February 7, 2016

Report: 900,000 Missourians living in poverty

In 2005, Missouri had nearly 750,000 people living in poverty. The 2016 “State of the State: Poverty in Missouri” report released by the Missourians to End Poverty Coalition, says more than 900,000 residents are living in poverty today.

The state’s poverty rate has declined, but Executive Director Heather Lockard says not enough.


Report: 900,000 Missourians living in poverty

“The poverty rate in Missouri has declined slightly in the past two years, but if you look at the last ten years, the poverty rate in Missouri has risen by 21%,” said Lockard.

The report says Missouri is ranked 22nd in the U.S. for the number of people living in poverty.

Former Senator Pat Dougherty wants state lawmakers to help Missouri’s poor.

“We each want to be the best that we can be. To date, the public policies of this state have not risen to that particular challenge. Those who are poor in our state are all too often stigmatized. Our brothers and sisters are hurting,” said Dougherty.

“We want from this (report), concrete actions and policies that address the fundamental underlying parts of poverty. We don’t want words or actions that demean the poor, ignore their plight and increase the burdens on their backs,” said Dougherty.

The report says the leading factor pushing people into poverty is medical expenses.

Missouri counties with the highest poverty rates are Mississippi (32.2%), Dunklin (29.8%) and Pemiscot (28.7%).

MFA Oil Company acquires central Oklahoma propane supplier

MFA Oil Company, the seventh largest propane retailer in the United States, has acquired R&S Propane, Inc., a propane supplier based in Dibble, Oklahoma.

Mark Fenner, MFA Oil president and CEO

Mark Fenner, MFA Oil president and CEO

“This purchase gives us a good entry point into the nearby Norman and Oklahoma City markets and fits well with our existing operations in Oklahoma,” says Mark Fenner, MFA Oil president and CEO. “We look forward to integrating R&S Propane’s assets into our company and continuing to work with their customers to see that their propane service needs are met.”

This is MFA Oil’s third acquisition of its fiscal year, which began September 1, 2015. Previous acquisitions for the current fiscal year included Lybarger Oil Inc. in Garnett, Kansas and Elaine Petroleum Distribution Inc. in Elaine, Arkansas. The company plans to continue evaluating acquisition opportunities in its existing market area and other states where it can expand its footprint.

MFA Oil Company, formed in 1929, is a farmer-owned cooperative with more than 40,000 members. It is the seventh largest propane retailer in the United States. MFA supplies fuels, lubricants and propane to customers in Missouri, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming. Through a subsidiary, MFA Oil operates Break Time convenience stores in Missouri and Arkansas, Jiffy Lube franchises in central Missouri and Big O Tires franchises in Missouri and Arkansas.

Politico: Missouri drops in rank among states

Reported, compiled by Jared Rogers-Martin

The online magazine Politico released its annual “state of the union” rankings of each state based on data from national organizations like the FBI, U.S. Census and the Center of Disease Control. According to their report Missouri has slid in the rankings on a national scale for the third straight year.  When Politico complied the report for the first time in 2014, they ranked Missouri as the 31st best state. This year Missouri graded out as the 35th best state in the union down from 33rd the year before.

Missouri Obesity RateHealth inequalities tend to be the proverbial Achilles heel for Missouri. The report highlights information from the CDC acknowledging that obesity levels in the Missouri jumped to 30.9% of the population up from 27.2 % in 2014. The average life expectancy at birth in the state is 77.5 years but that number is in the bottom third of the national levels for the same rankings.

There are high points to the Politico report in Missouri. The average Annual Per Capita income has risen for the third straight year to $26,006 and the unemployment percentage has dropped for the third consecutive year to only 4.7 percent of the population.

Missouri Crime RateOf all the categories Missouri ranked highest in its home ownership rate. 66.9 percent of Missourians own their own home, which is the 18th best rate in the nation.

Missouri Supreme Court to consider unemployment bill veto override

The state Supreme Court will consider next week whether the senate did override Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill to reduce unemployment benefits.

The Missouri Supreme Court

The Missouri Supreme Court

The 2015 legislation would reduce the length of time a person could receive unemployment benefits to as few as 13 weeks depending on the state’s unemployment rate, from 20 weeks.

The Court is being asked to consider whether the Senate could override the veto of that bill in the September veto session, or if it could only have done so before the end of the regular session last May.

Plaintiffs argue the Constitution only allows overrides to be considered on bills vetoed in the final five days of the session, but a lower court said the Senate could override this veto.

The state argues that the Constitution says there will be a veto session if the governor vetoes a bill in the final days of the regular session, but doesn’t limit what vetoes can be taken up for overrides.

If the Supreme Court finds with the plaintiffs, the passage of the unemployment bill could be ruled unconstitutional.

The Court will hear those arguments Wednesday and could then issue a ruling at any time.

Missouri Senate president: right-to-work would need more support in House for time in Senate in 2016

Right-to-work is going to need more backing in the state House for it to receive time in the state Senate in 2016, according to the latter chamber’s leader.

Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard

Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard

After leading an effort to bring that issue to a vote last session, Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard (R-Joplin) says it isn’t likely to have the support it needs in the House for the Senate to consider it.

“Right-to-work is going to need 109 votes [in the state House],” Richard told Missourinet. “I’m not sure in an election year they have that. They may be working on it but the speaker [of the House] hasn’t told me exactly his plan for that. But that’s not really an issue that I’m too involved in right now.”

Richard said what happened with that proposal this year has served a purpose.

“We made it an issue for the governor’s race. That was important,” said Richard.

The state’s four Republican candidates for governor are supportive of right-to-work while the only Democrat candidate, Chris Koster, opposes it.

The state House Speaker, Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff), told Missourinet his caucus hasn’t made an “official decision” on what will happen with right-to-work in the new session.