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Analysis: Mo. lawmakers use budget to
make points
By DAVID A. LIEB/The Associated Press
March 16, 2008 | 5:04 p.m. CST
JEFFERSON CITY — Republican House members have made a political point by cutting the budget of
Democratic Attorney General Jay Nixon. But it may be a dull point when it comes to state law.
Republicans on the House Budget Committee voted late at night last week to cut $3.3 million and more than 50
employees from the attorney general‘s office and instead give the money and people to the Department of Labor
and Industrial Relations.
The transfer is intended to strip the attorney general of his ability to defend the state‘s Second Injury Fund
against claims from people who suffer repeated workplace injuries. Two separate analyses have projected the
fund will become insolvent within the next two years.
The analyses cite a need for more revenues. But Republicans want to pin the potential insolvency on the rising
payouts to injured workers, suggesting Nixon‘s attorneys are to blame. It just so happens that Nixon is the
Democratic candidate for governor.
―My concern is I don‘t think the fund is being managed or defended well,‖ said Rep. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis,
who led the effort to transfer money away from Nixon‘s office.
But Lembke‘s amendment itself could cause concern.
That‘s because the budget cut runs contrary to Missouri law, which specifically requires the state to use assistant
attorneys general to handle workplace disability and death claims made against the Second Injury Fund.
The bottom line is this: If the budget cut stands up, the attorney general‘s office still would be required by law to
handle the injury claims, even if it no longer has the people and money to do so.
―It would be an unfortunate disruption of services and appropriate compensation for injured workers,‖ said Nixon
spokesman John Fougere, who contends the office has done an efficient and effective job of defending claims
against the injury fund.
When statutory changes are needed to enact a budget item, the House normally requires a bill making those
changes to have first passed before the money is included in the budget.
That‘s why the budget the House will debate later this month includes no money for Gov. Matt Blunt‘s proposed
expansion of government subsidized health care or House Speaker Rod Jetton‘s proposed pay raise for
teachers. Their corresponding bills are still in committees.
House Republicans appear to have created an exception to that rule to try to make a point about the Second
Injury Fund. A bill changing that statute has yet to receive a committee hearing.
Yet the budget cut also makes a point about lawmakers. Over the years, legislators have displayed a pattern of
budgetary point-making. Consider these few examples:
•This marks the second time House Republicans have voted to transfer Second Injury Fund money away from
the attorney general to the labor department. The House did it last year. But the Senate reversed that move.
• House members for several years voted to reduce state subsidies for Amtrak‘s twice daily passenger train
between Kansas City and St. Louis, registering their dislike of the service. Each time, the Senate restored the
money.




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• Last year, Sen. Harry Kennedy, D-St. Louis, cut in half the $157,238 salary of a Department of Social Services
official because he was unhappy with the administrator‘s response to his questions. The bureaucrat‘s full salary
ultimately was restored in the final version of the budget.
• In 2002, House members cut the UM System‘s budget by $500,000 in protest of a policy at MU‘s TV station
prohibiting staffers from wearing patriotic symbols; by $120,000 because some politicians believed the assistant
chancellor of the St. Louis campus had campaigned while on the job; and by $100,000 in retaliation against a
Kansas City campus professor who wrote about pedophilia and homosexuality.
Budget negotiators ultimately settled on a $200,000 cut to the system‘s budget as punishment for those
offenses. But the cuts didn‘t directly hit their targets. That‘s because the system gets its money in a lump sum,
and UM officials did not plan to take money away from the people or projects with whom lawmakers were upset.
Because of term limits, three-fourths of the House members from 2001-02 are now gone from the legislature. Yet
some of their successors are using similar tactics.
―There are people who are vindictive, and making political points by taking inappropriate actions through the
budget doesn‘t serve anyone well,‖ said Rep. Rachel Storch, D-St. Louis. She objected, to little avail, during the
House committee vote that transferring the Second Injury Fund money away from the attorney general likely was
illegal.
Lembke said labor department officials want to take over the duties of defending Second Injury Fund cases. But
Storch said no one from the department made that request during budget hearings. And department officials
declined to comment.
Were Lembke‘s budget cut to stick, it might backfire. By transferring the defense of the Second Injury Fund to
the executive branch, Republicans might enable a Nixon administration to continue overseeing it, if Nixon is
elected governor.
Lembke said he hadn‘t considered that possibility.




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Missouri treasurer misread illegal immigration study
By KIT WAGAR
The Star‘s Jefferson City correspondent
JEFFERSON CITY | In her first big policy foray since jumping into the race for governor, Missouri Treasurer
Sarah Steelman last week went after a familiar target — illegal immigrants.
The Republican presented a report to a Senate committee, expounding on the burden that illegal workers place
on the state and federal government. Such workers and their employers avoided paying between $242 million
and $449 million a year in income and payroll taxes for Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance,
she said.
―So the problem is quite evident,‖ Steelman said. ―It also creates an unfair advantage for employers who are not
paying those taxes over companies that do pay the required taxes.‖
The problem was that Steelman‘s numbers were based on the misinterpretation of a nationwide study.
Steelman‘s report overstated the estimate of illegal workers in Missouri by 5,800 to 10,800 workers. It overstated
the unemployment rate among illegal workers by more than two-thirds. It also assumed that not a single illegal
immigrant living in Missouri works for an employer who withholds and pays payroll taxes.
Other studies estimate that at least half of illegal workers pay normal withholding and payroll taxes. Those issues
combined would cut Steelman‘s estimate by nearly 60 percent.
Officials in Steelman‘s office conceded that her testimony was flawed, but they insisted her point was still valid
— employers who hire illegal workers need to be punished because they rob the government of taxes and
deprive Missouri residents of jobs.
But people who study immigration issues say such mistakes don‘t merely exaggerate the problem. They also
illustrate the vague — and often wrong — information that pervades discussions of illegal immigration and can
skew public policy.
Steelman‘s report, for example, also failed to note that illegal workers who pay payroll taxes contribute to a
Social Security system from which they can never qualify for benefits, said Ruth Ehresman, a Missouri policy
analyst who in 2006 wrote a report on costs associated with illegal immigration.
Steelman‘s report also failed to take into account sales taxes that illegal workers pay whenever they go into a
restaurant or store, said Joan Suarez, the chairwoman of Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates, which is
based in St. Louis.
―It blows my mind that someone running for statewide office could be so uninformed and could have such a
limited understanding of laws and the way revenue is collected,‖ Suarez said.
Immediately after her presentation to the Senate Pensions Committee, Steelman reiterated the numbers she
gave to lawmakers. She cited figures from the Pew Hispanic Center, a Washington think tank, which estimated
Missouri‘s illegal immigrant population at 35,000 to 65,000 people.
But Steelman‘s report used those figures as the number of workers, without noting that the Pew Hispanic Center
estimated that one of every six illegal immigrants is a child who does not work.
Deputy Treasurer Doug Gaston later acknowledged that the report overstated the Pew center‘s estimate of
illegal workers. But he said the error was insignificant because no one knows the actual number.
―The numbers may be overstated or understated, but we know it‘s a problem,‖ Gaston said. ―Illegal immigrants
are in our state and they are working without paying taxes. This was an effort to quantify that.‖




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Steelman said her report was prompted by the case of a St. Charles County contractor who was caught
employing illegal workers on a project that received state tax subsidies. She presumed that those workers were
paid under the table.
Steelman said such employers should have their tax credits rescinded and perhaps have their business licenses
cancelled.
She estimated that the unpaid taxes from illegal workers cost Missouri $26.4 million to $49.1 million, based on
an average wage of $25,000 a year per illegal worker.
But the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a national think tank, estimated that half the nation‘s illegal
workers pay taxes through normal payroll withholding.
The Pew study that Steelman cited as the basis for her report found that most illegal immigrants work in
construction, food processing, restaurants, building maintenance, landscaping, manufacturing and health
services.
Suarez said illegal workers may get jobs by using Social Security numbers that belong to friends or relatives. But
relatively few large employers will risk running afoul of tax authorities by paying millions of dollars in cash wages
under the table, she said.
Even the Missouri Department of Revenue said it received ―a wave of tax returns‖ last year seeking refunds of
excess taxes withheld using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number rather than a Social Security number.
Such refund applications are presumed to be from illegal workers and are not processed, the department said.
In 2006, Ehresman, director of health and budget issues for the Missouri Budget Project, a public policy group,
wrote a report on illegal workers that was based on the same national statistics that Steelman cited. Ehresman‘s
report estimated that illegal workers paid Missouri taxes totaling $29 million to $57 million a year, mainly through
sales taxes on purchases.
Gaston said Steelman was standing by her report, despite the discrepancies.
―The point was that — even if we don‘t know the number of illegal immigrants, whether it‘s 35,000 or 65,000 or
155,000 — it‘s coming at a cost to the state,‖ Gaston said.




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Services for poor, or pay for dentists?
By Virginia Young
POST-DISPATCH JEFFERSON CITY BUREAU CHIEF
03/17/2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Christine Rodgers of St. Clair has lost her back teeth to decay and gum problems. She's
trying to save her front teeth, but paying for dental work is tough for the single mother of four.
"It costs me, it really costs me," said Rodgers, 38, who stays home to care for a disabled son. "I borrow the
money from my mom to pay for it."
Rodgers lost her state-paid dental insurance in 2005, when Gov. Matt Blunt and the Legislature reduced
services for most adults on Medicaid. Republicans said the cuts were needed to balance the budget and free up
money for other priorities.
Now that the state treasury has built up a surplus, Blunt wants to reinstate some of the services for people like
Rodgers. His budget includes $23 million to restore dental care for 280,000 low-income adults on MoHealthNet,
which replaced Medicaid.
But Blunt's fellow Republicans in the House don't want to expand coverage. Instead, they want to give dentists
who see poor people a bigger pay raise than Blunt has proposed.
House Budget Chairman Allen Icet, R-Wildwood, said he made the change in the proposed budget at the
request of the Missouri Dental Association, which represents dentists.
"Their No. 1 issue was access or rates, which I agree with," Icet said. "There's no reason to expand the program
when dentists won't take them."
Dentists say it's hard to participate in the program when the state pays less than one-third of the usual rate.
"Under the current system, dentists are actually losing money every time they see a Medicaid patient," said
Aaron Washburn, who lobbies for the Missouri Dental Association.
A study conducted by Citizens for Missouri's Children found that only 7 percent of practicing dentists in the St.
Louis area accepted Medicaid patients in 2000.
In rural areas of the state, 95 dentists handle 80 percent of the caseload, according to information provided last
week by the MoHealthNet Division.
"The rates are beyond terrible," said Dr. Elizabeth Harvath, a dentist in Pacific who sees low-income patients.
For example, the state pays $11 for two bitewing X-rays, which is about 32 percent of the customary rate
established through a national survey.
The governor wanted to increase dentists' rates by $7.2 million, which would have given dentists about 35
percent of their customary rate.
Icet more than doubled Blunt's proposed rate increase. His $19 million boost would put rates at 51 percent of the
norm.
Joe Squillace, a doctoral student at St. Louis University, has studied the dental issue for a decade. He said more
dentists would participate if rates reached 75 percent of the customary rate.
But Squillace says that even if the Legislature provides the money, it might not go to dentists. Low-income
families in the metropolitan areas and the I-70 corridor are insured through managed care plans that subcontract
with dental administrators. They don't always pass along the rate increases to dentists, Squillace has found.
No matter what size the rate increase, Democrats say they will try to add dental coverage for adults.




