Guns in the Capitol: When the signs went up on the doors of the Missouri Capitol prohibiting the public from entering with a firearm, Rep. Nick Marshall, a Parkville Republican, put up a sign of his own.
On his office door, he posted a sign offering to lend a gun to any constituent with a valid concealed-carry permit. Marshall, an attorney, said the prohibition being enforced by Capitol police violated state law.
Attempts to get clarification on the ban’s legality from Gov. Eric Greitens’ administration, which has jurisdiction over the areas of the Capitol that aren’t controlled by the legislature, were unsuccessful.
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But this week, Marshall was vindicated. The ban was lifted, and signs now state that concealed-carry permit holders are authorized to carry concealed firearms in the Missouri Capitol.
“My constituents can now do what they had the right to do all along,” Marshall told The Star.
Education cuts: Public school officials are beginning to sound the alarm about Greitens’ proposed education budget.
Greitens announced last week that K-12 education would see a $3 million funding bump. Analysis of the governor’s proposal shows that state contribution to K-12 schools does increase slightly, but it relies on a projected increase in gaming revenues of $5 million.
The budget also cuts $36 million from school transportation funding, which school administrators told The Associated Press will likely translate into a reduction of funds for classrooms.
“It’s not like I can just say, ‘We’re not going to transport kids,’ ” Heath Halley, superintendent of the Putnam County R-1 district, told the AP. “We will have to come up with (the money) or put off planned expenditures like textbooks or computers.”
Governor vs. state Senate: Gov. Greitens’ run-in last week with some of his fellow Republicans in the Missouri Senate has been well documented. Greitens wanted the Senate to reject a scheduled pay raise, and he personally lobbied senators.
The raise was rejected, but not before a group of senators publicly admonished Greitens for his tactics and called for an apology. Yet none of the senators involved would provide details about what Greitens said or did that they thought crossed the line.
But now details of what took place behind closed doors are beginning to leak out.
“I know you’re not smart enough to come up with this on your own, so who put you up to this?” Greitens allegedly told Republican state Sen. Paul Wieland. “I can see by your pupils in your beady little eyes that you’re afraid of me.”
The specifics were first reported by The Missouri Times. Several sources with knowledge of the conversation confirmed the details to The Star.
Greitens didn’t respond to a request for comment.
House tax bill: Just a few hours after Republican Senate leaders’ plan to mend the budget and raise taxes imploded Thursday on the way to the Senate floor, a House panel sent forward a proposal of its own.
The amended bill, endorsed 13-9 by the House tax committee, would repeal an exemption for roughly 330,000 business owners. It would keep the lowest income rate at 2.7 percent, raise the second rate to 5.25 percent and add a third rate of 5.45 percent.
“It’s not entirely what I want,” said Steven Johnson, an Assaria Republican and chairman of the House tax committee. “I don’t know that it’s entirely what anyone wants.”
Rep. Tom Sawyer, a Wichita Democrat who amended the bill, estimated the legislation would bring the state roughly $600 million in the first year and about $475 million the following year.
2017 budget: Rep. Troy Waymaster, a Bunker Hill Republican and chairman of the House’s budget committee, said he expected to talk about a fix for the 2017 budget on Monday.
“You never know what happens in committee,” Waymaster said. “Maybe some members in committee liked what the Senate was doing.”
Committee members indicated last month that they supported a proposal put forward by Gov. Sam Brownback that would borrow more than $300 million from a long-term investment fund to get the state through this year’s budget shortfall.
The Senate plan took less money from that pool, instead opting for cuts to help balance the books.
“There’s no tax package that’s going to help fiscal year 2017,” Waymaster said.
Medicaid expansion: An effort to expand Medicaid in Kansas led to three hearings in a House committee this week.
The bill comes at a time when there is uncertainty about health coverage, both in Kansas and across the nation. Congressional Republicans have made clear their intent to end the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
But in Kansas, questions have arisen in recent weeks about KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program. A federal review found it was out of compliance with set standards.
Rep. Susan Concannon, a Beloit Republican who serves as vice chairwoman of the House health committee, said she expected the committee will talk about the legislation next week. Supporters’ testimony, she said, “was very impactful, very emotional.”
But Brownback signaled in a statement this week that he still opposes Medicaid expansion. “It moves able-bodied adults to the front of the line, ahead of truly vulnerable Kansans,” he said.