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(Lebanon) (AP) – Two people are dead after a driver lost control on a snow-covered highway in southern Missouri.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol said the out-of-control car skidded into a tractor-trailer that was stopped Saturday afternoon because of an earlier crash on Interstate 44.

The 20-year-old Fort Leonard Wood man who was driving the car survived with minor injuries, but both passengers were ejected and killed. The patrol identified the victims as 24-year-old Eduardo Contreras of Wichita, Kansas, and Cesar Hernandez of Los Angeles.

The Missouri Department of Transportation says it has been working to clear wreckage from another I-44 pileup that happened Saturday when a Greyhound bus crashed into the rear of a tractor-trailer.

The department says it could take most of Sunday before both westbound lanes can be reopened.

by Marie French, AP

(Jefferson City) (AP) – Republican lawmakers in Missouri’s Capitol often bristle at rules and requirements handed down from the federal government, saying they favor local authority in most matters.

However, several GOP-supported proposals this year aim to hand down similar mandates to cities and counties across the state.

Republican legislators say proposals that would block local authorities from pursuing business policies or banning plastic bags are essential to protect conservative values and boost the economy, even as critics line up to call such legislation disingenuous.

“It’s hypocritical of the state to say they don’t want the federal government to interfere and pass unfunded mandates, and then go interfering with our ability to make laws to govern our own municipalities,” Columbia City Councilman Michael Trapp said.

Trapp is pushing back against proposals from Rep. Caleb Rowden, a Republican from Columbia, that would prevent cities from requiring employers to offer workers more benefits and dictate reporting requirements for felons applying for jobs. The plans, Trapp said, are among “a plethora of initiatives proposed at the state level that interfere with local control.”

For his part, Rowden said the state is in a better position to regulate business policy. “If every municipality is going to be on an island for these very significant business practices, it just doesn’t work,” he said.

Echoing that point was Rep. Dan Shaul, a Republican from Imperial, sponsor of the bill to block Columbia’s proposed plastic bag ban, a measure aimed at protecting the environment.

Much of the local pushback has come from urban areas, such as Columbia, where city leaders have supported the “ban the box” plan, the bag ban and an effort to decriminalize marijuana possession.

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, a Columbia Republican, noted that he supports local control on issues such as education, but “when a municipality wants to enter into a business simply because they can charge people and make money, that’s not an appropriate use of local control.”

His comments referred to a state vs. local battle over ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft. The services allow users to call for a ride using a smartphone app. Cities have sought to regulate the firms as they would cab or limo services, but many Republican lawmakers have sided with industry officials who say they’re tech firms and should be regulated as such.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James, a Democrat, said that since those services are used in cities, they should be regulated by cities.

James said he understands why some state control is necessary to provide uniform standards, but he said that authority is being abused. “Don’t tell us we can’t have any impact on trying to help make the lives of the people in our city better,” he said.

Rowden said state voters have favored conservative policy, and Republican lawmakers have a duty to uphold that. “What you’ve seen is local folks, liberal folks, who know that they’re not going to be able to get their policies through at the state level are moving down to the local level,” he said.

Still, Rep. Stephen Webber, a Columbia Democrat, said it was ideologically inconsistent for Republicans to push back against mandates, only to turn around and issue them.

“Republicans are in complete control of the state Capitol,” he said, “and I think they’re trying to consolidate power.”

(Jonesboro) (AP) – Arkansas State University has banned the use of e-cigarettes on its campus.

The Jonesboro Sun reports that the battery-operated device was banned by the university after receiving feedback from its constituency groups. The ban, which already includes cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, was announced to students Wednesday.

The groups debated the issue, and the majority decision was that it would be better for the campus environment to issue the ban, according to school spokesman Bill Smith.

Some students approve of the ban, while others think e-cigarettes should only be banned from use indoors.

E-cigarettes, which are designed to deliver nicotine, flavor and/or other chemicals in an aerosol form that is inhaled by the user, are sometimes used by people who are trying to quit smoking.

by Allen Reed, AP

(Reuters)

(Reuters)

(Little Rock) (AP) – Arkansas lawmakers have two capital punishment proposals to consider nearly a decade after the state’s most recent execution.

While the state Supreme Court looks at whether an existing death penalty law is constitutional, two legislators are calling for changes. Neither of the ideas has picked up the endorsements they would need to make a change, however.

A Senate committee last week advanced a bill to eliminate the death penalty as a sentencing option in capital murder cases. That motivated a House member to file a bill Thursday that she hopes will restart executions via firing squads.

Arkansas currently has 32 men on death row. The state hasn’t had an execution since 2005, when Eric Nance was executed for the murder and attempted rape of a Malvern teenager.

(Columbia) (AP) – Authorities say a man suspected of killing two people and wounding a third at a duplex near Columbia has been killed in a shootout with deputies.

Det. Tom O’Sullivan, of the Boone County Sheriff’s Department, said officers responded late Saturday to reports of gunfire and found a man and a woman who lived in the duplex dead. A male roommate who sustained life-threatening injuries was taken to a hospital.

O’Sullivan said a pursuit began when deputies tried to stop a vehicle seen fleeing from the scene. After losing control in the snow while attempting to turn onto U.S. 63, the driver got out of with a handgun. O’Sullivan said shots were exchanged, and the suspect was fatally wounded.

