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Bob Watson

Stories by Bob

Missouri Senate readies for transportation tax debate

Bills should come up in next couple of weeks

After taking testimony on both bills Wednesday morning, a Missouri Senate panel last Thursday recommended the full Senate pass two proposed constitutional amendments to pay for transportation improvements around the state.

Hearings set in Noranda complaint cases about Ameren

Missouri’s Public Service Commission has set the hearing schedules in two complaint cases filed Feb. 12 by Noranda Aluminum Inc. and a number of individual customers against Ameren Missouri, the state’s largest electricity provider.

Lincoln raising room and board fees for students

Curators approve several changes, OK upgrades at buildings

Lincoln University students will pay more for room and board next year, curators voted Thursday.

LU honors outstanding students

LU presented 282 awards to students during the convocation, with some students winning several honors.

Lawmaker accuses Ameren of hurting schools with assessment complaints

A state lawmaker thinks Ameren Missouri’s complaint about assessed property values will hurt schools and county governments.

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Senate panel eyes transportation sales tax idea

Missouri Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Mike Kehoe expects his committee this morning will endorse two proposed constitutional amendments to improve state funding for transportation improvements.

Nixon keeps pushing for expansion of Medicaid

Gov. Jay Nixon observed the nation’s income tax deadline day Tuesday by arguing, again, that Missouri lawmakers are hurting the state’s economy with their refusal to expand Medicaid, as envisioned by the federal health care law.

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State Senate remembers some former members

For a little over 30 minutes Monday afternoon at the Missouri Capitol, the names of 60 former state senators were read one-by-one, in a roll call one last time.

Senators pay homage to their predecessors

Missouri senators will pause today to remember 60 former members who have died since May 1987.

Tort reform stalls in Missouri Senate

After Supreme Court rejected the 2005 limits, lawmakers resume debate over damage caps

Missouri senators spent more than six hours last week debating the need for limiting the damages someone can win in a malpractice lawsuit. But they didn’t reach an answer.

Nixon cuts education funding by $22 million

Gov. Jay Nixon said Thursday he has to cut $22 million in state funding to education, because Missourians are buying fewer lottery tickets and gambling less at the casinos.

House, Senate trade criminal code bills

Key members of each chamber will meet to hammer out differences

Missouri lawmakers moved two steps closer to rewriting the state’s criminal laws Thursday, when the House and Senate each passed a version of the bill and sent it to the other chamber.

Green orders new trial in arson case

Kurt Steidley will get a second trial on the state’s charge that he set a fire that caused heavy damage to his business, Everhart’s Sporting Goods, 2436 Missouri Blvd., on Jan. 1, 2011.

Senators hear testimony on 'gay' discrimination

Missouri’s economy would be helped if lawmakers made it illegal to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, state Sen. Jolie Justus told a committee Wednesday afternoon.

PSC looks for answers in unusual cases

Missouri’s five-member Public Service Commission is trying to figure out how to handle what Commissioner Steve Stoll called its “unusual” cases — Noranda Aluminum’s twin requests that the PSC rule that Ameren Missouri is taking in more revenue than allowed in its current rate structure, and for the PSC to reduce the rates that Noranda now pays for Ameren’s electricity.

Ameren wins permission for solar farm

Ameren Missouri hopes to be generating electricity by the end of the year from a new solar farm near O’Fallon in St. Charles County.

Lawmakers agree on 1 percent raise for state employees

Most state employees can expect to see a 1 percent raise in next year’s paychecks, not the 3 percent Gov. Jay Nixon proposed in his State of the State address three months ago.

Senate endorses projects for state bonds it OK'd last week

With little debate, the Missouri Senate on Monday approved the list of 303 building renovation and rehabilitation projects to be tackled with money raised from the sale of revenue bonds.

Legislature considering amendment to limit governor’s withholding powers

For several years, Missouri Republican lawmakers have complained about the way Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon has handled the state’s budget.

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Senators start talking about highway bridges needing repairs or replacement

Almost 900 state highway bridges need major repairs or replacement, or they’ll have to be closed, state Sen. Mike Kehoe told colleagues last week.

Appeals court judges answer students' questions

At William Woods University

Appeals court judges play a different role in the system than their trial judge counterparts, three judges told William Woods University students last week.

School funding questions not answered yet

Missouri school officials may have another month’s wait before they know how much money they’ll get next year in state aid.

303 state building and maintenance projects included in bonding issue

Missouri senators Thursday morning approved the idea of selling bonds to pay for building renovation and maintenance projects around the state.

Beetem denies restraining order in 'same sex' tax returns case

Judge sets May hearing so attorneys can schedule trial later this year on lawsuit challenging Nixon executive order.

Senate OKs bonding plan

Vote on specific projects expected Monday

Missouri senators on Thursday sent the House a bill that raises the caps by $600 million on the amount of revenue bonds the state can sell.

