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Missouri legislative session ends Friday, lawmakers push for votes

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT
JEFFERSON CITY — Even an hour-long power outage couldn't stop the rhetoric of Missouri lawmakers Tuesday as they rushed to approve bills before the legislative session ends Friday.

With three and a half days left in the legislative session, Republican senators held a closed-door meeting with Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon in an attempt to compromise on a bill that would give tax credits to businesses that create new Missouri jobs.

Disagreement on the bill stems from those who want to place caps on other tax credits in exchange for the creation of the new tax credits proposed in the bill, while others object to any caps or regulation.

"I've just learned over the years, that anytime you're trying to restrict the flow of government money into private hands, they usually squeal like stuck hogs and fight it tooth and nail, and, in this case, they're wealthy people who have hired lobbyists to influence the legislature," said Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Jackson County. "So it is very, very difficult; what we're trying to do is very difficult."

The bill has had support from Nixon since his gubernatorial campaign, but Bartle said he is not sure the disagreement can be resolved before the session ends Friday.

The Missouri House of Representatives approved what was deemed the last vehicle for any health care expansion this legislative session. The bill would expand coverage to 20,000 Missourians who are termed uninsurable because of pre-existing conditions.

The bill lost some Republican support during the process because of an amendment that bill handler Doug Ervin, R-Holt, said would reduce transparency and limit the free market. A minority of Democrats supported the measure. Rep. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis City, stressed the need to pass the bill as a last option. "We can't leave out of this House by the end of the week without a health care bill," Nasheed said.

In the Senate, members amended and passed a bill that would require police to collect DNA samples from any adult arrested on a burglary or felony charge.

The original legislation would have allowed for all samples to be expunged after 90 days if the case is closed or no charges are filed. Senators shortened the time period to 30 days. 

Current law only requires DNA samples to be obtained from those who are convicted of or plead guilty to a felony.

Other legislation considered Tuesday includes:

  • A bill that would prohibit businesses from banning legally owned firearms anywhere on their property. It is one of several bills dealing with gun rights, including one that would allow people to carry concealed weapons at public universities and would lower the age for obtaining a concealed carry permit from 23 to 21. The campus conceal carry amendment is attached to a broader bill that would expand a resident's right to kill someone who trespasses on their property. It stalled Monday in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  • House members killed an amendment that would prohibit bullying a child based on sexual orientation. They sent the bill back to the Senate Rules Committee without voting.

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