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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Transportation issues, including the possibility of raising the state's fuel tax, are expected to get a lot of attention this week from the Missouri Senate.

Senate Bill 623 would raise the tax on gasoline by 1.5 cents a gallon, and the tax on diesel fuel by 3.5 cents a gallon. Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, says he'll allow the bill's sponsor as much time has he wants to make his case.

Senate Bill 804 would make it illegal to advertise the availability of a child for sex. It would also make it illegal to advertise the availability of an adult for sex without her or his consent, a provision that was not included in a similar bill last year.

A bill that would have abolished Missouri's death penalty has unofficially become the first bill to die during the 2016 legislative session.

Paul Wieland, R-Imperial, is Senate Bill 816's sponsor. He told reporters he knows there aren't enough votes in the Senate to abolish the death penalty, but calls Monday's debate on the floor a victory in itself.

Legislation being considered by a Missouri House committee would dump the state's prevailing wage for public works projects.

This base wage is set annually for a variety of jobs. It is calculated using what workers are actually earning. House Bill 1931's sponsor, Rep. Warren Love, R-Osceola, says it would allow contractors to start negotiations for salaries at minimum wage instead.

Gov. Jay Nixon and House and Senate leaders are squabbling over how to approach Missouri's transportation needs.

Nixon, a Democrat, and some Republican lawmakers want to raise the state's fuel tax to help fund roads and bridges, but GOP leaders oppose tax hikes and want to shift state funding to transportation from other programs, including welfare.

Debate has begun in the Missouri Senate on legislation designed to block Gov. Jay Nixon from issuing bonds for any new sports stadium without a vote of the people or the legislature.

Even though the Rams have left St. Louis for Los Angeles, Senate Bill 580 would also require approval from voters or lawmakers to any improvements to the existing Edward Jones Dome. It's sponsored by Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph.

A Missouri Senate committee has passed a revised version of a bill that would eliminate the earnings tax in St. Louis.

This version of SB 575 would phase out the earnings tax in St. Louis over a 10-year period but would allow Kansas City to keep its earnings tax.

Democrats in the Missouri House and Senate have unveiled their agenda for this year's legislative session, and it includes several items Republican leaders have no intention of moving forward.

Those items include expanding Medicaid coverage to more low-income Missourians (HB 2201 and SB 961) and expanding the state's definition of discrimination to include LGBT people (HB 2279 and SB 653).

Two pieces of legislation that would require voters to show photo identification at the polls have been passed by the Missouri House and are on their way to the Senate.

The first, House Joint Resolution 53, is a proposed constitutional amendment to allow for a photo ID requirement, following the Missouri Supreme Court's 2006 decision tossing out an earlier photo ID law passed that same year. It's sponsored by Rep. Tony Dugger, R-Hartville, who has sponsored several photo ID proposals in recent years.

David Shane / Flickr

Three more ethics bills have been approved by a Missouri House committee. One would ban individual gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers, the second would revise rules for investing campaign funds, and the third would expand the definition of public official to include members of a task force appointed by the governor. 

That last bill is sponsored by Republican Jay Barnes of Jefferson City:

A move to abolish the death penalty in the Show-Me State is getting a hearing before a Missouri Senate committee.

Senate Bill 816 is sponsored by Sen. Paul Weiland, R-Imperial. He told the committee on general laws that being a pro-life Republican should also include the end of life.

Missouri lawmakers will try to make the most of a short week, which could include the next batch of ethics bills.

The shorter work week is due to the Martin Luther King holiday, as well as Gov. Jay Nixon's State of the State Address Wednesday night.

Updated 5:49 p.m. Jan. 14 - In Missouri, it usually takes a few weeks or even a month for the first bills to be completely passed out of one chamber and sent to the other, but not this year.

The Missouri House fast-tracked four ethics bills and on Thursday passed them on to the Senate, during the first full week of the legislative session.

A Missouri Senate committee is weighing legislation that would eliminate the 1 percent earnings tax in both St. Louis and Kansas City, effective Dec. 31, 2017.

Republican Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, who's also running for attorney general, brought his bill before the Senate committee on ways and means Thursday.  He said that a similar tax in Maryland was ruled unconstitutional, and it could cost Missouri millions of dollars if the same thing happens here.

Two companion measures that would require Missouri voters to show photo identification at the polls have been passed by a House committee.

The first one, HJR 53, is a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow for a photo ID requirement, and would need to first be passed by Missouri voters.

Members of the news media who regularly cover the Missouri Senate will soon be doing so from another location.

The Senate voted 26-4 Thursday to bar members of the press from the floor of the Senate, including use of a table that has been reserved for reporters for decades.  The new rule takes effect March 29.