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"We need both access and coverage," said Rep. Rachel Storch, D-St. Louis.
Under Icet's budget, dental benefits would continue to be provided only for children, as well as adults who are
pregnant, blind or in nursing homes. Other adults qualify only if they experience "trauma" through an injury.
Harvath, the dentist in Pacific, said many needy people have no options when a dental problem hits. She recalls
an elderly farmer from Hermann.
"He says, 'Oh, I broke another tooth off and I'm in incredible pain. What am I going to do? I don't have that kind
of money.'"
Those patients either end up with worse health problems or go to emergency rooms, where the care is more
costly for taxpayers, Harvath said.
MoHealthNet director Ian McCaslin agrees. He said he is holding out hope that legislators will add the coverage,
which he calls "the right thing to do."
The full House will consider MoHealthNet funding as part of the social services budget on March 26. Then it
would go to the Senate.
And while the House committee has dropped the plan to expand coverage, the Senate Appropriations
Committee has shown more interest in it. The Senate is scheduled to consider a supplemental budget bill to
cover the last three months of this fiscal year. It would include dental care for adults.
Sen. Joan Bray, D-University City, pushed for the coverage. Dental care, she said, is "really important if we're
going to have healthy people."




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Education funds cut back
Money meant for Western, Northwest gets trimmed in budget talks
by Alyson E. Raletz
Monday, March 17, 2008
A difference of opinion in funding for higher education has trickled into the budgets of universities in Northwest
Missouri.
Funding slated for both Missouri Western State and Northwest Missouri State universities is slightly lower than
what Gov. Matt Blunt recommended in January for fiscal year 2009, which starts in July.
The two universities weren‘t singled out, however, as universities statewide took hits.
House budget chairman Rep. Allen Icet told the News-Press he and Mr. Blunt agreed last year to increase
university funding 12.6 percent over three years. Mr. Icet said he planned on making a 4.2 increase each year
for three years, but the governor‘s recommendations compounded the numbers and called for larger increases.
In forecasting for 2010 and 2011, Mr. Icet said it was necessary to pare down the budgets.
That meant Mr. Blunt‘s roughly $23.9 million recommendation for Missouri Western went down to nearly $23.52
million — an exact difference of $378,861. The total budget is still almost 5.2 percent more than funding for the
current budget year.
Nearly $69,000 of the reduction hits core funding for the university, while the remainder stems from the
committee‘s decision not to fund ―Prepare to Care,‖ Western President Dr. Jim Scanlon said.
Mr. Blunt originally budgeted more than $13 million for the statewide program aimed at boosting the number of
Missouri graduates who studied health-related professions.
Western would have been able to use the ―Prepare to Care‖ dollars for faculty positions, scholarships or other
expenses to increase the number of students, particularly at its nursing school, Dr. Scanlon said.
―Without those funds, we will not be able to make that
increase,‖ he said.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Ed Wildberger, of St. Joseph, said he understands Mr. Icet‘s stance
to be leery of funding new programs with a questionable economy.
―But I opposed it because we need those health care workers,‖ said Mr. Wildberger, a budget committee
member.
The budget committee also trimmed Northwest‘s increase back to roughly 4 percent. The governor
recommended about $33.167 million, but the current proposal puts the budget at roughly $33.045 million. While
less than the governor‘s wishes, it would be higher than the current budget, which is nearly $31.765 million.
―(Mr. Icet‘s) being faced with balancing the budget in a slowing economy,‖ Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah, said.
Mr. Lager‘s district encompasses Northwest in Maryville.
―As a guy who had that responsibility in the past, I respect his decision,‖ Mr. Lager said.
He previously served as the House‘s budget chairman.




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Blunt fundraising committee agrees to fine for campaign-
finance law violations
By KIT WAGAR
The Star‘s Jefferson City correspondent
JEFFERSON CITY | Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt‘s campaign fundraising committee has agreed to pay a $15,000
fine for violations of campaign-finance laws over the last four years.
In a statement issued Friday, Blunt‘s campaign acknowledged the fine, but insisted that the campaign had done
nothing wrong and agreed to pay it simply to settle the dispute.
Spokesman John Hancock labeled the investigations a witch hunt inspired by the Missouri Democratic Party and
an out-of-control state Ethics Commission. He said the dispute boiled down to a ―debate about accounting
practices and interpretation of notoriously vague and ambiguous campaign finance statutes.‖
But Democratic Party officials said the fine showed how egregious the violations were.
―This is a glaring example of why we need to restore integrity to the governor‘s office by electing someone with
different priorities and a different way of doing business than Matt Blunt,‖ said party spokesman Jack Cardetti.
Hancock insisted the investigation was unfair and the fine was a minor inconvenience.
―That we have settled a three-year case for the small sum of $15,000 tells ‖ Hancock said in you what the
agency thinks of the case, which is ‗not much,‘ the statement. ―That we complied with the law remains our
position, the same as on day one, three years ago. The two sides made an agreement that will enable us to
move forward and to expose the lawlessness and abuse of power that was carried out by the Missouri Ethics
Commission members and staff.‖
Joe Carroll, commission director of campaign finance, called the fine significant.
The fine settles several issues, including Blunt‘s use throughout his 2004 campaign of a motor home owned by
Mike Kehoe, a Missouri auto dealer. It also settled accusations that Blunt‘s campaign accepted more than
$100,000 in contributions that exceeded limits in state law, and the campaign‘s handling of a nearly $39,000
payment from the Republican National Committee.
Democrats said use of the motor home amounted to an illegal contribution that far exceeded the maximum
contribution allowed under state law.
The Blunt campaign was never billed for the use of Kehoe‘s motor home throughout the 2004 election campaign.
But Hancock maintained that it was legal because the campaign paid as soon as an invoice was received in
2005, months after the Democrats filed their complaint.
The Blunt campaign disclosed in July 2005 that it paid $6,159 to Kehoe‘s Ford dealership for mileage and
repairs to cover damage incurred during the campaign. Kehoe has said he delayed mailing the invoice until all
repairs had been done.
But Democrats said Blunt‘s campaign not only failed to report the vehicle‘s use, but also understated its value.
The agreement also settled a complaint filed by the commission, whose auditors found that 106 donors gave
Blunt‘s campaign contributions that exceeded the limits in state law by a total of $101,060, Blunt‘s campaign
said.
Also, the agreement settled allegations that a $38,982 payment from the RNC was an illegal contribution that
exceeded state limits. Hancock said the payment was a partial refund of payments for travel by President Bush




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to campaign on Blunt‘s behalf. The refund should have been deposited in Blunt‘s 2004 campaign account, not
Blunt‘s 2008 campaign, Hancock said.
The 2008 campaign raised nearly $10 million, but ended in January when Blunt dropped out of the race.
Hancock said the parties agreed that ―Matt Blunt did not have any direct knowledge of any of the matters‖ in the
dispute and that Blunt ―understood and believed that all such reports were filed in full compliance with the law.‖
But Cardetti said, ―Matt Blunt didn‘t know he was riding on Mike Kehoe‘s bus? That‘s pretty far-fetched.‖
Hancock said the staff-initiated portion of the audit was an abuse of discretion and probably unlawful. The audits,
he said, found that all contributions were reported in a timely way. Blunt‘s campaign was caught up in
―retroactively changing the campaign accounting rules,‖ he said.
―The campaign would rather refund these amounts than pay lawyers and accountants to engage in a further
debate with the Ethics Commission over the nuisance of its campaign finance accounting rules,‖ Hancock said.




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Blunt campaign to pay $15,000 fundraising fine
Bus lease not properly recorded, agency says.
COLUMBIA DAILY TRIBUNE Published Saturday, March 15, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY (AP) - Gov. Matt Blunt‘s campaign said yesterday that it has agreed to pay $15,000 to settle
fundraising complaints with the Missouri Ethics Commission.
The agreement, which was filed with the commission earlier this week, also calls for the campaign to return more
than $100,000 in over-limit donations. The commission issued two letters reprimanding the governor‘s campaign
committee.
In the agreement, Blunt‘s campaign repeatedly denies wrongdoing but agrees to accept the ethics commission‘s
interpretation to close the review. Although the ethics commission hasn‘t released the agreement, Blunt‘s
campaign provided a copy yesterday to The Associated Press.
In January, Blunt announced he would not seek re-election.
Blunt campaign spokesman John Hancock called the review a "three-year fishing trip" that amounted to an unfair
and politically motivated abuse of power. He also called for legislation to rein in the commission and allow fines
against the executive director if staff break the law. "This is very much the political equivalent of a frivolous
lawsuit," Hancock said. "They frankly cost more money to litigate than they do settle."
Ethics Commission Executive Director Robert Connor had no immediate comment.
The six-member state ethics commission was created by a 1991 law and is responsible for enforcing conflict of
interest, lobbying and campaign finance laws. Its members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the
Senate.
The settlement follows complaints filed by the Missouri Democratic Party and an audit initiated by the
commission.
Democratic Party spokesman Jack Cardetti said the fine shows that integrity needs to be restored to the
governor‘s office.
"We wanted the Missouri Ethics Commission to take action against Gov. Blunt for campaign finance violations,
and even though it took a little too long, we‘re glad this matter is finally closed," he said.
Democrats complained in April 2005 that Blunt‘s campaign didn‘t properly report a tour bus leased from a Mid-
Missouri car dealer during the 2004 campaign. The dealership‘s owner, Mike Kehoe, was later appointed to the
Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission.
The ethics commission in the agreement said the estimated cost for a 2003 Winnebago and a 2004 Ford
Explorer should have been reported when they were leased and not when payments were later made in 2005.
In the 20-page settlement agreement signed by the campaign committee‘s treasurer and deputy treasurer, the
ethics commission agrees that Blunt didn‘t have personal knowledge of violations.
"At all times and for all reports related to any committee supporting his election, Matt Blunt understood and
believed that all such reports were filed in full compliance with the law," the settlement agreement said.




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'Green' bills get states' attention
By JASON NOBLE and DAVID KLEPPER
The Kansas City Star
JEFFERSON CITY | Kansas and Missouri lawmakers are trying to go green this year but, so far anyway, it looks
to be a pretty pale shade.
In Missouri, lawmakers have introduced nearly 20 bills promoting energy-efficient technologies and encouraging
environment-friendly development — mostly through tax incentives aimed at consumers.
Similar proposals are under consideration in Kansas, although critics say they‘re little more than concessions to
calm opponents of a controversial power plant expansion.
―We‘re pretty sensitive to the issue,‖ said Missouri Senate Majority Leader Charlie Shields, a St. Joseph
Republican.
―There‘s a lot of attention being paid to environmental, or green, initiatives and energy-saving initiatives.‖
Both states, though, are avoiding far-reaching legislation and generally shying away from mandates that would
require action by businesses or consumers.
Show Me green
In Missouri, the bills showing movement this year rely on tax policy as a prod to change consumer habits and
business operations.
The House last week gave first-round approval to a bill granting a $2,000 income tax deduction for the purchase
of hybrid vehicles manufactured in the United States.
―Government should be in the forefront of change, but we have to have an incentive,‖ said Rep. David Sater, a
Cassville Republican and the bill‘s sponsor.
The tax break would be available for American-made cars such as the Ford Escape and Chevrolet Malibu
hybrids — both of which are produced at auto plants in the Kansas City area — but would leave out the
Japanese-made Toyota Prius, far and away the country‘s best-selling hybrid.
In the Senate, language recently added to a large agriculture bill also addresses alternative-fuel vehicles. The bill
includes not only a tax deduction for hybrid purchases, but also incentives for consumers who purchase 85-
percent ethanol gasoline and gas-station owners who install alternative fuel facilities.
A green omnibus bill encompassing several Democratic and Republican proposals is also in the works, said
Sen. Kevin Engler, a Farmington Republican. That bill will include legislation, introduced by Sen. Jeff Smith, a St.
Louis Democrat, aimed at encouraging environmentally-friendly development in the state.
Smith‘s legislation would create a ―Show Me Green‖ sales tax holiday each April in which consumers could
purchase Energy Star-certified energy-efficient appliances free of state and local sales tax.
Smith‘s bill would also create tax credits for constructing energy-efficient buildings, completing home-energy
audits and buying Energy Star-certified appliances.
Such incentives could have far-ranging economic effects, he said.
―Encouraging green building can spawn more residential development at a time when the housing market is
lagging,‖ Smith said. ―It can spawn the development of new industries that will be created to meet the demand
for more of the products that go into green houses.‖
A few lawmakers have proposed bills demanding more forceful action against global warming, although it‘s
unlikely they‘ll weather the legislative process.
A bill presented in a House committee last week by Rep. Talibdin El-Amin, a St. Louis Democrat, would go the
furthest by requiring greenhouse-gas emissions in the state be reduced to 1990 levels by 2022.



