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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A proposal to finally create a prescription drug monitoring program was revived in the Missouri House on Tuesday, while the Senate came to terms with a 12-year-old federal ID law.

Friday is the end of the 2017 legislative session. Here’s a more detailed look at the action Tuesday (and very early Wednesday), as well as a count of how many bills were sent to Gov. Eric Greitens:

After nearly six hours of contentious debate Monday, the Missouri House passed a bill that makes it harder for people who are fired from a job to prove they were discriminated against.

The start of the last week of the 2017 legislative session also saw the Missouri Senate put a long-awaited prescription drug monitoring program on life support by standing its ground. 

There’s still plenty of unfinished business as the final week of the legislative session kicks off Monday.

Gov. Eric Greitens is still waiting for his fellow Republicans in the House and Senate to send him bills to ban gifts from lobbyists, create state-funded scholarships that some students could use to attend private schools and allow the Department of Revenue to issue driver’s licenses that comply with federal Real ID standards.

Updated at 3:20 p.m. with Department of Correction comment — Missouri’s state budget for the 2018 fiscal year arrived at Governor Eric Greitens’ desk late Thursday night — several hours ahead of the deadline, despite the recent delays and arguments in the Senate that threatened to derail progress.

The new Republican governor has until June 30 to sign the $27.8 billion spending plan, roughly two-thirds of which involves money from the federal government, and decide how much, if anything, he’ll cut or temporarily withhold.

Major battles were waged earlier in the process over K-12 funding, higher education funding and in-home care. In the bill that’s headed to Greitens, elementary and secondary schools will be fully funded, all of the state’s four-year universities will see a 6.6 percent cut and 8,000 elderly and disabled residents will lose home health care services.

The Missouri Senate sang, talked about fist fights and criticized each other this week. What they haven't done is pass any bills.

As of Wednesday, just seven working days remain in this year’s legislative session. Plus, the spending plan for the coming fiscal year must be delivered to Gov. Eric Greitens by 6 p.m., Friday, otherwise, they’ll need a special session.

Updated 6 p.m. April 28 to correct that Missouri would be among the only states with an abortion notification law — The only thing Missouri lawmakers must do in the final two weeks of 2017 legislative session is pass the state budget for the coming fiscal year.

But there are a whole lot of things they could do — some of which Gov. Eric Greitens wants them to do — such as tightening abortion regulations, raising the standard for workplace discrimination and creating the last-in-the-country prescription drug monitoring program.

Missouri legislators began churning through bills Thursday, including one now headed to Gov. Eric Greitens that bans forcing public works projects to use union workers.

Not everything is a done deal, as bills that would establish education savings accounts for certain students and allow a vote on increasing the St. Louis Zoo sales tax still need to be heard by the House.

Lawmakers have been recruited to help in the battle over a St. Louis County judge’s order for a woman to reveal where she lives.

At issue is the state’s Safe at Home program, which is operated by the Missouri Secretary of State’s office and allows victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and human trafficking to route mail through a post office box.

Updated 9 p.m. April 26 with budget moving forward — Missouri’s $27.8 billion budget for next fiscal year passed the Senate on Wednesday night, 9 days before the constitutional deadline.

It’s back in the hands of the state House, and both chambers have to appoint negotiators to hammer out a final version. The budget must be to Greitens by 6 p.m. May 5 or risk needing a special session.


Updated April 28 to correct that Missouri would be among few states to have that notification provision — A raft of abortion restrictions that would mostly affect doctors is now in front of the Missouri Senate.

The wide-ranging House Bill 194, which the House passed Monday 117-40, requires annual, random inspections of abortion clinics; makes it a felony to donate fetal tissue for medical or scientific research; and requires, with some exceptions, a minor’s custodial parent to notify a non-custodial parent before an abortion.

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.

Updated April 26 with city of St. Louis' statement and state legislation status:

 

The city of St. Louis expects to increase its minimum wage within the next few days. It is waiting for an injunction to be lifted now that the Missouri Supreme Court has decided not to reconsider an earlier ruling that allowed the city to establish a higher rate that the state of Missouri.
 
In a statement released Wednesday, Mayor Lyda Krewson said the decision is a "win for our city's working families."

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.

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