Arguments heard in assessor’s case against Cole County Commission

Estes vs Commission

Can the county commission take money from the special Assessment Fund created by state law? A court ruling being appealed said yes.

Assessor's case is similar but different than sheriff's suit

Appeals court hears different issues, a day after ruling on sheriff’s case against Cole Commission

They might sound like the same argument. But Jill LaHue, the Cole County Commission’s lawyer, said Wednesday the facts were different.

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Senate gives first-round OK to alcohol sales at Capitol — for special events only

After rejecting an amendment to remove alcohol sales from the bill, Missouri senators gave first-round approval Tuesday afternoon to a proposal allowing special events at the Capitol and the Missouri State Penitentiary Redevelopment site during the next decade.

Parson asks committee to endorse bonding projects

A Senate committee this afternoon could endorse a list of 303 mostly maintenance and repair projects that could be done over the next few years — including more than $300 million worth of work in Mid-Missouri — if lawmakers ultimately approve a state bonding proposal.

Appeals court sides with commission in sheriff's challenge

For the second time in 13 months, a Missouri court has sided with the Cole County Commission in Sheriff Greg White’s challenge to the commission’s use of the “Law Enforcement Sales Tax” fund to help pay some of the sheriff’s operating expenses.

Extension for state wages committee sought

The Legislature’s Joint Interim Committee on State Employee Wages wants to hire a consultant, to do a complete study of state workers’ salary and benefits.

House-passed voter ID measures pitched to Senate committee

Count state Reps. Tony Dugger, R-Hartville, and Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia, among those lawmakers convinced that a photo ID should be required before Missourians can cast a ballot.

Lawmakers voice concern over teachers’ claims

Two Sikeston R-6 School District teachers told state senators last week they feared for their jobs because they oppose implementation of the Common Core education standards.

Congressional candidates not required to live in district

Four of the men who filed this year as candidates for Congress don’t live in the districts they want to serve.

Hearing set in same-sex tax returns case

Circuit Judge Jon Beetem will hear arguments Thursday afternoon on the request that he issue a restraining order in the same-sex tax returns case.

Report: Missouri shouldn't follow Kansas' tax-cuts example

Missouri’s Senate needs to take one final vote — probably next week — to send a tax-cuts plan to the House, after giving the idea first-round approval Wednesday night.

Baptist Convention considers next move

The Missouri Baptist Convention’s Executive Board is deciding if it wants to appeal this week’s appeals court ruling against it.

Hearing set for restraining order request in same-sex tax returns case

Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem will hear arguments next Thursday afternoon on the request that he issue a restraining order in the same-sex tax returns case.

Senate advances bonding plan for projects

Fulton State Hospital, LU, old St. Mary's included in list

Construction of a new Fulton State Hospital moved one step closer to reality Thursday, when the Missouri Senate gave first-round approval to a $600 million bonding plan that includes about $200 million for the Fulton project.

Senate advances local pensions bill

Both bills allowing local governments to move their closed pension plans to the LAGERS system now are in the other house. Missouri senators sent Mike Kehoe’s version to the House on Thursday on a 33-0 vote.

Lawmakers asked to require more 'Common Core' study

Almost four years after Missouri’s State Board of Education adopted the national “Common Core” standards, in June 2010, two state senators Wednesday afternoon asked the Senate Education Committee to endorse a bill blocking their implementation, for at least another year.

Mid-Missouri legislative races finalized

Unopposed Mid-Missouri candidates are Republican Reps. Jay Barnes, Jefferson City; Caleb Jones, California; David Wood, Versailles; Rocky Miller, Lake Ozark; and Diane Franklin, Camdenton.

Filing deadline doesn’t cover independent, write-in candidates

Tuesday’s filing deadline only affects candidates running in a recognized political party — Democrat, Republican, Libertarian and Constitution.

Utility, company push PSC in opposite directions in rate case

Noranda Aluminum said Tuesday it has proven that Ameren Missouri overcharged its electricity customers last year — and the state Public Service Commission should cut the utility’s rates to benefit those customers.

$1.1 billion lost in last decade

Missouri lawmakers were told in 1997 that Historic Preservation Tax Credits (HPTC) would cost the state about $14.3 million a year.

Nixon’s balk draws heat

Sponsors of a proposed overhaul of Missouri’s criminal laws were frustrated Monday that new concerns are being raised about their project — from Gov. Jay Nixon and his staff.

Man charged following search of Russellville home

A Russellville man is in the Cole County Jail this weekend, facing three charges after being arrested Thursday night during a search of his home at 13006 Minnie Drive.

Sheriff reports weapons and drugs seized at Russellville home

One man held for drug trafficking

Phelps' church protested several times in Mid-Missouri

Kansas pastor dies at age 84

Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church members brought their special protest message and prophecy to Mid-Missouri for at least four funerals in the past 15 years. Phelps has died at age 84.

Criminal Code changes inch forward as some question size

For only the second time in Missouri’s history, the General Assembly is being asked to rewrite the entire Criminal Code section of state law.