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Industry, manufacturing and energy lobbyists castigated the bill.
―We are not an island or a nation by ourselves. We have to compete with other states, with other nations and
even our neighbors,‖ said David Overfelt, a lobbyist for Associated Industries of Missouri. ―We‘re afraid these
types of regulations would make it virtually impossible to expand or even consider expanding in this state.‖
One exception to lawmakers‘ no-mandates mantra, however, is a Senate bill requiring all diesel fuel sold in the
state to contain 5 percent biodiesel, an alternate fuel derived from vegetable oil or animal fat.
In Kansas
Kansas lawmakers have put forward several green bills, but all are overshadowed by the key issue of the year: a
coal-burning power plant expansion in western Kansas.
Both the Senate and the House have passed legislation designed to clear the way for Sunflower Electric Power
Corp. to build two new coal plants at its existing Holcomb, Kan., plant.
The state‘s top regulator rejected the plans last year, citing the estimated 11 million tons of carbon dioxide the
expanded plant would produce.
CO2 is currently unregulated by the state.
Lawmakers balked at the rejection, and created legislation to eliminate the regulator‘s power to reject the plant
so long as it meets current state environmental rules.
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has vowed to veto the bill, saying it doesn‘t do enough to encourage renewable energy
or protect the environment.
To balance the coal plant bill, lawmakers inserted several provisions they hoped would curry favor with
environmentalists.
They include:
•Standards to require most utilities to generate 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2012
and 20 percent by 2020.
•A proposal to allow those with solar panels on their homes to sell excess electricity back to their utilities.
•Incentives for landlords to invest in energy-efficient construction and air/heating systems.
•The creation of a new energy commission that will include both scientists and laypeople to study the state‘s
future energy needs and the role global climate change may play.
―I thought it was one of the greenest bills in the country,‖ said Rep. Rob Olson, an Olathe Republican who serves
as vice chairman of the House Energy and Utilities Committee. He said the Holcomb expansion will include the
latest in pollution safeguards and that it‘s unrealistic to think Kansas can have a secure power supply without
coal.
―What‘s enough?‖ he asked, noting the opposition from environmental groups. ―Do the people of Kansas want
blackouts?‖
Environmental groups say the modest green initiatives don‘t come close to offsetting the backward step they
think the coal plant bill to be.
The phrase ―green lipstick on a pig‖ has been used more than once.
The environmentally friendly components ―are an attempt to attract those legislators with environmental
concerns,‖ said Stephanie Cole, spokeswoman for the Kansas Sierra Club chapter. ―There‘s no reason that
Kansas shouldn‘t have those in place already.‖




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State warns of scam on unemployment claims
SPRINGFIELD NEWS-LEADER
Missourians checking into unemployment insurance should be wary of a scam involving processing of
unemployment insurance claims, according to the offices of Gov. Matt Blunt and the Missouri Department of
Labor and Industrial Relations
The department warns that that the Internet site, www. unemploymentbenefits.com, is not associated with the
Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.
The site is charging fees ranging from $3 to $10 to file a claim. Consumers are asked to provide a credit or debit
card number and a payment is sent to PayPal.
Processing of unemployment insurance claims is a free service provided by the Department's Division of
Employment Security. Under Missouri law, workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own and
are actively seeking work may be eligible to receive up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits.
To file a Missouri unemployment insurance claim, visit www.moclaim.com.




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Judge selection under scrutiny in state
By TERRY GANEY of the Tribune’s staff
Published Saturday, March 15, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY - The debate over how Missouri should select its judges has evolved into charges and
countercharges about the sources of money supporting each side of the argument.
A group that wants to change the existing selection process has accused the Missouri Bar Association of
imposing a mandatory dues increase on members to protect the status quo. Those who want to keep the judge
selection system intact say out-of-state interests want to take control of Missouri‘s judiciary.
"You just have to guess it‘s a bunch of wealthy people who don‘t like the fact that courts apply the law in a way
they don‘t like from time to time," said Chip Robertson, a former state Supreme Court judge and chief justice and
now a leader of the group that wants to retain the current system. "You‘d have to guess they are the right-wing
types."
Not so, said Jonathan Bunch, 28, a former speech writer for Gov. Matt Blunt and executive director of "Better
Courts for Missouri," the group that wants to amend the state‘s judge selection process. Bunch said 90 percent
of his group‘s funding comes from people in Missouri and that the source of support makes no difference.
"It should not matter if we are getting all our funding from a space alien," Bunch said. "The issue is that the
Missouri Plan" for selecting judges "has flaws."
Since the 1940s, Missouri has used a commission to screen applicants for the top posts on the bench: the
Missouri Supreme Court and appellate courts as well as the largest circuit courts.
In smaller circuits, such as Boone County, judges are chosen by popular vote.
The Missouri Plan replaced the statewide election of appellate judges with a system in which the governor
appoints the judge from a panel of three submitted by the Appellate Judicial Commission. The commission is a
seven-member body composed of the state Supreme Court chief justice, three lawyers elected regionally by
members of the Missouri Bar and three lay members appointed by the governor.
Better Courts for Missouri has submitted a ballot initiative to give the governor control over the selection process.
In the group‘s plan, the governor would appoint all seven members of the commission, who would be subject to
confirmation by the state Senate.
The commission would submit five final candidates to the governor for each judicial appointment. And if the
governor is dissatisfied with all five, the commission would be required to submit another list of five names from
which the governor could pick. The selection process would be open to public scrutiny. The existing process is
not public.
Bunch said these proposals are moderate adjustments to the Missouri Plan, which has been copied to some
extent by more than 30 states. Bunch said more radical changes, such as direct election of judges or
appointments by the governor, are not proposed.
The donors to the effort to change the system do not want their names known because they fear retribution from
Missouri judges, Bunch said. "I‘m protecting the identity of my donors because they are legitimately afraid,"
Bunch added. "We are not skirting any laws. We are not trying to hide behind a veil of secrecy. In time, as we
push the initiative, the people who want to support that will be disclosed, and we will abide by all the laws."
While Bunch has protected those supporting his side, he has also written Missouri Bar Executive Director Keith
Birkes, complaining of a dues increase that would raise $500,000 to keep the current judge selection system in
place. He also complained about a trip some Bar executives took to the Bahamas using members‘ dues.




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Birkes said the Bar‘s board of governors authorized an increase of dues to $190 from $150 in November to
double the organization‘s public education budget from $500,000 to $1 million. The money would inform people
about the value of the selection system.
"We have always strongly supported the nonpartisan plan, and we will continue to educate the public about it
and do everything we can to help it contribute to an impartial judiciary," Birkes said. "Our view is keeping politics
out of the process to the maximum extent is a good thing."
Giving the governor control over the appointment of all the commissioners, who would then be subject to Senate
confirmation, would inject too much politics into the judicial selection system, Birkes said.
"The Senate confirmation makes the process political and makes everyone accountable to political interests,"
Birkes said. "When you get a governor and a Senate of the same party, you are going to have excessive political
influence over the process. That doesn‘t serve the interests of an impartial judiciary."
Birkes said members of the Bar‘s governing board are reimbursed expenses for annual meetings when
continuing legal education lectures are made. He said for this year‘s trip to the Bahamas, board members
received $1,100 each to cover plane fare and two nights‘ lodging.




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Immigration reform turns into a
minefield for lawmakers
By DAVID KLEPPER and JASON NOBLE
The Kansas City Star
To Dick Fatherley, immigration reform is, if not easy,             But the ideas ran into opposition from mom-and-pop
at least logical.                                                  businesses, chambers of commerce and other
                                                                   affected groups. All warned of dire consequences.
Immigrants break the law if they are here illegally.
Businesses that exploit their cheap labor break the                Lawmakers listened, and the bills are changing.
law. The law should be enforced.
                                                                   Rep. Nile Dillmore, a Wichita Democrat, spoke for
―An invasion is an invasion,‖ said the Wyandotte                   many lawmakers recently when he summed up a bill
County man.                                                        now in the Kansas House.
Not to Catholic Archbishop Joseph Naumann of                       ―It‘s not what I hoped it would be,‖ he said, adding:
Kansas City, Kan. If illegal immigration is an                     ―It could have been a lot worse.‖
invasion, he recently told lawmakers, it is ―the
                                                                   Business concerns
strangest invasion in history, where the invaders
clean our houses and harvest our crops.‖                           Reg Robertson, the owner of Custom Lawn &
                                                                   Landscape in Olathe, said immigrants are the only
In Missouri and Kansas, legislators started the year
                                                                   people who are willing to work his seasonal jobs.
by proposing aggressive reforms to satisfy people
such as Fatherley. Many lawmakers say the states                   Robertson told Kansas lawmakers that last year not
have no choice but to address illegal immigration                  a single U.S. citizen answered his ads. He said he
because Congress has not acted.                                    didn‘t knowingly hire illegal workers but worried he
                                                                   could lose his business license anyway if new rules
Now they find that every idea brings a raft of
                                                                   became law.
opponents and curious consequences.
                                                                   ―There‘s 15 million undocumented workers in this
Order college admissions officers to check the legal
                                                                   country doing jobs Americans don‘t want to do,‖ he
status of every applicant? They will tell you there are
                                                                   said. ―There‘s a lot of hysteria out there. … But
thousands.
                                                                   people need to look at what the effects of all this
Shut down businesses that repeatedly hire illegal                  could be.‖
immigrants? Powerful industry groups say ―no way.‖
                                                                   Industry groups in both states objected to a mandate
Require police to crack down? Cops say they don‘t                  to run the names of new employees through a
have the money.                                                    federal database called E-Verify and to tough
                                                                   penalties for hiring illegal workers.
Ask citizens to sign more paperwork at the motor
vehicle office or the welfare line? Expect complaints.             E-Verify contains the names of every legal worker in
                                                                   the United States, but one Missouri lobbyist
As lawmakers weigh the burdens of strong
                                                                   complained that false negatives, in which a legal
enforcement against the cost of doing nothing, they
                                                                   worker is declared illegal, happen about 10 percent
also are eyeing the November elections. Satisfy one
                                                                   of the time.
group and you risk another‘s wrath.
                                                                   Last week, Missouri Sen. Scott Rupp, a Wentzville
Anti-immigration groups liked many of the initial
                                                                   Republican, introduced a bill to require E-Verify only
ideas: proposals aimed at keeping businesses from
                                                                   for companies that work on state-funded projects.
hiring illegal workers, enlisting local police in
enforcement efforts and requiring more proof of                    In Kansas, a Senate committee eliminated the
citizenship from those seeking driver‘s licenses and               mandate entirely and any criminal penalties for
other public benefits.                                             businesses that hire illegal immigrants. Instead, the


