U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri will head up a Senate hearing regarding the militarization of police departments following the recent events in Ferguson. The hearing will focus on programs that enable police departments to acquire military equipment. Ferguson and St. Louis County police have been criticized for responding to protests wearing desert camouflage and holding military grade weapons.
The State Supreme Court ruled Friday that the wording cannot be changed just three weeks before Missouri’s primary election on a ballot measure asking voters to declare in the State Constitution that the right to bear arms is “unalienable”. The court dismissed an appeal by opponents of the gun measure, saying a state law forbids the court from making changes to ballot measures within six weeks of an election. The ruling means the wording will not be changed on proposed Constitutional Amendment 5, which will go before voters on Aug. 5. Opponents argue that the ballot wording failed to mention other significant changes, including that gun-control measures would become subject to tougher legal scrutiny and that a current constitutional provision allowing restrictions on concealed guns would be repealed. Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem dismissed the legal challenge on July 1. In its ruling Friday, the Supreme Court agreed it was bound by that law and dismissed the appeal.
Lake area workers who are used to being laid off after the summer season may have another option. Gov. Jay Nixon has signed legislation preserving a program that encourages businesses to place employees on part-time status instead of laying them off. The measure enacted Friday is intended to keep Missouri in compliance with new federal requirements for the shared work program. Nixon said about 335 employers and more than 21,000 people currently participate in the program. It allows businesses to split working hours among a group of employees as an alternative to laying some of them off. In exchange, the employees’ incomes are supplemented with reduced amounts of unemployment benefits. Missouri’s program had to be revised to match federal guidelines, or else it would have ended in August. Business groups supported the legislation, which could allow Missouri to get an additional $2.5 million in federal funds.
Secretary of State Jason Kander announced Friday ballot measures on gun rights, police searches and the lottery have been certified for the august ballot. The proposals would each amend the Missouri Constitution if a majority of voters approve. One of the measures, Constitutional Amendment 5, would strengthen gun rights in Missouri. It would make the right to bear arms an “unalienable right” and make the state government “obligated to uphold that right”. A second measure, Constitutional Amendment 9, would add electronic communications and data to the list of information secure from unreasonable search and seizure. People, homes, papers and their effects are already protected. The last measure, Constitutional Amendment 8, proposes a slight shift in lottery ticket revenue to benefit projects and services related to veterans.
Lake area public schools will not lose as much funding next year as Gov. Jay Nixon announced Friday that he will veto legislation that would have diverted public, taxpayer dollars away from Missouri’s public schools and given that money to private schools without any accountability to voters. The governor said that this failed attempt to fix the current school transfer law would, in fact, result in further disruption for students in struggling school districts by eliminating the requirement that unaccredited school districts pay for transportation costs. Senate Bill 493 would eliminate the requirement that unaccredited districts pay for the transportation costs of students. This provision would negatively impact the hundreds of students and families who have already transferred to another school district with an understanding that their transportation costs would be paid.
School safety procedures may soon change at the lake after Missouri lawmakers gave final approval to legislation that could allow specially trained teachers and other school personnel to carry concealed weapons. Supporters say the measure would protect schools from intruders, but opponents say it could compromise safety by having firearms in classrooms. The bill sent to Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon on Friday would also lower the minimum age required to get a concealed weapons permit from 21 to 19. The house voted 111-28 in favor of the bill. It cleared the senate a day earlier.
Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler and the House Armed Services Committee have approved the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act. One of the key provisions impacting our national security and Missourians is the support for an A-10 warthog fleet. The department of defense proposed the divestment of the A-10 airframe but this legislation includes an amendment that Congresswoman Hartzler co-sponsored, that will fully fund the maintenance, operation, and upgrading of the fleet. Hartzler told us this is an important issue here at the lake and she considered residents input.
The FY15 NDAA will now go before the full house for a vote.