April 16, 2014

Legislator files proposed amendment to allow same-sex marriage in Missouri (VIDEO)

A state representative has filed a proposal that would revisit the 2004 decision by Missouri voters to define marriage in the state Constitution as being between a man and a woman.

Representative Mike Colona (D-St. Louis) has filed HJR 85, a proposed constitutional amendment that would ask voters to add language saying that a marriage may exist between a man and a woman and a same-sex couple.

71 percent of Missouri voters approved Constitutional Amendment 2 in 2004 that said to be valid and recognized in Missouri, “a marriage shall exist only between a man and a woman.” 

Colona says he thinks the time is right to put the issue back before Missourians.

“That’s a different question than do I think it will happen,” Colona tells Missourinet.

Colona, who is openly gay, says he doesn’t think the proposal could clear the legislature and reach a ballot this year.

“But if we don’t start some time,” says Colona, it’s never going to happen, and I think now is the time with two cases pending in our court system dealing with marriage equality for the General Assembly to return and address this issue again.”

He says before courts rule on the language currently in the Constitution he wants to use his position as a state representative to call attention to the issue.

See the language of HJR 85

He notes other recent events that have kept it in the public mind, such as Governor Jay Nixon (D)’s in his State of the State Address calling for passage of the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act and statements that the General Assembly should give voters the chance to reconsider same-sex marriage.

“My thoughts are,” says Colona, “ten years after the passage of that marriage ban, we very well could have a much different outcome.”

Problems with parental rights termination bill (AUDIO)

An effort to speed up the termination of parental rights of parents who are into drugs has been slowed down in the state senate.  Poplar Bluff Senator Doug Libla wants to pressure parents facing drug charges to get clean by making it easier to declare them unfit parents.  He says it’s an effort to keep children of druggies from languishing in foster care for months before the children can be placed in permanent homes.

 Libla says less than twenty percent of parents ordered into drug treatment programs as ways to get their children back  complete the program. “Worse than that,” he says, “forty percent of the substance abusing mothers whose children were in state custody never entered in the first place….and forty percent of those that actually entered failed to complete it.”

While one part of his bill allows immediate termination of parental rights for the mother of a newborn if she or the child tests positive for drug or alcohol abuse, it says nothing about the rights of the father.  And that has become a stumbling block.  Kansas city Senator Jolie Justus, who has handled many parental rights cases, says that’s an invitation to litigation and might raise constutional questions.  Libla has set his bill aide for more study.

The measure is SCS/SB350


Upward mobility in Missouri studied

A study by a group led by a Harvard economist says Missourians have, on average, about a one-in-ten chance of moving from the bottom fifth of the income level to the top fifth.   And St. Louis is one of the worst big cities in the country when it comes to climbing from the bottom rung to the top rung of the economic ladder.  The study by the Equality of Opportunity Project says people at the bottom in St. Louis have a 5.1 percent chance of reaching the top rung.

The project says those in the top fifth are those reaching a family income of more than $70,000 a year by age thirty, or $100,000 a year by age forty-five.

Organizers of the study say the results show no clear answer to whether the United States truly is a “land of opportunity.”   They say their studies of children born 1980-82 and their incomes at age thirty indicate the United States is actually “a collection of societies,” only some of which are “lands of opportunity with high rates of mobility across generations.”  But it says other areas are places “in which few children escape poverty.” 

The researchers studied 741 “commuting zones,” described as “geographical aggregations of counties that are similar to metro areas but also cover rural areas.  A summary of the findings says, “Some cities have rates of upward income mobility comparable to the most mobile countries in the world, while others have lower rates of mobility than any developed country.  These geographical differences in upward mobility are strongly correlated with five primary factors: segregation, income inequality, local school quality, social capital, and family structure. 

The study says family structure is “the strongest predictors of upward mobility.”  But the researchers also caution against reading the findings in a way they consider incorrectly. “”All of the findings in this study are rorrelational and cannot be interpreted as causal effects,” they write. 

The full report can be found at http://www.equality-of-opportunity.org/        

The chances by percentage of reaching the top fifth of the economic ladder, starting from the bottom fifth (for comparison purposes, San Jose, California’s odds are 12.9%, which ranks them first among the fifty largest cities and Charlotte, NC has the lowest percentage among the largest cities at 4.4%): 

Bethany          12.1

Kirksville       11.3

Trenton          11.3

Polk County   11.2

Brookfield      11.2

Moberly         10.1

Marshall          9.5

St. Joseph        9.5

Center              8.6

Farmington      8.5

Sedalia            8.3

West Plains     8.2

Rolla               8.0

Mexico            7.6

Aurora             7.5

Joplin              7.2

Springfield      7.1

Kansas City     7.0

Eldon               6.8

Poplar Bluff     6.7

Columbia         6.6

Cape Girardeau  6.0

St. Louis           5.1



Representative credited with saving woman’s life discusses incident (AUDIO)

Here is our interview with Representative Ron Hicks (R-St. Peters), who is credited with saving a woman’s life when she had a seizure this afternoon in the State Capitol. 

Read our earlier story here.

State representative told he saved woman’s life in State Capitol

A state legislator is being credited with saving a life this afternoon, though if you ask him the credit isn’t his.

Representative Ron Hicks (Photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Ron Hicks (Photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

After the State of the Judiciary Address wrapped up in the House of Representatives, hundreds of people filed into the 3rd Floor Rotunda of the State Capitol to enjoy a catered meal. Representative Ron Hicks (R-St. Peters) was visiting with a lobbyist nearby when he saw a man and woman go to the ground.

“I didn’t know if it was a confrontation or what,” Hicks says of his initial reaction, “But it was immediately known that she was having a seizure.”

Hicks called 911 and while he was on that call the woman lost consciousness. He handed off his phone to a woman standing nearby and asked if anyone in the crowd knew CPR. The man, who Hicks later learned was her father, immediately responded.

“He’s to be commended more than anybody … he did not skip a beat. When I said ‘CPR,” he looked at me right in the eyes like, ‘OK, let’s go. What do I do?’”

The father provided breaths while Hicks did chest compressions. The representative says the woman’s eyelids and lips quickly turned blue but he thinks only a few seconds passed before she regained consciousness.

“All of a sudden … I’m getting ready to do my fourth compression and her eyes lit up, I mean the size of quarters, and she took the deepest breath. Go hold your breath under the water as long as you can and when you come up you’re going to gasp for air, and that’s exactly what she did.”

The woman was still incoherent when she was taken to a local hospital but is reported to be doing fine now. Hicks says he doesn’t know what caused the incident but was told that blood thinners she was taking could have been a contributor.

Listen to our interview with Ron Hicks here

He credits other people who were nearby with helping care for the woman and control the scene.

“Bruce Holt … he was smart enough to grab a tablecloth off the table and they made a barrier so no one could see what was going on. Half the people didn’t know we were doing CPR on a young lady right there on the ground right next to them,” says Hicks. “I think a lot of people played a big part in this to tell you the truth. Her father, Bruce Holt, the paramedics for getting there so quickly … the lady that took my phone … People stepped up when needed to be and that’s what I think we need to do more of.”

Hicks gave her father a business card and hopes to hear from the family if only to know if she’s doing alright.