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lawmakers endorsed tougher penalties for identity                 immigration. ―We used to arrest illegal aliens when I
theft and human trafficking.                                      was a cop,‖ Hayes said. ―But now we got millions. If
                                                                  we enforce the law, arrest employers and anyone
Supporters of the initial proposal say lawmakers are
                                                                  who helps them (illegal immigrants), they‘d go
caving in to pressure. They vow to push for tougher
                                                                  home.‖
rules when the bill goes to the Senate floor.
                                                                  Gov. Matt Blunt last year ordered the Missouri
―This was set up to fail,‖ said Sen. Peggy Palmer, an
                                                                  Highway Patrol to ask about the immigration status
Augusta Republican who wrote the initial bill. ―It‘s
                                                                  of anyone who was arrested, regardless of accent or
just a game to them.‖
                                                                  appearance. In January, the patrol announced plans
A Kansas House committee supported a bill to                      to deputize 25 troopers as Immigration and Customs
mandate E-Verify starting in 2010, and then the                   Enforcement officers, enabling them to enforce
state would do the database checks. Businesses still              federal immigration law and execute federal
could lose their licenses if they repeatedly hire                 warrants.
undocumented workers.
                                                                  Bills in the Missouri House           would extend Blunt‘s
Some business owners say it is only fair that the                 order to all law enforcement          agencies in the state.
government crack down. In the absence of                          Another bill would mandate            that people who are
enforcement, it is the responsible owners who                     here illegally remain in jail         until their cases are
suffer.                                                           processed.
Sandie Ghilino said he had to close his Shawnee                   Public benefits
masonry business because he could not compete
                                                                  Proposals in both states would do more to ensure
with companies that used illegal labor. He supports
                                                                  that illegal immigrants don‘t get public benefits such
an E-Verify mandate.
                                                                  as food stamps, driver‘s licenses and, in Missouri,
―It‘s either cheat or starve, and I‘m not going to                college admission.
break the law,‖ he said. ―We can‘t pay our house
                                                                  Supporters note that federal law already prohibits
payments, pay our taxes and compete with these
                                                                  illegal immigrants from getting many of these
people.‖
                                                                  services. Following the law also would save money
Police powers                                                     that could go to legal residents, they say.
Police officials say they are too busy to round up                ―The taxpayers pay for this burden,‖ Palmer said.
illegal immigrants and go after robbers, too.                     The Kansas senator estimated that illegal
―Resources are tight already,‖ said Lenexa Police                 immigrants cost state government $235 million a
Chief Ellen Hanson. ―Something else would have to                 year.
go.‖                                                              But critics warned of confusion and bureaucratic
Some Kansas lawmakers agreed that new                             gridlock, and they wonder whether the efforts would
requirements would be unrealistic and difficult for               succeed.
police to carry out. A Senate committee stripped the              Two years ago, when the federal government
idea from its bill.                                               required states to eliminate illegal residents from
The House has not, though a committee revised a                   Medicaid rolls, Kansas began asking for proof of
proposal to make police ask the citizenship of                    citizenship.
anyone they stop. Now, it would be only when an                   About 20,000 people could not offer the proper
arrest is made.                                                   documentation and lost services, though state
But better enforcement is a priority for those who                officials said nearly all were citizens and about half
support aggressive reforms.                                       re-enrolled after finding the paperwork.

Ed Hayes is a former police officer who directs the               The process cost about $1 million and turned up one
Kansas and Missouri chapters of the Minuteman                     confirmed illegal immigrant, a young boy.
Civil Defense Corps, a group that opposes illegal


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―Let us not squander our resources fighting those                  A fix is in the works. The House last week approved
who are not our enemies,‖ said Archbishop                          a bill that would require the checks when a student
Naumann.                                                           enrolls.
Federal law requires that some basic services —                    Political fallout
kindergarten through 12-grade education and
                                                                   You can expect more changes to legislation in both
immunizations, for instance — be given even to
                                                                   states. In Kansas, the first significant immigration
illegal residents.
                                                                   bills go before the full Legislature this week.
Blocking some services while requiring others could
                                                                   While lawmakers may differ on solutions to the
create a gray area for charities that receive state
                                                                   immigration problem, almost all expect to be graded
and federal aid, said Mike Hoey, a lobbyist for the
                                                                   by the voters come November.
Missouri Catholic Conference.
                                                                   Kansas Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer, a Grinnell
―We don‘t think it‘s your intent to force churches with
                                                                   Republican, said he had received 300 e-mails
food pantries that get federal money to check
                                                                   regarding illegal immigration — all but one of them
everybody‘s status,‖ Hoey told lawmakers.
                                                                   supported more enforcement. Rep. Anthony Brown,
Missouri lawmakers initially proposed requiring                    a Eudora Republican, said surveys of his
admissions officers to check the citizenship of                    constituents yielded similar results.
anyone applying to a state college or university. But
                                                                   ‖ said Brown. ―Overwhelmingly, it‘s ‗get tougher
college officials said the idea was not feasible.
                                                                   immigration laws,‘
Too many people apply, they said, and many never
                                                                   Fatherley will be watching. Asked whether his votes
enroll.
                                                                   for state




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Lawmakers Stew Over Tax Idea
JEFFERSON CITY - On Friday, Missouri lawmakers proposed a new way to save taxpayers money.
Members of the State House have announced a new special rebate plan for all items purchased under $600 to
be tax-free.
This tax-free holiday could be good news for Columbia Appliance sales associate Ricky Fontenot, whose
business could use the pick-me-up.
"Well, when this happens, when somebody is thinking about purchasing a front load washer and dryer, there is
no better time to take advantage of that tax-free purchase," Fontenot said. "Well, that is the big deal in
appliances now, it's energy efficiency. A typical top-load washer uses so much more water, it is a waste of water,
on a front-load washer, your clothes basically take a shower instead of a bath."
Gov. Blunt said the types of energy-efficient products that are exempt from taxes would include dishwashers,
refrigerators, washers, dryers, air conditioners, furnaces, water heaters, ceiling fans, light bulbs, dehumidifiers
and programmable thermostats that meet or exceed the requirements of the federal Energy Star Program.
The idea of a "one-time" tax-free weekend is currently washing and drying its way through the State House. In
light of the nationwide economic slowdown, Blunt wants to see it fast-tracked to his desk. Blunt said the sales tax
holiday will follow the delivery of the economic stimulus rebate checks from the Federal Government, and so he
said the holiday will help Missouri families more financially.
Missourians may want to circle some dates on their calendars. The big days to save money are June 27, 28 and
29.
John Graves, co-owner of Downtown Appliance, said the plan could be great news for consumers. "I think that
will have a great influence upon's people's decision to go out and make a major purchase," Graves said.
Purchases that the state hopes will get people to spend a little green while saving some as well. The 'Show-Me
Green' Tax Holiday Plan passed in the House and is waiting to be debated by the Senate.

KOMU-TV --Reported by: JiEun Jeon
Written by: Cate Kelly
Written by: Josh Fowler
Edited by: Brian Logush




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A war of words: 'Mental retardation' has become a
controversial term
SUBURBAN JOURNALS - By Scott Bandle

Is the term "mental retardation" offensive?
Some residents and politicians think so. In the Missouri General Assembly, Senate Bill 756 and House Bill 1627
seek to change the name of the state's Division of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities to the
Division of Developmental Disabilities. The division is part of the Department of Mental Health.
The idea of changing the name, however, has proved to be a divisive issue. One side contends the words create
a stigma and are a relic of an older era; the other side believes the phrase is needed to maintain a focus for state
funding."Parents with relatives with mild retardation want to get rid of it," said state Sen. Tim Green, D-Spanish
Lake. "However, the parents of the severely retarded want to keep it."
Many relatives of residents in the Bellefontaine Habilitation Center are against both bills.
"We believe that 'mental retardation' needs to stay," said Patrick Wells, president of the BHC Parents
Association. "We worry that without it, we'll lose our identity with the center."
Many relatives of the center's residents fought hard in the 1970s to have "mentally retarded" included in the state
codes, Green said.
"Up until 1974, the (Missouri) Department of Health did not have a division for the mentally retarded," he said.
"Many of the (BHC) families helped start one. The state created the Division of Mental Retardation."
A few years later, it became the Division of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.
Wells, who has a brother at Bellefontaine Habilitation Center, said he remembers how hard his parents worked
to have the state start the division.
Green is against SB 756. He and State Rep. Gina Walsh, D-Bellefontaine Neighbors, are longtime supporters of
the Bellefontaine Habilitation Center.
Bill 576 has been defeated twice, Green said.
One group backing the measures is People First of Missouri, which has 45 chapters throughout the state. The
group assists persons with developmental disabilities.
"The words 'mental retardation' are a medical diagnosis, but it's utilized as an insulting term," said Roger Crome,
president of the organization. "Many members of our group have the diagnosis, but they don't like the term.
We're trying to give our members some dignity."
The measures would change the name of the division. The mechanism for allocating funds would not change,
Crome said.
"That's specifically written into the bill," he said. "Nothing will change except the name of the division."
Missouri is one of just seven states that still use the term "mental retardation," Crome said.
"Developmentally disabled" covers a wide a range of health conditions, some major and some minor, Wells said.
The parents association fears that all conditions will be treated the same, sometimes to the detriment of the
more severely disabled.
The association also worries that vital state funds can be diverted if "mentally retarded" is not used, Wells said.



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The Mentally Retarded Citizens of Missouri say the term "mental retardation" not only needs to stay, it also is
medically accurate. The group works out of Jefferson City.
"Mental retardation is a condition," said Susan Wallace, assistant secretary of the organization. "A lot of people
who want the change have not been around for the past 50 years. When you say 'mentally retarded,' I know
what you're talking about."
The organization also worries that state funding could decrease if all developmental disabilities are placed in one
category.
"We think it's a case of too much political correctness," Wallace said.




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Mo. Ethics Commission director stepping
down, but not leaving
KMOX -Friday, March 14, 2008
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) By law, the executive director of the Missouri Ethics Commission must step down
Saturday.
But Robert Connor isn't physically leaving his office. And he's hoping to make a comeback.
Missouri is the only state that places a six-year term limit on the director of its ethics commission.
As a result, Stacey Heislen will take over as acting director Saturday. But Connor says he will remain an Ethics
Commission employee for at least the next several months.
The Ethics Commission is urging lawmakers to repeal the limit. If that happens, Connor could be re-hired as
executive director.
Bills revoking the director's term limit have been endorsed by House and Senate committees but have not been
debated in either chamber.




