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ABOUT PUB DEF
DEF is a non-partisan, independent political blog based in the
City of St. Louis, Missouri. Our goal is to cast a critical eye
on lawmakers, their policies, and those that have influence upon
them, and to educate our readers about legislation and the political
processes that affect our daily lives.
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Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay (D-St. Louis) today blasted House Republicans as they once again failed to join with the Democratic majority to override President Bush's veto of the expanded State Children's Health Insurance Program. The effort failed by just 15 votes.
“Today, President Bush and House Republicans stood between 3.8 million additional children who would be covered by SCHIP and the health care they need.,” said Congressman Clay. “Over 56,000 children of hardworking Missouri families will remain uninsured because the President and the Republican minority continue to refuse to cover them. That is indefensible, especially when the economy is teetering on the brink of a recession. One of the most irresponsible things we could do is to leave millions of children uninsured as their parents struggle with foreclosures, layoffs, and higher prices for gas, utilities and groceries. As a parent, I want every child in this country to grow up healthy, with insurance coverage that helps keep them well. There is no excuse for sustaining this veto, and we continue the struggle to cover every child in this nation."
The legislation vetoed by the President provided a $35 billion expansion of the SCHIP program which would have provided health care coverage to 10 million American children. The existing SCHIP program was extended last December until March 2009. But without this legislation, 3.8 million additional low-income children of working families will not be covered under the program. In addition, state budget shortfalls and administrative rules from President Bush put children who are covered now in jeopardy of losing health care.
State Senator Harry Kennedy (D-St. Louis) has been named to the Joint Committee on MO HealthNet.
From the press release:
Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons (R-Kirkwood) recently appointed Sen. Kennedy to this bipartisan, bicameral committee to oversee the new state healthcare program adopted by the General Assembly last year.
The Joint Committee on MO HealthNet will study the resources needed to continue improvements to the MO HealthNet program, which replaces the state Medicaid system. The committee was established in Senate Bill 577, approved by the General Assembly in 2007, as part of a wide-ranging effort to improve the delivery of healthcare services to the citizens of Missouri.
“There are a lot of good things included in SB 577 to meet the healthcare needs of Missourians who struggle to maintain healthy lives,” Sen. Kennedy said. “I want to make sure the state continues to provide the resources necessary to improve and expand MO HealthNet so that all citizens can receive quality healthcare. There are still too many Missourians who must choose between putting food on the table or getting the healthcare they need.”
“MO HealthNet is a start in addressing some of the problems in our healthcare system, but we can’t rest on our laurels and say we’ve fixed those problems by passing SB 577,” said Kennedy.
“We’ll have to continue to make changes to the system to ensure that all Missourians have access to quality healthcare services. I’m glad I’ll be in a position to recommend some of those needed improvements as a member of the Joint Committee on MO HealthNet.”
Yesterday, members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) rallied outside of the Children's Hospital in the Central West End. SEIU members were joined by hospital staffers, community and religious leaders in their effort to convince Missouri's Congressional delegation to overturn President Bush's veto of the SCHIP program.
About 30 demonstrators, ranging from children to senior citizens, held signs outside of Senator Kit Bond's office in Clayton yesterday afternoon calling for reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP). The group hoped Bond, who voted in favor of the bill, would encourage Missouri's other Republican representatives in the Congress to change their minds and vote in favor of SCHIP.
Governor Matt Blunt's re-election campaign has taken issue with Attorney General Jay Nixon's characterization of the Republican governor as being in support of President George W. Bush's veto yesterday of the reauthorization of a program that provides health care for millions of children.
John Hancock, spokesman for Missourians for Matt Blunt, says the governor fully supports the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and wants Congress and the White House to work out their differences as soon as possible.
"This another area where Jay Nixon's only solution is a big tax increase," said Hancock.
"Governor Blunt has said repeatedly that he strongly supports reauthorizing SCHIP. He has said that the Congress and the President should work together to reauthorize the program without the tax increase that Nixon is endorsing."
The Nixon campaign released a statement yesterday saying Blunt opposes the program which could potentially reinstate health care for thousands of Missouri children.
"We now have more than 127,000 children in our state without insurance. That is unacceptable," said Nixon in the statement. "But instead of supporting a program which could bring coverage to thousands of those children, Matt Blunt is touting a health care plan that ignores them completely."
Nixon also noted that, as a percentage of the population, Missouri has kicked more people off SCHIP than any other state from June 2005 to June 2006.
"Following Blunt’s massive health care cuts in 2005, there are now more than 127,000 Missouri children without health insurance," said the Nixon campaign.
