keep
certain workplace injury spats out of the courts, make it harder to bring employment discrimination suits and
shift more of the costs in liability lawsuits to the people making the claims. Under the heading of job creation and
development, Republican lawmakers may also seek to pare back mandatory wage rates on some public works
projects.

"All of us agreed that we need to continue to work on issues that impact jobs," said Senate President Pro Tem
Rob Mayer, R-Dexter. But he acknowledged: "Certainly, it's a smaller package in magnitude than what was put
forth in the economic development bill last session."

The realities of an election year - and the lingering intraparty divisions from an autumn special session that ended
in failure for its marquee business incentive bill - mean that majority party Republicans may be willing to forgo
grand proposals during 2012 and instead concentrate on more nuts-and-bolts items that appeal to the business
sector but don't divide their own caucus.

Those proposals include several tinkering changes to Missouri's workplace injury laws aimed at overturning court
rulings that have been handed down since Republicans revamped the workers' compensation system in 2005.
One proposal would prohibit employees from suing co-workers over on-the-job injuries. Another would
specifically state that occupational diseases are covered by the non-judicial state workers' compensation system,
which allows hurt workers to recoup medical bills and lost wages. The goal is to keep such disputes out of the
courts, where the costs to businesses are less certain and potentially higher.

Republicans may also push for more restrictions on liability lawsuits, seeking to add to their "tort reform"
measures enacted in 2005. One proposal would require plaintiffs to pay the legal bills of defendant businesses if
their lawsuits are unsuccessful. Another proposal would do away with the "joint and several liability" policy
under which businesses found to bear a majority of fault in court judgments can end up picking up the tab of co-
defendants found to be at lesser fault but who are unable to pay.
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Although vetoed this past year by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, Republican lawmakers again plan to pursue
legislation making it harder to win workplace discrimination cases. Among other things, the bill would require
proof that bias was a "motivating" factor, not just a "contributing" factor as is currently the case.

Many of Missouri's business associations - including the prominent Associated Industries of Missouri and the
Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry - back the proposed changes to discrimination and workplace
injury laws.

Unlike the multi-million-dollar tax incentives considered in 2011 for various businesses, "those are issues that do
not cost the taxpayers a penny but improve the business climate in the state of Missouri," said House Speaker
Steven Tilley, R-Perryville.

But some of the proposals face resistance from minority party Democrats, who are concerned they favor
employers over their employees.

"If you're going to talk about job creation and economic development, making it much harder for workers to get
a fair shake is not the approach you want to take," said House Minority Leader Mike Talboy, D-Kansas City.

The financial cost of any proposal is again likely to be a big consideration in 2012, because lawmakers will be
trying to craft an annual state budget that is projected to be a few hundred million dollars in the hole.

Republican legislative leaders and the Democratic governor all have been firm in their resistance to tax increases.
In 2011, in fact, Nixon signed a bill gradually phasing out Missouri's corporate franchise tax.

But leaders of the state Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Industries of Missouri say they will back a
2012 proposal that would temporarily raise the surcharge that businesses pay for the state's Second Injury Fund,
which is running out of money. The fund provides payments to people with pre-existing injuries or disabilities
who then suffer an additional workplace injury.

According to the business groups, legislation to be considered in 2012 would raise the maximum surcharge for
the fund from the current 3 percent of workers' compensation insurance premiums to 4.5 percent beginning in
2013. That surcharge then could be raised to 6 percent beginning in 2014 if a committee consisting of the
governor, attorney general, House speaker and Senate president pro tem agree it is necessary.

The plan also would scale back eligibility for the Second Injury Fund by eliminating claims involving permanent
partial disabilities and requiring claims for total disability to involve cases where the previous injury also was
either work-related or incurred during military service. The plan also would reduce the interest rate paid from
the fund on disability claims.
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Education, job creation priorities for Missouri
lawmakers
By Josh Nelson, Springfield News-Leader

The new year will bring up old issues as members of the Missouri General Assembly reconvene this week.

The session begins Jan. 4 and spans four months. The agenda so far is peppered with proposals that have been
tackled in the recent past. Among those are efforts to reform tax credits, rewrite the public schools funding
formula and boost job creation. But another ever-present issue -- an anticipated budget shortfall -- will likely
influence the course of debate on those issues.

"This year and next year we're looking at some pretty significant budget issues," said Rep. Kevin Elmer, R-Nixa.

The state's coffers will start out with $750 million less than in previous years because the state will have to fund a
larger part of its Medicaid program and won't have federal stimulus money to round out the budget. State
budget officials expect revenue for Fiscal Year 2013 to be around 4 percent higher, about $285 million, than the
current fiscal year. Total general revenue is estimated to be about $7.9 billion for FY13.

One of the biggest fights expected this year surrounds an effort to rewrite the foundation funding formula for
public schools, which determines how much money each district receives. Bills introduced by Rep. Mike
Thomson, R-Maryville, and Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, address the funding subject.

"It's going to be a very, very divisive issue," said Sen. Jay Wasson, R-Nixa.

The current formula, drafted in 2005, is a complex method of allotting per-pupil funding to districts. Over time, a
dispute between "hold harmless" schools and "formula" schools has formed.

Hold harmless schools keep funding at certain levels -- at or above the amount received in 1993 -- even if the
formula calls for reductions in state money. The formula schools are subject to those reductions.

Advocates of a change say the law doesn't account for when the formula is less than fully funded, as is the
current situation. That means hold harmless schools are at a relative advantage in funding compared to formula
districts, like Springfield. Around 150 of the 522 districts in the state are hold harmless schools.

Education groups and some lawmakers are concerned that changing the formula in the midst of a budget crisis
could shrink the overall education funding totals. Legislators should instead freeze education funding levels and
prevent state spending on new programs, said Rep. Sara Lampe, D-Springfield.

"When budgets are tight, our values come forward," Lampe said.
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Economic development proposals are also expected to take up a lot of time. Included in those proposals are
efforts to reform dozens of tax credits. A deal linking job growth to limits on credits for historic preservation and
low-income housing fell apart during the special session earlier this summer.

"As bad as it was in the special session, I don't think we can just dump it," Wasson said.

A bigger struggle may be over other proposals related to job creation, such as changes to unemployment claims,
prevailing wage rules, tort regulations and labor union laws. Southwest Missouri Republican lawmakers say many
of the measures should help the Missouri economy get out of the ditch.

"Anytime your unemployment is where it is, you need to look at any and all options," said Rep. Lincoln Hough, R-
Springfield.

Several southwest Missouri lawmakers said they would also like to see more money put back into the Second
Injury Fund, which is responsible for making payments to workers who had a previous injury and were hurt again
while on the job. The fund has been struggling to stay solvent and stopped making payments to individuals with
certain disabilities in April.

Prevailing wage has emerged as an early hot-button topic, with Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and several other
Republican leaders arguing that the requirement hurts job growth. Kinder has said he would like to see prevailing
wage rules suspended in especially hard-hit areas like Joplin, where he said the law hurts disaster recovery.

Rep. Shane Schoeller, R-Willard, is a co-sponsor on a bill that would eliminate the prevailing wage in Missouri.
Schoeller said he believes such a change would help job growth in areas like Joplin.

Lampe said many of the proposals sounded like "election-year rhetoric" that wouldn't address bigger problems
with the budget next year or help to boost the economy.

"It's not about putting bells and whistles on the car, it's about putting gas in the tank," she said.
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Jobs, schools and budget cuts top Missouri legislative
agenda
By Steve Kraske, Kansas City Star

Just two months after a special legislative session widely viewed as a bust, Missouri lawmakers will return to the
Capitol on Wednesday to take another run at creating jobs, dealing with Kansas City’s unaccredited school
district and wrangling with a budget requiring hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts.

It will all happen against the backdrop of the November elections that will determine whether Democratic Gov.
Jay Nixon gets a second term and whether dozens of senators and representatives win more time in office.

“My experience is that in an election year, it’s always tougher to get parties to work together because people are
posturing for the election,” said state Rep. Ryan Silvey, a Kansas City Republican and chairman of the House
Budget Committee.

And it may be even tougher this year because of all the ill will generated by the special session last year.
Although that session cost taxpayers nearly $300,000, lawmakers failed to accomplish their chief task, which was
passing a bill aimed at creating thousands of new jobs.

Hardball negotiations between the House and Senate resulted in an almost complete breakdown in relations
between Republican leaders of both chambers. In October, House Speaker Steve Tilley insisted that he had been
lied to by Sen. Rob Mayer, the Senate president pro tem.

Mayer, in turn, accused House leaders of doing the bidding of deep-pocketed developers eager to hang onto a
pair of costly tax-credit programs. All this came after the two had toured the state during the summer to
announce a breakthrough deal.

“I don’t like going down to Jefferson City and wasting our time,” said state Sen. Will Kraus, a Lee’s Summit
Republican.

Legislative leaders now insist that they have patched things up. In fact, Tilley and Mayer recently had dinner to
lay plans for 2012.

“I don’t think he holds any ill will,” Mayer said. “I’m putting behind me what happened.”

Leaders said they plan to begin the session by passing several bills that both chambers can quickly agree on,
including reforms to the state’s workers’ compensation system for injured workers, and an effort to shore up the
beleaguered Second Injury Fund, which covers certain workplace injuries that aggravate pre-existing conditions.

The goal, they said, is to get some of the bad blood behind them.

In March, Attorney General Chris Koster began withholding payments on new disability awards to stave off
Second Injury Fund insolvency.
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“We’re going to move a few priorities quickly,” said Rep. Tim Jones, a Eureka Republican and House majority
leader. “This way, in the last few weeks of the session when things get tense, we can say we’ve already
accomplished those priorities.”

Budget woes

The new session could well be dominated by a single concern — the state budget.

The next spending plan is thought to be $400 million to $900 million underwater, which will require another
round of intensive budget cutting.

That so much more must be cut after hundreds of millions have been slashed in recent years is due to the drying
up of federal stimulus dollars that have propped up the state in recent years, and the soaring costs of such
programs as Medicaid, the health-care program for the poor.

“That program is growing so fast that it’s outpacing our growth from the economy,” Silvey said.

One other factor: With the state’s jobless rate hovering around 9 percent for much of the year, those
unemployed workers are paying far less sales tax than they would if they held jobs. That’s held state revenue
down, Silvey said.

State revenue is expected to grow 3.9 percent in the next fiscal year. According to estimates, the state
anticipates about $7.6 billion in revenue for the 2013 fiscal year.

Members of both parties said they were committed to staving off cuts to public schools. State leaders have kept
funding for education steady in recent years, but it has not seen increases.

“We’ll have to work our butts off to make cuts elsewhere,” said Rep. Myron Neth, a Liberty Republican.

Silvey’s Budget Committee managed a series of unanimous, or near-unanimous, votes last year when it faced a
similar $700 million budget hole. But that type of unity in an election year could be tougher to achieve, he said.

“The way I see it, everybody understands that we have a major problem,” Silvey said. “The voters understand it.
Members of the legislature understand it. I think the people expect and the people deserve for us to sit down as
adults and solve the major problems facing the state. I’m hopeful we can do that.”

Kansas City schools

Perhaps the most pressing issue for Kansas City-area lawmakers will be what to do — if anything — about the
Kansas City Public Schools, which are slated to lose their state accreditation today. St. Louis’ district also is
operating without accreditation.

In Kansas City, controversy already is brewing. Mayor Sly James has said he wants to assume control of the
district. But some lawmakers, including Sen. Victor Callahan, an Independence Democrat and Senate minority
leader, don’t want to go in that direction. Callahan said mayoral takeovers in other cities have been plagued with
problems.

“It has not been a magic bullet,” Callahan said.
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But James has vowed to push ahead, believing that the best way to retain some semblance of local control is for
him to assume responsibility for the district’s day-to-day operations. Under his plan, the elected school board
would be eliminated.

Lawmakers have any number of options, including allowing for an eventual state takeover, creating some form of
mayoral oversight, or allowing adjoining districts to assume administrative duties. Yet another option is
abolishing the district and parceling out students to neighboring school districts.

“It’s all over the board,” Neth said of the options on the table.

Lawmakers already are engaged in conversations with Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro. In
November, Nicastro delivered a draft resolution calling for members of the Kansas City School Board to step
down on Jan. 1. Since then, James has floated the idea of having his office assume responsibility for the district.
Nicastro has since said she wants more time to study the situation.

Silvey said lawmakers also are discussing the impact of court rulings that school districts around the state must
accept students from unaccredited districts who are seeking transfers. The ruling said unaccredited districts must
pay tuition to cover education costs for the transferring student.

But officials in some nearby districts insist they’re at capacity and can’t absorb large numbers of Kansas City
students. Lawmakers are looking at what obligations those districts should have.

“We need to be on the same page as to what we want to see done,” Rep. Mike Talboy, a Kansas City Democrat
and House minority leader, said of Kansas City’s delegation.

Job creation

Even though last fall’s special session aimed at job creation was largely unsuccessful, Nixon is vowing to return
this year with another jobs package — this one aimed at Missouri’s automotive industry.

Last fall, Ford Motor Co. unveiled a $1.1 billion plan to add a second manufacturing line this year at its Claycomo
plant. The investment is expected to result in 1,600 new jobs.

GM, meantime, has announced a $380 million investment that will result in 1,850 jobs at its assembly plant in
Wentzville, west of St. Louis.

Nixon wants to capitalize on that progress.

“As Ford and GM both make historic investments in Missouri and create thousands of automotive manufacturing
jobs, we also want to use this landmark opportunity to expand Missouri’s auto supplier network,” Nixon
spokesman Sam Murphy said.

“We’ll be looking at a number of tools to create jobs by attracting new suppliers to the state, helping existing
Missouri suppliers expand, and ensuring that those suppliers have access to a highly trained workforce.”

Legislative leaders appear to be shying away from revisiting last fall’s job package, including the creation of an air
cargo hub at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. But they may address individual components of that
package, including a plan to attract computer data centers to Missouri, some of which might locate in Kansas
City.
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Mayer said plans to cap and cut spending in the state’s two largest tax-credit programs for low-income housing
and historic preservation almost certainly will be considered. But he said prospects for any change remained
unclear.

Labor issues

Republicans are pushing two ideas they contend would boost job growth: prevailing wage and right-to-work
legislation.

Right-to-work states, such as Kansas, prohibit union membership as a condition of employment. Prevailing wage
laws are designed to ensure that both union and non-union contractors have a fair shot at obtaining contracts.

State Rep. Bill Lant, a Joplin Republican, has filed a bill that seeks to exempt areas of the state that have been
declared disaster areas from prevailing wage laws. The proposal is backed by several Republicans, including Lt.
Gov. Peter Kinder.

But labor supporters said those Republicans are playing politics with disaster recovery.

Last year, lawmakers briefly considered right-to-work legislation, but it died. This year, Mayer said it’s bound to
come up again.

“If we really want to do something to help Missouri and grow our manufacturing base and grow a large amount
of revenue, we’re going to have to do something different,” Mayer argued. “It’s healthy to have the discussion.”

Many Democrats, however, stand solidly against any changes to labor laws. They maintain that the GOP’s
interest in raising the issue is about ginning up enthusiasm among Republican voters in an election year.

“It’s a flawed idea right from the onset,” Talboy said. “Right-to-work has been shown to be nothing more than
just a way to bust a union. It’s a wedge issue akin to gay marriage.”
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John Britton, lobbyist's lobbyist, is back to work again
By Virginia Young, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


JEFFERSON CITY • John Britton came to the Missouri Capitol to start a lobbying career more than a half-century
ago. He has been walking the marble halls ever since, building a reputation as one of the most influential figures
in Jefferson City.

Just ask those who have tried for decades to raise beer taxes. Or those who want Missouri to join the 39 states
that prohibit open containers of alcoholic beverages in cars. Or those who have fought for years for statewide
restrictions on smoking in public places.

All point to Britton, the chain-smoking lobbyist for Anheuser-Busch InBev, as the main reason for their defeats. In
one such testament, Michael Boland, a volunteer lobbyist for nearly 20 years for Mothers Against Drunk Driving,
was ready to rejoice when contacted for an interview about Britton. Boland hoped Britton was retiring "and we
could finally get some legislation passed."

But Britton, 86, is not retiring.

He has survived and thrived through Republican and Democratic administrations, an explosion in the number of
the lobbyists, innumerable legislators' departures, technological change and a historic shift in partisan control of
the Legislature.

