May 30, 2015

Missouri Senate Hires Attorney For Alleged Harassment or Discrimination Complaint

Senate President Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles) and Governor Jay Nixon (D) confirm the state Senate has an attorney for a possible case of harassment or discrimination involving an intern. Normally the Attorney General’s Office would respond to a matter involving a state government body. Nixon says an independent review can be helpful.

Senate“You need to make sure that if things need to be changed or improved to guarantee safety in the right work environment they’re done. I think the Senate moving forward and taking that action is an appropriate action to make sure everybody understands the facts around this,” said Nixon. “They have an obligation also, I believe, to review and see what the facts are. So I think you will get a couple of good, independent views of what’s going on.”

The investigation was first reported earlier this month.  Reports have linked it to the office of Senator Paul LeVota (D-Independence).

Senator Dempsey wouldn’t confirm future policy changes, but says the intern policy is being looked at and says the Senate’s sexual harassment policy could follow.

Former House Speaker John Diehl Junior resigned this month after admitting to sending sexually suggestive text messages to an intern.  A group of Representatives will review the House’s capitol intern policy this summer and propose changes to be implemented next year.




Missouri Secretary of State candidate files voter photo ID petition

A Republican candidate for Missouri Secretary of State has filed an initiative petition aimed at requiring voters in Missouri to show photo ID at the polls.

Republican Secretary of State candidate Jay Ashcroft (picture from Facebook)

Republican Secretary of State candidate Jay Ashcroft (picture from Facebook)

Jay Ashcroft’s petition, if successful, would ask voters to change Missouri’s Constitution to require photo ID when voting. The state legislature would then have to develop the framework of voter photo ID.

The petition would have to get about 160,000 signatures in six of the state’s eight congressional districts to make it to a statewide ballot.

Ashcroft believes Missouri voters will support his petition.

“So we make sure that eligible voters have the opportunity to vote, and that the people that follow the law that vote are not disenfranchised by people that violate the law and either vote when they should not or vote more times than they should,” Ashcroft told Missourinet.

Representative Stacey Newman (D-St. Louis County)

Representative Stacey Newman (D-St. Louis County)

St. Louis Democratic state representative Stacey Newman said requiring a photo ID could disenfranchise more than 200,000 current voters who lack a photo ID, many of whom she says could have difficulty getting the documents needed for such an ID. She argues photo ID also seeks to stop a problem that doesn’t exist.

“We don’t have any documented instances, an instances in Missouri that have been prosecuted, in terms of in-person voter fraud on election day, and that’s the only kind of fraud this measure would prevent,” Newman said.

The state’s Constitution would have to be changed because the state Supreme Court found photo ID unconstitutional in 2006.

Legislative efforts to enact voter photo ID have failed. In 2011 the legislature passed both a proposed constitutional change and the statutory language of how voter photo ID would work, but the ballot language of the former was struck down in court and Governor Jay Nixon vetoed the latter.

Missouri Woman Will Receive Medal of Honor for Her Father’s Heroism

A Congressional Medal of Honor will be awarded next week to Missourian Elsie Shemin-Roth’s father. The late Sgt. William Shemin will be recognized for acts of heroism during World War I when he led his entire platoon to safety.

Elsie Shemin-Roth and Sgt. William Shemin

Elsie Shemin-Roth and Sgt. William Shemin

It’s been nearly a century after his heroic efforts and Shemin-Roth told Missourinet her father was a true American hero.

“He went out on three different occasions to rescue wounded comrades. He was able to bring three back,” said Shemin-Roth.

Missouri Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer jumped through several hoops in Washington to make sure Shemin was given the nation’s highest military honor. Luetkemeyer said Shemin did the responsible thing.

“He tried to rescue his fellow soldiers and did it under extreme duress. To me, he’s an inspiration,” said Luetkemeyer.

Shemin-Roth said anti-Semitism towards American Jewish soldiers during her father’s time delayed this honor. In 2002, Shemin-Roth saw an article about a congressional review taking place for Jewish military who felt anti-Semitism played a role in the medals they did or did not receive. That’s when Shemin-Roth began her mission to make sure her father received the Medal of Honor.

“Tears come to my eyes when I hear that. I mean, look what he did. Does anti-Semitism come to that point when a kid goes above and beyond?”

Shemin-Roth and 64 of her family members will make the trip for the ceremony on June 2 in Washington D.C.


McCaskill done with ‘Game of Thrones’ following ‘gratuitous’ rape scene

The hit TV show Game of Thrones has been on the air since 2011 and Missouri U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill has been one of its fans, until now.  McCaskill said on Twitter she was going to stop watching the show after the latest episode featured what she called a, “gratuitous rape scene,” that she said was “disgusting and unacceptable.”

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D)

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D)

Even though McCaskill has followed the show for years, she’s also advocated against sexual violence. She says the scene in Sunday’s episode was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“There were other offensive scenes, many of them, over the years I’ve been watching. Over time, I lost a little bit of enthusiasm for the show.”

McCaskill expressed frustration that people are reacting to her Game of Thrones objection and not more important issues. She said hundreds of people are talking about her take on the show and only one person retweeted her comment about the USA Freedom Act on national security changes.

“I comment on pop culture, my football teams and my baseball teams because Twitter is where you do personal opinions. It’s just my personal opinion. The thing that was frankly depressing for me was that I also tweeted yesterday how badly we needed to reform the NSA program.”

Now that McCaskill won’t be watching the show anymore, she believes that plenty of “Game of Thrones” followers will give her a play-by-play of the show.

Missouri Senate Democrat leader: tension could continue in ’16 (VIDEO)

The tension that stalled legislation in the final days of the legislative session could carry over into next year, according to one Senate leader.

Missouri Senate Democrat leader Joe Keaveny

Missouri Senate Democrat leader Joe Keaveny

It was Minority Leader Joe Keaveny’s (St. Louis) Democratic caucus that blocked debate in the state Senate in the final three days of session, allowing only one bill to advance after Republicans used a rare procedural move to cut off debate and force a vote on “right to work.”

“The Senate is based on a premise of fair and open and robust debate,” said Keaveny, and he said that procedural move used by “right to work” supporters, negated that premise.

“Effectively what that is, is, ‘We are not going to debate this, we have the majority party, we have the most votes, we’re going to bring it to a vote, and we’re going to pass it,” said Keaveny.

Keaveny says getting things moving again in the Senate could be difficult in the 2016 session.

“It’s going to take a concerted effort by the leadership of both caucuses, and it’s going to take some time,” Keaveny told Missourinet. “I think coming out of the gate in the very beginning of session we could have some issues where we don’t necessarily get along very well.”

Keaveny believes “right to work” backers wanted a symbolic victory, in advancing that bill to the governor for the first time, knowing it will likely be vetoed and they lack the votes to overturn that.

He said it was encouraging, however, that the two parties allowed a federal reimbursement bill to advance before adjourning.

“That separates the statesmen from the politicians,” said Keaveny. “That’s $3.5-billion total that funds our Medicaid programs. To hold that bill up for purely political reasons, I think, would have been a mistake.”