Political News

The Latest: Missouri governor hints at special session

Posted May 12

— The Latest on developments in the Missouri Legislature, which is scheduled to end its annual session at 6 p.m. Friday (all times local):

7:40 p.m.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is hinting that he might call state lawmakers back for a special session.

Greitens told reporters minutes after the annual legislative session ended Friday that "for these politicians, round 2 begins sooner than they think."

He did not provide details on what issues, if any, he thinks are unresolved. Greitens said he would review what lawmakers accomplished and what didn't get done.

This is Greitens' first session working with lawmakers after his November election. The Republican has never before held elected office.

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6 p.m.

The Missouri Legislature has completed its 2017 session.

The House just before the 6 p.m. Friday deadline passed bills that could undo a St. Louis minimum wage hike and restore proposed cuts to in-home and nursing care for low-income seniors and disabled residents.

House and Senate Republican leadership touted session accomplishments including changing the state's legal climate to be more business friendly and passing labor laws including so-called "right to work" legislation banning mandatory union fees.

Democrats said those policies would be damaging to middle-class and low-income residents if signed into law by Republican Gov. Eric Greitens.

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5:59 p.m.

The Missouri House has adopted a Senate fix to restore funding for about 8,300 seniors and disabled people at risk of losing in-home and nursing care through a Medicaid program.

The House voted 83-67 to send that proposal to the governor minutes before their 6 p.m. Friday deadline.

The proposal would allow the state's administration commissioner to take up to $35.4 million from unspent money in dedicated funds in order to maintain the current level of in-home and nursing services for seniors and disabled Missouri residents.

House members proposed several alternatives that wouldn't relinquish appropriation powers to the executive branch, but none were accepted by senators.

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5:35 p.m.

A new minimum wage in St. Louis could be undone under legislation heading to Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens.

Missouri's Republican-led Legislature gave final approval Friday to a bill banning cities from adopting minimum wages higher than the state's rate, which is currently $7.70 an hour.

The intent is to reverse a $10 an hour minimum wage that took effect May 5 in St. Louis after being upheld by the courts.

The Senate passed the bill despite vigorous opposition from Democrats. The House then did likewise in the final moments before the mandatory 6 p.m. deadline to end its work.

Republican lawmakers contend there should be a consistent minimum wage across the state.

Democrats have said it should be up to cities to decide local wages.

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5:25 p.m.

A long debate over which dog reigns supreme in Missouri could be over soon if Gov. Eric Greitens signs a bill designating Old Drum as the official historical dog of Missouri and Jim the Wonder Dog as the official state wonder dog.

Missouri lawmakers passed a bill Friday that gives each dog a designation as a Missouri state symbol.

Old Drum was fatally shot in 1869 when he wandered onto a neighbor's property. His owner sued his neighbor, which eventually went to the Missouri Supreme Court. Old Drum's owner gave a now-famous speech about the loyalty of a dog.

Jim the Wonder Dog is a famed Missouri canine who supposedly had an extraordinary ability to predict the outcome of future events, including the winner of Kentucky Derbies and the baseball World Series.

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5:10 p.m.

The Missouri Senate has quit work early after advancing a bill that could undo a minimum wage increase in St. Louis.

The Senate adjourned shortly after 5 p.m. Friday — almost an hour ahead of the mandatory 6 p.m. deadline to halt work on legislation for the 2017 session.

The abrupt ending came after an acrimonious afternoon in which Democrats repeatedly objected and attempted to stall the Republican-led Senate from voting on the minimum wage legislation.

The bill still needs a final House vote to go to the governor. It would undo St. Louis' $10-an-hour minimum wage by prohibiting cities from setting wage rates above the state's minimum, which is currently $7.70 an hour.

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4:25 p.m.

Missouri will have to hold public hearings before buying large or expensive tracts of land under legislation heading to Gov. Eric Greitens.

Lawmakers gave final approval Friday to a bill would require public notices on websites, local newspapers and to all local elected officials before many state land purchases of at least 60 acres or $250,000. It also would require a public hearing in the county where the land is located.

The bill is a response to land deals made to expand the state parks system under the administration of former Gov. Jay Nixon. Many lawmakers expressed frustration that they were unaware of the plans in advance, and some suggested they were a misuse of state money.

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4 p.m.

Missouri senators have passed a measure seeking to undo a $10-an-hour minimum wage that recently took effect in St. Louis.

Missouri's Republican-led Senate shut down Democratic supporters of the wage increase Friday in order to pass a bill prohibiting cities from adopting minimum wages higher than the state's rate, which is currently $7.70 an hour.

The bill still needs final approval from the House to go to Republican Gov. Eric Greitens.

Lawmakers face a 6 p.m. Friday deadline to finish their work.

Republican lawmakers contend there should be a consistent minimum wage across the state, and that increasing pay could lead businesses to lay off employees.

Democrats have defended the St. Louis wage increase, saying it should be up to the city to decide.

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3:35 p.m.

Missouri lawmakers have approved legislation to grant people immunity for carrying small amounts of drugs if they seek medical help for an overdose.

The bill passed the House on Friday and now goes to the governor.

The legislation states that people can't be penalized for seeking medical assistance for an overdose if they possess small amounts of drugs or are in violation of probation, parole or a restraining order.

Supporters of the bill say it will encourage people to seek medical help instead of allowing those overdosing to be left for dead.

Critics argue the proposal will do little to curb overdose deaths in the state

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3:30 p.m.

The Missouri House has made another attempt to restore funding to about 8,300 elderly and disabled residents who could lose in-home and nursing care services.

The House voted Friday for a measure that would use excess revenue from the current fiscal year to fund disabled and senior services in next year's budget. The measure also would let the governor declare a surplus and shift funds to those programs.