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House GOP comes up short; legal action imminent in
Blunt public records investigation
Here is the Missouri Capitol Notebook column scheduled to appear this weekend in The Kansas City
Star.
By JASON NOBLE and KIT WAGAR
The Star’s Jefferson City correspondents
  JEFFERSON CITY | House Republicans‘ well-oiled legislative machine slipped a gear last week on a proposed
constitutional amendment to limit rulings by state courts.
  The engine trouble began Tuesday, when the Republicans abruptly shut off debate on the proposal over
vigorous protests from Democrats. The proposal would prohibit state courts from ordering taxes or forcing the
state to spend funds.
 The problems worsened Thursday, when the measure came up for final approval. Democrats, still irked by
Tuesday‘s shenanigans, grilled its sponsor, Rep. Jane Cunningham, for nearly an hour.
 By 1 p.m., Democrats were running out of steam and it appeared as if Cunningham, a St. Louis County
Republican, would be able to ask for a vote. Suddenly, Republicans realized they had a problem.
  Majority Leader Steven Tilley, a Perryville Republican, requested that all House members come to the
chamber. Thursday was the last day of session before the legislature‘s spring break, and more than a few
lawmakers had ducked out early.
 Tilley found that 11 Republicans had hit the road, leaving behind just 80 — two short of the votes needed for
passage.
 Party leaders scoured the halls, huddled on the floor and punched their BlackBerrys. But they remained two
votes short. After a few minutes, Tilley asked to set aside Cunningham‘s proposal until another day.
 House Speaker Rod Jetton later blamed the blunder on the impending spring break. He acknowledged that the
snafu might be a symptom of his lame-duck status.
 ―Well, I am term limited,‖ Jetton said. ―I can‘t give as many favors out and I can‘t break out the stick out very
much with only eight weeks to go.‖
*****
 The latest response from Gov. Matt Blunt‘s legal team virtually ensures a court showdown between the
governor and the investigators examining his handling of public records.
  ―Our letter said, ‗We want to work this out short of litigation because litigation is expensive and time
consuming.‘ They said, ‗Go pound salt,‘ ‖ said Chet Pleban, legal counsel for the independent investigators
appointed by Attorney General Jay Nixon to determine whether Blunt broke the law.
  ―If they would rather have litigation, we will accommodate them.‖
  Pleban, a St. Louis lawyer, and two other investigators are feeling stonewalled in their efforts to obtain
documents for their inquiry. Blunt‘s office claimed it would take seven people working 40 hours a week more
than a year to retrieve records investigators requested and to decide whether they are confidential.
  Blunt‘s office has demanded payment of $540,940 to do the work, but said 43 of 45 categories of records will
probably be withheld anyway.
  Amid the legal clouds, however, a small ray of Sunshine streaked into the case last week when the first
documents stemming from the team‘s Jan. 3 request arrived.


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 The box – containing some 2,300 documents – appeared to be entirely copies of requests the governor‘s office
has received from reporters for access to public records and the office‘s responses, Pleban said.
  The documents were messy, in little discernable order and included documents from 2005 and 2006 that were
never requested, Pleban said. But why did those documents arrive now, 10 weeks after they were requested,
even though the investigators have not paid the fees?
 ―I‘ll tell you the reason – it‘s because of critical stories in the newspapers,‖ Pleban said.
  Blunt‘s office said they don‘t comment on strategy or on the investigation, except to say that the investigative
team is not independent of Nixon, a Democrat who is one of Blunt‘s political rivals.




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Friday, March 14, 2008

Of Seniors and Soldiers
Legislation that would allow combat veterans who served after September 11th to go to college at a cheaper rate
has been approved by the state Senate and is now being discussed in the House.

Sen. Frank Barnitz said Senate Bill 830, would allow post 9-11 soldiers to take classes at state higher
education facilities in Missouri for $50 a credit hour.

Sen. Jack Goodman of Mt. Vernon announced that two of his legislative priorities are moving forward. One is
SB 767, a "measure that offers relief to Missouri‘s overextended public defender system", according to
Goodman's office. The Judiciary Committee approved this bill last week, and is now moving to the full Senate.

Also, a measure that would increase the amount of money seniors can have in nursing homes has cleared the
Seniors, Families and Public Health Committee. Goodman calls SB 990, a modest but important bill. It increases
from $30 to $50 the amount of money seniors living in nursing homes and receiving benefits can have on hand.
The Senate will hear the bill next.
KY3-TV




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Senate approves mortgage fraud
legislation
By SPRINGFIELD BUSINESS JOURNAL Staff
3/14/2008 12:11:07 PM

The Missouri Senate has given final approval to a bill that would create civil and criminal penalties for mortgage
fraud and educate consumers on the mortgage process.
Senate Bill 1059, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, now goes to the House of Representatives for
consideration.
The legislation:
• Gives the Real Estate Commission and Real Estate Appraisers Commission the power to suspend or revoke
licenses for mortgage fraud;
• Makes mortgage fraud a class C felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison;
• Enhances consumer protection laws to protect people from scams; and
• Gives the Division of Finance commissioner power to prohibit offenders from doing real estate lending in the
state.
―We must protect Missouri families from deceitful lenders seeking to turn the American dream of homeownership
into a financial nightmare,‖ Gov. Matt Blunt said in a news release.




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Missouri dairy industry in decline
Missouri imports 1.7 billion pounds of milk a year, a decline resulting from fewer cows.
Betsy Taylor The Associated Press
Morrison — A dairy farmer since he returned to his parents' farm in 1960, Arlen Schwinke has no trouble
highlighting what he likes about the lifestyle: the love of the land, the cows, a wonderful environment to raise a
family.
A few years ago, Schwinke's wife, Kay, thought the farmer, now 77, was getting too old for the day-in, day-out
labor that comes with twice-a-day milking. But he was deeply committed to Missouri's dairy industry. Rather than
sell the cows, he rented them out to other farmers and retains ownership of the offspring.
"We kept seeing cows leaving the state of Missouri," he said. "I wanted them to stay here. That was the
motivation," Schwinke said.
Milk production is up nationwide and the number of dairy cows remains steady at about 9.2 million. Still, several
states like Missouri — with a history of small, family-owned farms — are seeing declining numbers of dairy
operations despite efforts to expand the industry.
"I would say most states, especially in our region, are in the same situation we are," said Missouri Department of
Agriculture director Katie Smith. "All of agriculture is in a different place than it's ever been before."
In an industry with narrow profit margins, there's a trend toward larger dairies and increased production in the
West and Southwest, in states like California, Idaho, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado.
The overall trend in much of the nation is, "you see farms going, but the cows staying," said Allison Specht, an
economist with the Washington-based American Farm Bureau Federation. States with a strong dairy tradition,
like Wisconsin, Minnesota and New York continue to remain strongholds, she said.
But Missouri is losing not just its dairy farm operations, but also seeing a decline in its number of dairy cows and
milk production.
From the 1920s through the end of World War II, the number of dairy cows in Missouri increased from about
800,000 to 1 million. From there, the numbers in Missouri largely declined each year, but cows were also more
productive, so that didn't always translate into less milk being produced.
However, the state has seen more rapid declines in recent years — in 2000, there were 154,000 dairy cows
counted in Missouri. That dropped more than 25 percent by last year, to about 112,000, and has meant a decline
in the amount of milk being produced, from about 2.3 billion pounds in 2000 to 1.7 billion pounds last year.
Missouri now imports about 1.7 billion pounds of milk a year.
The USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service shows the numbers of operations with milk cows in Missouri
are also falling, down to 2,400 last year compared to 3,900 in 2000. Missouri dairy production is a drop in the
bucket — the state contributes just about 1 percent of the national product.
But the loss of cows and dairy farms has real economic ramifications, particularly in rural areas, on jobs related
to feed and supplies, hauling, milk processing and veterinary care.
Dave Drennan, executive director of the Missouri Dairy Association and the Missouri Dairy Growth Council, said
a University of Wisconsin study found "one dairy cow is worth almost $14,000 in economic activity."
Missouri is engaging in a number of efforts to bolster the industry. The Missouri Dairy Growth Council assists
existing farmers, encourages expanded operations and tries to attract new farms.
Smith said a state-hosted summit earlier this month focused on grass-based dairy production practices, as
Missouri tries to capitalize on its land that lends itself to grazing pastures as an alternative to feed costs.
Gov. Matt Blunt supports dairy parlor renovation grants, calling for $200,000 this fiscal year that would allow
farmers to update the area where they milk cows to allow for more efficiency. Farmers would take on 50 percent
of the costs and receive up to $10,000 per grant.



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   Editorials. . .
Contracts should be competitive
There is hope that Missouri's "to the victor go the spoils" system of awarding driver's license offices might finally
be on the way out.
This week, Republican candidate for governor Kenny Hulshof, a Ninth District congressman from Columbia, said
that if elected he'll get rid of the highly criticized system of awarding fee offices to political loyalists and replace it
with competitive bidding.
This is wonderful news.
Since Gov. Matt Blunt actually made the old political system worse by expanding it, there have been calls from
Democrats to get rid of the old political spoils system.
Indeed, the system has been abused by governors of both parties for years, and only after Blunt received initial
criticism about his expansion of the pay-to-play system did he do the right thing and start issuing competitive
bids for some systems.
The process of applying for and receiving a driver's license is too important for it to be caught in a political
system in which donors to gubernatorial campaigns have an advantage in receiving contracts for such state
services. Contracting the service out to individual businesses is fine, in that such privatization frequently saves
the state money. But politics should not be part of the equation. For too long, it's been the only part of the
equation. Most of the license offices in southwest Missouri, for instance, are all run by contributors or relatives of
contributors to the governor's campaign. That's the way the system has been for years, and that should change.
Hulshof and his fellow candidates, Republican Sarah Steelman and Democrat Jay Nixon, would all be wise to
agree that the old system should be scrapped in favor of a new system of competitive bidding.
"These offices should be awarded in the same manner as every other government contract — in an open and
objective way," Hulshof said in a statement announcing his commitment to such a system. "Customer service
should be the top consideration when determining who runs these offices, not who offers the most political
support."
Hulshof is right. So are the Democrats who have pushed for such a system during the past few legislative years.
Politics plays an important role in determining who leads our state. But once that decision is made, governing
fairly and transparently should be the No. 1 goal.
SPRINGFIELD NEWS-LEADER




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Biodiesel: Running on beans
STLTODAY - 03/17/2008
The Missouri Legislature is considering requiring that biodiesel, a fuel usually made from soybean oil, make up 5
percent of diesel fuel sold in the state. But trucks and buses won't be running on soybeans any time soon.
The requirement in Senate Bill 759 would kick in only if biodiesel remains cheaper than regular diesel for an
entire year. Right now, biodiesel costs a few cents more per gallon.
Still, the bill is a step in the right direction, even if its effect remains symbolic. If America is ever to lessen its
dangerous addiction to oil, biofuels must be part of the answer.
Biofuels are not completely clean wins for America; the calculus of the pros and cons is complicated. Consider:
— It takes a lot of fossil-based fuel to grow and process biofuels, And while they've sparked a boom for farmers,
they're also increasing pollution from fertilizer runoff.
— Burning biofuels cuts both ways. Biodiesel actually reduces carbon monoxide emissions from diesel engines,
according to a study by West Virginia University. Meanwhile ethanol increases dangerous ozone when added to
gasoline in low concentrations, although it reduces other pollutants. But high ethanol blends, such as E-85,
reduce pollution overall.
— Oil is arguably worse. The emission problems are obvious, but pumping it, shipping it and refining it are not
clean businesses, either.
— And then there is the question of food prices, up 4.8 percent in January from a year ago. Part of the reason
lies in demand for corn from ethanol plants; the big reason biodiesel is expensive today is because the price of
soy oil has tripled. But other factors also contribute to rising food costs, including rising fuel costs for farming and
transportation. Rising grocery bills also result from foreign crop failures and demand for better diets in the
developing world.
— If the United States abandoned biofuels, the price of corn flakes and animal feeds might slip, but the price of
gasoline might rise as the U.S. bids for more of the world's oil production.
The difficult calculus of biofuels makes some environmentalists wary, even as others cautiously put one foot on
the biofuel bandwagon. The Natural Resources Defense Council says biofuels could cut greenhouse gas
emissions by 1.5 billion tons a year by 2050 if widely used. That equals 80 percent of current transportation
pollution.
Still, biofuels have one advantage that overwhelms many of their drawbacks: They're not made from crude oil.
The United States imports 60 percent of its oil, much of it from unstable and hostile parts of the world. In the
process, we are financing Arab sheiks, Iranian radicals, African kleptocrats, the anti-American president of
Venezuela (who keeps threatening to shut off our oil supply) and probably some terrorists as well.
By contrast, money spent on biofuels stays in the United States employing Americans, many of them here in the
Midwest.
Long term, the key is to make less biofuels from grain and more fuel from waste products, prairie grasses and
other things that don't require intensive farming. Eighty percent of today's biodiesel is made from soy oil. But it
also can be made from animal fat and vegetable oil salvaged from restaurants. Scientists are looking for ways to
make ethanol from cheap switchgrass and agricultural leftovers.
By themselves, biodiesel and ethanol won't solve America's energy problem. The biggest factor remains
Americans' unwillingness to conserve. But as gasoline crashes through the $3 per gallon barrier and heads
north, biofuels look better all the time.



