Marshall Griffin

Statehouse Reporter

Missouri Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a proud alumnus of the University of Mississippi (a.k.a., Ole Miss), and has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off the old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Mason, and their cat, Honey.

Ways to Connect

The Missouri Senate’s budget committee relinquished all 13 bills to the main chamber Thursday night, choosing not to make specific cuts or increases to things like K-12 schools.

But the General Assembly is cutting the budget process close this year, and it’s a real possibility it won’t meet the 6 p.m., May 5, deadline to get the budget to Gov. Eric Greitens. If that’s the case, there’ll need to be a special session.

It seemed like a done deal: The Missouri House would send the governor a bill Thursday that would make it harder to prove discrimination when a person is fired. But Republican leaders called off the vote — for varying reasons.

Summer is approaching, a time when Missouri residents hit the road for a little rest and relaxation. It might be a rougher-than-expected journey, though, as legislators aren’t making transportation projects a priority during the 2017 session.

In the meantime, the Missouri Department of Transportation is using a reserve fund to maintain the state’s roads and bridges — money that’s supposed to go toward emergencies and natural disasters. MoDOT chief engineer Ed Hassinger said it’s not an issue right now, but will be if the department has to draw from it for another three years.

Under a bill that passed the Missouri House on Tuesday, voters in St. Louis and St. Louis County will be able to decide whether to further fund the city's zoo via a sales tax increase.

But, originally, the tax burden — an increase of one-eighth of 1 percent — would have been shared by surrounding counties as well. That option was stripped in both House Bill 935 and Senate Bill 49 for simplicity's sake, according to legislators.

After hours of debate Thursday evening, the Missouri Senate passed the bill that would create a statewide prescription drug monitoring program by a 22-9 vote. But opponents added language that could be problematic when the bill returns to the House in the final weeks of the 2017 session. 

Missouri is the only state in the U.S. without a prescription drug monitoring program, and Gov. Eric Greitens has said he backs the creation of one.

Updated at 1:35 p.m. with bill passing — The three-year battle to get a ride-hailing bill to the governor’s desk is finally over.

The Missouri House overwhelmingly passed HB 130 on Thursday by a 144-7 vote, which would craft statewide regulations for Uber, Lyft and other app-based companies to operate anywhere in the state.

Republicans hope the omnibus education bill in front of the Senate will take care of major priorities for Gov. Eric Greitens’ and themselves.

For the third year in a row, the Missouri House passed a bill that would legalize the growing and production of hemp for purposes like soap and rope. But its fate is likely to be the same as before: A slow death in the Senate due to the short time left in the 2017 session and the bill’s low priority for Republicans running the chamber.

The Missouri Farm Bureau also strongly opposes House Bill 170, and sent individual letters to every member of the House before Monday night’s 126-26 vote.

A freshman Democratic lawmaker from St. Louis has his first major victory: persuading the Republican-controlled Missouri House to restore funding for a jobs program that Gov. Eric Greitens wants to cut entirely.

 

The amendment sponsored by Bruce Franks would put $6 million toward the state’s youth summer jobs program in St. Louis and Kansas City.

Due mostly to unexpected Medicaid expenses, the Missouri Senate is adding an extra $241 million to the state budget that runs through the end of June.

House Bill 14 contains $10.6 million more to replace Missouri Department of Transportation vehicles and make repairs to weigh stations along major highways. There’s also an extra $5 million for construction and repairs to publicly owned airports. MoDOT officials didn’t immediately return requests seeking details on how many vehicles and which airports.

Missouri’s budget for the next fiscal year has cleared its second major hurdle, but the next one won’t be quite so easy.

 

The House passed all 13 budget bills Thursday, so the full budget for the 2018 fiscal year, which begins July 1, is now in the hands of the Senate. GOP leaders sharply disagree with the lower chamber’s move to fully fund the state’s K-12 school funding formula — putting an extra $45 million toward schools compared to the $3 million increase Gov. Eric Greitens had asked for.

Updated at 6:55 p.m. with more details — In an unexpected move, state Sen. Rob Schaaf said Tuesday night that he now backs the House version of a prescription drug monitoring program, putting Missouri on track to become the last state in the nation to establish such a program.

The Republican from St. Joseph, who had opposed the House bill due to privacy concerns, said at a news conference that he changed his mind due to overwhelming support from medical professionals and from Gov. Eric Greitens. 

Updated April 11 with accusations from Black Caucus over the bill sponsor — The Missouri General Assembly's Black Caucus is attacking a bill that makes it harder for fired workers to prove discrimination, citing a racial discrimination lawsuit that's pending against the measure's Senate sponsor.

A bill intended to quash St. Louis' minimum wage increase looked to be on the fast track this session, but is now on hold in the Missouri Senate as Republicans mull an overture to Democrats to avoid a filibuster.

 

Senate Democrats have been threatening to block House Bill 1194/1193, which, as currently written, would bar cities and counties from raising the minimum wage higher than the state's $7.65 an hour rate.

They say the measure would deny cities and counties the freedom to decide how much their citizens should be paid.