It appears that Republican leaders in the Missouri House and Senate are putting their money where their mouths are when it comes to ethics changes.

During his opening speech, House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, said he'll refer all ethics bills to committee on Thursday, a move that often takes place days, weeks, and sometimes months after the start of a legislative session.

File Photo / KBIA

A pre-filed bill that would recreate the Missouri Water Patrol already has a vocal opponent:  Governor Jay Nixon. 

He called the proposal a mistake and told reporters Tuesday that the decision to fold the old Water Patrol into the State Highway Patrol was the right move:

“When Colonel Johnston could bring anywhere in the state water rescue resources and get them there in a timely fashion, that unified command structure brings us all the assets of public safety from the Highway Patrol section in a unified way, and I think (it) is important," Nixon said. 

Ron Richard is about to spend his first full session as president pro-tem of the Missouri Senate.

He was elected to the post by his colleagues in September after Tom Dempsey resigned a year ahead of time, and shepherded the upper chamber through veto session. The Republican from Joplin also served as House Speaker from 2009 to 2010, and is the only elected official in Missouri history to lead both chambers.

Richard sat down recently with St. Louis Public Radio’s Marshall Griffin and talked about what he hopes to accomplish, and about getting started as president pro-tem:

Missouri lawmakers are back in Jefferson City as they prepare to kick off the 2016 legislative session at noon today.

In addition to passing the state budget, they're expected to tackle several other issues, including ethics reform and Gov. Jay Nixon's push to build a new NFL stadium for the Rams.

New legislation is being proposed that would force the Missouri Department of Conservation to pay for any property damage caused by wild otters and elk.

GOP House member Rocky Miller of Osage Beach says the Missouri conservation department’s efforts to reintroduce certain species to the wild have caused lots of damage to rural property owners, especially otters.

Updated 5:17 p.m., Dec. 18 -- Dueling versions of legislation would each create a prescription drug monitoring program in Missouri, the only state that doesn't have one.

Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, announced Thursday that she would again be sponsoring the House version of the bill, which was pre-filed Friday.  It would give doctors and pharmacists easy access to recent drug purchases by patients as a way to combat doctor shopping.

Patrick McKenna is now into his second week as director of the Missouri Department of Transportation.

He recently served as deputy director of New Hampshire's transportation department and before that worked as chief financial officer for the U.S. Senate.  McKenna sat down last week with St. Louis Public Radio's Marshall Griffin and talked about some of the challenges he now faces as MoDOT director.

On Dec. 14, 2005, a section of dam wall along the old Taum Sauk reservoir collapsed, sending 1.3 billion gallons of water rushing down the side of Proffit Mountain in rural southeastern Missouri.

Several bills on both sides of the gun control debate are being proposed by Missouri lawmakers for next year's legislative session.

First, Senate Bill 589 would lift the current ban on bringing concealed firearms onto college campuses.  It's sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield.

Missouri lawmakers are questioning state agencies and charities that have any interaction with refugees and immigrants who settle in the Show-Me State.

Monday's joint meeting of the House Budget Committee and Senate Appropriations Committee is the first in a series called by Republican legislative leaders in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris on Nov. 13.

Gov. Jay Nixon met with St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke Monday, one day before NFL owners are scheduled to meet in Dallas to discuss the league's potential return to Los Angeles.

Nixon spokesperson Channing Ansley told the Associated Press that Nixon and Kroenke met, but she did not disclose any details.

The Rams, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers have all submitted plans to relocate to the Los Angeles area, which has been without an NFL franchise for more than 20 years.  Kroenke wants to build a new stadium in Inglewood, about 12 miles southwest of downtown LA. The Raiders and Chargers are planning to jointly build and share a stadium in Carson, 14 miles south of downtown.

Missouri's corn and soybean harvests continue to look good, especially corn.

November estimates from the United States Department of Agriculture shows that corn growers are averaging 145 bushels an acre, which so far is the fourth-highest return in state history.

Reginald Clemons may get a new trial.

In a 4-to-3 decision Tuesday, the Missouri Supreme Court tossed out both his conviction and death sentence in the 1991 rape and murders of sisters Julie and Robin Kerry on the Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis. The sisters, who were 20 and 19, had brought a visiting cousin to the bridge to show him a poem they had written. The cousin was the only one who survived being pushed from the bridge into the Mississippi River.

A Missouri death row inmate who came within hours of being executed earlier this month will have his appeal heard by a three-judge panel.

The U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay on Nov. 3 to Ernest Lee Johnson, based on whether a lower court properly handled his complaint about the state's execution drug. The order from the high court arrived around 40 minutes into the 24-hour execution window.

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