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Finance needed repairs at Governor's
Mansion
A rotted window frame fell from a second-story bedroom at the Missouri Governor's Mansion and
crashed on the grounds below.
Former first lady Lori Hauser Holden recalled the incident, adding: ―I'm grateful it wasn't a tour day when
someone could have been injured.‖
Mrs. Holden said the building's age problems were apparent when she was a resident and added: ―These are
not cosmetic issues. They are serious structural issues.‖
Missouri lawmakers now are considering a supplemental appropriation to address those issues at the Mansion.
Legislators are being asked to appropriate $3 million for needed repairs and renovations.
They include:
* Repair of the mansard slate roof and replacement of flat roofs - $780,000.
* Restoration and repainting of all windows, trim, shutters, columns and cornices; repairing and tuck pointing of
exterior masonry; and replacement of the sun porch storefront framing and windows - $1,100,000.
* Partial replacement of the heating and cooling system; replacement of the first floor kitchen; repairing the
interior flooring; and other minor interior repairs and painting - $1,120,000.
Missouri Mansion Preservation Inc., a non-profit organization, also plans a fundraising campaign for interior
improvements, including replacement of a number of carpets and window treatments.
The Governor's Mansion is a treasure and a resource for the state and the community.
Public tours are hosted on a regular basis, including during holidays when Mansion decor often reflects a special
theme. The Mansion also is made available for a variety of clubs and organizations to hold events.
Countless Missourians - young and old, from all walks of life - visit the Mansion and grounds each year.
Built in 1871, the Mansion is vital to Missouri's history - in its architecture, its role in events and its display of
portraits of every Missouri first lady.
But time and weather have taken a toll and the building, inevitably, has succumbed to deterioration.
We urge lawmakers to approve the money for Mansion repairs and we encourage Missourians to support
renovation efforts.
Help restore the grandeur of the Governor's Mansion.




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The legislators who voted for it should have done
their homework
LAKE SUN LEADER - By Susie Johnson/A view from a Camden County Republican

THE QUESTION: Should the House remove Speaker Rod Jetton from his post for slipping the so-called "village
law" into an omnibus bill last session?
The question has been raised as to whether Missouri Speaker of the House Rod Jetton should be removed from
his post for supposedly 'slipping' the so-called, 'village law' into an omnibus bill at the end of the last legislative
session.
My answer, after researching this issue, is 'No'.
Jetton added the measure to the bill during the regular course of bill writing.
The reason that some lawmakers ' primarily Democrats ' are upset is because they failed to perform their due
diligence by reading the bill or paying attention when the change was added to the legislation.
Lawmakers cried foul only after the legislation had already been passed and signed into law.
To understand the situation, one must understand the nature of an omnibus bill.
In legislative circles, such bills are created when major changes or significant numbers of amendments are
added to a smaller bill.
An omnibus bill often contains a title on a broad topic, thereby providing lawmakers with a legislative 'vehicle' in
which to attach amendments that did not have an opportunity for one reason or another, to be passed as
individual legislation.
This is often seen at the end of a legislative session when time is short and lawmakers are eager to get bills of
interest passed.
The so called 'Village Law' was a statutory provision enacted this past year that would allow property owners in
unincorporated areas to establish their land as an independent village regardless of the population and without
obligation to provide services.
This basically went unnoticed by lawmakers until Lebanon businessman, Robert Plaster, filed a petition to
incorporate land he owns in Stone County into a village.
Establishing his land as a village would free him from local land use restrictions, and he consequently
encountered resistance from local officials and residents.
Speaker Jetton had defended the bill as good for rural development, yet there is currently an effort underway to
repeal the village law. The Missouri Senate has already passed a bill to repeal the 'Village Law'. The House will
consider it next.
The entire argument over the measure has very little to do with its merits and everything to do with political
posturing.
Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle need to do their homework instead of spending their time and our
taxpayer resources on endless political pontification.
As Missouri taxpayers and astute citizens, all of us need to pay careful attention to what is going on in Jefferson
City, because, as this case proves, lawmakers don't always pay close attention to business!


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The sad truth is that many of us go to the voting booth with little or no knowledge or understanding of the person
we are voting for.
Does this person have a burning desire to help his constituency or does he have his own special agenda?
Does he/she study the bills or just 'enjoy' being an elected official? We, as citizens, need to also pay attention '
it's our business and our choice.




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Is it time to jettison Jetton?
LAKE SUN LEADER By Nancy Pope/A view from a Camden County Democrat


THE QUESTION: Should the House remove Speaker Rod Jetton from his post for slipping the so-called "village
law" into an omnibus bill last session?
It's hard to compete with the absurd claim of Republican House Majority Leader Rod Jetton's statement that
'There are some lazy Missourians in this state who really don't want to work, and I think there's a lot of
hardworking Mexicans who would love to come up here and make a little money to support their families.'
Since his party was working hard on creating a tight immigration bill, this comment flew in their faces. He
followed up his comments by adding, 'If we can find a way to trade them, I would trade them in a heartbeat.'
Later he apologized; he learned that the Wayne County business that had openings had 300 applicants and not
three, as he had reported, and he added that he would check his facts more thoroughly from now on.
From his remarks, though, we get the idea that his cure for immigration problems is to switch the populations
from Mexico with those citizens from Missouri.
Hmmm. An interesting solution.
I like the recent editorial in the Lake Sun: 'We have a trade we'd like the good people of Mexico to consider:
We'll trade you one sneaky, underhanded Speaker of the House for a couple cases of cold Coronas.'
Rod Jetton is so good at shooting himself in the foot that many are suggesting that Dick Cheney, who shot a
friend while hunting with a shotgun, take lessons from him.
We can't impeach Rod Jetton. He provides semi-comic relief in this serious Missouri atmosphere of returning
$1.2 billion dollars in federal matching funds to the national government when the state decided to cut thousands
off Medicaid.
Or when a House panel eliminated, completely, the money to expand the number of health care graduates from
Missouri's colleges in the face of a shortage of health care workers as the baby boomer generation retires.
Mr. Jetton raised a real dust up when he slipped a provision into a state Senate omnibus bill that would make it
possible to create a 'village'.
Other Republicans voted against the huge bill because there was no time to read it before it was voted on. This
included Senator Goodman.
Republican representatives Weter and Wood also called Jetton out.
The first to benefit from Jetton's lateral sneak was his good hunting buddy from Lebanon, millionaire contributor
Bob Plaster.
This provision allows the developer to build without building codes, safety ordinances and government officials.
You might find yourself living next door to an asphalt company, a quarry, or even a concentrated animal feeding
operation going by the name of village.
Despite the efforts of the legislature to remove this provision, it remains as a testament to Jetton's shiftiness.
Maybe Mr. Plaster can name his first village, Jetton's Fiefdom and staff it with illegal immigrants who replace
hard-working Missourians.
As Mr. Jetton's final days come to a close in Jefferson City, we see his chief of staff of three years, Chris
Benjamin, running for the Senate in the 31st District as a Democrat!



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Benjamin said that he would focus on education and health care, but thinks running as a Democrat is the best
way to bring about change.
Benjamin makes the second prominent Republican to leave the Republican party, the first being Chris Koster
who is running for Attorney General as a Democrat.
Jetton's mouth is chasing off more Republicans from their party every day.
The Democrats are a big tent party, though, and will take every one who is appalled with this kind of scandalous
behavior.
'Ninety eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hardworking, honest Americans. It's the other lousy
two percent that get all the publicity. But then, we elected them.' -Lily Tomlin




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Missouri, Kansas both need stronger sunshine laws
KC STAR

Records of e-mail probably will reveal whether Gov. Matt Blunt‘s aides used state time and property to conduct
political business.
The messages are public documents under Missouri‘s Sunshine Law, experts on the law say. The governor‘s
office claimed, however, that it routinely had deleted e-mail messages.
Special investigators appointed by Attorney General Jay Nixon have pledged to find the facts.
The flap illustrates the importance of a strong law requiring government documents to be available and
accessible to the public. The public has a right to know what government officials are doing on the taxpayers‘
time and with tax dollars.
The state‘s open records/open meetings law needs clearer definitions of violations, and tougher penalties. That
deserves attention this week which is National Sunshine Week.
Several incidents in the last year alone reflect the need to tighten the law. Those incidents include the Missouri
Ethics Commission‘s disappointing decision to close hearings when candidates pleaded to keep campaign
contributions that went over state limits.
Rep. Tim Jones‘ sunshine bill offers several positive changes. Jones, a Eureka Republican, wants to:
•Make it clear that most meetings and records of the Missouri Ethics Commission are open.
•Broaden the definition of a ―public governmental body‖ subject to the law.
•Require that computer programs used to manipulate data of public bodies be written so that data can be easily
accessed and used by the public.
An example: records that are used in spreadsheets, such as crime reports.
By contrast, legislation sponsored by Sen. Jack Goodman, a Mount Vernon Republican, would make it much
tougher for journalists and others to put together government data in a form that is easily read and understood.
Goodman would put limits on the types of documents that could be turned over to the public.
The public interest is doubly served with a state ―shield‖ law. Such legislation, being considered in both Kansas
and Missouri, would protect journalists from having to reveal their sources except under extraordinary
circumstances and when ordered to do so by a judge.
The risk to the public now is that persons with information about government wrong-doing will not come forward
because they fear being identified. A shield law would encourage whistleblowers to tell what they know without
fear of retribution.
In Kansas, the legislative session ends in early April; in Missouri, it is mid-May. Lawmakers in both states need
to get serious quickly to improve public access to information.


What’s your opinion?
How open do you wish state government to be? Go to voices.kansascity.com.
For more information on Sunshine Week issues, go to sunshineweek.org.




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Leaders should ditch earmarks
SPRINGFIELD NEWS-LEADER
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill has proven to be a woman of her word.
About a year ago, McCaskill made a bold pledge to the News-Leader editorial board.
"I will not participate in the traditional earmark process," she said.
We stumbled over ourselves rushing to our keyboards to get the sentence in print. It's a rare thing for a
Washington politician to oppose the earmarks worth billions of dollars that most bring to their home districts or
states as good will gifts that help guarantee their continued elections. It's equally rare for a politician to make a
pledge and not break it. So, with our skeptical antennae at full alert, we made sure McCaskill's pledge was on
the record, so we could be prepared to swoop in like vultures when she broke her promise.
It hasn't happened.
And this week, McCaskill was a co-sponsor with Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina of an
amendment that would force all of Congress to abide by her pledge. The amendment would have placed a one-
year moratorium on congressional earmarks.
It failed miserably, 71-29, in a Senate vote on Thursday, and that's a shame.
While there are plenty of good arguments from elected officials, including those at the state level, who say they
need the federal money earmarks provide, there is a better way. Some federal grants are competitive and the
process is wide open. Frankly, that's the best way for such projects to be handed out.
At the very least, Congress should continue to push forward on efforts to truly open up the earmark process, by
requiring full disclosure by the congressperson or senator who requests an earmark, and by making it absolutely
impossible for such earmarks to be inserted during the secretive conference process, when there isn't a chance
for every House member or senator to vote up or down on a particular earmark.
A one-year moratorium would have helped prove the madness of the program and it would have saved
taxpayers who need a little relief billions of dollars. That the Senate wouldn't pass the resolution shows that
McCaskill still has a lot of work to do.
Meanwhile, she should stand strong amid criticism from her Missouri colleagues and others that she isn't playing
the game the way it's been played for years. Remember this: It is McCaskill, the Democrat, who's behaving like a
conservative on this important issue.
And a year later, she's stuck to her word.
Good for her.




