September 1, 2014

Updated funeral protest law now in place

Missouri now has an updated law to ban protests at funerals in the state – one that is based on law that has withstood a challenge in court.

Representative Stanley Cox (courtesy; Missouri House Communications)

Representative Stanley Cox (courtesy; Missouri House Communications)

Missouri law already required protesters to stay 300 feet away from a funeral from an hour before the start and end of the services, but struck down in court was a provision that banned protests along funeral processions. The law that took effect Thursday removes the language regarding processions.

“The Eighth Circuit [Court of Appeals] decided that language was over broad and unconstitutional,” says House sponsor of the new law, Stanley Cox (R-Sedalia). “I guess the idea being that a procession might be rather extensive in a community and what you were doing was you were limiting the First Amendment privileges in too broad of areas.”

Because the law deals with when protesters can exercise speech, it must be written specifically to what courts have upheld. Cox doesn’t think Missouri law can go further.

“I probably think that we have adopted here that is the most restrictive as can be against those people who might try to disturb a funeral,” says Cox. “I would not encourage the General Assembly to tinker with it because quite frankly if they went further they might jeopardize the entire law.”

The new law maintains penalties of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500 for first-time offenders, and up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine for repeat offenders. It also adds to Missouri statutes a definition of protests.

Loan program announced to bolster Ferguson businesses impacted by riots, looting

Businesses that have been impacted by unrest following the shooting death of Michael Brown August 9 are being offered no-interest loans. $1-million dollars is being committed to the program, divided evenly among the state’s small business loan program, the St. Louis Regional Chamber, the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership and a coalition of St. Louis region banks.

Businesses in a specified area that were affected by looting and vandalism will be eligible for the loans.

“Over the past few weeks some businesses were looted or damaged and there have been dozens of others who have taken a financial hit because of lost customers and lost business,” says Nixon.

State Treasurer Clint Zweifel, a North St. Louis County native, has been placed in charge of distributing the loans. He says the owners of businesses in the region where looting and rioting occurred are facing challenges they’ve never faced before, but they haven’t backed down.

“With all these businesses not one had said, ‘We don’t think we can make it. We’re giving up,’” says Zweifel. “There’s a sense of optimism and resolve, I think, for most small business owners that we have.”

Governor Nixon says the program is only a first step toward helping spur economic, as well as emotional, recovery in the region.

Home health care workers want more (AUDIO)

Missouri’s home healthcare workers want Governor Jay Nixon (D) to get involved in their negotiations for higher salaries.

The union for people that perform in-home care services says it has been negotiating with the Quality Home Care Council  since November and has resolved non-economic issues.  But the going is tough as it tries to increase the average salary of $8.60 an hour to $11.00.

Home Care attendant Elizabeth Travis of Columbia says the agencies the caregivers work for get $15.56 from Medicaid for each hour the attendants work. She wants Nixon to pressure the council to pressure the local agencies.

AUDIO: Travis :23

Travis says the workers want a standardized, higher, wage statewide. She says the average home care attendant earns $1100-$1400 a month, and wants to live with the same dignity that they try to give to their clients


Dairy industry, rural lawmakers confident of veto overturns on ag, captive deer bills

State lawmakers that backed two big agriculture bills in the regular session believe they will have enough votes to override Governor Jay Nixon’s (D) vetoes of those bills.

Representative Casey Guernsey (center) discusses the ag omnibus bills passed in the 2014 session, joined by Representative Bill Reiboldt (image left) and Senator Mike Kehoe.  (courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Casey Guernsey (center) discusses the ag omnibus bills passed in the 2014 session, joined by Representative Bill Reiboldt (image left) and Senator Mike Kehoe. (courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Nixon vetoed the legislation because it would remove control of captive deer in private hunting operations from the Department of Conservation and put it under the control of the Department of Agriculture. Nixon says that would “clearly” violate the state Constitution.

Dairy industry backers are among the biggest proponents of the veto override because those bills contain provisions to subsidize federal margin insurance and to provide scholarships to the study of dairy production at a Missouri college. It would also direct the University of Missouri to annually study of the state’s dairy industry and create a plan for growing it.

Missouri Dairy Association President Larry Purdom says those provisions will help keep dairy producers in Missouri and keep dairy prices in the state low.

“I have gone to Springfield’s sale barn for the last three years and witnessed my neighbors with tears in their eyes selling their cows because they could not pay their feed bills,” Purdom told reporters Thursday. “It’s pretty hard to live through that not think that they deserve better than they have had since 2009.”

According to the Association Missouri had 1,890 dairies in 2004 and that number is down to 1,233.

The bills passed the Senate with enough support for a veto overturn but were short of the 109 needed in the House, receiving tallies of 101 and 105 “ayes.” Representative Casey Guernsey (R-Bethany) says the votes for an override will be there when lawmakers take up those measures during the veto session September 10.

“I’ve been working on this since July with my colleagues,” says Guernsey.

He says he expects to pick up some votes from lawmakers that were absent when the House initially passed the bills and others from lawmakers who originally voted against them.

The bills are SB 506 and HB 1326.

Man charged in shooting death of central Missouri boy, 6

A former Columbia man has been charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in connection with the death of a six-year-old Fulton boy.

Scottie Willet

Scottie Willet

27-year-old Scottie Willet is being held on $1 million bond in Callaway County. Police say he admitted to shooting the six-year-old boy with a handgun.

In a separate filing Willet is also charged with stealing a firearm.

The boy had been reported missing early this morning from a Callaway County home. His body was later found hidden inside the residence with multiple gunshot wounds.

Willet was found about two hours later in a Sedalia trailer park and was placed under arrest for failing to appear in court for a littering charge.  On court documents he has a Sedalia address.