December 19, 2014

Missouri governor, legislators agree on revenue projection

Governor Jay Nixon and legislative budget leaders have agreed on the estimates of state revenue they will use in proposing the state budget for the next fiscal year.

They are predicting Missouri revenues of $8.372-billion for the fiscal year that ends in June. That’s a reduction from what both the governor and the legislature originally projected for that fiscal year.

They are predicting state revenue for 2016 to grow by about 3.6-percent over that revised 2015 revenue estimate.

The legislature and the governor did not agree on such an estimate a year ago.

Missouri’s Senator McCaskill part of Stephen Colbert sendoff

Missouri’s senior U.S. Senator, Claire McCaskill, was among the dozens of other elected officials, comedians, singers, actors, and a couple of Muppets on the finale of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” last night.

The show, centered on a fictional conservative anchorman played by Stephen Colbert, is ending its 9-year run. Colbert is about to become the host of the Late Show after David Letterman leaves in May.

McCaskill and the other guests sang “We’ll Meet Again” in one of the show’s final segments. She had been a guest on the program at least twice.

Along with a picture, McCaskill tweeted, “So much fun to be a part of an amazing group asked by [Colbert] to sing him off his last show.  Gonna miss that jerk.”

Missouri bill would criminalize posting ads tied to human trafficking

A state representative wants to make it a crime to post an ad on the internet if the person posting it knows it could result in human trafficking.

The bill filed by Elijah Haahr to deal with the Second Injury Fund is his first.  (Photo courtesy; Missouri House Communications)

Representative Elijah Haahr (Photo courtesy; Missouri House Communications)

It could be an ad anywhere – on websites such as Craigslist or Backpage, or even on a gas station bathroom wall. If the person that posts that ad knows that it might result in human trafficking, House Bill 152 would make that person guilty of sexual trafficking of a child; a felony that carries a penalty of up to life in prison.

It’s been filed by Springfield representative Elijah Haahr.

“Not only would these be the people that are providing the victim, but it would also go after some middle people. Some middle men that be profiting from putting the victims in contact with the people that are using them,” Haahr told Missourinet.

Haahr says the idea is based on the SAVE Act, making its way through Congress. He decided a similar law should be in place in Missouri.

“I recognize it’s a fairly serious epidemic nationally, internationally, but also in the Midwest,” said Haahr.

It will be considered in the legislative session that begins in three weeks.

Missouri sues 13 St. Louis region municipalities

Missouri’s Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against 13 St. Louis County municipalities for violating a 1995 law that bars Missouri cities and towns from collecting more than 30-percent of their total revenue from fines and court costs for traffic violations. Any fines or costs beyond that threshold are supposed to be turned over to the director of revenue to be disbursed among local school districts.

Attorney General Chris Koster

Attorney General Chris Koster

Attorney General Chris Koster requested financial reports submitted by St. Louis County communities to the auditor’s office. A review of those found what he calls a, “pattern of non-compliance.”

Koster says Crystal Lake, Velda Village Hills, the village of Hillsdale and the village of Mackenzie, failed to indicate how much of their operating revenue came from fines and court costs. He says Bellerive Acres, Moline Acres, Normandy and the village of Vinita Terrace, submitted reports suggesting their revenue from traffic fines exceeded the thirty percent cap.

Five others – Beverly Hills, Pagedale, Breckenridge Hills, Pasadena Park and Upland Park, didn’t file an annual financial report in either Fiscal Year 2014 or 2013.

Koster says that law, often referred to as the Macks Creek law, “was enacted to protect Missourians from predatory traffic ticketing. As we continue to identify areas for reform, an important first step is to require St. Louis County municipalities to follow the Macks Creek law to the letter. Based on my review, these thirteen municipalities did not.”

He is asking the St. Louis County Circuit Court for a judgement that those towns lacked jurisdiction over traffic-related matters in their municipal courts during the time that they were not in compliance with the Macks Creek law. He’s also asking that they be barred from exercising jurisdiction over traffic violations in until the noncompliance is remedied.

Koster says, however, his goal with the lawsuit is to make those communities comply with the law.

“If these municipalities will work with my office to come into compliance, we will work with them,” said Koster. “If they fail to work with us, or simply do not have the ability to comply with state law, then they should lose jurisdiction over traffic violations.”

Nixon calls beef summit, wants more cattle processed in Missouri

Governor Jay Nixon says too many cattle are being raised in Missouri only to be processed elsewhere.

Photo courtesy; Larry Braun and the Missouri Department of Agriculture

Photo courtesy; Larry Braun and the Missouri Department of Agriculture

“We’re a state that has 1.7-million cows but we only finish 75-thousand of them. That means well over $1-billion of value that could be gained by Missourians is instead gained by folks in other areas,” Nixon said after speaking to FFA students in Centralia on Wednesday.

Nixon has called a summit for January 5 at the University of Missouri, where he wants stakeholders to come up with strategies for maximizing Missouri’s cattle industry and spurring economic development in rural areas.

He said he wants to see more cattle finished in Missouri, but he wants it done, “in a way that protects the water and air of our area, but I think a lot of gains have been made in this country in the last 20 years on how to do that. We then need to be able to harvest them here so that we can put the types of cuts out there that we can sell internationally for a premium, and then that last piece is we need to brand. Missouri farmers are the best in the world, and if we can use that sustainability and that genetics and that technology to continue to project our products worldwide, we’ll get a premium for that work.”

Nixon said part of his goal is to create opportunities for more young people to stay in Missouri, so that fewer of them will leave the state seeking jobs in the ag sector.

“We all know of the challenge of rural Missouri getting older and population moving. We think adding value to each of these farms, giving another option in the business model to add value and profit in rural Missouri and our state is something that can strengthen not only the economy of a given business or a given farm but also these rural economies,” said Nixon.

He said finding ways to strengthen the rural economy benefits urban residents as well.

For more information on the beef summit and to register, visit the Department of Agriculture’s website here.

Kyle Hill, KRES, contributed to this story