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NewsBook: Missouri Government News for the Week of August 30, 2004


. A former Missouri governor is taking control of the state Democratic Party. (09/03/04)

JEFFERSON CITY - After more than three years out of state politics, Missouri's former governor has taken over as the chair of Missouri's Democratic Party.

Clair McCaskill named Roger Wilson as the party chair almost immediately after her primary defeat of Gov. Bob Holden, whom Wilson had challenged for the nomination four years earlier.

Wilson said he has not yet talked with Holden, but said he would be willing to assist any request from the outgoing governor.

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    . Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell Recommends a Special Session on the Issue of the Unemployment Compensation Fund (09/03/04)

    JEFFERSON CITY - Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell is recommending the Govenor call a special session on the issue of the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund.

    A plan the legislature had approved earlier this year to finance the fund's debt has run into constitutional problems.

    Holden says he has not yet decided whether to call lawmakers into a special session in mid-September when they already will be meeting to consider vetos by the governor.

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    . Missouri's House Speaker creates a committee to study letting Missourians vote before election day. (09/02/04)

    JEFFERSON CITY - House speaker Catherine Hanaway announced the formation of a special committe to study the issue.

    Earlier this year the state legislature passed a law allowing voters to go to the polls as early as two weeks before election day.

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    . Missouri's Lottery gets a thumbs up from the state auditor. (09/02/04)

    JEFFERSON CITY - A follow-up audit clears the State Lottery Commission of wasting state money. Evan Godt reports from Jefferson City.

    The initial audit questioned the value of certain expenditures made using the Lottery Commission's advertising budget. The Commission had bought St. Louis Rams season tickets among other gifts to give to retailers who sold lottery tickets.

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    . Missouri Gay Rights Activists Hope for Legislative Relief Next Term (09/02/2004)

    JEFFERSON CITY - Gay rights activists are hoping to work with lawmakers to introduce new legislation as the state ban on gay marriage takes effect today.

    Personal Rights of Missourians, PROMO, plans to introduce again the Missouri Non-Discrimination Act in the next legislative session.

    The Act would protect gay people from being denied housing or a job based on their sexual orientation.

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    . Candidates for State Supreme Court Interviewed (09/02/04)

    JEFFERSON CITY - A nominating committee held interviews Thursday to pick candidates to fill the vacancy left with the resignation of Duane Benton who has been confirmed to the federal appeals court.

    Benton is a Republican conservative. His vacancy hands lameduck Gov. Bob Holden power to add another liberal Democrat to the state's highest court.

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    . Gov. Holden unsure on special session (09/01/04)

    JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Bob Holden said he is still unsure about whether it is necessary to convene a special session this month. He stated that he is not getting much interest from legislative leaders on the matter.

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    . Business groups oppose a special session on unemployment comp. (09/01/04)

    JEFFERSON CITY - Eight major business organizations wrote the governor to oppose suggestions to call a special session of the legislature to deal with the bankruptcy of the state's unemployment fund.

    Earlier this year, the legislature authorized the administration to borrow money to cover unemployment claims at a lower interest rate than the federal government currently is charging money to cover the claims.

    But since then, the administration has been advised it needs an appropriation from the legislature to make the bond payments in order to keep the bond payments low.

    The business groups argue the entire idea is unconstitutional and that finding a solution is too complex for a short-term special session.

    . Senior Democrats Suggest Idea of Special Session to Extend Prescription Drug Plan (08/31/04)

    JEFFERSON CITY - Senate Minority Floor Leader Maida Coleman is considering the idea of a special session to decide the extension of the Senior Rx program. The State House failed to pass the extension last year.

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    . Some Missouri seniors might not have prescription drug coverage for six months (08/31/04)

    JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri Senior Rx is a prescription drug program that is set to expire in December unless legislators take action. Between Demember 2005 and July 2006 there will be a six month span in which seniors may have no coverage.

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    . Governor polling legislators for special legislative session to deal with unemployment compensation fund (08/31/04)

    JEFFERSON CITY - Since 2003 Missouri borrowed nearly $300 million from the federal government for its bankrupt unemployment compensation program.

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    . Missouri students taking more AP tests (08/31/04)

    JEFFERSON CITY - The State Department of Education reports that 50 percent more Missouri students took Advanced Placement tests this year.

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    . Legislators and Committee Members are Trying to Unite Behind the Senior Rx Bill (08/31/04)

    JEFFERSON CITY - Seniors face a six month absence of prescription drug coverage if Senior Rx legislation is not passed.

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    . Missouri's lieutenant governor urges the governor to call a special legislative session. (08/30/04)

    JEFFERSON CITY - Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell said the legislature should take up a bill to address the bankruptcy of the state's Unemployment Compensation Fund.

    Because the fund is bankrupt, the state is having to borrow money, at 6% interest, from the federal government.

    Maxwell said the state could get a lower interest payment by selling bonds to finance the Unemployment Compensation Fund.

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