'Plane Gate' MSHP explains reason for 5.6 million airplane

By Johnny Kampis | Missouri Watchdog

JEFFERSON CITY — The purchase of a new $5.6 million airplane has upset lawmakers and delayed a key administrative appointment by Gov. Jay Nixon.

Call it “Plane Gate.”

Nixon nominated Doug Nelson, a longtime aide, to be the next state Administration commissioner, but Nelson is embroiled in controversy after he authorized buying a King Air 250 at the request of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Democrats and Republicans alike were surprised Wednesday to hear about the plane, which will ferry state officials.

Nelson approved the plane’s purchase from a Highway Patrol fund specified for aircraft and automobiles. The fund has a budget of $13 million this fiscal year.

Missouri Viewpoints – Kinder Continues Fight Against “ObamaCare”, For “Right to Work”

By Mike Ferguson

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – He’s the second-highest ranking elected official in Missouri and he was recently sworn in for an unusual third term in Jefferson City.

Peter Kinder is also in the running to become the next Congressman from the Eighth District. Due to the impending resignation of Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson, the Eighth District Congressional Committees of the ballot-qualified parties are now in the process of selecting candidates for a special election to fill the seat in the Republican-heavy district.

Call of duty? Missouri lawmakers wants to tax violent video games

A screenshot from the upcoming “Grand Theft Auto V,” which would be taxed at a higher rate if one Missouri legislator gets her way.

By Johnny Kampis | Missouri Watchdog

ST. LOUIS – A Missouri lawmaker wants to levy a tax on violent video games, with the extra money going toward studying mental health issues.

Rep. Diane Franklin, R-Camdenton, has introduced a state House bill that would impose a 1 percent additional sales tax on video games rated by the Entertainment Software Rating Board as teen, mature or adult-only .

The Entertainment Software Association, which represents publishers of video games, issued a statement opposing the measure.

“We are disappointed that even in the wake of an overwhelming decision in the United States Supreme Court finding proposals such as this to be patently unconstitutional, there are those who still try to attack video games with outdated notions of our industry,” said ESA spokesman Dan Hewitt.

Republican and Democratic Party leaders comment on representatives allowed to smoke in the state capital

Jefferson City, Mo. - Wednesday night we published an editorial that Kyle Quick wrote about a rule that was passed by the Missouri House Rules Committee on Tuesday, allowing Representatives to smoke in their offices in the State Capitol.

Speaker of the House Tim Jones (R) publically spoke about the move by House Democrats to prohibit smoking, which was soundly defeated Thursday afternoon by Republicans when the rule was brought to the House floor for a vote. But House members did vote to leave a smoking policy up to each party.

Internet sales tax a possibility in 2013 legislative session

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Missouri tax increase, with bipartisan support?

Democrats and Republicans, alike, are mulling the idea of collecting sales tax from internet retailers — potentially opening a multi-million dollar steam of new revenue to the state.

Senate Assistant Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, said it is an argument about fairness for retailers and hometown businesses.

Democratic Mo. Rep. offers advice to Biden on gun control

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — In Washington, Vice President Joe Biden has led a task-force seeking recommendations on potential policy changes in response to an uptick in gun violence in recent years.

In Jefferson City, State Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis, has been part of that discussion. On Wednesday, Newmman was one of a select group of state lawmakers and mayors invited to join a private conference call with Biden to discuss how to move forward on the policy.

“I asked him to consider working with other legislators like myself that are introducing these bills, even in unfriendly states,” Newman said. She said she and lawmakers from other states were behind proposals to ban so-called assault weapons, ban high capacity magazine, and require background checks for all gun sales, similarly to legislation she has filed in Missouri.

Missouri Viewpoints – Budgets, Teachers, Taxes and Reform: Finding The Right Future for Missouri’s Public Schools

Influential advocates say money is only part of the challenge

By Mike Ferguson

St. Charles, MO – It’s always a touchy topic at the State Capitol but, this year, it’s expected to be a lightning rod of debate: how to fund and how to run Missouri’s public schools in another lean budget year.

In a recent “Missouri Viewpoints”, Amy Blouin from the liberal Missouri Budget Project and James Shuls from the libertarian Show Me Institute offered different takes on the challenge.

The facts of the situation are, like the possible reforms, up for debate.

Missouri gets D-minus from education reform group, but critics question methodology

By Johnny Kampis | Missouri Watchdog

ST. LOUIS – Missouri scored poorly on a report card from education-advocacy group StudentsFirst, but critics argue the organization is pushing reforms that don’t necessarily improve the quality of education.

StudentsFirst gave the Show Me State a D-minus, placing it among the lowest-ranking states. Eleven states got an F.

Missouri was criticized for failing to tie teacher effectiveness to pay and tenure and for not adequately providing school information to parents.

Michelle Rhee, the former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor who formed StudentsFirst, said the weak performance of states — none got an A, and only a dozen got a B or C — reflects how recently state governments have begun tackling issues her group advocates, such as performance evaluations and tenure.

USDA disaster drought means Franklin County farmers among the 63 Missouri counties eligible for low-interest loans and other assistance from the federal government

JEFFERSON CITY – Drought-stricken farmers in 63 Missouri counties are eligible for federal assistance after the U.S. Department of Agriculture today issued a primary natural disaster area designation, Gov. Jay Nixon said. The designation from USDA Secretary Vilsack is for 31 counties that have suffered either extreme or exceptional drought, or have suffered severe drought for more than eight weeks. An additional 32 counties have been designated as contiguous disaster counties. 

“Missouri livestock and crop farmers across the state have been struggling with drought for a long time now,” Gov. Nixon said. “There has been relief in some parts of the state because of rain and snow, but it’s still a great challenge. Coming on the heels of our drought relief program on the state level that has helped thousands of Missouri ranchers and farmers drill new wells, this designation can provide additional help for these hard-hit areas. We’ll continue to stand with Missouri agriculture at every step of the recovery.”

“Missouri Viewpoints” – Missouri’s Wine Billion Dollar Industry Grows Despite Drought

Missouri View Point's host Mike Ferguson and Mt. Pleasant Winery owner Chuck Dressel talk about Missouri's wine industry.

We strive to provide a large variety of news in an effort to meet the interests of all our readers.  We are excited to announce a weekly TV show, “Missouri View Points” produced by our affiliate Missouri News Horizon, will be featured on Quick News Now.

This new show, hosted by Mike Ferguson, aims at providing different view points on a wide variety of topics across the state.  In fact, this week’s show focuses on the wine industry and was filmed at Mt. Pleasant Winery in Augusta, Mo.

The host talks one-on-one with Mt. Pleasant Winery owner Chuck Dressel about the impact the drought has had on the wine industry.

Below is this week's Missouri View Points.