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Power switch
POST-DISPATCH - 03/16/2008

Missouri utilities want to change state law to encourage energy efficiency programs. They're willing to help their
customers pay for installing energy-saving equipment, insulation or even new energy-saving air-conditioning
systems.
Saving power is a good thing — for the nation, for consumers and especially for electric companies. It means
they don't have to build expensive new power plants to meet increasing demand. The economic benefits for
utilities are so great, in fact, that legislators should be asking why Senate Bill 1277 and House Bill 2298 are
needed to encourage them.
The answer is that they are not. Not the way they're currently written, anyway, and probably not at all.
Utilities say existing state law doesn't clearly permit them to recover the costs of energy-efficiency programs.
Consumer advocates say that's not so. The Missouri Public Service Commission sets rates that cover a utility's
costs and allow a maximum profit, and all major Missouri electric companies already are running energy
efficiency programs. The costs already are built into utility rates.
"We've had case after case where (energy-efficiency programs) are agreed to by" the PSC, said Missouri Public
Counsel Lewis R. Mills, whose office represents ratepayers. "As a matter of fact, the commission has never
turned down a request."
Most utilities already have committed to expanding the programs in future years. Kansas City Power & Light,
which is pushing hardest for a new law, is expanding them as part of a legal settlement with the Sierra Club.
AmerenUE, meanwhile, has publicly promised to ramp up energy-efficiency programs from $24 million in 2009 to
$56 million in 2015.
So why would companies that sell electricity discourage people from using more of it? Because companies can
sell more of it than they can generate. Saving electricity is less expensive than building new power plants.
Demand for electricity is growing year by year as people build bigger homes and buy more power-hungry
electronic gadgets like plasma TVs. Utilities used to respond by building new power plants. But that's much more
difficult today.
Most of the region's electricity is supplied by coal-fired plants. Because of uncertainty about inevitable carbon
dioxide emission caps, Wall Street lenders aren't as willing to lend money to build those plants any more. Just
this month, an electric cooperative in southwestern Missouri was forced to postpone construction of a big coal-
fired plant because of financing problems.
Utilities could propose new natural gas or nuclear power plants. But natural gas is expensive and supplies are
uncertain. Nuclear plants cost billions and take years to come on line. During that time, the utility couldn't charge
ratepayers for construction costs or interest. That's because of a 1976 ballot initiative that prohibits utility charges
for "construction work in progress" — what insiders call CWIP.
After that initiative passed, AmerenUE, then known as Union Electric, unsuccessfully tried to charge ratepayers
for its costs in planning a second, but unbuilt, nuclear unit at its site in Callaway County. CWIP has put the
burden on utilities to do better planning.
Now, consumer advocates worry that SB 1277 and HB 2298 — legislation being touted as encouraging
efficiency programs — actually is a Trojan Horse. There's nothing to keep a legislator, with a friendly nod from a
utility lobbyist, from amending it at the last minute to undercut the CWIP protections.




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Utility companies say that's simply not the case. "KCP&L would not support a bill that would (overturn) CWIP.
Should it be put on this bill, we would endeavor to get it off," Chuck Caisley, the utility's director of government
affairs, told Post-Dispatch editors.
But when asked to cite a specific law that prohibits utilities from being reimbursed for energy-efficiency programs
— in other words, why is this legislation actually needed? — Mr. Caisley provided a four-page legal analysis that
cited electric company appeals of the CWIP law.
If utilities are interested in clarity, they should propose a single-sentence bill that says they can recover the costs
of energy-efficiency programs. We'd support that wholeheartedly, even though we don't believe additional
authority is needed. Energy efficiency is good for the environment, good for consumers and good for utilities.
Instead of doing that, however, utilities have proposed a complex three-page bill that threatens great mischief. It
goes far beyond clarification to threaten important cost controls and consumer protection. That might be a good
deal for utilities, but not for ratepayers




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In Our View: Shelve June tax holiday
JOPLON GLOBE

Missouri‘s back-to-school sales-tax holiday, despite the refusal of some cities and counties to participate, has
proved popular as a short-term economic stimulus.
Since that early-August tax break has been reasonably successful in attracting shoppers to shopping centers,
malls and stores, Missouri legislators last week proposed a second sales-tax holiday, this one in late June, as a
way to jump-start the state‘s economy.
The Missouri Municipal League, as expected, thinks the idea is nutty. Of course, sales taxes are big revenue
producers for cities and counties, many of whom are financially strapped or getting that way. They don‘t want to
give up any more revenue.
But there is more than a grain of truth that dropping sales taxes, particularly the state tax, can encourage people
to open their wallets. That is especially true when retailers tie the tax holiday to big sales events. And just as the
MML opposes such a holiday, the Missouri Retailers Association supports it.
The proposal, approved by a House committee, would exempt from state and local sales taxes all items priced at
$600 or less. The idea is to persuade taxpayers to spend their $600 and $1,200 federal tax rebates.
The back-to-school holiday on selected school items, including supplies, clothing and computers makes sense,
particularly for parents who are being forced by economic circumstances to closely monitor their nickels and
dimes.
Yet, while Missouri consumers see a savings at the cash register on state sales tax, most of our local cities and
counties ignore the back-to-school holiday and keep the customer from seeing the full effect of the savings.
While we think the second sales-tax holiday could be a good idea, there seems to be little reason to adopt it until
local entities get on board.




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Guest columnist, Jeff Davis: Court reversal
frustrating to PSC
JOPLIN GLOBE OP-ED
Readers of The Joplin Globe would be much better served if the paper assigned reporters to cover the Missouri
Public Service Commission instead of editorial writers.
The March 7 editorial misses the mark in several respects. In deciding to hear Aquila‘s request to put a power
plant in Cass County, the Public Service Commission relied on an opinion from that very same court indicating
power companies must receive either local approval or approval by the Public Service Commission before
building power plants.
In Aquila I, 180 S.W.3d at 41, the Appellate court states:
―We affirm the circuit court‘s judgment permanently enjoining Aquila from building the South Harper plant and
Peculiar substation in violation of Cass County‘s zoning law without first obtaining approval from the county
commission or the Public Service Commission. In so ruling, however, we do not intend to suggest that Aquila is
precluded from attempting at this late date to secure the necessary authority that would allow the plant and
substation, which have already been built, to continue operating, albeit with whatever conditions are deemed
appropriate.‖
What part of this ruling is ambiguous?
As a government official, I am outraged the court would now take a different position. Had the court not written
this opinion three years ago, the plain language of the statute would have preempted the PSC‘s ruling and
avoided needless costs.
As an adjunct of Missouri‘s system of laws and courts, the PSC does not seek to ―bend‖ or ―ignore‖ laws in its
efforts to serve Missouri utility consumers.
It is frustrating to the commission to have the court say one thing, and then reverse itself two years later. It also
makes it more difficult to ensure that Missouri citizens have utility services that are safe, affordable and reliable.
Electric utilities are required to achieve a 10 percent to 15 percent capacity margin, but in regionalized electricity
markets, hot summer days and staggering power demands to run air conditioners can exceed the ability of
power plants to keep up.
Keeping the lights on and keeping rates low is becoming more difficult with aging power plants and increased
environmental costs of more than $2 billion for Missouri utilities in the next 10 years — plus carbon-regulation
costs.
It‘s easy to say you‘re standing up for the little guy when a utility doesn‘t follow county planning and zoning
ordinances. It‘s another thing to say that when you know there could be someone lying on the operating table
whose life might depend on that electricity.
I am sympathetic to the citizens of Cass County because no well-managed utility would have handled this matter
so poorly, but my responsibility is to do what it takes to keep the lights on for the people of this state and to
contain costs for this generation as well as the next.
The editorial‘s allegations that utilities are ―calling the shots‖ fly in the face of facts, such as the $310 million rate
request from Ameren that was reduced by the Commission to $47 million — and, by the way, upheld on appeal.
What you‘ve really seen in my term as chairman is fair treatment for all, even utilities whose conduct in some



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circumstances has been reprehensible. That rankles the parties who believe anything other than today‘s lowest
rate is anti-consumer.
Missouri still has some of the nation‘s lowest electric prices by striking a careful — and lawful — balance to
assure just and reasonable rates for consumers while allowing companies a fair opportunity to earn a reasonable
profit.
More than 100 years of regulatory case law, defined by the United State Supreme Court, establishes that a
regulatory balance — not a governmental dictatorship subject to the whims of politicians or editorial boards — is
the best way to achieve reliable power and affordable rates. Judicial review is a hallmark of that system. All I ask
is the courts be consistent with their decisions and that papers know the facts before opining thereon.
Jeff Davis is chairman of the Public Service Commission.




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Cease cycle of spending on special
interests
Credits to some groups keep government big.

SPRINGFIELD NEWS-LEADER
Leave it to state Sen. Chuck Purgason to explain how his fellow Missouri Republicans have forgotten their roots.
Purgason's a straight-talking farmer from Caulfield who believes that his party is supposed to be conservative on
spending. He's not against a few handouts here and there, as long as they help agriculture. But he believes his
party has gotten a little too generous to certain special interests when they ask for government help.
It's why he's opposed to continued subsidies for ethanol, which might help one narrow agricultural interest: corn
farmers and ethanol investors, but which has caused tremendous damage to the rest of the agricultural industry
in terms of increased costs.
So Purgason was dumbfounded this week when the Missouri Senate handed out a bunch more government gifts
(in the form of tax credits) to farmers.
Let's hear it in his own words, taken from his weekly Capitol report:
"What is really distressing to me is that supporters of the bill stress how important these government programs
are to the agricultural industry. They say that the recipients of these tax credits have been hard hit by rising fuel,
feed, fertilizer, and other farming costs caused by intervention of the government into areas such as the bio fuels
industry.
"So, in other words, we have to create still more government programs to repair the damage brought on by
existing government programs. What makes it really ironic is that the Missouri State Senate stands poised to
pass another biofuel mandate. The 5 percent biodiesel mandate would require the fuel industry to buy biodiesel
from our heavily state-subsidized fuel production plants here in Missouri. Everything that is passed to help one
special interest group causes another interest group to ask for something to fix the problems created.
"This is not the fault of special interest groups. It is the fault of the people you elected into office to represent our
districts and to put the best interest of the state in the forefront of our management of our state budget and
policies. It is our fault that I believe the will of the silent majority is overlooked.
"If elected officials are all against more government spending and programs, more taxes and fees, more
regulation, why do we continue to have more?"
We couldn't have said it better. We believe the silent majority Purgason refers to is not so silent anymore.
Farmers aren't sitting idly by as the Farm Bureau and Corn Growers Association pretend to speak for all
agriculture interests. Democrats and Republicans are realizing the contradictory nature of ethanol subsidies that
have increased profits for some but costs for most others.
But too many of our elected officials on both sides of the aisle, including most of them from Missouri, have been
slow to see the error of their ways. It's time for politicians to stop this cycle of giving out tax credits like candy to
help favored industry. Purgason should not be the lone voice of reason willing to vote his conscience.