During the legislative session that begins this week, he'll be back in his usual spot on the Capitol's third floor,
buttonholing legislators who weren't born when he began manipulating the gears of government.

With his custom suits, an ever-present cigarette dangling from his mouth and the ability to supply a case of beer
when a legislator asks, Britton fits the image of a glad-handing, well-heeled lobbyist.

Not only has he long carried the banner for liquor and tobacco interests, he was also the force behind the 1991
law that led to legalized riverboat gambling.

But beyond the caricature, Britton personifies the nuts and bolts of the influence business: He puts in marathon
hours, cultivates personal relationships and knows his issues.

His detractors say he is a leading example of the outsize influence lobbyists have. And, they contend, he has
played a key role in squashing opportunities to improve public health and safety.

Britton argues that he has defended individual liberties and tried to keep government from overreaching.

"How an individual lives his life is up to that individual, as long as he's within the boundaries of civilized conduct,"
he said. "And there's nothing sinister in somebody drinking or smoking or bouncing rubber balls against the
courthouse walls."
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GAINING INFLUENCE

Britton, an East Coast native, ex-Army paratrooper and 1949 Harvard graduate, came to sleepy Jefferson City to
take a job lobbying for an association of road-paving companies. He moved here with his family — he has five
children and four stepchildren — in 1957.

Several years later, he made the connection that would catapult him into lobbying prominence — he took a job
writing speeches for then-Attorney General Thomas Eagleton.

Eagleton's father was the lawyer for beer baron August A. "Gussie" Busch Jr. In 1964, Busch needed a new
lobbyist. Tom Eagleton recommended Britton.

Britton is a recovering alcoholic. He quit drinking in 1958 and still goes to two Alcoholics Anonymous meetings a
week.

He recalls when Eagleton asked if he wanted the brewery job. "I said, 'God, yes. But Tom, you know I don't drink.'
(Eagleton) said, 'Who cares? You're not going there to prove how much beer you can drink.'"

Britton met with Gussie Busch, who bummed a cigarette and offered him a paycheck on the spot.

Having the brewery as a flagship client opened doors. Britton represented the Tobacco Institute — an umbrella
group of the country's big tobacco companies — until it was disbanded as part of a court settlement in 1998.

He still lobbies for corporate heavyweights such as Enterprise Holdings Inc. and Express Scripts, as well as
nonprofits such as the Missouri Historical Society and the St. Louis Zoo.

His far-flung clients include the movie industry, public television stations, beer wholesalers, life insurance
underwriters, electric cooperatives, title companies, and the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Co.

"I don't think they stick with him because of loyalty," said lobbyist and former legislator Jewell Patek. "They stick
with him because he gets results."

GETTING THINGS DONE

Britton often works six or seven days a week, though on Sundays he drops by his office — a renovated house
several blocks from the Capitol — mainly to feed the four cats.

He splits the workload with three associates, including longtime business partner Jennifer Durham. Usually
operating behind the scenes, they seek sponsors and friendly committees for bills they support and line up
opposition and killer amendments for bills they oppose.

Britton does his work quietly, stopping by the offices of legislators. He doesn't text or tweet, though he does
have a cellphone and is adjusting to email. He counts votes the old-fashioned way, on a paper scoresheet.
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"It's not like he's carrying around an iPad or a laptop," said Gordon Reel, assistant vice president for
governmental and public affairs at Enterprise, the Clayton-based rental car firm. "But at the end of the day, he
gets the job done. He knows how to read people."

Lobbyist Bill Gamble, who has one of the longest client lists in the Capitol, learned the trade from Britton when
Gamble worked for him from 1977 until 1984.

"He teaches you what I call blue-collar lobbying," Gamble said, "and that's to talk to people on the committee,
whether they're Republicans or Democrats or freshmen or senior members. That's the way you're able to come
up with the problems or questions, if there are any. You don't just count on one or two people."

Another Britton mantra: Never assume anything. Once, Gamble neglected to line up a legislator to second a
motion to advance a bill. He told Britton he thought the co-sponsor would.

Britton caustically replied: "I don't pay you to think, and don't ever assume anything," Gamble recalls.

That sarcastic, intimidating style is vintage Britton.

Gov. Jay Nixon used to call Britton "the last of the attack lobbyists," recalls Chuck Hatfield, who worked for Nixon
when he was attorney general.

"Lobbyists now try to ingratiate themselves with legislators," Hatfield said. "But John, he didn't care if he pissed
you off. He wasn't afraid to really lay it out there and tell you that your idea was stupid."

Britton made one of his memorable statements years ago, when he championed Anheuser-Busch's opposition to
an open-container law. His remarks were included in "Under the Influence," a book about the Busch family by
former Post-Dispatch reporters Peter Hernon and Terry Ganey.

According to the book, Britton said the presence of alcohol wasn't the problem. "The real problem was the fact
that the driver's hand is wrapped around a beer can instead of the steering wheel. In that context, a peanut
butter sandwich was just as dangerous as a beer, Britton argued."

Britton said the analogy wasn't planned; it just slipped out.

"That was my famous peanut butter case — or infamous," he quips.

Usually, Britton spices his testimony with more highbrow material, using his humanities and philosophy
background to quote Beowulf or Descartes, Lincoln or Shakespeare.

"Just the fact that he'd quote Shakespeare for 90 percent of his testimony and not talk about the bill at hand —
and the bill would never get out of committee — was kind of impressive," said Patek, recalling his reaction as a
young House member. "You knew that he knew what was going to happen."
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It also helped to have the House leadership dine at his home every Monday night, as he did in the late 1970s; or
have a Senate Public Health Committee chairwoman's son on his lobbying payroll, as he did in the mid-1990s; or
have Cardinals tickets to hand out, as he did until the brewery sold the baseball team in 1995.

He was so tight with the Senate's leadership in 1995 that after smoking was banned in Capitol corridors, the
Senate passed a resolution declaring whatever area Britton inhabited on that side of the building a smoking zone.
Senators said it was meant as a joke.

LEGACY DEBATED

In the old days, Britton set the record for spending on food and drink for legislators. In 1969, the Post-Dispatch
reported that Britton spent "over $10,000 — more than any other lobbyist."

One of his favorite photos, hanging in his office, shows a trio of former senators enjoying such an outing. It
pictures J.B. "Jet" Banks of St. Louis, the first African-American majority leader; Clifford Jones of Ladue, a silk-
stocking conservative; and John Downs of St. Joseph, a staunch civil libertarian.

Before term limits took effect, Britton said, legislators with opposing views had more time to build relationships
and find common ground.

"There was a camaraderie," Britton said. "I miss that."

Britton no longer does much wining and dining. His wife, who used to cook gourmet meals for legislators, died
last summer. Last legislative session, Britton spent $3,446, most of it for a party the brewery threw in April for
the entire Legislature.

These days, when he takes legislators out, Britton shuns "white tablecloth" places. He likes to host a small band
of freshman Democrats, such as Steve Webber of Columbia and Jacob Hummel of St. Louis, at a down-home
restaurant in nearby Apache Flats. In addition to saving money, he avoids Jefferson City's ban on restaurant
smoking.

Because of his lobbying reputation, Britton gets credit — or blame — for the Legislature's perennial shelving of
legislation to make public places in Missouri smoke-free.

"He's been the major reason" that legislators balk at the bills, said Martin Pion, whose group, Missouri GASP, has
warned of the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Critics like Pion say Britton's legacy is a state that has neglected public health. Take the failed 1997 push to
increase taxes by about a penny for every 12 ounces of beer to fund prevention and treatment of alcohol abuse.

"A penny a drink was never going to affect the profits of Mr. Britton's clients, but it would help to prevent drunk
driving," said Boland, the volunteer for MADD.

Britton says he's proud of keeping Missouri's excise tax on beer the second-lowest in the nation, as well as
abolishing the state's blue laws and getting rid of the law making public intoxication a crime.
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He's also proud that Missouri doesn't have a primary seat-belt law. Only if you're picked up for another offense
can you be cited for failing to wear a seat belt. Britton himself doesn't wear one.

Britton vows to keep fighting his battles as long as he's physically able. He has no plans to retire.

"Contrary to popular belief, I am not a rich man," he said. Then he tallies his Social Security and veterans checks
and concludes that maybe he could scrape by. But there's one problem.

"I don't know what the hell I'd do with myself."
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McCaskill touts watchdog role in re-election bid
By David A. Lieb, Associated Press, Southeast Missourian


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill sums up her five years as a Democratic senator from
Missouri with one word: watchdog. She uses another to describe her 2012 re-election campaign: underdog.

McCaskill, who has survived several decades in politics as a lawmaker, prosecutor and auditor, is heading into a
challenging campaign year against an economic headwind that may imperil incumbents - particularly those linked
to a still unpopular president in an unpredictable swing state such as Missouri. Her hopes for victory may hinge
on her ability to persuade voters that she has served as their government watchdog in Washington, D.C.

"I think if they look at the work product, they will see that I have been tenacious and aggressive and sometimes
been lonely in terms of positions I've taken on some of this stuff," McCaskill told The Associated Press.

Three candidates - U.S. Rep. Todd Akin of suburban St. Louis, former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman of Rolla, and
St. Louis area businessman John Brunner - are competing in a GOP primary for the right to take on McCaskill in
the November general elections.

The U.S. Senate race, which early opinion polls suggest will be close, will top a full Missouri ballot that also
features Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's re-election bid, races for four other statewide executive offices and
contests for newly redrawn districts for the U.S. Congress and the state Legislature. At the bottom of the ballot
are likely to be several contentious questions, such as whether Missourians can be required to show a photo ID
at the polls. And, of course, Missouri figures to again be in play for President Barack Obama's re-election bid
against a still-to-be-determined Republican challenger.

McCaskill was one of the first sitting senators to endorse Obama's presidential campaign in 2008. She also has
supported two of his most high-profile policy initiatives - the 2009 stimulus act and the 2010 health care
overhaul. Although Obama narrowly lost Missouri in 2008 and has remained generally unpopular in the state,
McCaskill says she has personally asked him to campaign with her in Missouri and has no plans to turn her back
on a president she still considers a friend.

McCaskill's Republican challengers - who she says all "qualify as extreme voices" - have eagerly highlighted her
ties to Obama. Brunner, who is pouring his own money into his campaign, already has been running ads stressing
the Obama-McCaskill connection.

Republicans also already are going right at McCaskill's perceived strength, challenging her claims as a crusader
for good government and a protector of taxpayer money. They highlight her support for Obama initiatives like
the stimulus which have driven up the deficit.

When McCaskill claimed victory in December for banishing spending earmarks from a Department of Defense
bill, the Missouri Republican Party quickly responded with a pre-Christmas Internet video characterizing her as
"Chameleon Claire" for having supported bills containing spending earmarks in the past.
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"After voting for thousands of earmarks that cost taxpayers billions of dollars, Claire McCaskill now claims she
wants to ban them. Her hypocrisy proves once again that Missourians simply cannot trust Chameleon Claire,"
Lloyd Smith, executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, said in one of several similar news releases
targeting the senator.

McCaskill explained that, yes, she has voted for federal spending bills that contained earmarks although she has
consistently spoken against them since she first ran for Senate in 2006. To vote against an entire defense or
agriculture funding bill would have been counterproductive, she said, and could have led to Republican criticism
that she didn't support farmers, pay raises for the military or a variety of other worthwhile items in the bills.

"I decided I was going to crusade against the process of earmarking, but I wasn't going to sit out my entire Senate
career by refusing to vote on anything that had one," McCaskill said.

McCaskill emphasizes that she is no newcomer in the push for government accountability and frugality. She
rattles off a list of achievements. As a freshman in 2007, she co-sponsored the creation of the independent
Commission on Wartime Contracting to investigate how money was being spent in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2008,
she co-sponsored a measure that strengthened the role of inspectors general in federal agencies. In 2009, she
became chairman of the new Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, a perch she has used to target the
contracting preferences given to Alaskan Native companies. Last year, McCaskill's committee held hearings on
alleged contract mismanagement at Arlington National Cemetery.

Political science professor Dave Robertson, of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, figures McCaskill and her
eventual Republican opponent both will enter the general election campaign with about 45 percent support.
That leaves a swing vote of about 10 percent, which Robertson said more than likely will be swayed by national
economic trends or some unforeseen event before Election Day.

If unemployment is high, consumer confidence is low and the economy is a disaster come fall, it's going to be
very hard for McCaskill to win, Robertson said. But if the economy remains merely murky, and Obama's
popularity hasn't tanked, McCaskill's emphasis on her role as a government watchdog could make a difference.

"It's a good strategy," Robertson said. "Harry Truman did this kind of stuff when he was a senator. I think it goes
over fairly well with people in Missouri."
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Lawmakers note importance of tourism
By Susan Redden, Joplin Globe

JOPLIN, Mo. — State Rep. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City, has said he’ll move to stay in his legislative district, after
boundaries were shifted in recently announced legislative redistricting.

A hurdle to that effort has been cleared, Davis said at a gathering Friday in Carthage.

The legislative redistricting plan put Davis in the same district as Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, the most senior
among the local delegation in the state House. Davis at the time said he would relocate to stay in his “old”
district, a move he said his family endorsed as long as the home was within the Webb City School District.

“We don’t know where we’re moving, but we’ve already had an offer on our house,” Davis said at a lunch
meeting at Broadview Country Club in Carthage.

He was one of a number of lawmakers who met with local officials involved in the tourism industry in Joplin and
Carthage. The gathering was organized by Wendi Douglas, executive director of the Carthage Convention and
Visitors Bureau. It included representatives of organizations involved in conventions and tourism in Carthage and
Joplin, along with Katie Danner, director of the Missouri Division of Tourism.

Representatives of U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt and U.S. Rep. Billy Long also were present, and Danner praised Blunt’s
leadership in promoting international tourism to the U.S.

Douglas noted that the session was the second that has been organized to strengthen communication between
lawmakers and members of organizations that promote the area to visitors.

State Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, told the group that he had pre-filed a bill aimed at attracting more amateur
sports to the state. Richard, who has been active in promoting economic development measures, said Senate Bill
584 is designed to attract events such as the NCAA basketball tournament and other college championships to
the state. The bill would allow cities to capture a portion of revenue from a sporting event and then use that
money as tax credits to provide incentives to attract other major sports events to the city.

“These events attract attention to our state, and they’re a huge economic boost to our tourism industry,” Richard
said. “The fans that come to watch these events spend money, and that’s revenue our state could miss out on.”

Other states such as Texas and Kentucky offer sports incentives. Richard said his legislation would help Kansas
City and St. Louis, which have long worked to attract major sports tournaments, and also would extend to areas
such as Joplin and Springfield, which also serve as hosts for large amateur sports events.

Richard said lawmakers from Southwest Missouri frequently work together on legislation, adding, “We have
common-sense, Southwest Missouri ideas, and we have an influence.”
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State Reps. Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho, and Bill Lant, R-Joplin, noted tourism promotion programs in Newton and
McDonald counties, and the importance of visitors who come to the region to camp, canoe or visit local
landmarks.

Flanigan said local lawmakers always have been accessible to those involved in tourism, while also focusing on
local government and economic development issues in the region.

“We all work together on those sorts of things, and that will continue,” he said.
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State bill would let MSU lease property without
approval
By Didi Tang, Springfield News-Leader

Sometimes, legislation is about undoing instead of doing.

State Sen. Bob Dixon, R.-Springfield, has prefiled a bill for the 2012 session that will exempt Missouri State
University from having to get state approval to lease university property.

The university's name was deleted from the exception list in the last minutes of the 2011 legislative session.

"We are trying to correct the unintended," Dixon said. "We are trying to restore the status quo."

Eric Jennings, chief of staff for Dixon's office, said a lawmaker intended to remove one university from the
exception list, but more state universities -- including MSU -- got deleted.

As a result, the law requires MSU to get state permission to lease its property. That has a direct impact on MSU's
Jordan Valley Innovation Center, Dixon said.

JVIC leases property to individual companies, which tap university resources in research and development
efforts.

MSU needs the flexibility to lease the space in JVIC, Dixon said.

It is important to support university ventures such as JVIC, because they help create jobs and promote economic
development, Dixon said.

"We are bringing entrepreneurship and innovation to the marketplace," Dixon said.

State lawmakers also should not micromanage day-to-day operations at state universities, Dixon said.

"With the new bill, we will be able to strike an appropriate balance between oversight and micromanaging. We
(lawmakers) should have oversight, but we can't micromanage all leases," Dixon said.