The proposal by Republican Budget Chairman Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick is a variation of one he put forth Thursday. But senators refused to take up that one, and don't appear inclined to consider his latest plan before the session ends at 6 p.m. Friday.

Senators have backed a different proposal, which would divert money from various dedicated funds.

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3:15 p.m.

Travelers could drink alcohol at flight gates at St. Louis and Kansas City international airports if a bill passed by the Missouri Legislature becomes law.

Lawmakers on Friday voted to send the measure to Republican Gov. Eric Greitens.

Currently, airport travelers must drink alcohol at bars and restaurants at which it is sold.

Bars, restaurants and other businesses that sell alcohol could apply to allow customers to order drinks to-go if the bill is signed. Passengers couldn't take the drinks on planes.

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1:25 p.m.

The Missouri House has struck down a bill that would've provided buyouts for homeowners living near a St. Louis-area Superfund site, prompting a shutdown of work in the Senate on the final day of session.

The bill that failed Friday would've allowed residents to apply for the state to purchase homes found uninhabitable due to contamination.

The measure is aimed at homes near Bridgeton Landfill and adjacent West Lake Landfill, where Cold War-era nuclear waste was buried in the 1970s.

The proposal is a priority of University City Democrat Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, who launched a filibuster in response to its failure with less than five hours left before the 6 p.m. Friday deadline to pass bills.

The Environmental Protection Agency has previously said that despite radioactive waste and an underground fire at Bridgeton Landfill, there's no increased risk for neighboring residents.

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12:50 p.m.

Missouri lawmakers have passed a bill aimed at cracking down on some immigrants who return to the country after being deported.

Legislators voted Friday to send the bill to Republican Gov. Eric Greitens. If signed, deported immigrants who come back and commit assaults or dangerous felony offenses would face three to 10 years in prison.

It doesn't apply to crimes of marijuana possession, stealing and white-collar crimes such as embezzlement.

Republican sponsor Sen. Mike Cunningham has said the intent is to crack down on criminals. He's said workers who overstay and people who come to visit family are not the intended targets.

But the measure was met with resistance by some Democrats and advocates for immigrants, who have argued it could deter immigrants from coming to the state and contributing to the economy.

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12:10 p.m.

Restaurants, summer camps and sports arenas could keep emergency allergy treatment on hand under legislation passed by the Missouri Legislature.

Lawmakers voted to send the bill to Republican Gov. Eric Greitens on Friday, the deadline of the annual session.

If signed into law, businesses and organizations where there are allergens such as bees or certain foods could get prescriptions for epinephrine.

The legislation also would expand a trial program aimed at managing prescriptions of some Missouri Medicaid patients.

The program would seek to connect doctors and pharmacists who serve patients with multiple prescriptions. The aim is to prevent drug interactions, avoid duplicate scripts for the same medicine and ensure patients take medications as prescribed.

Legislative researchers estimate expanding the program will save the state about $11 million annually.

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11:50 a.m.

Missouri lawmakers have passed legislation to raise penalties for crimes against police and create a "Blue Alert" notification system about suspects who assault law officers.

Legislators gave the measure a final vote of approval Friday, the deadline to send bills to Gov. Eric Greitens.

Greitens called for the provisions outlined in the legislation before taking office in January. He says they're needed to show support for law enforcement officials.

The Blue Alert system would be similar to Amber Alerts for missing children. The public would be notified when those suspected of injuring law enforcement are at large.

The bill calls for tougher penalties for involuntary manslaughter, stalking, property damage and trespassing if the victim was intentionally targeted as a police officer or for being related to a law enforcement officer.

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10:05 a.m.

The sponsor of a proposal to ban lobbyist gifts to Missouri elected officials says there's no way the bill will pass before lawmakers' Friday evening deadline.

Hermann Republican Rep. Justin Alferman told The Associated Press that he doesn't believe the legislation will pass by the 6 p.m. end of the annual session.

Some legislators for years have tried and failed to ban lobbyist gifts to themselves and other elected officials.

The latest online records show lobbyists have given legislators more than $800,000 in gifts this year. Those include St. Louis Blues hockey tickets and expensive dinners.

Republican Gov. Eric Greitens pledged during his campaign to ban all lobbyist gifts. While he banned the practice among state executive employees, it appears he will fall short on his broader promise.

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9:30 a.m.

Pay increases for tens of thousands of minimum wage workers in St. Louis could be on the line as the Missouri Legislature winds up its annual session.

Lawmakers face a 6 p.m. Friday deadline to finish their work.

One of the bills in limbo seeks to undo a minimum wage increase in St. Louis by prohibiting local government from adopting rates higher than the state's minimum wage.

The state's minimum is $7.70 an hour. The minimum wage in St. Louis rose to $10 an hour May 5 and is to rise again to $11 in January.

Republican lawmakers contend that businesses throughout Missouri should have to abide by the same wage laws.

Also pending Friday are bills enhancing penalties for crimes against police and establishing a prescription drug tracking database.

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12:20 a.m.

Missouri lawmakers are facing a Friday evening deadline to decide how and if to avoid cuts to personal care services for roughly 8,300 seniors and disabled people.

Funding for in-home and nursing care is one of several measures still hanging in the balance as a 6 p.m. deadline approaches to end work in the annual legislative session.

House and Senate lawmakers on Thursday refused to concede on potential solutions. Inaction likely will mean cuts in services to some of the state's most vulnerable people.

Other bills still pending include Gov. Eric Greitens' priorities to create a prescription drug tracking database, enhance penalties for crimes against police and establish a "Blue Alert" notification system about suspects who assault police.

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