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The Ashcroft deal
Excess? Conflict? Favoritism?
By HENRY J. WATERS III, Publisher, Columbia Daily Tribune
Published Friday, March 14, 2008

I like John Ashcroft and have supported him often during his political career, but now he is involved in a
sweetheart Washington deal that raises serious questions.
After he left office as U.S. attorney general, he set up a consulting firm. Now he has a contract to oversee
Zimmer Holdings Inc., a company accused of violating anti-kickback laws. Ashcroft will earn between $27 million
and $52 million over 18 months to see whether Zimmer complies with legal settlement terms. If he approves, a
criminal charge against the company will be dropped.
Ashcroft‘s firm was chosen by a U.S. attorney who formerly worked for Ashcroft in the attorney general‘s office.
Zimmer obviously had little choice in the matter and must pay Ashcroft‘s fee. The contract was awarded with no
public disclosure or bidding.
It would be hard to concoct a deal with more obvious conflicts of interest.
Did Ashcroft‘s former position atop the Republican political heap help him get the award from his former
employee? Did the U.S. attorney push a deal down Zimmer‘s throat designed to excessively reward Ashcroft, the
attorney‘s former employer? Does Zimmer‘s agreement to pay such a huge amount to its official overseer
constitute a legal payoff for a favorable evaluation?
Ashcroft has been appearing before a House Judiciary subcommittee. He angrily said the hearing cost more
taxpayer money than anything the public had to foot as a result of his oversight job because Zimmer is paying
the bill.
The real culprit here is not Ashcroft. Let us agree that when private individuals seek government contracts, greed
is an inherent motivator. Petitioners can be expected to exploit political ties to incumbent officials. The onus for
resulting impropriety rests with the officials who use their powerful positions to grant sweetheart favors.
In this case U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie made a deal that reeks of conflict and excessive money. Ashcroft
is the happy beneficiary, but he is not one of the officials who approved the deal. He huffs and puffs before the
committee because he wants the deal to stand. Who can blame him? The Democrats on the committee no doubt
savor their juicy target, the former controversial attorney general, but they should look beyond Ashcroft into the
actions of Christie, who so sweetly engineered the deal. He could have shopped more diligently for a contractor
or designed a more modest payment schedule. If anyone must justify the deal with Ashcroft, it is Christie, not
Ashcroft.




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TOM B. KRETSINGER JR. »


Tolls are not the answer
Fuel or sales tax may be better options for road funding.
As mentioned in your article titled, "Tolls could be answer to road funding issues," Missouri roads are in need of
a stable long-term funding source. Studies show that not only Missouri's, but the nation's interstate infrastructure
is seriously underfunded. A comprehensive look at the needs of the economy for transportation infrastructure
has not been looked at from a systemic standpoint since Eisenhower created the interstate system in the 1950s.
The congestion on the interstate system not only slows the movement of commerce, costing the economy
millions of dollars, but contributes to greenhouse gases as thousands of motor vehicles sit idling in traffic.
Pete Rahn, Missouri Department of Transportation director, has worked hard to turn MoDOT around from an
inefficient organization with a well-deserved credibility problem to a "best in class" organization with the result
that roads are being maintained. One can see the fruits of those efforts every time you drive on the interstates.
However, existing funds are inadequate for future needs.
The issue is not whether a stable funding source must be found to support the state's and the nation's
transportation infrastructure, but rather what that source should be. Traditionally, the interstate system has been
supported by fuel taxes, which is a user tax on all who purchase fuel for on road purposes. Politicians, of course,
dread the word "tax," and therefore look for tax equivalents which are more politically correct such as "tolls" and
"privatization." If it looks like a tax, walks like a tax and sounds like a tax, it is a tax.
Southwest Missouri is the epicenter in Missouri for the trucking industry and trucking is a large part of its
economy, providing good jobs for many. Trucking is an extremely fragmented and competitive business. It is
currently in a trucking recession and job losses in trucking far outnumber job losses in the general economy.
There are several issues to be considered with tolls. Are the tolls a new tax on an existing road which has
already been paid for by users with fuel taxes? If the new tolls do not replace existing fuel taxes, is this a double
tax disguised as a toll? Do tolls ever expire once a new road is paid for? Do motorists have another road to
choose from, or are they forced to use the toll road? As we have seen in other jurisdictions, sometimes those
other options are not adequate for the increased traffic, thereby causing additional safety issues and loss of life.
Privatization raises other serious questions as well. There is a temptation by some politicians to "cash in" and
obtain money without raising taxes by selling the public roads. Of course, investors will only be interested in
those roads if they can be tolled. The investors will only purchase a road if they can make money on their
investment, whereas the government is a nonprofit entity. So the profit of the private investors is another tax. Is
the sales price of a road based on its length and value or is it based upon the revenue stream from tolls? What
will the infusion of new cash to the government by selling a road, paid for by users of that road, be used for?
More roads or a politician's pet project? Will the investors be able to raise tolls? Can the investors collect tolls
long after the road is paid for? Are the investors obligated to use the toll money for repairs, maintenance and
improvement of the roads? To what standard? Are the investors American companies or foreign?
As one of the lowest fuel tax states in the country, there is a lot of room for Missourians to increase their fuel
taxes and still be at or below the fuel taxes in other states. A fuel tax is green because the more a gallon of gas
costs, the more people will conserve gas, thus lowering greenhouse emissions. Other interesting ideas, such as
a sales tax, have been floated. A sales tax is a permanent and stable source to make Missouri's roads "state of
the art" with the corresponding benefits to Missouri's economy as the crossroads of the nation. These are
solutions which will solve the problem and secure Missouri's future in its road system instead of selling its future.
Tom B. Kretsinger Jr. is president/COO of American Central Transport Inc. and chairman of the Missouri Motor Carriers Association.
NEWS-LEADER




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NEWS FROM THE MISSOURINET
Uncommitted superdelegate becomes very popular
Sunday, March 16, 2008, 10:00 PM
By Brent Martin

They have been a part of the process for some time, but they have never been vital to the process until now.
They are superdelegates and an uncommitted one who lives in Jefferson City has become popular, very popular.
"I have been barraged, almost daily, with e-mails, voice-mail messages," Medley tells the Missourinet.
Those calls come from the Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton campaigns. They are desperate to collect as many
commitments from superdelegates as they can long before Democrats gather in August for their national
convention in Denver. Superdelegates are national elective officials or party members elected to national posts,
such as Medley. They vote for whomever they want at the Democratic National Convention.
Missouri Democrats elected Medley four years ago to serve on the Democratic National Committee, making her
a superdelegate. At the time of her election, Medley figured it simply meant attending meetings two times a year.
She didn't dream of the position she would be in in 2008.
"It didn't dawn on me that I was a superdelegate until we got into this process and began to talk about it," Medley
said.
Everybody in politics is talking about it now. The race between Obama and Clinton is extremely close.
Superdelegates could decide it. Obama has 1,602 delegates from the state primaries and caucuses. Clinton has
1,497. That gap of 105 votes tightens with the count of committed superdelegates. Clinton leads Obama in that
category by 37, narrowing Obama's lead to 68. More than 300 superdelegates remain uncommitted.
Medley had backed John Edwards. When Edwards dropped out of the race, she became uncommitted. Both
campaigns keep calling, but Medley says she will follow the statement on superdelegates issued by Democratic
National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.
"He just confirmed what I believe that these people (superdelegates) are responsible for making an individual
decision about what is best for the Democratic Party and what is best for our country," Medley said.

What's in a name? pain? sympathy? hope?
Sunday, March 16, 2008, 10:01 PM
By Bob Priddy

Some might call it politically correct. Some might call it demeaning. Some might say the phrase is a rallying
symbol. The difficulty of finding a way to describe some of our fellow citizens becomes a struggle in the state
Senate.
This is one of those times when legislative debate goes to human emotion that is beyond the mechanical
discussion of policy and statute. It raises human issues of a deeply personal nature.
The challenge is to decide what to call the Division of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.
Senator Kevin Engler of Farmington speaks for people who want to take "mental retardation" out of the
department's name. He says people have told him the phrase "mental retardation" is insulting to some of the
people he's talked to.
But for some people, the words "mental retardation" have a powerful meaning that is beyond an insult. Senator
Tim Green says the phrase is an important identifier for many whose family members are served by that division.



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State lawmakers can pass 23-billion dollar budgets in minutes. They can create new crimes and punishments in
a blink, it seems. They can give tax breaks with relative pleasure. But issues like this----well, this strikes at the
heart.
And that's why the Senate has trouble getting to a vote on bills such as this, as it has.

2009 TV signal conversion a non-issue for many Missourians
Sunday, March 16, 2008, 6:27 PM
By Steve Walsh

We've been hearing, for some time, that as of February 17th of next year all of the broadcast TV stations will be
transitioning from the current analog method of delivery to the digital method of delivery. And there is concern
among some consumers that this might result in the need for new digital-friendly televisions. But that is not
necessarily so.
Randy Hollis with the Springfield regional office of Mediacom Cable says any TV connected to cable or satellite
service will not be affected by the switch because the service provider will do the conversion for the consumer.
It's only people who are receiving their TV signals directly or through an indoor or outdoor antenna who might
have to concern themselves with the switch.
Hollis says if the TV is analog and not digital, a converter will be needed, and the federal government is going to
help consumers with the cost through converter coupons.
The bottom line, if you have cable or satellite service, the much-talked about conversion will not affect you.


Dick Morris to stump for Steelman in St. Louis
Saturday, March 15, 2008, 7:58 PM
By Steve Walsh

Political pundit, writer, and broadcaster Dick Morris visits the St. Louis Racquet Club on Monday to speak at a
fundraiser and cocktail reception on behalf of Republican gubernatorial candidate Sarah Steelman (R-MO).
In an e-mail to subscribers of Morris's vote.com, the former adviser to President Bill Clinton writes that while he
doesn't often speak on behalf of candidates, "Sarah is a big exception."
Morris praises Steelman for her decision, as State Treasurer, to ban any pension investment in companies that
do business with Iran, Syria, Sudan, or North Korea - countries considered, by the federal government, to be
state sponsors of terrorism.
In expressing his support for Steelman, Morris explains why he believes Steelman is preferable to Congressman
Kenny Hulshof (R-MO) as the GOP nominee to face Attorney General Jay Nixon (D-MO), the presumptive
Democratic candidate for Governor. Morris writes: "Congressman Kenny Hulshof is too tied to the Washington
establishment to win in Missouri, especially with Congress' current dismal ratings."
Morris has undergone a political transition since the days when he advised and campaigned for President
Clinton. He now preaches a conservative


Tuition rises at MSU
Saturday, March 15, 2008, 9:09 AM
By Steve Walsh

The Missouri State University Board of Governors has approved a tuition increase for the 2008-2009 academic
year - from $179 to $186 per credit hour for undergraduate students.




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That's the rate for Missouri students. Out-of-state undergraduate fees will increase from $349 to $362 per credit
hour. Resident graduate students will see their fees rise from $206 to $214 per credit hour, while non-residents
will pay $418 per credit hour instead of the current $402.

Blunt campaign pays campaign finance fine
Saturday, March 15, 2008, 6:20 AM
By Steve Walsh

Governor Matt Blunt's campaign fundraising committee has agreed to pay the State Ethics Commission a
$15,000 fine for violations of campaign finance laws over the last four years.
The campaign has issued a statement in which is insists there had been no wrong-doing, and that the fine was
paid to settle the dispute. Campaign spokesman John Hancock says what is at play are differences over
accounting practices and interpretation of finance statutes, which he calls "notoriously vague and ambiguous."
He maintains the investigation was unfair from the start.




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USA TODAY In Missouri
Monday, March 17
Independence - Independence School District is moving out of its central office building after a third of its staff
became sick. The district is moving into a former Lincoln Mercury dealership after 20 of the 60 workers suffered
from symptoms including respiratory problems, tingling or numbness in their arms and legs, muscle aches and
fatigue.




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