MSU Interim President Clif Smart told the university board about the bill during a regular meeting in December.

The bill is SB 562.
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Assistance, weatherization programs help residents in
winter
By Roger McKinney, Joplin Globe



JOPLIN, Mo. — With temperatures dropping, programs offered by the Economic Security Corp. of the Southwest
Area to help area residents with utility bills and to keep their homes warm are expected to be in high demand.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last week released more than $845 million to states to help
low-income households with their heating and home energy costs under the Low Income Home Energy
Assistance Program.

“Even as the economy shows signs of improvement, many Americans are struggling to make ends meet,” George
Sheldon, HHS acting assistant secretary for children and families, said in a news release. “We are making funds
available today to help vulnerable families and seniors pay their heating bills and stay warm during this holiday
season and into early 2012.”

Tammy Walker, community development director for the ESC, said last week that she wasn’t yet aware what
Missouri’s share would be, or how much of that the ESC would receive for the LIHEAP program in Jasper,
Newton, McDonald and Barton counties.

Walker said there are two programs under LIHEAP: Energy Assistance and the Energy Crisis Intervention Program.
Under both programs, eligibility is based on income.

The Energy Assistance program is a one-time payment toward the applicant’s primary heating bill, Walker said.
The Energy Crisis Intervention Program requires that applicants be in threat of a utility shut-off or have no
service. It provides up to $800 toward the applicant’s primary and secondary heat sources.

Both programs started Oct. 1 and run to March 31. Walker said she has received 4,536 applications for the
Energy Assistance program. The program from Oct. 1, 2010, to March 31, 2011, served 7,200 households in the
four counties.

The Energy Crisis Intervention Program since Oct. 1 already has served 1,587 households, Walker said.

A separate but related program is Economic Security’s weatherization program. Walker said many applicants for
the Energy Assistance program are referred to the weatherization program.

“Once a home is weatherized, the fuel consumption goes down and they may not need to apply for assistance,”
Walker said.

Ryan Peterson, weatherization program director for the ESC, said the program now is finishing houses of
applicants who had applied under the federal stimulus program. A total of 799 homes have been weatherized
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under that program.

The regular program will have money to fund weatherization of about 60 houses through March, he said.

Weatherizing a home results in an energy savings of about 13 percent, Peterson said. He said those who have
applied for Energy Assistance have benefited from weatherization.

“If we can get their bills lowered a little bit, there’s a better chance they can afford their bills,” he said.

Peterson said the projects involve sealing around windows and doors, replacing wall insulation, and insulating
the floors, pipes and ductwork. If a furnace is determined to be unsafe, it may be repaired or replaced.
Sometimes water heaters are replaced. Light bulbs are replaced with compact fluorescent bulbs. Outlet switch
gaskets are installed.

“We do a lot of caulking,” he said.

People may call the ESC’s weatherization program at 417-781-4437 or visit the office at 1924 W. Fourth St.

Empire District Electric Co., Missouri Gas Energy, Crosslines Ministries and other utilities and charities work with
the ESC on the utility assistance and weatherization programs, Walker and Peterson said.
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Trying to avoid a sequel
By Andrew Gaug, St. Joseph News-Press

Entering 2011, Holt County was downcast after some flooding during the previous summer. In 2012, the county is
beaten and bruised, but getting some assistance.

Last summer’s flood put many counties in a bad place, relating to both farmland and finances, with none being
hit harder than Holt County. Looking to the future, both the county and U.S. Corps of Engineers are trying to
avoid a sequel.

With many of its levees still breached and finances tight, Holt County has experienced several victories it’s taking
into the future as means of optimism.

One of the main conflicts that County Clerk Kathy Kunkel discovered in 2011, which dated back to 2006, was the
accusation that the corps kept water reserves too high during the winter. Thus, water and snow runoff in areas
such as Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota caused record releases from the reservoirs, leading to floods in areas
such as Holt and Atchison counties.

Though an expert panel did not place the blame on the corps for the flood, it did say the corps kept dams too
high — to the point where they had no choice but release the water that eventually would destroy roads and
property through Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.

“We’ve been saying all along that the lakes are too full, they are too full to allow for above-average snow melt,”
Ms. Kunkel said.

With the passing of the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, which gives $800 million in federal funding to
repairing flooded farmland, an important component may change the way the corps looks at river levels.
Receiving criticism from officials, stating the corps kept river levels high to preserve wildlife such as the pallid
sturgeon, the study supporting that reasoning, known as the Missouri River Authorized Purposes Study and
Missouri River
Ecosystem Restoration Plan, will no longer receive funding.

Now, Ms. Kunkel said, the focus can return to what’s important — managing the river.

“We want them to return to flood control as the primary management, which means lowering the level in the
lakes to allow for above-average rain and snowmelt,” she said.

Jud Kneuvean, chief of emergency management for the corps, agreed that conversations need to continue to
discuss how to properly mantain river levels.

“It’s unfortunate, because when we don’t have a lot of flooding going in relatively dry years, we don’t always find
the opportunities to reach out to talk with one another,” he said. “I think this has taught us that we need to do
that on a regular basis.”
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With so much damage through the Midwest, Mr. Kneuvean said he’s not sure if the appropriated money will
cover repairs for all levees, though he did state all levees within the Corps’ districts will be covered.

And just as the winter has been unseasonably warm, Mr. Kneuvean can’t predict what the upcoming months will
bring. “It’s so variable, it could change tomorrow or the next day or the next month,” he said.

Meanwhile, Holt County, which saw a rise in sales tax revenues once highways were re-opened, hopes to see
people return and rebuild.


“We’re hopeful that as we go into the spring and the levees are being worked on and more construction work is
being done, people repairing houses and fixing things, that we’ll see an uptick,” Ms. Kunkel said.
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Post-disaster wages targeted in bills filed for 2012
session
By Susan Redden, Joplin Globe


JOPLIN, Mo. — A number of legislative proposals relating to the Joplin tornado have been pre-filed for the 2012
session of the Missouri General Assembly that begins Wednesday in Jefferson City.

The session will mark the second attempt for some of the bills. The 2011 term ended just before the EF-5
tornado struck on May 22. Several measures targeting primarily recovery issues were proposed, but did not pass,
during the special session that started in September.

Proposals aimed at suspending prevailing wage requirements for recovery projects in disaster areas have been
pre-filed in the House and Senate.

One sponsored by Rep. Bill White, R-Joplin, is aimed at the Missouri Housing Development Commission. The
commission in December did not approve a proposal to waive prevailing wage requirements for Joplin area
housing projects to be financed by tax credits via the commission.

White’s measure would bar the requirement that the prevailing wage be paid on MHDC projects in a declared
disaster area.

White also is sponsoring a measure that would ban prevailing wage requirements on school construction projects
in a disaster area — and a measure that would eliminate prevailing wage in the state.

After it did not advance in the special session, White again is sponsoring a bill that would remove disaster-
damaged commercial buildings from county tax rolls until they are rebuilt. Many Joplin area residents claimed
the tax break under a similar law that applies to residential properties.

Rep. Bill Lant, R-Joplin, is sponsor of a bill that would allow a school board to vote to exempt the district from
prevailing wage requirements on repair or rebuilding projects after a disaster.

Another prevailing wage bill is proposed in the Senate by Sen. Rob Mayer, R-Dexter. The measure would suspend
prevailing wage laws in areas declared by the governor to be disaster areas for five years after the declaration.

Lant and Rep. Terry Swinger, D-Caruthersville, both are sponsoring bills that would authorize a tax deduction for
the construction of storm shelters. In Lant’s bill, the shelter must be American-made.

A number of measures relating to elections or election requirements are among the more than 250 bills that
have been pre-filed by lawmakers.
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Proposed in the Senate are bills that would require residents to present photo identification to be allowed to
vote, require the joint election of the governor and lieutenant governor, modify voter registration laws,
designate the paper ballot as the official ballot, and create term limits for all statewide elected officials.

Among the House measures that have been pre-filed are proposals for constitutional amendments that would
restrict lawmakers in making changes to measures proposed as initiative petition and adopted by voters.

A bill has been submitted that would establish a commission that would determine the language on initiative
petitions. Another proposal calls for a constitutional amendment that would limit service in the General
Assembly to 24 years, and no more than 12 years in either the House or Senate.
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Springfield school district considers changes
By Claudette Riley, Springfield News-Leader


After months of research, the Springfield school district is close to naming the location of its first "community
school."

The elementary chosen to pilot the concept -- which provides access to an array of services for families through
the school building -- is expected to be announced in February.

Intense planning would follow during the spring. The pilot would start with the 2012-13 year.

A "balanced" calendar -- often referred to as year-round school -- would be studied for implementation the
following year.

"It changes the look of the school year to ensure the continuity of those services more evenly throughout the
year," said Christine Giddings, the district's specialist for choice and innovation.

The community school concept has been championed by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The crux is
greater access and coordination of services through the school building.

Associate Superintendent Ben Hackenwerth said the district has benefited from similar, collaborative approaches
in the past and will draw from those experiences to craft the pilot program.

"What we learned was bringing the agencies and social services together under one roof and then engaging
parents in a different way than we've done before seems to make the biggest impact in schools," he said. "The
idea is we help improve the entire community so they can better support the students in that particular
neighborhood. We'll spend a lot of time working with staff and parents and engaging parents."

He said the interest level has been high and the district is evaluating where it might be the best fit.

"We think it's something that if it's successful -- and we think it could be or we wouldn't be trying it -- it can be
replicated," he said.

Superintendent Norm Ridder said the concept meshes with the district's overall goals because if students' basic
needs are met, they have a greater capacity to learn.

"We are here to support families," he said.

The district has studied the way the concept was implemented in various locations from Tulsa, Okla., to
Evansville, Ind.

It is largely driven by the needs of a specific school, so the program can look different even within the same
district.
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"What's pretty consistent about the community school concept is that there is a person, a coordinator, that
works specifically with all the agencies that serve that site," Hackenwerth said.

"It's difficult for an elementary principal to do that on his or her own without any help."

The coordinator would serve as the point person for the agencies, families and school staff. They would also be
available to facilitate activities outside of the school day.

"It turns school into more of a community center open more on evenings and weekends," he said.

Hackenwerth said the district has not yet determined how much to spend on start-up costs.

He said the district may pull from Title I funding, which is designated to support low-income schools, or reallocate
existing resources. He said other districts have partnered with agencies to minimize the cost.

The specific design of the concept would be driven by the input of parents and staff at the chosen school, he said.

The biggest change could come with the 2013-14 year. That's the earliest the district would consider
implementing a "balanced" calendar in the pilot school.

Any decision to implement a modified calendar -- which typically replaces the long summer break with shorter
cycles of attendance throughout a year -- would be based on feedback from that school.

The district is looking at a change to the calendar so students can access resources all year.

It could also help prevent summer learning loss and build in extra time to help struggling students catch up.

"As we engage the staffs and communities, we will be discussing the possibility of that balanced calendar and try
to answer questions," he said.

"We think that the project can be a success even if the balanced calendar proves to be something we don't do."
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ACLU warns Mo. schools about religious speakers
By Heather Hollingsworth, Associated Press, Southeast Missourian

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- The American Civil Liberties Union has warned a northwest Missouri school district that
it is coming close to breaching the line of separation between church and state with some of the motivational
speakers it has arranged through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Emails obtained by the ACLU from the St. Joseph School District contain numerous religious references and
referred to a mother who complained about one speaker's preaching as "crazy."

The issue came to the ACLU's attention after former Chicago Bears team chaplain Ray McElroy, a former NFL
defensive back, made several presentations to district schools in October. The licensed minister describes himself
on his website as "a man of faith and family."

Doug Bonney, the legal director of the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri, said McElroy was one of several
speakers the district arranged with the help of the Kansas City-based Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The group
says on its website that it challenges coaches and athletes "to use the powerful medium of athletics to impact
the world for Jesus Christ." Other FCA speakers who have spoken to St. Joseph students include former NBA
player Adrian Branch.

The ACLU said the district risked violating the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, which bars the
government from endorsing religion.

Stephen Briggs, the school district's attorney, said in a statement that the district has followed the law and its
policies regarding motivational speakers and reviewed them with the person responsible for booking assemblies.

"In addition, the District will remind those individuals that their personal faith cannot interfere with the
fulfillment of their job duties," Briggs wrote, adding that the district has received just one complaint about an
FCA speaker. He also apologized for the characterization of that parent as crazy, saying it was "inappropriate."

Wes Simmons of the Northwest Missouri Fellowship of Christian Athletes called the situation "unfortunate" and
said his group is "very deliberate not to cross any lines."

But the ACLU said in a letter to the district's attorney that the emails it obtained suggest there may be "a
religious motive for scheduling assemblies featuring religious presenters."

The ACLU noted that Cindy Crouse, the school district's coordinator of guidance and counseling, wrote in an
August email discussing how to pay for FCA assemblies that there is nothing "God can't tackle, so I will join you
on faith that we can raise the funds."

In an email to Simmons the following month, Crouse called the mother who complained about McElroy "crazy."
She concluded by stating, "Satan was at work today."
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Simmons responded, "This isn't the only seemingly spiritual attack we've received as of late ... must mean we're
threatening satan's kingdom!"

One of the ACLU's main concerns was that school events were used to promote religious events elsewhere. At
one or more of McElroy's assemblies, the ACLU said, students in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes club
distributed cards advertising a religious program called "Fields of Faith" that was presented at a St. Joseph
baseball stadium.

Email correspondence also shows that Crouse talked to the FCA about bringing another group called the Power
Team to St. Joseph schools for assemblies in December. That concerned the ACLU because the Power Team often
invites its school audiences to churches in the evening. The group's websites say it combines "feats of strength"
with "the life-changing message of the cross."

The December assemblies didn't happen, and the district's attorney told the ACLU that the Power Team isn't
scheduled to come to the district this academic year.

But the ACLU noted in its letter to the district's attorney that while there were still discussions about the group
appearing in St. Joseph schools, Crouse asked in an email whether area churches had plans for the group yet. She
also noted in an email to Simmons that she needed to know what the group would talk about.

"Thank you for understanding that I work in a public domain and I must follow the rules set forth by my supt.,"
Crouse wrote. "You know if it were up to me I'd preach the gospel every chance I had."

The ACLU's letter to the district's attorneys noted it's "theoretically possible that FCA-affiliated speakers could
present secular programs" but the district must exercise "heightened vigilance" to ensure they don't proselytize.

"The required level of vigilance," the ACLU wrote, "is often lacking."
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$8 million Missouri primary irrelevant in choosing
candidates
By Kelsey Ryan, Joplin Globe



Caucuses today in Iowa will launch the Republican presidential nomination season, but Missouri voters will wait
for more than a month — Feb. 7 — to weigh in on the candidates. The state’s presidential preference primary is
Feb. 7, and the Republican caucuses start March 17.

Even then, it appears that voters’ choices in a primary that will cost taxpayers $8 million will have little relevance.

National party rules dictate that only Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada can hold presidential
nominating contests before March 6. States that violate that rule have been threatened with the loss of half of
their delegates to the national conventions. Other penalties, such as fewer guest passes to the conventions, also
have been considered.

Missouri law mandates that a presidential primary be held. During the regular session in 2011, the General
Assembly passed legislation (Senate Bill 282) that called for moving the date of the presidential primary to March
to comply with the rules of the national Republican and Democratic parties.

Gov. Jay Nixon said he supported that change. But, the bill also contained provisions that would have eliminated
write-in candidates in many municipal elections and would have imposed costs for taxpayers to hold special
elections. Because of those additional provisions, Nixon vetoed the bill. So, the primary remains scheduled for
Feb. 7.

While state law sets up the primary, it does not say that the results must be used to assign delegates for
particular candidates. It says only that the results of the primary must be reported to the state parties. The
responsibility of selecting delegates to the national conventions is left up to the parties. That is to be done at
caucuses around the state, and ultimately at the parties’ district and state conventions.

County caucuses are scheduled for March 17. Participants will select delegates to the congressional district and
state conventions, where delegates will be chosen to attend the national conventions.

‘Merely symbolic’

The irrelevance of the presidential preference primary and the $8 million price tag for conducting it has local
Republican Party members encouraging voters to turn out for the March caucus.

“My biggest thought is that it’s a lot of money to spend for a straw poll,” said John Putnam, chairman of the
Jasper County Republican Central Committee. “We had to go back to the caucus system this year because of
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several things beyond our control. (The primary is) informative, but $8 million is too much to spend on the luxury
of a straw poll.”

