Capitol Report

In Legislative News, Missouri Press News On
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This is the weekly Capitol Report from the Missouri School of Journalism’s State Government Reporting Program. Use the material as you wish — break into separate stories, use as is, edit for length.


The links are to more in-depth versions of the stories.



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+ Debate begins on right to work legislation. [Entered: 11/12/2010]


Both labor and business organizations are beginning to react to the possibility raised by Missouri Republican leaders that “right to work” legislation would be a high priority for 2011.


A right-to-work law would abolish the union shop. Under a union shop, employees at a unionized business must either join the union or pay fees in place of union dues within two months of being hired.


Supporters of “right to work” say it improves the business climate and encourages investment. Opponents say it does nothing to create jobs and leads to lower wages and a less secure working environment for the state’s employees.


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+ Bonds are considered to cover the debt of Missouri’s unemployment compensation program. [Entered: 11/11/2010]


The Missouri Labor Commission talked about how to get the state’s Unemployment Insurance Fund out of debt.


Missouri Chamber of Commerce Taxation Director Tracy King says bonding is a better option than higher business taxes.


Labor Commission members agreed to ask Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster whether bonding is a legal solution.


Koster is one of five members of the only group in the state that can approve such a bond.


“Interest rates right now for bonding is lower than the federal interest rate that would be required to pay back these loans. So it is an interest savings that can help minimize the cost of the employers,” King said.


The fund provides benefits for workers who lose their jobs. It is financed by a tax on employers.


High unemployment in Missouri has placed the fund into debt exceeding several hundred million dollars.



+ Guatemala’s ambassador watches Missouri’s Supreme Court hear a case involving the parental rights of an illegal. [Entered: 11/10/2010]


The Missouri Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday (Nov. 9) from a woman who went to prison for being an illegal worker and who now wants her son back.


In a 2007 immigration raid, the Guatemalan woman was picked up and sent to prison. Her son was then taken to a church by her family, then passed on to an adoptive family. The boy is now 4 years old and in the adoptive family’s custody.


The Guatemalan ambassador to the U.S. was in Missouri Supreme Court to show his support for the mother’s fight to get her son back.


Get the newspaper story [ ].



+ Outside groups spent millions in Missouri’s U.S. Senate campaign [Entered: 11/10/2010]


Outside groups pumped nearly $12 million into Missouri’s U.S. Senate election this year between Roy Blunt and Robin Carnahan. Much of the advertising that money bought was negative, and it was made possible by a January Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates to unlimited spending by corporations and unions on political campaigns.


The single largest spender was American Crossroads. The group, co-founded by Karl Rove, former President Bush’s chief political operative, and Ed Gillespie, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, spent more than $21 million on ads attacking Democratic candidates across the nation this election season.


The group spent nearly $2.7 million in the race to replace retiring U.S. Senator Kit Bond. That’s in addition to the $1.1 million spent by a sister group, Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies. Crossroads GPS operates under a section of the tax code that allows groups to keep the names of their donors secret.


The two groups’ combined $3.8 million in independent expenditures in the Missouri race stands as the largest pro-Republican investment in the race, which Blunt won handily.


The numbers come courtesy of the Sunlight Foundation, an organization that tracks money in politics.


The group, founded in 2005 by Washington attorney Michael R. Klein, has received major donations from the Rockefeller Family Fund and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.



+ Fewer wild turkeys have lost their lives in Missouri for Thanksgiving. [Entered: 11/10/2010]


Missouri’s Conservation Department reported the second lowest number of wild turkeys killed by hunters this fall since Missouri’s October turkey season began 33 years ago.


The department reported 13,736 birds were killed this year, compared to a high of about 28,000 more than two decades ago.


A department official cited a decline in turkey-hunting permits as part of the reason. The peak of permit sales was 50,000 in the late 1980s. Permit sales were about 13,000 for this fall.


A Missouri Department of Conservation said a series of poor seasons for development of wild turkeys has contributed to the declining number of permits sold and birds killed.


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