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Missouri Family E-News April 12, 2010
Kinder to Join Lawsuit Against Federal Health Care Bill
Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder says he will initiate legal action by the end of the month challenging the constitutionality of the pro-abortion federal health care bill recently signed into law by President Barack Obama. Kinder plans to become a party to litigation filed by Attorneys General from thirteen others states. The multi-state lawsuit contends that the individual insurance mandate and other provisions of the federal health care bill exceed the constitutional authority of the federal government. Under the law adopted by Congress, individuals are required to purchase health insurance coverage or be subject to fines imposed by the federal government. Businesses employing more than 50 employees must provide health insurance coverage or pay a potential penalty of $2000 per employee. Kinder says he is taking the action to protect the sovereignty of the state of Missouri and the freedoms of Missouri citizens. "First of all, this law represents an unprecedented encroachment on the sovereignty of our state in the form of millions of dollars in unfunded mandates. At a time when our state is dealing with vast budget deficits, we cannot afford to have the federal government throw this huge financial burden in our lap." "Secondly, this bill infringes on the rights of private citizens. At no other time in the history of our nation has a mandate forced citizens to purchase a product or face penalties, even imprisonment, for not doing so." Kinder challenged Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster and Governor Jay Nixon to join other states in mounting a legal challenge to the federal health care bill. Both have declined to do so. Governor Nixon has said that Kinder's planned lawsuit is not "serious business." Critics have questioned whether Kinder has the authority to initiate a lawsuit on behalf of the state of Missouri. Kinder has said he will do so as the official state advocate for Missouri senior citizens, whom he claims will be injured as the result of major cuts to the federal Medicare program. The Lieutenant Governor says he will finance the lawsuit through private donations. In related action, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons has filed their own lawsuit against the pro-abortion health care bill. The AAPS said in a statement: "If the [federal health care bill] goes unchallenged, then it spells the end of freedom in medicine as we know it. There will be a dire shortage of physicians if [this law] becomes effective and is not overturned by the courts."
 
State Senate Committee Preserves Abortion Alternatives Funding
A Missouri Senate budget committee has voted to preserve funding for the state program, which provides services to women who choose childbirth over abortion. The Missouri Senate Appropriations Committee has voted to allocate to the Alternatives to Abortion Program 90 percent of the program's current level of funding. The program is presently receiving a total of nearly $2 million in state funds. Previously, a Missouri House appropriations committee had voted to eliminate all funding for the program. That committee was responding to efforts to trim nearly $500 million from the budget for fiscal year 2011, which begins in July. The full House voted to restore full funding for the program. The action by the Senate Appropriations Committee, if sustained by the full Senate and approved in conference committee, would result in a loss of approximately $200,000 for abortion alternatives programs. Pro-life leaders would consider this level of reduction a significant victory in the light of the state's severe budget crisis, which is forcing huge cutbacks in such popular programs as Parents as Teachers and the Career Ladder program for public school educators. The funds in the Missouri Alternatives to Abortion Program are disbursed through grants to pregnancy resource centers and maternity homes around the state. Last year, a total of fifty-four pregnancy resource centers provided a wide range of pregnancy support services to more than 35,000 clients. Thirteen maternity homes provided shelter and program services to nearly 1000 women and their children. While most of the funds used to operate pregnancy resource centers and maternity homes are privately raised, the state funds provide a significant portion of their resources. The Missouri Department of Health and Social Services has estimated that it would cost the state a minimum of $4 million if it were to take on responsibility for the pregnancy support programs currently operated by non-profit organizations.

Sarah Palin to Headline Kansas City Conference
 

Former Vice-Presidential candidate and pro-life advocate Sarah Palin will be coming to Missouri in early May for a conference to be held in Independence.

 The event is billed as "Winning America Back," and is sponsored by a group called Preserving American Liberty.  It will occur from 1 PM to 7 PM at the Independence Events Center.

Palin is just one of a number of prominent pro-life and pro-family speakers who will appear at the conference.  Others include former Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts and former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson.  The program will include a panel on the economy, which will include R. Crosby Kemper of the Show-Me Institute.  Kemper is the former chairman and CEO of United Missouri Bank, which is headquartered in Kansas City

For more info about the ticketed event, you can call
1-866-443-8849.

 

Legislators Seek to Strengthen Enforcement
of Drunk Driving Laws

Legislation, which would toughen state laws dealing with intoxicated drivers, has been approved by the Missouri House of Representatives. Should the bill be endorsed as well by the Missouri Senate, it would help to ensure that drunken drivers do not escape penalties for their crimes.
The chief sponsor of the bill is Representative Bryan Stevenson of Webb City, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Stevenson says that the current legal system makes it too easy to plead down alcohol offenses or avoid convictions for repeat offenses. That assessment is supported by a recent investigation conducted by the St. Louis Post -Dispatch which found that intoxicated drivers often receive little more than legal slaps on the hand from the judicial system Representative Stevenson believes one of the major reasons for lax enforcement is the leniency found in the municipal court system.
The bill seeks to address that by moving the cases of many repeat offenders into the state court system, where stronger penalties would likely be imposed. The bill would increase the penalties for drivers whose blood alcohol content (BAC) registers 0.15 percent or more, and would prohibit their attorneys from arranging plea agreements in which they avoid convictions on their record.
The legislation would also establish minimum jail sentences for those convicted of driving while intoxicated: 48 hours for those with a 0.15 percent BAC; five days for those with a 0.20 percent BAC; 10 days for prior offenders; and 30 days for persistent offenders. Drivers who refuse to submit to blood-alcohol tests would lose their driver's licenses for two years, as opposed to the one-year revocation period in the current law.
The Post-Dispatch series confirmed that drivers who refuse the test can often succeed in holding on to their licenses through plea deals negotiated by their attorneys. Under the bill, police would also have the authority to extract blood samples from suspected drunk drivers without a warrant. Stevenson believes one of the major problems in DWI enforcement is the lack of information-sharing between various courts and law enforcement agencies. He says this disconnect allows drunk drivers with convictions in different jurisdictions to avoid harsher penalties for repeat offenders.
The bill seeks to address this problem by calling for local police, county prosecutors, and municipal judges to report DWI offenses to a central databank as a condition for being eligible for state public safety grants. Stevenson has worked with Governor Jay Nixon to advance the legislation, who made reform of the state's drunk driving laws one of his top legislative priorities this session. The Governor has stated that enforcement of laws dealing with drunk driving is "riddled with loopholes and dark corners." He called the House action an "important first step toward DWI reform." Governor Nixon convened a DWI summit last November, which included police chiefs and sheriffs, local prosecutors, judges, and victims' advocates.
The Governor solicited recommendations on how to reform the state's system for prosecuting and sentencing motorists driving under the influence of alcohol. Following the summit the Governor observed: "There are simply too many gaps in our current system. The way we handle drunk driving cases in Missouri is broken. We have a duty to protect Missouri families by improving every aspect of DWI enforcement, from the traffic stops that initiate cases to the sentences handed out by judges, and even the way records of offenders are kept." "There's a strong desire among members of both parties to close the gaps in our current law, provide tough consequences for offenders, and make Missouri's roads safer," the Governor concluded. An estimated 11,773 people died in 2008 in motor vehicle crashes involving drunk drivers across the United States. That amounted to 32 percent of the total traffic fatalities that year. In Missouri, 363 people lost their lives in alcohol-related traffic incidents in 2008, which comprised 38% of all the traffic deaths on Missouri roadways that year.
We commend the Governor and the Legislature for addressing this important issue for Missouri families in a bold and bipartisan fashion
Joe's Signature
  
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