Jordan Overstreet, executive director of the Southwest Missouri Democratic Coordinated Campaign, agreed.

“People in Missouri can probably find a better use for $8 million than for a primary that’s merely symbolic,” he
said.

Another factor is that not all of the Republican hopefuls will be on the primary ballot. Newt Gingrich, for
example, will not be listed. And, some who are on the ballot, such as Herman Cain, are no longer running.

Putnam said Cain had garnered strong support from the GOP in Jasper County, with more than 50 percent
backing him in the organization’s last straw poll, so he’s interested in seeing new trends in the organization’s
next poll.

The location of the Republican caucus for Jasper County has not yet been determined as officials are looking for
an auditorium large enough to handle what is expected to be a large turnout, Putnam said.

“We want people to stay alert for announced location of the caucus on March 17. That’s where they can really
influence the election more than the primary,” Putnam said.

The Jasper County Democratic caucus will be held March 29. The location has not yet been determined.

“Even though we have the incumbent president, it’s important to help engage people in the grass-roots
movement and get people actively involved in the presidential year,” Overstreet said. “The caucus as well helps
determine who is a delegate and who gets into the national convention and mobilize a base, so it still serves a
purpose.”

Two Stages

It’s important for people to understand that with presidential politics, it’s a two-stage election procedure, said
William Delehanty, assistant political science professor at Missouri Southern State University.

“Primaries and caucuses serve as ways for citizens to choose nominees who will run in the political process in
both parties, and to empower citizens about who will run in the second phase, which is the general election,” he
said. “Primaries serve as a mechanism for citizens to express their preferences for president, and they were
originally designed to remove the choices of the political party bosses and put that into the hands of citizens.”

Delehanty said caucuses are a variant of primaries, and that although Missouri’s presidential preference primary
is expensive, it’s still a mechanism to allow residents to express their views.

The Iowa caucuses get a lot of attention in election years, Delehanty said, because many think of Iowa as “a
microcosm of urban and rural interests.”

“Any one primary or caucus is not necessarily a good predictor of the ultimate winner or nominee because there
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are many primary states that candidates have to win,” he said. “The Iowa caucus has a history of producing
results of who is going to win each party, but it’s not a guarantee.

“I’m thinking at this point, it looks as if (Mitt) Romney will be the nominee for Republicans because he’s the most
articulate and is the candidate with the greatest likability.”

For the general election, Barack Obama is an incumbent president with a lot of money and resources, Delehanty
said.

“Obama might be able to win a second term depending on how powerful and strong the Republicans are,” he
said. “(Republicans) need to unify to show a united front against Obama. The unique thing about Romney is he
has the ability to pull independents away from Obama because he’s still perceived as moderate against some of
the other candidates who are running.”

Missouri

A total of 15 candidates have filed for U.S. president on the Feb. 7 primary ballot.

Democrats on the Missouri ballot are Barack Obama, Randall Terry, Darcy G. Richardson and John Wolfe.

Republican candidates are Gary Johnson, Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, Michael J. Meehan, Rick Perry, Keith
Drummond, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul. The Libertarian candidate on the
ballot is James Orland Ogle III. No candidate has filed from the Constitution Party.

Oklahoma

The Oklahoma presidential preference primary is scheduled for March 6 (Super Tuesday), with early voting on
March 2, 3 and 5.

Democrats who have filed for the primary are Barack Obama, Bob Ely, Randall Terry, Jim Rogers and Darcy G.
Richardson. Republicans who have filed are Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum,
Michele Bachmann and Jon Huntsman.

Kansas

Gov. Sam Brownback signed HB 2080, a bill that essentially eliminates the presidential preference primary until
2016. Republicans will caucus on March 10. To vote in the Kansas Republican caucus, voters must be registered
Republicans on or before Feb. 17.

Republican candidates who have filed in Kansas are Rick Perry, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Newt
Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann.

The Kansas Democratic caucus will be held April 14.
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Proposed changes to child labor laws could affect life
on the farm
By Rick Montgomery, Kansas City Star

Not long ago at church, a grown-up asked Adam Mershon, 11, if he planned on being a farmer like his dad,
granddad and great-granddad.

“I already am a farmer,” he replied.

For about as long as Adam can remember, he has been feeding cattle with his cousins on Grandpa Tom’s farm
near Buckner.

He’s been fixing fences. Delivering calves, up to his elbows. Years back, he’d climb on his father’s lap to steer the
tractor.

The Mershons call it a lifestyle they’d never trade.

The federal government calls it child labor that ought to be restricted.

If recent proposals from the U.S. Department of Labor become law, Adam may have to wait five years before he
can be paid to drive a tractor, climb more than six feet up a ladder or perform other farm jobs deemed
hazardous.

The proposed rules — the first to address youth labor in more than four decades — have stirred alarm and
confusion among family farms, where children have been pitching in since mankind’s earliest harvests.

Parents could still employ their sons and daughters under age 16 if the work is done outside school hours.
Unpaid help also would be exempt from regulation, which is good and bad news for Adam — who claims to enjoy
working for no more than “three hots, a cot and a roof over my head.”

He could continue doing jobs on his grandfather’s farm until he’s 16, under the government’s proposals, so long
as he’s working for free.

For farmers employing youngsters other than their own children — for example, their nephews and nieces,
grandchildren or kids under 16 — the proposals would plow over timeless traditions:

• Paid workers age 15 and younger would be barred from operating tractors, combines, ATVs and almost all
power-driven equipment, unless they obtain special certification.

• Youths under the age of 18 would not be allowed to work at grain elevators, silos, feed lots, livestock auctions
or in the transporting of raw farm materials.
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• Tobacco fields would be off-limits to workers under age 16 due to concerns about a problem called green-
tobacco sickness, caused by the exposure to nicotine.

• Children in both agricultural and non-farm work would be restricted from using personal electronic devices,
including walkie-talkies, while operating equipment.

Federal officials and workplace safety groups contend the rules are needed to protect youngsters engaged in one
of the most dangerous industries in the nation: The fatality rate for young agricultural workers is four times
greater than that of their peers employed off the farm. And young Hispanic workers who have trouble with the
English language make the work riskier, advocates argue.

“While we understand with some families there’s a history of having children work on the farm, that doesn’t
make it safe,” said Jeff Newman of the National Child Labor Committee, a non-governmental advocacy group
based in New York.

He said the rules would impose on family farms many of the same regulations that have applied to other work
sites since the early 1970s.

“The fact is, kids are at risk when driving a tractor,” Newman said. “I’ve been president of the NCLC since 1974,
and this has been a simmering issue since about that time.”

Now the issue is boiling over in Washington, where 32 U.S. senators — including all four from Missouri and
Kansas — have petitioned the Department of Labor to reconsider its proposals.

Missouri Republican Roy Blunt calls them a “ridiculous” threat to the future of family farming.

Senators Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican, and Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson penned a letter last month to
Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis challenging her department’s sweeping definition of “hazardous.” The senators
recommended that different levels of horsepower in tractors be taken into consideration.

Their letter also denounced as arbitrary the Labor Department’s attempt to prohibit young workers from
“engaging or assisting in animal husbandry practices that inflict pain upon the animal (or) result in unpredictable
animal behavior.”

The rules would not apply to children raising animals in projects sponsored by the 4-H or Future Farmers of
America, because those activities don’t pay children, a department official said.

Washington is simply missing the point, farm groups argue.

“Putting our children to work is not about the economics. It’s a social and cultural thing,” said Blake Hurst,
president of the Missouri Farm Bureau. “I tell you, this is how we train our kids to be productive people in life.

“The training I got when I was a boy was invaluable. I was doing a man’s work and I was treated like a man, and
that felt great.”
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Farm youngsters commonly drive tractors at age 10 or 11, having spent years in the cab’s buddy seat watching
their elders do it.

By age 15, wages often accompany the work.

“First and foremost in the minds of farmers is, of course, the safety of their families,” said Bill Spiegel, spokesman
for the Kansas Wheat Commission. “You don’t let your kids do dangerous things without all the best training you
can give them.

“This is the perfect example of Washington being really out of touch.”

For third-generation wheat grower Joe Kejr, the summertime harvest is an extended family affair.

His brothers and their kids join Kejr and his own. At 14 years of age, “my daughter Robyn was probably the best
cart operator we ever had,” Kejr said.

The Saline County clan breaks from the grain carts and John Deere combines to feast at picnic tables next to
Kejr’s fields.

The work and supper conversations “teach them how to give their best, which is what we need in this society,”
Kejr said. “If I hadn’t worked on the farm as a kid, really, what would I do with all my time?”

The harvest-time wages have allowed the younger Kejrs to save for college, he said. Son Josh is now pursuing a
career in agriculture at Kansas State University, giving Kejr hope that his farm will stay within the family.

In the United States, about 29 out of every 100,000 farm workers are killed on the job, but the death rates are
slightly lower for workers ages 15 to 24, according to the National Safety Council. Citing safety features on newer
equipment, the National Farm Medicine Center in Wisconsin reports that the childhood injury rate on farms fell
59 percent from 1998 to 2008.

Because of political opposition from farm-state representatives in Washington, the new proposals may yet be
abandoned, rewritten or debated for a couple of years before taking effect, safety advocates said.

“What is good about this is that it has opened an important dialogue. Hopefully, the Department of Labor will
listen to farmers” before outlawing valued traditions, said Shari Burgus, education director for the nonprofit
Farm Safety 4 Just Kids.

For 16-year-old David Mershon, Adam’s cousin, working the farm offers “a lot of life lessons — hard work, doing
things right the first time, all these things I bring into school every day.”

His brother Thomas Mershon, now a University of Missouri student, is back on the farm for winter break, boots
covered in mud. He said he would’ve felt slighted as a boy if told he was too little to haul hay bales or vaccinate a
calf.
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He called his farm upbringing “the single largest catalyst in my life.” And the wages he began earning at about 14
allowed Thomas Mershon to keep up with friends working fast-food or grocery jobs, if they worked at all.

Sitting around the oak table in Janet Mershon’s kitchen, the youths and Adam’s parents, Tim and Nikki Mershon,
report that not one of the kids missed a day of work due to injury.

Grandma Janet rapped her knuckles on the tabletop. “Knock on wood,” she said.
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Minimal changes to Pell Grant are met with relief
By Tim Barker, St. Louis Post-Dispatch



Recent federal budget debates routinely include threats about slashing higher education freebies. But in the
latest round of congressional compromising, the rhetoric produced only a few nibbles around the edges of
financial aid.

On campuses across the nation, there were fears of a wholesale reduction in the Pell Grant program that is the
single largest source of free money for low-income college students. More than one in four students receives one
of these grants, worth up to $5,550 a year.

While Congress left the maximum award intact for the 2012-13 school year, it did tinker with some of the rules
governing eligibility. And it is suspending a program that eliminated some of the interest charged on federal
student loans. Those relatively minor changes, along with a few others, have left financial aid experts relieved as
they enter the new year.

"I'm usually a person that's very skeptical, but this is not as bad as it could have been," said Faith Sandler,
executive director of the Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis. "I think they're fairly reasonable."

Congress needed to plug a $1.3 billion gap in the Pell program, which has been growing for more than a decade
as college enrollments have soared. There were 19.4 million applicants for the grants this year, compared with
9.5 million a decade earlier. Its annual price tag has risen from $10 billion in 2001 to an estimated $34.9 billion
this year, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Starting in July

Congress avoided an overall reduction by making a few changes expected to affect a smaller number of students
— though some of them severely.

Among the changes that start in July:

• Pell Grant eligibility was reduced from 18 semesters to 12 semesters, meaning that once students use a Pell
Grant for six years, they are cut off from additional funding. The measure is expected to affect 100,000 students
nationally.

• A six-month grace period on interest charged on federal student loans has been suspended, meaning that
interest will begin accumulating immediately after a student graduates. This will affect loans made between July
1, 2012, and June 30, 2014.

• There's a change in how aid is calculated for some low-income families.
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• Only those students with a high school diploma or GED certificate will be eligible for Pell Grants.

Few are complaining about the change in Pell eligibility. The general consensus among financial aid experts is
that students who don't earn a degree in six years are unlikely to do so in nine years. The change also may
eliminate some of the fraud attributed to so-called Pell runners, students who collect grant money with no
intention of getting a degree.

Still, some experts are concerned about the timing of the change and the fact that there is no grace period or
warning. Essentially, students who already have used six years worth of Pell Grants — double that number if the
student is half-time or less — will be cut off in the 2012-13 school year.

"It's as if you are on a train and someone starts tearing up the track before you can get to the station," said
Lauren Asher, president of the Institute for College Access and Success.

The group says African-American students will be disproportionately affected. They make up 24 percent of Pell
Grant recipients, but 41 percent of those who have received grants for more than six years, according to the
institute's analysis of financial aid data.

Asher also worries about the lack of exceptions for students who need considerable remedial course work. The
Pell Grant clock will start ticking for those students while they are taking classes that will never count toward a
college degree. Nor is there a provision to help students who change majors, or who have difficulty transferring
credits from a community college to a four-year school.

"This is a very abrupt shift that changes the rules," Asher said.

Calculating need

Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org, questions the change in the way the government calculates need for
students from low-income families. Under current rules, a family with an adjusted gross income of $30,000 or
less is not expected to contribute to a student's education costs. The new rule will reduce that figure to $23,000,
creating the potential for greater financial demands on families with income in the $23,000 to $30,000 range, he
said.

The net result, Kantrowitz says, is that students from that bracket — representing about 11 percent of Pell Grant
recipients — could see their Pell Grants drop by $1,100 to $1,500 a year.

"These are students who are poor. They need the money," Kantrowitz said. "That's the one change that may
have a serious impact on completion and graduation."

It's not known, at this moment, how many students will be affected by the new rule.

Rick Taphorn, financial aid director for Missouri Baptist University, said the school estimates that 125 students
could lose up to $1,500 from their Pell awards next year. For students already struggling to pay for school, it's the
sort of hit that could force them to drop out or switch to a community college, he said.
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And while Taphorn and others are happy to see the Pell Grant escape this year relatively unscathed, they wonder
how much longer that can go on.

Along with these changes, the government already has decided to end this summer a program that offered
subsidized loans to graduate students with need. They were able to defer interest on a portion of their loans until
after graduation.

The problem, Taphorn said, is that the government is running out of things to trim in its effort to save the Pell.

"How long before you finally have to start cutting it?" Taphorn said.
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Road funds at risk in some states over safety rule
By David A. Lieb, Associated Press, Southeast Missourian



JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Stuck in a financial pothole, Missouri's highway department has been selling
equipment and eliminating employees to scrounge up enough money to repair its roads. Unless it also changes
state law, it could lose tens of millions of federal highway dollars as a penalty for not adopting new safety
requirements for commercial truck drivers.

Though Missouri's financial predicament may be extreme, it is far from unique. Approximately one-third of states
have indicated they may not meet a Jan. 30 deadline for their drivers' license offices to require interstate truck
drivers to provide proof from a medical professional that they are healthy enough to drive, according to the
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

States that fail to comply with the federal mandate could lose 5 percent of their highway funds - about $30
million in Missouri's case. If they remain out of compliance for a second year, that penalty doubles. But
noncompliant states could receive a grace period; as long as they submit a plan to obey the mandate, federal
officials have indicated they may not start deducting money until 2014.

The federal agency declined to provide a list of the states in jeopardy of missing the deadline. But Missouri's
plight was confirmed by state officials and documents obtained by The Associated Press through an open-records
request. Officials in several other states, including Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma, also confirmed to the AP that
they will not be able to fully implement the federal requirement by the deadline.

"It's hard enough to keep our roads in good condition, and this is going to make it more difficult," said Missouri
state Rep. Eric Burlison, a Republican who unsuccessfully sought to bring Missouri in line with the federal
requirements.

The federal government already requires interstate truck drivers to get a medical OK from a doctor. Drivers
currently carry around their medical certification cards in case stopped by a police officer or inspector. Under the
federal requirement that kicks in Jan. 30, truck drivers are to begin submitting their medical approval forms to
state licensing offices, which are to enter the information in a nationwide database that also tracks things such as
invalid licenses and driving violations.

"Its whole purpose is just to make sure that the drivers on the road are safe," said Claire O'Brien, a spokeswoman
for the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.

