August 1, 2014

Campus sexual assault bill filed. (AUDIO)

Senator McCaskill hopes for quick Senate action on the campus sexual assault bill she has been working on for several months.

She has been holding roundtable discussions with college officials and other meetings trying to determine the scope of the problem and which of varying approaches works best.  She admits there are some things she had to give up to get the bipartisan co-sponsors.

The bill requires any schools getting federal funds  to designate confidential advisers who can meet with sexual assault victims; to train competent personnel to look into allegations; and to work with local law enforcement.  “I think there’s a chance that we can get some floor time and pass this in fairly quick order in September,” she says.

The bill also says allegations against student athletes must be investigated through the general University process, not by the athletic department.  And it sets up financial penalties for schools that don’t comply.

Although she hopes for a fast track in the Senate, she says it’s anybody’s guess what will happen in the House.

AUDIO: McCaskll conference call

School supplies sales tax holiday starts (AUDIO)

The annual school supplies sales tax holiday has started, but not for a lot of cities and counties. And for some people, sales tax holidays happen every day.

The state does not collect its sales tax on numerous items  on the first weekend of each August that are considered school supplies.  But the items don’t have be bought for or by students and they don’t have to be taken to school.

Cities and counties can forego local sales taxes if they want, but more than 160 cities and almost 50 counties have decided to keep collecting them.

Missouri Retailers Association President David Overfelt says a lot of people don’t wait for a sales tax holiday. “These items can be bought sales tax free every day,” he says, referring to the internet, which seldom collects sales taxes on purchases.  But he  says the tax holiday emphasizes the importance of shopping at home, where sales taxes often finance many local services.

Some local fiscal officers say their cities or counties cannot afford to go a weekend without collecting local sales taxes.  But the Revenue Department never has been able to confirm whether they lose money on weekends such as this.

The Revenue Department has a site that lists the things that can be bought without a state sales tax this weekend.



AUDIO: Overfelt 7:58

Veterans’ lottery ticket on Tuesday ballot (AUDIO)

One of the issues on next Tuesday’s ballot has no recognized opposition.

Blue Springs State Representative Sheila Solon has been trying to get this issue to the ballot for four years since learning the Veterans Trust Fund was going broke.  The fund is used to build and maintain veterans’ homes and cemeteries, and outreach assistance programs for veterans.

Her proposal creates a special lottery ticket to benefit veterans’ programs.  Analysts think ticket sales could raise $6,000,000 a year.

Solon says Missouri’s seven veterans homes have waiting lists of 1300 people, but the waiting time to get in one is nine months.  She says the state needs to build an eighth home and needs money to bring the Mexico Veterans Home up to federal standards.

Solon doesn’t think the new ticket will divert money away from regular tickets that raise money for education. In fact, she says, other states’ experience indicates a veterans ticket revitalizes regular lottery ticket sales.

AUDIO: Solon interview 10:36





Blunt critical of Obama in KC (AUDIO)

Missouri’s junior Senator of President Obama’s trip to Kansas City and the way the President blasted Congress.

The President ripped Congress for blocking all of his economic initiatives and called on Congress to “stop being mad all the time”  and “stop this hatin’ all the time.”

But Senator Blunt finds that kind of talk antagonistic and counterproductive.  He says he used to tell new members of the House  the new person on the other side of an argument also is well motivated but they’re just wrong in the way their argument is perceived.  But being wrong doesn’t mean somebody is bad. Blunt thinks Obama should have stayed in Washington instead of campaigning in Kansas City  against Congress.

“We need Presidential leadership. Presidential leadership matters and legislatively we don’t have the kind of leadership that helps work through difficult situations,” he says.

He says the President should be working with his party and with Blunt’s party to get things done.

AUDIO: Blunt Q&A 3:38

President Obama bashes Congress, calls for end to cynicism (AUDIO)

President Obama has lambasted Congress as being out of touch with the average American family, and calls today’s House authorization for a lawsuit against him “a political stunt.”

The President’s half-hour speech in front of a friendly audience of about 1,500 in Kansas City defended his economic policies and the forty actions he says he has had to take through executive order because Congress has refused to act on economic policies that he says would create an economy “that works for everybody.”

Obama says the economy has turned around so well that people are seeking to invest in the United States, not China, “and our lead is growing.”   But he complained that the Republican-led House of Representatives has blocked every idea that helps working families.

“The folks in Washington, sometimes they’re focused on everything but your concerns,” he told the audience.  He said special interests in Washington prefer the status quo that favors their interests .  “They’re counting on you getting cynical so you don’t vote and don’t get involved ….And the more you do that, then the more power the special interests have and the more entrenched the status quo becomes,” he said.

“You can’t afford to be cynical,” he said at the end, “Cynicism didn’t put a man on the moon.  Cynicism didn’t win women the right to vote. Cynicism did not get a Civil Rights Act signed.  Cynicism has never won a war. Cynicism has never cured a disease.  Cynicism has never started a business. Cynicism has never fed a child…You don’t have time to be cynical.”

AUDIO: Obama sp;eech 34:53