The names of the people who were killed weren’t immediately released.

(Washington) – Congressman Jason Smith has released his newest report, in which he discusses the SCRUB Act.

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(Little Rock) – Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has released his weekly address, talking about the history of Arkansas.

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Recent Events

As session begins and the budget process in the House is in the process of being completed, several items have been passed through the House so far. Below is a list and summary of the items that have been voted Due Pass:

HCR 12: Urges the State Attorney General to join a lawsuit against President Barak Obama’s immigration policies currently underway in Texas.

HCR 15: Calls upon President Barak Obama to support the Keystone XL pipeline and the permitting of oil production off the northern coast of Alaska.

HCR 20: Greatly urges the U.S. Department of Defense to protect, promote, and leverage Missouri’s military bases and agencies.

HCS HB 42: Establishes a system of school accreditation by building rather than by the district and establishes standards for student transfers.

HB 92: Changes the definition of the “waters of the state.”

HCR HB 116 & 569: Prohibits an employer from requiring a person to become a member of a labor organization as a condition of continuation of employment.

HB 125: Specifies that the directors of any industrial development corporation formed by a municipality in St. Francois County may be taxpayers and registered voters in the county.

HB 150: Modifies the duration of unemployment compensation, the method to pay federal advances, and raises the fund trigger causing contribution rate reductions.

HB 185: Specifies that ambulance district public funds deposited in certain banking institutions be secured.

HB 190: Changes the laws regarding the protection of women’s health care.

HB 241: Adds vehicles owned and operated by the Civil Support Team of the Missouri National Guard when operations involving hazardous materials to the definition of “emergency vehicle.”

HCS HB 259: Establishes the Missouri Dairy Revitalization Act of 2015.

“Show-Me” the Money (Part 2 of 2)

When Governor Nixon delivered his proposed Budget along with his State of the State Address to the General Assembly, I was deeply saddened that Nixon’s plan was a page out of the White House’s playbook. I’m convinced their agendas will be met with much resistance. These plans are filled with debt and reckless spending. Both Chief Executives expound on the people’s distrust of government. These two Budget proposals campaign that the cure to this plague was bigger, stronger government, which should have the capacity to provide affordable health care, college education with no or little debt, higher wages, and more and better jobs.

I strongly object to their plans.

I simply must pose this response, “‘Show-Me the Money.” As a union, we are $18 Trillion in the Red. As a state, we are crossing our fingers that future revenues will come in as last session’s State Budget proposed. You are correct–the Budget is spending based on projected income, and Nixon’s numbers were far less conservative than the Legislature’s (Note: I voted “no” on the Budget).

I also firmly believe that smaller, simpler, smarter government is the key to becoming trustworthy. You taxpayers expect proper prioritization and discipline with your tax dollar. I’m convinced we Missourians, especially in our area, desire to be more reliant on God, self, family and neighbors than a government that over-promises and under-delivers.

“A government that is big enough to give us what we want is a government big enough to take away all we have.” — Gerald Ford

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” — Mark Twain

Legislation That Matters

Even though it seems to have just started, session is nearly half over and there is still much work to be done.

Now that Senate Bill 460 has been second read, it was referred to the Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee which I chair.

Senate Bill 460, sponsored by Sen. Ryan Slivey, R-Kansas City, would bar the executive branch from issuing any new or existing bonds without approval of the Missouri Legislature or voters. Senate Bill 460 is aimed at reinforcing an important check on the executive branch’s funding authority.

This legislation was created for one main reason. The governor’s office put together a $1 billion stadium project in a bid to keep the St. Louis Rams from leaving the city; taxpayers would be responsible for about $400 million. When lawmakers voiced their concerns about the proposal, the executive branch announced it does not need legislative or public approval to issue bonds, based on an interpretation of a more than 20-year-old statute.

In the troubling economic times our state and the entire nation is facing, I am dismayed at the governor’s remarks and look forward to hearing this bill in committee and getting it moved farther along in the legislative process. This legislation is vital in ensuring our executive branch cannot and will not be able to make large financial decisions without the input from or consideration for the entire state.

This is not about professional sports teams and whether they should reside or remain in our state. Senator Silvey has impressed upon me that this legislation is about firmly establishing in law that the executive branch does not have the authority to put our state in debt without legislative or public approval. I agree with him. It is critical we immediately stop what could set a very dangerous precedent in this state.

Senate Bill 460 would confirm, by law, that the executive branch does not have the authority to extend existing bonds or issue new bonds, including bonds for the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority, without legislative or voter approval.

I am also interested in watching the progression of Senate Bill 110, which prohibits any member of the University of Missouri Board of Curators from voting to appoint, to hire, or employ in any way in any position in the university, any person who appointed him or her to the board. Any such vote taken by a curator will be null and void. Any curator who violates this prohibition will immediately forfeit their position. This legislation has already been heard in the House, and I am confident it will be passed this session.

As the weather begins to warm and you make your way to Jefferson City, be sure to stop by and say hello.

As always, I appreciate it when groups from around Missouri and from our community back home come to visit me at the Capitol. If you would like to arrange a time to come and visit me in Jefferson City, or if you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact my Capitol office at (573) 751-1882.