Adding truckers' medical status to the database was supposed to relieve them of the duty to carry medical cards.
But because some states have been slow to implement the requirement, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Administration plans to continue the card-carrying requirement until Jan. 30, 2014.
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Some states have had trouble meeting the technological standards needed submit truckers' medical
certifications into the nationwide database. Colorado, for example, plans to require truck drivers to submit the
medical forms to the licensing bureau beginning Jan. 30 but doesn't expect to be able to enter the information
into the database until mid-summer, said Mark Couch, a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Revenue.
The Kansas Department of Revenue said it could be a few months after the deadline before its computers are
capable of meeting the federal requirement.

"We already have information up on our website explaining the information they're going to need to bring in, we
just don't have a date to begin processing," said Jeannine Koranda, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department
of Revenue.

Other states still must change their laws to comply with the federal requirement.

Oklahoma, for example, needs to amend its law to disqualify truck drivers who fail to provide medical certificates
to the state. But a wide-ranging bill that included the necessary changes was derailed this past year in the
Oklahoma Senate. And the Legislature does not reconvene until early February, just after the federal deadline.

Oklahoma could lose nearly $20 million if it's not in compliance with the new requirement, said Mike Patterson,
deputy director of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

"We're concerned, yes, but we have all the confidence that the Department of Public Safety will be able to get all
the proper certifications in place, as they have in the past, to secure the federal funding," Patterson said.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a bill that would have complied with the federal licensing requirements, because
he objected to an unrelated provision that could have allowed more electronic billboards along state highways.
Emails between the Missouri governor's office and the state highway department show Nixon's staff knew of Jan.
30 deadline and had been told by department personnel that a waiver was unlikely.

In August, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sent Missouri a letter saying states in violation of the
medical certification requirements for truck drivers as of Feb. 1 will have to submit a plan demonstrating "an
earnest intent to gain full compliance" on an acceptable timeline or else federal funds could be withheld
beginning Oct. 1, 2014.

Yet legislators failed to rally the two-thirds majority needed to override Nixon's veto during a September session.
And Nixon didn't include the commercial driver's license requirements on the agenda for an autumn special
session. The Missouri Department of Transportation says legislation needed to comply with the federal mandate
will be one of its top goals for a legislative session that starts Jan. 4.

It's important not only to avoid a financial hit but to protect the traveling public, said department director Kevin
Keith.

If some states get their federal highway funding docked, it won't be the first time they have been penalized for
not complying with federal highway safety standards.
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Records from the U.S. Department of Transportation show 15 states didn't comply with the federal government's
minimum penalties for drunken driving in 2011, and 11 states failed to follow federal guidelines to prohibit open-
containers of alcohol in vehicles. As a result, those states had more than $350 million transferred from their road
construction funds to highway safety efforts.

Missouri, which had about $40 million transferred, was one of just four states - along with Alaska, Louisiana and
Wyoming - that were out of compliance with both requirements.

Missouri state Sen. Bill Stouffer, a Republican who is chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee,
complained "it's not fair and it's not right" that the federal government keeps chipping away at road construction
funding with financially linked mandates. Although tougher open-container laws have repeatedly been
filibustered in Missouri, the changes needed to comply with federal standards on drunken driving sentences and
commercial driver's licenses have not been controversial. They just haven't been enacted.

"It's not a reluctance to get it fixed," Stouffer said. "It's just been on a bigger bill that failed. It's been the victim of
the process."
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Trucker cell phone rules raise doubts
By Greg Kozol, St. Joseph News-Press

Commercial truck drivers will ring in the New Year without their mobile phones.

New federal rules take effect today that prohibit the use of a mobile phone in many instances while driving a
commercial truck. The rules are intended to increase safety on highways, but some truckers worry about
unintended consequences.

Federal and state regulators describe the rules as a reasonable attempt to keep the drivers of large trucks from
becoming distracted. The prohibition on both dialing and texting applies to commercial trucks with a gross
weight of more than 10,000 pounds.

“It’s about safety,” Jan Skouby, the Missouri Department of Transportation’s motor carrier services director, said
in a podcast discussing the new rules. “Research shows us that using a hand-held phone poses a higher safety
risk.”

Rick Kamler said the rules are well-intentioned, especially in the attempt to ban texting while driving, but he
believes motorists could face new risks. He fears that commercial truckers will need to pull over to the side of the
highway in order to communicate with a dispatch center, which poses a dangerous scenario when those large
trucks slowly merge back into traffic.

“I don’t think they considered the danger,” Mr. Kamler, president of R&W Tow and Recovery, told the News-
Press. “These vehicles have to be able to communicate. I do think it’s going to be a double-edged sword.”

The 12 trucks in Mr. Kamler’s towing company need to comply with the rules. He estimates he’ll spend up to
$5,000 to fit the vehicles with wireless Bluetooth technology that will allow his drivers to communicate without
violating the rules.

The rules prohibit drivers from reaching for, holding or dialing a mobile phone in a moving vehicle, but an
exception is allowed for a hands-free mobile device or headset. A driver is authorized to use a speed dial button
to dial on a hands-free phone while the vehicle is moving.

The rule applies to both trucks and large school buses.

Ms. Skouby said violation of the rules can result in fines against a driver’s company, or, eventually, the loss of a
commercial driver’s license. “The idea is to keep drivers’ eyes on the road as much as possible,” she said.

Mr. Kamler said he understands the intent but isn’t sure the rule will do much to make the roads safer. He recalls
responding to a serious accident in Kansas involving a driver who was texting.
That driver, he notes, was not a trucker but a young woman in a private vehicle.
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Former Sikeston mayor to run for 148th House seat as
'Reagan-style' Republican
By Scott Moyers, Southeast Missourian

SIKESTON, Mo. -- From Capitol Hill to Sikeston City Hall, Josh Bill has worked in various levels of government.

Now, the former Sikeston mayor hopes voters will give him the opportunity to serve once more -- this time in
Missouri's House of Representatives in the new 148th District.

And his political leanings, he said, involve less government, not more.

"What I want from state government is a fair rate of taxation, reasonable basic services at the local level and
beyond that more or less to be left alone," said Bill, 61.

Bill cites his diverse governmental background, much of it in Washington, D.C., where he worked for three
Republican members of Congress, including the late Bill Emerson. He also worked behind the scenes on various
campaigns and for the U.S. Department of Health and Senior Services.

Bill also served on the Sikeston City Council for nine years, including the last year as mayor, which was then a
yearly appointment by the council.

So far, Bill is the only person, Republican or Democrat, to declare his candidacy for the 148th, which covers the
eastern part of Scott County and part of Mississippi County.

If it stays that way until February's filing deadline -- and not everyone thinks it will -- Bill will run unopposed.

But at least one prominent Scott County Democrat says he believes a Democrat, and possibly another
Republican, will step forward to run for the seat. Scott County Commissioner Dennis Ziegenhorn said Bill
shouldn't expect to coast his way through.

"That's not the way it's going to happen," said Ziegenhorn, who served in the Missouri House for 14 years. "Who
knows what's going to happen?"

But he said he knows of several Democrats who are thinking about running for the seat. "It's far from over," he
said.

Still, for now, Bill stands alone.

Bill was born in Overland Park, Kan., to a salesman father and a homemaker mother. The married father of three
graduated from Kenyon College, a small liberal arts school in Ohio with a degree in history and political
philosophy.
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After graduation, the politically minded Bill hoped to go to Washington in some capacity, but his first "real job"
was at a weekly newspaper in southwest Virginia.

While there, he caught the eye of congressman William Wampler, who hired Bill to be his press secretary
through the election campaign of 1976. He worked in that job for three years until he left to do campaign
consulting work. For about a year and a half, he worked on campaigns for attorney general and city council
candidates in Virginia.

Soon after, he got a job on Capitol Hill as the legislative director for Robert Bauman, a Maryland congressman. It
was while working for Bauman that he met Emerson.

Bauman was defeated in the next election and Emerson was elected. Emerson asked Bill to be his chief of staff.
He helped Emerson set up his district offices and organize some staffing for less than a year when he took a job in
the Department of Health and Human Services as the congressional liaison to the budget and appropriations
committees of the House and Senate.

"The election of Ronald Reagan was a dream come true for me," Bill said. "I wanted to work in his administration,
and when I had the opportunity, I did."

If elected, Bill said he will be a "free-market, Reagan-style Republican."

Later, he started a firm called Targeted Research Associates, a firm he ran for five years implementing
information systems, such as one that tracked all federal expenditures geographically.

Then in 1987, he and his wife decided to move to Sikeston, where his wife's family was from. He got a job
working in insurance, which he did until just a few years ago.

But he stayed politically active, including working to get U.S. 60 converted to four lanes. He was elected to the
Sikeston City Council in 1992, where he served until 2001, the last year as mayor.

Issues he'd like to tackle in Jefferson City include taking a look at tax credits, specifically those aimed at low-
income housing. Bill remains unconvinced that the money is going toward the poor, citing a report by then-state
auditor Susan Montee.

The audit showed that of every $1 that was given by the state for a tax credit, only 35 cents was making it to
construction costs.

Bill did take some public criticism in 2010, when he accused Democrat Tommy Sowers, who was running against
U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, of having a fundraiser in a Washington, D.C., gay bar. While some said the accusation
smacked of innuendo about Sowers' orientation, Bill denies that today.

"I researched the bar that he put on Facebook as the site for his fundraiser," Bill said. "It was a gay bar. I just
thought that, no question, it was offensive to the values that the people here share. I think that shows a serious
error of judgment. That's all I was pointing out."
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Bill already has some supporters. Thresia Brinkley, a member of the Scott County Republican Committee, said she
will support him.

"He has conservative values," she said. "He is conservative not just in his moral beliefs, but in his financial beliefs.
He could really help with the budget. I believe he could help turn our state around."
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MISSOURINET

Missouri consumers can seek a piece of $500 million
LCD settlement
By Mike Lear

The Attorney General’s Office has reached a settlement with five companies it says were collaborating to hike
prices on some popular electronic products.

Attorney General Chris Koster is the national co-chair of the antitrust committee of the National Association of
Attorneys General.

Chris Koster’s office worked with counterparts in seven states and the U.S. Justice Department to file a suit in
August 2010 against seven companies. He says two years of investigation went into that suit that lead to the
settlement that so far totals over $500 million dollars.

The settlement has been filed in federal court in San Francisco and must be approved by the court. Litigation
continues with two companies, Display Co., Ltd., AU Optronics Corporation.

The companies who have agreed to settle the suit are Chimei Innolux Corp., Chi Mei Optoelectronics USA, Inc.,
Chi Mei Optoelectronics Japan Co., Ltd, HannStar Display Corporation, Hitachi, Ltd., Hitachi Displays, Ltd., Hitachi
Electronic Devices, USA, Inc., Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Samsung Electronics America, Inc., Samsung
Semiconductor, Inc., Sharp Corporation, and Sharp Electronics Corporation.

Products that use LCD screens include computer monitors, notebook computers and televisions.

Consumers from Missouri and the seven other states that filed suit who bought products from those companies
between January 1, 1999 and December 31, 2006 can file a claim to the settlement money. Those who would like
to be notified when that process begins are urged to e-mail the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, or write to it
at P.O. Box 899, Jefferson City, Missouri, 65102 to provide an address. More information on how to file a claim
will be available at the Attorney General’s website.

Koster says, “Now I recognize that a lot of people have lost their reciepts or never kept those reciepts, and we’re
trying to work out a system with the court that recognizes that serial numbers and model numbers are going to
have to suffice.”

No distribution will occur until the court approves the settlement and litigation is completed against the
remaining two companies.
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Senate budget chairman considers first post-stimulus
budget
By Mike Lear

In the last few legislative sessions lawmakers have been faced with increasing challenges to create a state
budget. Another great one awaits them when General Assembly convenes again on Wednesday.

The last of the federal dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, about $400 million, went into
the budget for fiscal year 2012. With none left to help shore up the new plan, Senate Appropriations Committee
chairman Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) says legislators will be tested. “What we’re looking at is kind of hitting part
of that wall that we would have hit back then, but for all that money that the federal government borrowed and
then sent out to the states. So this is the year that, I think, where we have to decide what our priorities are going
to be.”

Schaefer says those priorities are clear, based on a provision in the Constitution. “Number one in that list is
public debt, and that always is our first thing that we fund, but number two is public education. So, I think this is
really the year that we need to demonstrate that we’re going to follow our constitutional responsibility and what
the people of the state of Missouri have determined is a top priority, and that’s K through 12 and higher
education.”

The House, the Senate and the Governor arrived at an estimate of projected revenue of 3.9 percent growth.
Senator Schaefer thinks that is fairly accurate, and represents about $7.5 billion, or about $285 million more for
fiscal year 2013 than 2012.

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s first hearing of the new session is set for Tuesday, January 10.
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Proposal has Governor, Lt. Governor running as team
By Bob Priddy

He calls it a “weird” situation that leads to “silliness” at the top of state government. That’s why Cape Girardeau
Jason Crowell proposes a constitutional amendment requiring governor candidates to pick the person they want
as lieutenant governor and then run as teammates in the primary and the general elections. He says there’s no
reason to continue the possibility that Missourians would elect a governor and a lieutenant governor of different
parties. For twenty of the last 36 years, the lieutenant governor and governor have been of different parties: .

Gov. Joe Teasdale (D) 1977-81/Lt. Gov. Bill Phelps (R)

Gov. Christopher Bond (R) 1981-85/Lt. Gov. Kenneth Rothman(D)

Gov. John Ashcroft (R) 1983-89/ Lt. Gov. Harriett Woods (D)

Gov. John Ashcroft (R) 1989-93/Lt. Gov. Mel Carnahan (D)

Governor Jay Nixon (D) 2009-13/Lt.Gov. Peter Kinder (R)

Governor Forrest Donnell, a Republican Governor from 1941-1945 also had a Democrat for Lieutenant Governor:
Frank Harris, serving his third term in the job.

Crowell is open to some changes in his proposal although he’s not sure he wants a governor candidate to pick
several different potential lieutenant governor running mates and let voters choose which combination they
want. And he’s not excited about an idea letting lieutenant governor candidates pick several governor
candidates.

Crowell says several states have the team approach. And, of course, presidential elections offer a national
example.

He hopes the legislature sends a constitutional amendment to voters later this year. If voters endorse the idea,
the first team elections would be in 2016.
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Top House democrat wants new DED offerings
By Mike Lear

The Minority Leader in the Missouri House of Representatives says rather than focus only on ideas that have
already been vetted, the legislature needs to consider some fresh ideas.

Mike Talboy (D-Kansas City) points to the states neighboring Missouri, all of which he says have angel investment
opportunities. Those could be tax credit programs or funds that are typically smaller than some of the economic
development programs already in Missouri.

He says putting programs like that into effect can provide “good bang for your buck in the beginning. But then
also as the budget years get better and as we have more revenue in the state and as we see the returns on those
types of programs, then you can look at expanding them if you need to or be able to expand them into different
parts of the state.” Talboy says there is nothing like what he is talking about currently offered by DED.

Talboy says just having some new tools for economic development can spur some important discussions by
stirring discussion that might not happen without them. “It allows tangentially some of these ideas to come out
of those conversations that are new that we don’t have…you see some of these new ideas sprout up from those
conversations.”

The Department of Economic Development has come under scrutiny by lawmakers investigating a failed project
to bring a sucralose plant to Moberly. Talboy says that should not have any impact on discussion of new
incentives that department might offer. “Whether or not they’re a good program…I don’t think depends on the
conversations and whether people have an issue with department or another. I think that if the program’s
worthwhile we’ll find a way to make sure that it gets done. If people have objections to certain departments,
we’ll deal with those separately.”

The new legislative session begins tomorrow.
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Rep. Schoeller files voter ID bill, election reform
legislation
By Jessica Machetta

The perennial fight over whether voters should have to produce a valid ID to cast elections ballots is set to begin.

Rep. Shane Shoeller of Willard — who is also running for Secretary of State — has filed a bill that would require a
photo ID requirement for voters. He says it’s common-sense legislation.

The measure was vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon last year, and the Supreme Court struck down the requirement in
2006. Opponents of the measure say it disenfranchises poor and elderly voters. Nonetheless, Schoeller thinks it
will gain approval by the Republican-led General Assembly, and hopes if it does that Nixon will pen the legislation
into law.

Schoeller is also proposing legislation that would create two state commissions — one would have authority over
ballot summaries for initiative petitions, the other would be responsible for drawing new borders for Missouri’s
163 state House districts and 34 state Senate districts.