On a day that looked like it might be a busy one for the Missouri Senate, lawmakers adjourned Thursday without taking a final vote on banning cities and counties from raising their minimum wage because of negotiations.

Meanwhile, the Missouri House sent the Senate three bills, showing their intent to get rid of prevailing wage, protect anti-abortion groups that assist pregnant women and allow for Real ID driver’s licenses.

Missouri lawmakers are getting out ahead of the constitutionally mandated deadline to have the state budget to Gov. Eric Greitens’ desk. The first step — a House committee passing all 13 bills making up the $27.6 billion budget that starts July 1 — was completed Tuesday night.

Even though Republican leaders' priorities match up with Greitens’ for the most part, it’s a long process and there’s sure to be debate over K-12 school funding. The House budget committee is seeking a $45 million increase, far more than the $3 million Greitens asked for.

Updated 4:40 p.m. April 12 to correct headline — The latest bill to receive Gov. Eric Greitens’ signature is another priority for Republicans: tightening rules on who can be called as an expert witness.

He signed House Bill 153 into law Tuesday, a month and a half after he used his State of the State address to call Missouri and St. Louis in particular, a “judicial hellhole.”

Free stuff from lobbyists — anything from free meals to concert and game tickets to trips abroad — are part of the perks of being a lawmaker.

Such gifts, though, have been on the chopping block for a couple of years, with Missouri Republican legislative leaders and now Gov. Eric Greitens looking to ban them. In the face of last year’s failed efforts to ban lobbyist gifts, Greitens took quick action once in office.

Efforts to get Missouri to comply with the 2005 federal REAL ID law will resume once state lawmakers return to the Capitol on Monday for the final seven weeks of the session.

Identical bills in the House and Senate, HB 151 and SB 37/224, would allow the state to issue  driver’s licenses that comply with REAL ID standards while continuing to issue ones that don’t. Backers say allowing both types will respect the privacy rights of a Missouri driver who doesn’t want to share any particular personal data with the federal government as a result of having a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license.

Missouri lawmakers wrapped up the first half of the 2017 legislative session having achieved the session's top priority: making Missouri a right-to-work state.

Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican, signed Senate Bill 19 into law last month. It bars labor unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues and fees as a condition for employment.

A small group of transgender students, along with their supporters, gathered at the Missouri Capitol on Wednesday to lobby against the so-called “bathroom bill” that’s currently awaiting a vote from a Senate committee.

Senate Bill 98 would require K-12 public school students to use restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their sex at birth. It would also require school districts to provide alternate facilities for students who want to use ones that correspond to the gender they identify with.

Updated March 16, 2017 -- The Missouri House has passed legislation to expand charter schools beyond St. Louis and Kansas City.

The House proposal (HB 634) would allow charter schools to operate in Class 1 counties only. That includes more heavily populated areas such as Springfield and Columbia, in addition to St. Charles and St. Louis counties and Clay and Platte counties.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens issued an executive order on Monday that gives some state workers a maximum of six weeks of paid parental leave after the birth or adoption of a child.

The news came in a short video posted on Twitter and Facebook that also featured his wife, Sheena Greitens, and their 9-month-old son, Jacob.

Placing more restrictions and limiting access to abortion in Missouri remains a high priority for Republican leaders in the Missouri General Assembly, although the issue has taken a bit of a back seat lately to getting right-to-work passed and other workplace and labor issue.

That may be about to change.

A scaled-back version of a bill that targets crimes committed by people who are in the U.S. illegally is now in the hands of the Missouri House, after the Senate passed it 27-6 on Thursday.

The new version of Senate Bill 34 makes it a Class C felony for someone who had been deported to illegally re-enter the U.S., come to Missouri and commit “any dangerous felony,” such as manslaughter or rape. But the Senate removed language that required local jailers to turn suspects over to federal immigration authorities as soon as possible.

The Missouri Supreme Court is OK with St. Louis raising its minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2018. Missouri lawmakers are a different story.

The House passed combined House bills 1194/1193 that would block St. Louis, Kansas City and other cities from boosting the minimum wage above the state’s, which is currently $7.70 an hour. That wage is adjusted for inflation every Jan. 1.

Updated at 8 p.m. with Senate giving first approval to immigration bill — Advocates for immigrants and refugees in Missouri have more on their minds than the revised executive order President Donald Trump put out this week suspending the U.S. refugee program indefinitely.

They also have to monitor the Missouri legislature, which is considering at least one bill that advocates say would make life more uncertain for immigrants and refugees. That’s why roughly 60 people traveled from St. Louis and Kansas City to the Capitol to lobby lawmakers Tuesday.

Technically speaking, Missouri is closer to setting up a statewide prescription drug monitoring program with the state Senate passing a bill Thursday.

Realistically, however, Missouri won't be joining the rest of the United States in setting up such a program this year unless the two chambers agree to allow doctors and other health professionals to access a patient’s prescription records.

The Missouri Senate passed a bill along party lines Thursday that would make it harder for employees to prove discrimination when fired from a job.

Under Senate Bill 43, an employee has to prove "race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, or age" was the main reason for dismissal, not just a contributing factor. The measure now goes to the House.

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