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.

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With three weeks left in the 2015 legislative session, Missouri lawmakers have passed all 13 bills that make up the state's $26 billion spending plan for Fiscal 2016, which begins July 1.

A Missouri House committee has passed a revised version of a bill to further limit how much revenue from traffic fines cities and towns can use in their budgets.

With less than a month left in the 2015 session, Missouri lawmakers could debate and pass some of the year's top priorities this week.

Legislation that would reduce lifetime eligibility for most welfare recipients in Missouri is on its way to Gov. Jay Nixon's desk.

An earlier version of the bill would have cut lifetime eligibility for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF, in half, from 5 years to two and 1/2.  But a compromise between the House and Senate reduces that period to 3 years and 9 months.

Legislation designed to aid some delinquent taxpayers in Missouri is on its way to Gov. Jay Nixon's desk.

The House on Thursday overwhelmingly passed HB 384, the "tax amnesty" bill, which would allow people behind on their state income taxes to pay them off without additional penalties or interest.

The Missouri House on Tuesday passed the same ethics reform bill passed two months ago by the Senate, but not before making a few changes.

An audit released Thursday takes issue with some spending decisions made by the Missouri Department of Transportation.

An audit released Tuesday finds that Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster's office has not instituted a policy to guard against conflicts of interest. In response, Koster noted that his campaign organization had instituted changes following earlier news reports about possible conflicts.

Missouri lawmakers are heading home as their annual spring break has arrived, but they took time before leaving to tout their mid-term accomplishments.

Missouri Capitol
j.stephenconn / Flickr

Republican house members are calling the first half of Missouri’s 2015 legislative session a success as they leave the Capitol for their annual spring break. House Speaker John Diehl praised the House for passing the state budget three weeks earlier than usual, and listed the passage of right-to-work, a student transfer fix, medical malpractice, and photo voter ID as the house’s main accomplishments.   Jake Hummel, the top Democrat in the House, however slammed GOP leaders for not expanding Medicaid.

The length of time a Missourian could receive welfare benefits would be cut in half, if legislation passed by the Missouri House becomes law.

Missouri Capitol
j.stephenconn / Flickr

Some Republican state lawmakers are demanding that John Hancock resign as GOP party chairman, even as Hancock continues to deny that he was behind an alleged anti-Semitic whispering campaign targeted at state auditor Tom Schweich. Senator David Pearce of Warrensburg says the problem is part of a, quote, “systemic issue” in the state’s GOP.

jay nixon
File Photo / KBIA

Governor Jay Nixon has sketched out what he calls "clear areas for improvement" in Missouri’s municipal court system in the wake of the U.S. Justice Department’s blistering report on the police and city courts in Ferguson. So far Nixon is focusing primarily on beefing up the 1995 Mack’s Creek law.

In an address to the Missouri Bar on Friday, March 6, Nixon described the court systems of Ferguson and other towns that use police and courts to generate revenue as having gone awry.

Missouri Capitol
David Shane / Flickr

The Missouri House or Senate will not consider any new bills to address concerns by the U.S. Justice Department over the operations of the Ferguson Police Department.  That’s because it’s now too late to file any new legislation this year.  Senate President Pro-tem Tom Dempsey says a few already-filed Ferguson-related bills are being worked on.

“You’ll see some debate on the floor and some other issues associated with the aftermath of Ferguson,” Dempsey said.

Within minutes of the news of Auditor Tom Schweich's death, Gov. Jay Nixon ordered all flags on Missouri property lowered to half-staff.

But the governor will soon have a much bigger decision to make: who to appoint as Schweich's successor.

Missouri law seems to suggest that a decision must be made rapidly:

missouri house floor
File photo / KBIA

It’s still not against the law in Missouri for an employer to fire someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.  Senator Joseph Keaveny of St. Louis is sponsoring the latest effort to change that, and his bill is currently being considered by a Senate committee. 

 

(Updated 5:51 p.m., Thurs., Feb. 19 )

The Missouri House has passed two pieces of legislation to require voters to show government-approved photo identification at the polls.

(Updated 1 p.m., Wed., Feb. 11)

By a voice vote, the Missouri House gave first round-approval Wednesday to a bill to bar construction unions and employers from requiring all employees to join a union and pay dues if a majority votes to organize. The bill, HB 582, is sponsored by Rep. Courtney Curtis, D-Berkeley.

----- Our earlier story

After a few years of going nowhere, ethics reform may finally be gaining traction within the Republican-dominated Missouri legislature.

Senate endorses ethics bill

On Wednesday, the Missouri Senate gave first-round approval to Senate Bill 11, sponsored by Majority Floor Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin.  It touches on several issues, which include:

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon made it official Thursday when he announced that he'll be leading an agricultural trade mission to Cuba in March.

File photo / KBIA

A pay raise for state elected officials in Missouri that would have automatically taken effect Saturday has been blocked.  The Missouri Senate voted overwhelmingly to kill the raises, which would have increased lawmakers’ salaries by 11 percent.  The governor and other state elected officials would have gotten an 8 percent raise. 

Republican Senator Mike Cunningham from rural southern Missouri argued that state workers should be the ones getting a raise.

Legislation to cap the amount of revenue from traffic fines cities and towns in Missouri can include in their budgets is getting early attention in this year's regular session.

Under the current law, known as the Macks Creek law, local municipalities can receive up to 30 percent of their income from speeding tickets and other traffic citations.  That would drop to 10 percent if the proposed measure becomes law. 

The 2011 merger of the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the water patrol is getting mixed reviews from state lawmakers in a report released Thursday.

Due to the ongoing drop in highway funding, the Missouri Department of Transportation wants to scale back maintenance of most of the state's roads and bridges.

The 2015 Missouri legislative session is underway, and here are some of the highlights of the day.

Nixon gets first say on start of session

The day began with the annual Governor's Prayer Breakfast, after which he answered questions from reporters on a few topics, including whether Medicaid expansion was already a lost cause for 2015.  Nixon, of course, said it wasn't at all.

Gov. Jay Nixon has ordered the Missouri Department of Agriculture to explore business opportunities in Cuba.

The move follows President Barack Obama's decision to normalize relations with the communist island nation. 

In a written statement released Tuesday, Nixon said that Missouri's agricultural exports are already up by 14 percent this year.

Missouri's recently formed Charter Public School Commission is preparing to begin operations next year.

A joint Missouri House and Senate committee is preparing to investigate Gov. Jay Nixon's actions in Ferguson in the aftermath of a grand jury's decision not to indict a white police officer for fatally shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown.

The Missouri Supreme Court is considering whether the state's ban on same-sex marriage also prevents gay couples in Missouri from getting divorced in Missouri courts.

A man identified only as M.S. married his male partner, identified as D.S., in Iowa in December 2012. The couple separated in August 2013, and in January of this year M.S. filed for divorce in St. Louis County. But Associate Circuit Judge John Borbonus ruled that Missouri's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages barred him from granting the couple a divorce.

The Missouri Supreme Court is mulling over three cases that could decide whether cities and towns can continue to use traffic cameras to catch speeders and red-light runners.

Two of the cases involve the use of red-light cameras, one in St. Louis and the other in St. Peters. The third case involves the use of speeding cameras in Moline Acres in St. Charles County.

Attorney Bevis Schock represents plaintiffs in the St. Louis and St. Peters cases. He told the high court Tuesday that their use creates a situation where the motorist is guilty until proven innocent.

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