The legislative session begins January fourth.

Schoeller says the budget will undoubtedly be front and center of this year’s legislative agenda. It’s the one thing
legislators are required by the constitutional to pass each year. Schoeller says he’ll be watching closely how the
state’s public schools fit into that budget, and doing his part to make sure schools aren’t short-changed. Schoeller
says another issue that will likely come before legislators is whether to make Interstate 70 a toll road. He says he
will vote against that measure.
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BLOG ZONE
Nixon sticks with the familiar in his choice for
economic development chief
By Jo Mannies, St. Louis Beacon


As he heads into his re-election bid, Gov. Jay Nixon has tapped a known quantity -- Jason Hall, executive director
of the Missouri Technology Corporation -- to serve as the new director of the Missouri Department of Economic
Development. Hall will handle economic development issues during the coming legislative session, the last
before the November 2012 election.
Hall's name had circulated among political and economic-development circles late Thursday, with some saying
that his selection signaled that the governor wanted no surprises by choosing someone already familiar with
Missouri issues, and who he already has worked with.
The governor's announcement today also hinted that Nixon and his office plan to keep close tabs on the
department's operation, since economic-development issues are expected to a key issue in the 2012 campaign.
As Nixon's formal announcement explains:
"In that position, Mr. Hall will oversee continued implementation of the Missouri Strategic Initiative for Economic
Growth, the five-year blueprint developed by Gov. Nixon’s administration and business leaders across Missouri
over the past 18 months."
Two years ago, Nixon had appointed Hall to his current post at the Missouri Technology Corporation. Nixon
credits Hall with overseeing "a transformation and rejuvenation of the organization and its mission of supporting
the growth of high-tech scientific and technology companies in the state. Mr. Hall was instrumental in the
development of Missouri’s competitive application for the State Small Business Credit Initiative, a program that is
investing $27 million in high-tech, small-business growth and job creation in Missouri."
"Jason Hall is exactly the type of bright, energetic leader we need to help create jobs and move Missouri’s
economy forward," Nixon said in Friday's announcement. "... With his strong background at the MTC and his
stellar academic record, I know Jason will bring energy, dedication and professionalism to his new position as
director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development."
Hall is quoted as saying, "Under Governor Nixon’s leadership, Missouri is turning the corner after a tough
national downturn, and our economy is beginning to move in the right direction. I look forward to working
closely with the governor to continue to focus on building strength in Missouri’s modern manufacturing sector,
expanding our exports, educating a workforce for the careers of tomorrow, and growing more high-tech science
and innovation companies in our state. Together, we’ll continue to make sure Missouri businesses have the
skilled workforce and the right tools they need to keep our economy moving forward."
The governor also lauded departing Economic Development director David Kerr "for his strong leadership of the
Department of Economic Development over the past two years."
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Kerr had come from Kansas, where he had held a similar economic-development post under then-Gov. Kathleen
Sebelius.
Kerr's Missouri tenure generally has received positive marks, with Nixon highlighting the department's role in
"working aggressively to move Missouri’s economy forward. Missouri’s unemployment rate in November was 8.2
percent – its lowest level in 34 months and nearly half-a-point below the national average. The state has added
10,900 manufacturing jobs so far in 2011, and Missouri’s exports to other countries have increased by $1.2 billion
this year, on top of a 35 percent increase in 2010..."
But since this fall, Kerr also has taken much of the heat over the failed Mamtek economic development project in
Moberly, Mo., a debacle blamed for some of the legislative disputes that killed off the proposed economic-
development package during last fall's largely unsuccessful special legislative session. State Auditor Tom
Schweich was asked by House Speaker Steve Tilley to examine the project.
Mamtek is a company with owners in the United States and China who had proposed to build an artificial
sweetener plant in Moberly. The project promised 600 jobs. In exchange, the city guaranteed $39 million in
bonds, and the state offered $17 million in tax incentives. (Click here for the Beacon's original story on the
project.)
The project went bust. The state never paid out any tax breaks -- a point Kerr emphasized repeatedly during the
special session -- but Moberly is on the hook for $39 million in municipal bonds.
A court case continues, as UMB bank -- the trustee for the bonds -- and four other companies owed money by
Mamtek have sought recoup at least some of the money.
The state Republican Party and top Republicans in the General Assembly have been hammering Nixon about
Mamtek for months. Hall's selection is unlikely to halt that barrage, but the new economic-development chief is
no doubt already familiar with the matter -- and the governor's thoughts.
UPDATE: The state GOP took note Friday that just over a year ago, Hall was hit with some damning comments
from then-outgoing state Auditor Susan Montee, a Democrat, who contended when she released an audit of the
technology corporation that Hall had been "threatening'' her staff because he apparently disagreed with some of
their findings.
According to the Kansas City Star at the time, “Montee accused MTC executive director Jason Hall of bullying
auditors... ‘This was a very difficult and unpleasant experience,’ said Montee, who added, ‘It did take a long time
to get to this point because of what I consider outrageous behavior on the part of MTC.’”
State GOP executive director Lloyd Smith also took note that Hall is Nixon's third economic development chief.
His original choice, St. Louis lawyer Linda Martinez, left after several months, complaining that the governor
generally had ignored her.
Asserted Smith: “Since 2009, Jay Nixon’s Department of Economic Development has been mired in chaos and is
in dire need of oversight—but instead of appointing a new director who could solve the problem and focus on
creating jobs, Nixon selected someone who even members of his own party claimed exhibited ‘outrageous
behavior ’ when the entity he was in charge of was being subject to oversight.”
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After flash flooding, Bootheel town pulls itself up by
the bootstraps
By Mary Delach Leonard, St. Louis Beacon


Eight months since Morehouse, Mo., was devastated by flash flooding, the little Bootheel town has been cleaned
up and rebuilt, but residents still question the decision-making that they say put their community in jeopardy.
"The majority of people who were rebuilding are back in their homes, but there is still work to be done,'' said
Mayor Pete Leija.
Residents had initially feared that Morehouse -- a town of about 1,000 located 10 miles west of Sikeston -- would
never recover after streets and homes were left standing in the smelly, brown floodwater that first crept into
town on the night of April 27. The water was up to 4 feet deep in some places, eventually covering about three-
quarters of the community and affecting about two-thirds of the 430 homes.
Although the disaster coincided with record Mississippi River flooding and the controversy surrounding the Army
Corps of Engineers' decision to activate the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway, it was inland flooding that struck
Morehouse. Spring rains had saturated southeast Missouri and overwhelmed the Little River Drainage District -- a
web of ditches, levees and diversion channels that drain the Bootheel.
Morehouse residents say the flooding from Little River was made more severe because of a temporary earthen
berm built by the Missouri Department of Transportation along the westbound lanes of Highway 60 to keep that
road open. MoDOT officials have said there is no evidence to support that claim.
Leija said the flooding issues remain unresolved and townspeople are still skeptical of MoDOT's actions last
spring. He said the town should have been alerted about the decision to build the dam to keep water off the
highway. Because some residents are still threatening to sue the agency, Leija wants to hold a town meeting
where they can vent their frustrations to state officials and their elected representatives.
Longtime residents insist that they had never seen anything like the flooding in April; few had flood insurance
because, they said, the town had never flooded.
"I still think that someone owes us an explanation for that," Leija said. "[MoDot] doesn't want to take
responsibility for the fact that they caused a lot of this flooding because they said we were going to flood
anyway. But common sense would tell you that we would have flooded maybe 6 inches; but if you build a dam it
goes to 2 foot. That added to the problem."
On the positive side, Leija said the town has made progress in its cleanup efforts. The state of Missouri provided
workers and equipment to help clear ditches and pick up debris that had been deposited throughout Morehouse
by the floodwater. A mountain of debris from rehabbed homes has also been hauled away.
"We're still a bit lacking,'' Leija said. "But for the most part we got 98 percent of the debris and 60 to 70 percent
of the ditches cleaned. We didn't get as much done on the roads.''
The Sikeston School District, which decided in June to close the elementary school in Morehouse as a budget-
cutting action, has since given the buildings to the town, Leija said. The town will use some of the space for
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administrative offices and will retain the gymnasium as a public space but plans to lease the other buildings as a
day-care facility and possibly an assisted living center.
Another note of progress: A Dollar General store is being built on the edge of town.
"People in town are excited about that and looking forward to it,'' Leija said.
Leija said his town could serve as a case study for emergency disaster relief and he remains frustrated with the
Federal Emergency Management Agency, which he says has now informed the town that some of the already
rebuilt homes need to be elevated above the flood plain.
"My real problem with FEMA is that they launched a massive amount of people in here, and they were providing
all kinds of different types of information,'' he said. "Their people were telling the residents this and that -- and
the next guy would tell them something different.''
Leija said that he and his town remain grateful to faith-based organizations and the hundreds of volunteers who
assisted residents in cleanup and recovery efforts.
"It is just such a blessing to know that there are a lot of people out there who really cared,'' he said. "They came
from great distances and stayed for a great length of time. I was teetotally impressed. You just can't say enough
about them.''
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Enterprise links a gold mine for Wagner in House race
By Jake Wagman, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


ST. LOUIS • For nearly as long as congressional hopeful Ann Wagner has played an influential role in Republican
politics, she has been a fixture at Enterprise Rent-A-Car corporate events.

Wagner's husband is the company's lead political liaison. She knows many of the firm's top bosses, and she
describes herself as part of the company "family."

Now, Enterprise executives have become more than just corporate kin — they have become her top campaign
contributors, too.

Employees and others associated with the rental car giant have donated more than $250,000 to Wagner's
campaign for the newly redrawn U.S. House district that includes Enterprise's corporate headquarters in Clayton.

Wagner's ties to Enterprise — a private company with 70,000 employees and $14 billion in annual revenue —
have helped her build a fundraising operation that far surpasses her rival for the GOP nomination in the 2nd
Congressional District.

Since kicking off her bid for office in the spring, Wagner has received donations from Enterprise employees in St.
Louis and around the U.S. She's been feted at fundraisers hosted by the company's top officers and enjoyed
support up and down Enterprise's corporate ladder, from regional managers to the company's billionaire
founder.

Nearly one out of every four dollars Wagner has reported raising so far has come from someone connected to
Enterprise. Lobbyists and lawyers employed by firms that have done work for Enterprise have chipped in
thousands more.

Though businesses are prohibited from giving directly from their company coffers to federal candidates,
Enterprise's largesse highlights the extent that corporations can still help pick winners in congressional elections.

As it stands now, Wagner's haul from Enterprise has helped her eclipse her party rival, St. Louis Republican Ed
Martin, in the cash race. Wagner reports about $858,000 cash on hand, more than triple Martin's sum. With no
Democratic opponent yet in the race, the August 2012 Republican primary could decide the area's newest
member of Congress.

If elected, Wagner says, she would remain independent from Enterprise, whose agenda in Washington includes
automobile, energy and tax issues. Still, Wagner said it's no surprise company executives have been so generous.

"That's how candidates raise money," she said. "You go to friends and associates."

husband's role
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Wagner's husband, Ray — who has been director of the state Revenue Department in both Illinois and Missouri
— joined Enterprise in 1995, four years before Ann became chairwoman of the Missouri Republican Party.

They emerged as a GOP power couple, with Ray representing Enterprise in Jefferson City and Washington, and
Ann active enough in the party that George W. Bush named her ambassador to Luxembourg. After returning
from Europe, she chaired Roy Blunt's 2010 U.S. Senate campaign, which saw him win by a wide margin.

Ray Wagner deregistered as a federal lobbyist after his wife launched her congressional campaign, but he
remains the vice president of government and public affairs for the holding company that owns Enterprise and
two former rivals it acquired in 2007, National and Alamo.

"We have a going on two-decades relationship with Enterprise," Ann Wagner said. "It's a family."

Wagner has been a regular at Enterprise events, speaking about her "various political and public service
experiences," said company spokeswoman Laura Bryant, who, in a statement, described Wagner's campaign for
Congress as "pro-business."

"Many executives and their spouses have come to know Ann Wagner quite well over the years at various
company functions or officer conferences — she is our friend," said Bryant, herself a candidate for mayor in
Creve Coeur.

Wagner's campaign finance reports list more than 100 donors connected to Enterprise, including spouses of
employees, former employees and officers at related companies. Company founder Jack Taylor and his family
members contributed $20,000 to Wagner. Enterprise managers in Las Vegas, Southern California and North
Carolina sent checks. So, too, did the wives of Enterprise executives in Europe.

Enterprise executives also donated to Wagner's unsuccessful campaign in January 2011 to head the Republican
National Committee.

"I happen to know a good number of those people from around the world — from England to St. Louis to Florida
to New Jersey," Wagner said.

Of the $977,000 Wagner collected from individuals through September, more than a quarter — $255,000 —
came from donors associated with Enterprise.

The share of donations from the rental car company could grow even larger thanks to a fundraiser at the Bogey
Club in Ladue hosted by Andy Taylor, Enterprise chairman and chief executive. The November event was not
reflected in the most recent campaign finance reports, submitted in October.

About $30,000 for Wagner's campaign came from employees of companies that have a business relationship
with Enterprise: the law firm Thompson Coburn, public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard and two lobbying firms,
Ogilvy Government Relations and the Podesta Group, who work for Enterprise in Washington.

In some ways, the support of Wagner's campaign from Enterprise employees reflects a corporate culture that
values loyalty. Enterprise, one of the largest private corporations in the U.S., remains a family company that
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promotes from within. Many of the company's top executives started their careers behind the rental counter as
management trainees.

Several Enterprise executives who donated to Wagner's campaign did not respond to requests for comment. But
some fellow Enterprise spouses said they have known Wagner for years and support her campaign, even if they
don't live in St. Louis.

"We need more women like Ann in Congress, so I wrote her a check and will probably write another one down
the road," said Diane H. Nettles, a Pennsylvania college professor whose husband is an Enterprise general
manager in Pittsburgh.

FEDERAL ELECTION RULES

Although the Supreme Court has loosened rules regarding corporate political activity, companies are still
prohibited from providing money or resources directly to a federal campaign. Even using company stationery on
a fundraising plea could be a potential violation.

Bradley A. Smith, an Ohio law professor and a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, said Wagner
could be entering a "murky area," depending on how she solicited the donations from Enterprise employees.

"If the corporation actually gave her a list of names, that would be a corporate contribution to the campaign,"
said Smith, a professor at Capital University Law School. "And that would be a problem."

Enterprise says "no company resources have been used or will be used on behalf" of Wagner's campaign.

Wagner says she did not get a roster of potential donors from Enterprise, at least not directly. In September,
Enterprise Holdings President Pamela Nicholson hosted a fundraiser for Wagner at her home in Clayton.

Nicholson sent the invitation to many of her employees, attaching a handwritten note.

"I was not sure you were aware that Ann Wagner (Ray's wife) is running for Congress," Nicholson wrote. "I
enthusiastically agreed to have a fundraiser for her. If you would also like to support Ann I thank you, but there is
no obligation to do so."

The invitation list, the campaign says, was Nicholson's personal list, not from the company. Still, it was passed on,
through a fundraising consultant, to Wagner, who used it to solicit Enterprise executives and others for
donations, according to her campaign.

"I'm sure whatever lists that are used are private, from the individual," Wagner said. "All FEC requirements have
been followed."

political FOOTPRINT

Enterprise has more than a dozen lobbyists registered to work for the company in Washington, with an agenda
that ranges from electric car legislation to estate tax issues.
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Much of that lobbying has been coordinated by Ray Wagner, who, citing company policy, forwarded a question
about his dual roles with his wife's congressional bid and Enterprise to the company's corporate communications
team.

Ray Wagner has played an active role in Ann's campaign, soliciting supporters for a donation on her birthday and
once serving as a proxy for her at a campaign event.

Ann Wagner has said that if she does make it to Congress, her husband would not lobby the House of
Representatives.

As it has grown to become the largest rental car company in the world, Enterprise has stepped up its presence in
Washington. Enterprise's political action committee — funded by employee contributions — spends about $1
million a year, contributing to candidates on both sides of the aisle.

The Enterprise PAC donated $5,000 in 2011 to U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, a northwest Missouri Republican who was
responsible for an important amendment regarding rental car liability, and U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, a Tennessee
Democrat who is sponsor of the "End Discriminatory State Taxes for Automobile Renters Act."

The PAC, however, gave nothing in 2011 to the company's home congressman, U.S. Rep Russ Carnahan, D-St.
Louis, whom Enterprise has supported in the past.

Carnahan's district, for the moment, includes Enterprises's corporate headquarters, but, because of redistricting,
his seat in the 3rd District will be eliminated.

He wants to stay in Congress and is mulling running in the new 2nd District, which would potentially put him
against Wagner in November.
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St. Louis Tea Party changes focus, while some
activists form new group
By Jo Mannies, St. Louis Beacon


The St. Louis Tea Party is taking on a new direction, and some of its early activists — including radio host/TV
commentator Dana Loesch — have formed a new group called the Gateway Grassroots Initiative.
St. Louis Tea Party founder Bill Hennessy said the split reflects the decision of the original group's advisory board
to focus more on organizing and educating people and less on big rallies.
"We want to provide value to the community,'' he said, "and not just be loud."
The St. Louis Tea Party had gained public attention, beginning in February 2009, admittedly by being loud.
Hennessy and his allies attracted thousands to a series of rallies — including several packed events at Kiener
Plaza and a massive gathering on the Arch grounds in September 2010. Loesch was among the emcees at the
Arch event, which attracted now-Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. (right), and conservative commentator Dick Morris.
Hennessy and Loesch offer different accounts of the split. He says he called her in early December to say that the
St. Louis Tea Party's advisory board had decided to remove her as part of its new approach.
Loesch says she wasn't on any board but was part of the St. Louis Tea Party's core group of about 15 people. She
says 10 have left.
In any case, both say their new endeavors will focus more on the grassroots and less on politicians.
Loesch says of the Gateway Grassroots Initiative: "I and a sizable group of others are channeling our efforts into
the next wave of grassroots: www.gatewaygrassroots.com. We believe that politics lies downstream from pop
culture, and as of such is the battleground. Rhetorically speaking!"
Hennessy said that the St. Louis Tea Party leadership has decided that simply holding a bunch of rallies wasn't the
way to sustain its influence over the long haul or broaden its appeal. "We're trying to focus on grassroots
organizing,'' he said. "We're really trying to shift out of the spotlight."
One of the problems with holding rallies, said Hennessy, was that "we were asking a lot of work from the same
200-300 people. We weren't growing."
Since embracing the new approach, he said, the St. Louis Tea Party has added 125 new members in just a few
months.
MORE FOCUS ON GRASSROOTS GOVERNMENT
Many joined after attending one of the St. Louis Tea Party's regular "after-parties,'' which are held at different
locations around the region, said Hennessy. The next is slated for Jan. 19 in Olivette.
The St. Louis Tea Party's goal, said Hennessy, is to "build a strong network of individuals'' involved in promoting
conservative values at all levels, while also providing a non-governmental safety net for each other.
Another aim of the meetings, he said, is to educate people on how government works, particularly on the local
level, such as school boards.
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Hennessy also emphasized that the St. Louis Tea Party is not an arm of the Republican Party or any other political
party. "We're not getting involved in any primaries,'' he said.
Meanwhile, Loesch — while emphasizing that she's not speaking for other leaders of the Gateway Grassroots
Initiative — said it also doesn't plan to endorse candidates, publicly or privately. "The goal of grassroots in St.
Louis was always to be that candidates are free to endorse us," she said
"GGI will likely take part in rallies at some point, but are united in our focus on culture and conservatism through
targeted action," she said. "Rallies are great, but action is also great. We're also very resistant to working on
behalf of any political candidates in primaries... be it officially, or unofficially. We are 'tea party,' more informal
and close to the spirit of the original, but it's time for the next wave."
The group just unveiled its new website a few weeks ago. According to the website, the mission of the Gateway
Grassroots Initiative "is to attract, educate, organize and mobilize fellow Gateway area citizens to secure a
culture consistent with our three core values of fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free
markets."
Other early major figures who had been affiliated with the St. Louis Tea Party include former state Sen. John
Loudon, R-Chesterfield, and his wife, Gina Loudon, a radio commentator.
The family has moved to Alabama, where Gina Loudon has a regular network radio show, "The Dr. Gina Show."
Gina Loudon also is a regular on Twitter, where she has complimented Hennessy and posted links to his blog,
Hennessy's View.
TEA PARTY RALLY TO KICK OFF NEW LEGISLATIVE SESSION
But limiting rallies doesn't mean that there will be none — or that politicians won't still play a role.
On Wednesday, area tea party activists, including the Franklin County Patriots and the St. Louis Tea Party, plan to
be in Jefferson City to hold a rally dubbed "Consent of the Governed" in front of the state Capitol.
The gathering is right before Missouri legislators are to convene for a new five-month session.
The aim of the rally, organizers said in a statement, is "to remind that they are there at the consent of the
governed and constrained by the Missouri Constitution.
"We want them to know that we will be involved; we will be watching; and we will be a resource for those who
seek to promote greater liberty and prosperity."
Among the scheduled speakers are:

      Dave Roland, a lawyer and co-founder of the St. Louis-based conservative Freedom Center, which focuses
       on litigation;
      State Rep. Ed Emery, R-Lamar;
      St. Louis lawyer Ed Martin, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the 2nd congressional district in
       St. Louis County.
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EDITORIALS … & Letters to the Editor

Incumbents' Wealth
Editorial, eMissourian

It means little but it is interesting. We’re referring to the net worth of Missouri’s congressional delegation. The
Center for Responsive Politics recently released its report on the new worth of members of Congress.

Perhaps the most interesting revelation is that two members of the House could qualify for the poverty category
among members of Congress. They are Rep. Lacy Clay, $32,000, and Rep. Todd Akin, $160,000. Our two senators,
Claire McCaskill, $26.5 million, and Roy Blunt, $3.7 million, rank in the millionaire category, according to the Daily
RFT on the Internet.

Our House representative, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, came in at $3.4 million in net worth. The other members of
the House from Missouri had a net worth ranging from Russ Carnahan’s $328,000 to Vicky Hartzier’s $8.9 million.

What does this tell us? To voters it ranges from the rich incumbents have the wherewithal to use some of their
own funds to be re-elected and wealth opens many accesses to dollars and influence. For the poor incumbent
souls, it may mean he or she needs the job to some nonthinking voters!
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The bigger debate
Joplin Globe


Plenty of debates will be held and heard in 2012. But, according to U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, there’s one going on right
now that doesn’t have a moderator, a podium, a time-keeper or even a single issue.

Blunt, R-Springfield, presented an intriguing snapshot of history Thursday in a talk sponsored by the Public Policy
Committee of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce. It reminded us that before Blunt entered the political
arena, he was an educator.

Blunt surmises that America has entered into a “big debate” that comes around only now and then. The people
of the nation, he says, are trying to decide what they want America to be, with the 2012 election setting the tone
for the next 25 to 30 years.

Blunt hailed back to Thomas Jefferson, who had a different vision than did Andrew Jackson some years later.
Abraham Lincoln redefined the nation under his leadership, as did both Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano
Roosevelt. Blunt ended his history lesson with the trying times of 1980 and the presidency of Ronald Reagan.

From the tea party movement to Occupy Wall Street, we can see the shifts in thinking from the past 30 years.

We agree with Blunt that this is not an illogical time for America to decide once again what it wants to be.

The chamber offering on Thursday was timely and drew a large group of its membership to hear what Blunt had
to say.

We hope the chamber will offer up similar opportunities to hear from Missouri’s other senator, Claire McCaskill,
and 7th Congressional District Rep. Billy Long in the near future.
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Guest commentary: Setting the stage for St. Louis to
move forward
By Richard Fleming, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

As I depart the Regional Chamber and Growth Association, there has been a fair amount of discussion lately of
the region's past and future economic development, much of it solid and constructive, some of it silly and
bureaucratically self-serving.

St. Louis' regional economic development effort has been ranked in the Top Ten Economic Development
Organizations or Best in Class nationally three times since 2005. As Post-Dispatch columnist David Nicklaus
observed recently, "the RCGA is one of the few places where all of St. Louis' warring fiefdoms have to cooperate
for the greater good."

Experience suggests proven ways to grow a region:

• The most important element is to constantly "build a better place."

• Grow a region's existing business portfolio, focusing on companies representing high-growth potential and
fostering accelerated development of high-impact start-ups. Most job growth comes from within.

• Market the region for the recruitment of new businesses, jobs, investment and payroll.

Our gross regional product in greater St. Louis is about $130 billion, and our population is slightly less than 3
million. It will take considerably more than just the RCGA's regional economic development initiative to make an
impact. What's required is an effective system consisting of interdependent state, local and regional partners.
When it works, the system results in successes like the recent Emerald Automotive victory over 25 other states,
MasterCard International's decision for a headquarters in St. Louis over 40 other options and the recent Unisys
economic development win.

Thanks to the Economic Development Team at RCGA and the Regional Economic Development Network, a solid
Regional Economic Development Plan and Strategy in in place. This plan has financial commitments of more than
$22.5 million over five years — the most successful economic development capital drive in our region's history.

A two-year analysis resulted in the RCGA's regional strategy, which was adopted by the region's business and
chief elected officers. It has four core principles and five key priorities to advance our region.

The principles:

• A balanced approach to economic development with interconnecting strategies for recruitment, retention,
expansion and innovation.

• St. Louis must recapture its relevance as a center for commerce, transportation and the distribution of goods.
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• Successful regions achieve a "purposeful alignment" of the supply and demand of talent.

• Greater St. Louis' success in economic development will be related to the degree in which it is regional in scope
and collaborative at all levels.

The priorities:

• Support and grow key industry clusters: financial and information services, advanced manufacturing and
technology, health science and services, sustainable technologies and multimodal supply chain management.

• Undertake target marketing and business recruitment in competitive fields with guidance from leadership
councils from each industry cluster.

• Significantly increase the rate of start-up ventures through the support of entrepreneurship by RCGA and its
civic partners.

• Address regional talent as a strategic imperative from the "demand perspective."

• Leverage all regional transportation assets to restage the St. Louis region as a commercial gateway for the
distribution of goods around the world.

A recent government-funded study restated the 30-year trend of population decline of the region as "new news"
and bemoaned the prospect of the region falling out of the Top 20 metros in population.

But there is a path by which our region can "consistently be ranked among the Top 10 of the 20 largest U.S.
metropolitan areas in indicators of regional vitality, economic health and the creation of community wealth,"
which are among the goals of the RCGA's regional strategy.

Based on my economic development experiences in Atlanta, Denver and St. Louis, I suggest that our region
pursue this data-driven and fact-based, yet aspirational, path for regional growth, rather than a tired look in the
civic rear-view mirror of an all too-well-chronicled declining population scenario (that is, in fact, being
moderately reversed). Grow key industry sectors and investments in the region, and population growth will
follow.

As I conclude my 17½-year tenure as president and CEO of the RCGA, I sincerely thank the RCGA board, the staff
and the wonderful volunteers and members of this fine organization for support and engagement in enhancing
our region over these years. Heartfelt best wishes to my successor, Joe Reagan, as he takes on this leadership
mantle on Feb. 1.

Following some down time for the next several months to reflect and write, I look forward to the next phase of
my professional life, which I plan to be in the nonprofit philanthropic arena. I'll always reflect with deep
fondness on my time here at the RCGA. St. Louis is truly a sparkling gem, and my life has been enriched
personally and professionally from this opportunity to serve the St. Louis region.
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Hopes for 2012? Time to make a list
St, Joseph News-Press

All we want in the new year is …

* Recovery from the flood.

* New employers to set up shop in the still-new Eastowne Business Park.

* Improvements in our public schools that will contribute directly to our students’ success.

* A step toward equitable state funding for Missouri Western State University.

* Statesmanship and honesty from our political candidates.

* A memorable celebration upon the completion of the 49th and 50th homes built locally by Habitat for
Humanity.
* Continued progress on some of the big ideas — the Buchanan County Agri-Business Expo Center, development
of the regional Animal Health Corridor, further development of the Western and Northwest Missouri State
University business incubators, the planned YMCA at the Shoppes at North Village.

* Progress on transportation improvements throughout the region and on St. Joseph’s South Side, along with
completion of the new Amelia Earhart Memorial Bridge at Atchison.

* Fresh ideas — Anyone want to develop sophisticated computer games from a workshop in St. Joseph? How
about someone coming up with the next Shatto Milk enterprise? Can you imagine a Riverside Road with
businesses from one end to the other? How about getting on board the push to make the South Side “Junction”
into a regional attraction and farmers market?

* The next step in helping the homeless — this time by serving families who need a place to stay while getting
back on their feet.

* Success for boosters of Downtown St. Joseph and the Uptown redevelopment project at the site of the former
Heartland Health campus.

* Success for boosters of our regional communities, stretching across more than 20 counties of Northwest
Missouri and Northeast Kansas.

* Time to appreciate the tremendous growth in the arts we have enjoyed — including notable local music,
theater performances and visual artists throughout the region.

* The opening of the city recreation complex replacing the Muchenberger Center.
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* Progress on relieving some of the pains experienced by those who cannot help themselves. We think
particularly of the elderly, disabled and young children who — for reasons beyond their control — struggle to
thrive in a land of relative plenty.
A new poll suggests more than two-thirds of American adults will write off 2011 as a bad year. At the same time,
6 in 10 are optimistic about what the new year will bring for the nation — and a remarkable 8 in 10 are hopeful
for what 2012 will mean to their families.

What are we to make of this?

It’s likely the public sentiment is influenced by slowly improving economic conditions, the end of the Iraq war and
the prospects for change that come with a presidential election.

But we also see something personal at work. In every stop on our daily rounds, at every home on our block, we
find individuals making their own way in the world and, in doing so, demonstrating they have greater say in what
happens next than any world event or crystal ball.

We wish every person in the Midland Empire a happy and prosperous new year — on your terms, and in line with
what you and your family believe is required to make that so.
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Our Opinion: Elk restored – at a stately price
News Tribune


Conservation of tax dollars obviously has not been a priority for the elk restoration program, thus far.

A state audit released Wednesday found the Department of Conservation’s elk restoration program has cost
about three times the initial estimate.

The audit revealed the agency has spent about $1.2 million for salaries, equipment and habitat improvements,
far above the budgeted $411,000 for operational costs to introduce up to 150 elk.

The figures translate into about $30,000 an elk.

Conservation officials bristle.

They contend the calculations are misleading because they include one-time, startup costs and habitat
improvements that benefit other conservation efforts.

Their counter-argument is weak. Startup costs should have been foreseen and included.

In response to the audit, an agency official admitted conservation commissioners knew when they approved the
program that some expenses were not included in the estimate. Did they know that some expenses would
balloon to three times the estimate?

Compounding the problem, auditors also believe some discussions about the program improperly were
conducted in closed sessions.

The agency’s justification is the discussions were permissible because they involved potential legal actions.

Again, this rationale is weak, at best.

Legal action is a possibility with any government program or initiative.

The elk restoration program has generated opposition and controversy.

The appropriate response is openness and careful budgeting, which go a long way toward diffusing objections.

Sadly, the Conservation Department emphasized neither candor nor fiscal prudence in starting its elk restoration
program.
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Guest commentary: Why an I-70 toll is good public
policy
By David Stokes, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Think about the difference in the taxes that property owners pay to fund local parks and the entrance fee your
family pays to visit Yellowstone National Park. That is the appropriate framework to begin discussing toll roads.
Everyone in the community can access local parks so general taxes support their existence. A much smaller
percentage of people visit Yellowstone each year, and those people support it with an admission fee. Interstate
highways are like Yellowstone — admission fees (tolls) are the preferred means of funding.

The Missouri Department of Transportation has announced plans to make Interstate 70 a toll road to fund
renovations. Let us make two assumptions: MoDOT will overcome any legal and political impediments to do this
(not a safe assumption) and the renovations to I-70 are necessary (I think MoDOT is on safe ground here). With
those assumptions set, the focus simply becomes: Is tolling I-70 a good public policy decision? I believe it is.

Missouri has less history with tolling than many other states. Most toll bridges across rivers in Missouri were
converted to free facilities decades ago. Two bridges continued as tolls until recently — the McKinley Bridge in St.
Louis and one connecting Missouri and Iowa. The only toll facility now in Missouri is the Lake Ozark Community
Bridge, which opened in the 1990s. Unlike neighboring states Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, and Oklahoma, Missouri
has never tolled its highways.

The plan is to have a private contractor reconstruct and toll the part of the highway between St. Louis and Kansas
City, but leave the parts within the urban centers toll-free. Without tolls, MoDOT officials say they would have to
increase the gas tax 15 cents per gallon, almost doubling Missouri's current — and admittedly, low — tax of 17
cents per gallon. The future toll rate (or rates, if they are adjustable, as they should be) is unknown, though the
rate should be high enough to fund the highway and discourage congestion, but low enough to discourage taking
alternate routes.

In July 2011, I visited a gas station in downtown St. Louis to film a video on excise taxes in Missouri. We found a
gas station, which at one point had cars from Illinois filling its entire lot. We spoke with the manager of an Illinois
car service company that drove a dozen of its vehicles every day from Illinois to Missouri just to fill up with gas.
Right now, it is inarguable that Illinois residents subsidize Missouri drivers (by buying more gas here than they
consume via road usage). If Missouri raises its gas tax, thousands of southern Illinois commuters will see their
costs increase too, including many who never drive on I-70 or do so merely for the first few blocks into
downtown St. Louis. (And yes, the new Mississippi River Bridge should have been a toll bridge.)

A Missouri driver, using baseline assumptions of driving 20,000 miles per year in a car getting 25 miles per gallon,
would pay $120 more per year in gas taxes after a 15-cent increase. That would equal eight trips on I-70 if we
estimate a $15 toll to cross the state. However, all Missouri motorists and anyone else buying gas in Missouri
would pay that tax increase, whether they use I-70 or not. Truckers and frequent highway travelers would likely
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have to pay more with a toll than with a gas tax increase. There is nothing unfair about that because they are the
people choosing to use the asset and drive the road.

How should one pay for public goods and services, through taxes or user fees? Good public policy often comes
down to the economic questions of rivalry and excludability. Pure public goods are non-rivalrous (meaning that
your consumption of it does not limit my consumption) and non-excludable (meaning that it is difficult to prevent
someone from using a particular good). Sound public policy suggests that general taxes pay for those types of
public goods. A local road system is not excludable (there is no means of keeping someone from leaving their
driveway and driving on the street) and non-rivalrous (your use does not impede my use, although congestion
makes any road rivalrous in certain conditions). Taxes, such as a general gasoline tax, are preferred for these
systems.

Interstate highways connecting major cities (and many bridges) do not meet those standards for public goods.
Their limited entry points make it easy to control access, so they are readily excludable. And while highways are
not considered rivalrous, they are more rivalrous than local roads because of greater issues with congestion due
to peak travel time demands and limited alternative routes. Smart policy is to pay for services like this via fees —
in this case, tolls.

Tolls provide the necessary funds to build and maintain the road assets that benefit certain users, such as
truckers, more than others. They provide a reliable source of funds to maintain the road in the future. With the
recent technological improvements to tolling, fees can be efficiently collected without the long lines at toll plazas
that some people may remember. Every state should move in the direction of lower general taxes for roads and
more tolls where appropriate. Missouri's I-70 is one road where it is appropriate.
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Flood insurance a good move based on recent history
By Beth Freeman, Southeast Missourian

2011 will go down in the record books, but not in a good way. Hundreds of residents along the Missouri and
Mississippi Rivers saw their hopes and livelihoods washed away by raging flood water that set records
throughout the Midwest and across the plains.

But it didn't have to be that way. As a regional administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, I
am often asked what residents can do to protect themselves from flooding, or what they can do to make
recovery easier. The single most important thing they can do is purchase flood insurance.
Available to anyone, regardless of whether you live in or out of a designated flood plain, having flood insurance
can mean the difference between a quick recovery with new possibilities, or the uncertainty that accompanies
disaster recovery without it.
Water is devastating. Consider that just one inch of flood water can rack up a repair bill of nearly $21,000; add
just a few more inches to the depth and the cost skyrockets to an average of $52,000.
FEMA can provide some assistance following a significant flood as we did following this year's high water, but it is
rarely, if ever, enough to build back whole. In fact, that is not what it's meant to do.
Considering that the 2011 floods damaged critical infrastructure that typically provided some level of flood
protection, there has never been a better time to explore the options to better protect your home or property.
Last year we embarked on a region wide campaign encouraging residents to purchase flood insurance. Much to
our dismay, our efforts were largely ignored. As we move forward in this new year, I hope we all use recent
history as a guide and take actions to reduce our risk from floods starting with purchasing flood insurance. For
more on flood insurance, visit www.floodsmart.gov.
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Letters to the editor, January 1
Missouri should get smart on crime

Regarding "Learning sets minds free" (Dec. 28): St. Louis University's prison program at Bonne Terre, Mo., is a
credit to Deputy Warden Jason Lewis, Department of Corrections Director George Lombardi and St. Louis
University. They know that being smart on crime and using programs that use no tax dollars trump a toughness
that merely warehouses people and panders to politics.

Two-thirds of our nation's parolees and about half of our state's parolees are rearrested within three years of
release, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Missouri Department of Corrections. Education can
change that, many studies show.

Further, as a lifelong educator, I saw that repeatedly punishing a student for his or her errant behavior only
turned other students against that individual and led the offender to find little point in changing. Unquestionably,
people must be held accountable for their actions, and certain crimes require lifelong confinement, but how we
confine people reflects our own humanity and influences their ability to change. Unleashing public rage without
measures that rehabilitate people hurts all of us. Perpetuating policies that feed our booming prison population
at a cost of $50 billion nationally and $660 million statewide degrades our humanity and flies in the face of
common sense.

St. Louis University's additional program to offer an associate's degree for prison staff also speaks to the
university's commitment to Missourians who provide a vital service for our state. Missouri's prison results
already show improvement over the nation's. Education can improve that further.

Elaine AuBuchon • St. Louis

Without consequence

"Teen moms have a friend in Vashon" (Dec. 28) was shocking. Now students can go to school while pregnant,
have child care when the child is born and collect government benefits. There are no consequences. "Teen Mom"
TV shows, school-based day care and government handouts provide no incentive for teenagers to not get
pregnant.

As parents and teachers, we are supposed to prepare our children for life. How is handing everything to them
preparing them for life? The article states that the mothers pay for the child care based on what they can afford,
but what happens after they graduate? Unless these teens want more out of life than government handouts, we
need to teach them the truth.

Providing child care is not solving the problem. We need to educate teens on how to prevent pregnancy, not
encourage it. Teach them how to use birth control and to say no to sex. A Memphis, Tenn., high school created a
new campaign called "No Baby!" to educate teenagers about preventing pregnancy. The program also is tailored
to give girls and boys the confidence to say no to sex.
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The $800,000 a year the program costs for preschool, transportation and training could be used to educate
students on how to use contraceptives properly or to pay for good counselors to teach our teens to say no to sex.

Tania Novak • Pacific

Education matters

As a city resident, a mother, a grandmother and a retired teacher, I commend the child care program at Vashon
High School for students and their little ones ("Teen moms have a friend in Vashon," Dec. 28). We need these
young women to be allowed to continue in and to graduate from high school. I do hope that the Parent Infant
Interaction Program contains a sex education segment to educate these young women about birth control. They
need to be taught to demand respect from the young men who take advantage of their vulnerability and leave
them with huge responsibilities.

Judy Huff • St. Louis

Common burden

Apparently, the Missouri Department of Transportation wants to make Interstate 70 a toll road in partnership
with private industry, a proposal I strongly oppose. Some of problems I've seen include that tolls are expensive
(Oklahoma: 4 cents a mile for a passenger car), traffic nightmares develop behind the toll booths, tolls are
detrimental to local businesses and the private partnership requires the state to pay a profit to private
organizations.

In any case, MoDOT is being used as a scapegoat for our Missouri Legislature's failure to do its job. The burden
should fall upon all citizens of our state, not just the few who happen to live near I-70. We have one of the lowest
gas taxes in the country, and if funding is falling short, just as with every other aspect of government, we should
all bear a common burden.

The Legislature should consider raising the gas tax and fees on truckers and say no to toll roads in Missouri.

Steve Stegen • O'Fallon, Mo.

Day of service

Last Sunday was a beautiful day for the St. Louis Muslim and Jewish communities. On Christmas, as Christians
celebrated their holy day, we decided it would be a great opportunity for the Muslims and Jews of St. Louis to
come together to show the world that commonality of giving can bring Muslims and Jews closer than ever. It was
about the future, not the past.

We celebrated the Jewish and Muslim Day of Service by blanketing St. Louis with volunteer services at 21
agencies, working side by side. We worked together to better understand what is common between our faiths,
not what is different, and to help people who are not as fortunate.
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We started the day off with a small breakfast. After short talks by Rabbi Justin Kerber from Temple Emmanuel
and Sheikh Ali Bagegni from the Northwest Islamic Center, the day's events proceeded. Our objective was to give
relief to Christian friends working on Christmas day by taking their place so they they could spend the day with
their loved ones.

Our Jewish friends joined us at the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis to assist in making 350 soup bags for
food pantries. We ended by saying goodbye and pledging to continue the tradition, working together to make a
difference in St. Louis for our children and grandchildren.

Zubaida Ibrahim • St. Louis County

Refusing to learn

On Oct. 22, 1979, the United States allowed the Shah of Iran into our country for medical care. On Nov.4, 1979,
52 Americans were taken hostage and held for 444 days. Now the United States is considering allowing the
embattled and reviled president of Yemen into our country for medical care ("Yemeni leader may visit U.S. for
care," Dec. 27).

We didn't learn from Vietnam. We didn't learn from the Iranian hostage crisis. What is it about history that we
refuse to learn?

Bob Sontag • South St. Louis County

Unconscious kings

"Average citizens play role in the payroll tax fight" (Dec. 24) reveals that we've hired some pathetic politicians.
This bunch has reliably failed us. The public has become the servant. Inquiring further, we find that this
government we hired is enjoying a fat income with surprising perks. Meanwhile, those we hired won't work
together, ruin vital discussions and expect re-anointment. These "kings" have polarized the nation, and they plan
to squeeze most of us for crumbs.

While the lobbyists and their padded politicians bond this holiday season, too much of the country is growing
restless. Returning troops couldn't be more confused as they confront today's strange world. Meanwhile, the
kings duel first, feast next and sit securely. Branches of government kick and test the other. The employment
search isn't working for the people and, for starters, needs serious adjustment. Other serious political parties
won't be a crowd!

The CEO-politicians require a reminder, and an absolute shove, to restart their dried gears. "I'm mad as hell"
must be our collective default message to jar these unconscious kings away from their selfish pursuits and
toward working together. As a restless American, I urge others to wake up, get mad as hell and demand sanity in
government. Write to these bums, before they sneak in a moat!

Patrick Meister • Defiance
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Letters to the editor, January 3
Prevailing wage laws just aren't reasonable

Regarding the editorials "Wage rage" (Dec. 12) and "Remember Joplin" (Dec. 29): Our hearts go out to all of the
disaster victims in our state. One of the goals of the disaster relief committee was to find ways to maximize the
relief that could be provided for disaster victims. One of many strategies was waiving the prevailing wage laws on
disaster reconstruction projects.

There is very little that is "reasonable" about prevailing wage laws. Prevailing wage laws dictate the hourly wage
rates contractors must pay to workers on taxpayer-funded construction projects. In Missouri, these rates vary
significantly from county to county. In Joplin, the county line cuts right through the city. Prevailing wage rates can
vary considerably from one side of the street to the other. The basic hourly rate for an iron worker on the Jasper
County side is $17.40; on the Newton County side, it's $25. Which rate is reasonable?

In addition, union health insurance policies generally require that a worker work a minimum number of hours per
quarter to be eligible for benefits. Many workers don't meet those requirements and never become eligible for
benefits. Nevertheless, the taxpayers must pay into these health insurance funds under current prevailing wage
law as "fringe benefits" if the contractor doing the work is a union contractor.

The editorial implied that lower-paid workers are less skilled and produce shoddier work. There are as many
stereotypes relating to the complacency of highly paid trade workers as there are about those who are paid at
lower rates. Quality on construction projects does not relate to wages. There is an abundance of highly trained
workers in the market place today. Quality is assured first and foremost by having clear and concise plans and
specifications for a project and having an adequate number of competent, independent inspectors.

If it's clear to a contractor that quality will be demanded, the contractor will find and pay to hire workers for the
job who are able to produce a quality product. The state does not have to require prevailing wage rates for
disaster relief projects to ensure quality.

House Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller • R-Willard

Evidence in favor of term limits

I offer four very brief arguments in favor of continuing term limits for our state legislators: State Sen. Jim Lembke,
R-Lemay; state Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington; state Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield; and former state
Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O'Fallon, Mo.

As long as a representative or senator is safe in his district, ineffective legislators like these four can be inflicted
upon the rest of Missouri's citizens indefinitely.

We really need meaningful legislation to remove the influence of corporate and special interest dollars flowing
like a river through Jefferson City and into the pockets and campaign war chests of our legislators. Perhaps one of
the aforementioned lawmakers will take the lead on that issue? I'm not holding my breath.
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Jim Shepard • St. Louis

One-fifth full

"Make your New Year's resolutions stick" (Dec. 29) gave the wrong impression that New Year's resolutions are
ineffective. Actually, well-designed research has shown that 46 percent of people who make specific resolutions
are still on track with their goals six months out, while only 4 percent of people who wanted to change but didn't
make resolutions kept their vows for that long.

Moreover, about one-fifth of New Year's resolvers will maintain their goals for two years or more. That's a pretty
good record, enough to argue that "the glass is one-fifth full."

I would encourage people to make that resolution. Then consider "commitment devices" as one of many possible
tools for one's habit-change toolkit.

Meg Selig • University City

Hope for better in 2012

Let's hope Americans demand transparency and accountability from our politicians, from our government and
from everyone. People should be able to talk about what affects our everyday lives if done with kindness and
truth. Our democracy should encourage voting; any political party suppressing votes should be exposed. Learning
is a process and the responsibility of all citizens. With today's technology, we can learn the truth that will benefit
the vast majority of Americans.

As some letter writers have noted, the new health care plan is good, not perfect, but certainly better.
Unemployment has improved: fewer jobs are being lost than in 2008-09. Osama bin Laden and other enemies
have been eliminated. The end of the war in Iraq has brought many families peace and happiness.

It would be terrific to hear more people talking about passing the jobs bill President Barack Obama and the
majority of Americans want. Let the tax cuts for the wealthiest few expire; that is not a tax increase. Families
earning less than $250,000 per year should keep their tax break; those earning $1 million can afford the tax
revision. That money could be used to reduce the debt and help the country.

Let's have the audacity to hope for better in 2012.

Steve Belosi • Lake Saint Louis

Don't drive more seniors into poverty

While Social Security is extremely effective in helping the vast majority of seniors stay out of poverty, millions
more are living at or below the poverty line. This is why the ongoing debates over deficit spending are of utmost
importance to seniors. When Congress recessed for Christmas break, it was implied that everything would be on
the table in the next round of deficit talks.
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Seniors contributed to Social Security most of their working lives, they and count on that income. This promise
was made to all working Americans by our government 76 years ago, and the money generated by working
Americans over the years has grown into a $2.5 trillion surplus, more than enough to pay full benefits for many
years to come.

More seniors and disabled Americans will be plunged into poverty and homelessness if cuts are made to Social
Security, Medicare or Medicaid. It is wrong to include working Americans' guaranteed benefits in the deficit-
reduction strategies. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid did not cause the deficit problems. Social Security
surplus funds should not be used to fix the deficit.

There are no jobs for millions of Americans, and there are no jobs for our seniors who need additional help to
stay above the poverty level. It is time our elected representatives focus on the true causes of our financial
problems, starting with requiring the wealthiest among us to pay their fair share of taxes and protecting the most
vulnerable among us.

Earline Jones • Bridgeton

Alliance for Retired Americans, Education Fund

Gray Panther Party

Again, we are witnessing a failure of leadership at a critical juncture in our recovery. Many in the private sector
and in government seek solutions for our nation's problems. My solution is the Gray Panther Party, seniors age
62 or older, retired or soon to be. We are the only group with enough people and resources to restore balance to
our legislative process.

These older Americans are the legitimate beneficiaries of America's greatness and have contributed much to
make America the kind of nation we all would like our children to enjoy. We can give voice to the 99 percent who
are left out of the process.

Stand with me and others in making our voices heard to the Tea Party, to Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax
Reform (reform apparently doesn't include tax increases) and to the world.

Our collective voices are needed urgently. While others seem to be running from the debate, I welcome the
challenge.

Alvin E. Bolden • East St. Louis

								
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