The web-based political action committee MoveOn.org will host a demonstration tomorrow at 4:00pm outside of Senator Kit Bond's office at the corner of Hanley and Bonhomme.
MoveOn is organizing similar demonstrations outside of several Republican Senators' offices across the country. The group hopes to encourage the Senators to override President George W. Bush's veto of a children's health care bill.
MoveOn says they need 15 Republicans to break from the President to override the veto.
UPDATE: The Washington Post has posted this breakdown of the House vote for the bill. All 197 Republicans that voted did so against the bill. 222 of the 223 Democrats who voted supported the bill. Heath Shuler of North Carolina was the Democrat's sole dissenter.
Senator Claire McCaskill wants to make drug companies' contributions to doctors public. McCaskill said today that she will introduce a bill next month requiring drug companies to list all gifts, promotional items, money and drug samples given to doctors online.
The information would be listed on a national drug registry website. Patients could use this website to find out if their doctor has received gifts from drug manufacturers.
McCaskill says gifts can lead to preferential prescriptions from doctors, and she hopes the drug registry website will cut down on this practice.
McCaskill made the announcement today at a meeting with St. Louis members of the American Medical Student Association at Washington University.
Appearing on a local news show this morning, Mayor Francis Slay said that the U.S. Conference of Mayors had recently voted, in a blind taste test, the City of St. Louis as one of the five finalists for the "Best Tasting City Water in America."
Slay said the vote was based on three factors: clarity, aroma and taste.
From a starting group of 93, the other finalist cities are Anaheim, CA; Colorado Springs, CO; Long Beach, CA; and Toledo, OH.
The five finalist cities will be advancing to compete at the 75th Annual Meeting of The U.S. Conference of Mayors in Los Angeles (June 22-26) for the title of "Best Tasting City Water in America." Hundreds of mayors from around the nation will then be the blind taste test judges. The winning city will receive a cash award of $15,000 and bragging rights.
Washington University in St. Louis is planning to host a day-long public forum on Medicaid, called "Medicaid Financing: Challenges for Missouri and the Nation," on June 8th, 2007. Planned topics of discussion include healthcare accessability, cost, quality, and scope of coverage.
Among the speakers will be former US Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson.
Thompson, a candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, has recently called for federal reform of the Medicaid system as part of his campaign. His talk is entitled "Medicaid in the United States."
Sponsors for the event include the Missouri Foundation for Health, Government and Public Policy in Arts & Sciences, the Center for Health Policy in the School of Medicine, the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Though the forum is open to the public, registration is required to attend. The event runs from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Undeterred by record high gas prices, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is taking a road trip this weekend.
Following the national outrage over the conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, the Missouri Senator is taking a few days to visit some sick veterans and check on their state of health care.
McCaskill plans to take her RV on a four-day, 14-stop tour with stops in Fort Leonard Wood, Springfield, Joplin and Nevada on May 29; Kansas City, St. Joseph, Cameron and Kirksville on May 30; Hannibal, Mexico and Columbia on May 31; and St. Louis, Poplar Bluff and Cape Girardeau on June 1.
No word yet on where she'll stop for barbecue on this Memorial Day weekend.
Petitioners from the Gateway Green Alliance have acquired enough signatures to require an audit of the City of St. Louis.
Missouri law requires a number of signatures on such a petition equal 5% of the number of people that voted in the last gubernatorial election - in this case, 7,200 people would suffice. The Greens, however, have collected over 7,500 signatures, and will continue to collect signatures should the petition be challenged, as challenged petitions require more signatures.
The petitioning effort began back in 2006 when the city was unresponsive in answering the group's questions concerning how money for lead poisoning prevention was being spent. The response came only after months of letter writing, and even then the city only supplied data for 28-35% of lead remediation money. For Greens, that is unacceptable.
The Green Alliance is joined in its efforts by the American Federation of Teachers Local 420, the Universal African Peoples Organization, and the Organization for Black Struggle.
After the "Missouri Health Improvement Act of 2007" passed the Missouri Senate last week, Democratic Senator Joan Bray (University City) called it "hugely bureaucratic," saying it sends too much money to insurance companies and the bureaucracy of additional levels of people "just pushing papers around."
But Governor Matt Blunt said the program, meant to replace Medicaid, is a positive step in the right direction of providing health care for more Missourians.
In an interview with PubDef.net last week, the governor said the program shifts the state's focus to preventative healthcare.
Click here to read the St. Louis Oracle's take on the Democrats that voted in favor of the bill.
Volunteers and supporters of the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures will gather to watch election returns starting tomorrow night at 5:30 p.m. on the campus of Washington University at the Charles F. Knight Executive Education Center.
So the opponents are right, Amendment 2 does allow cloning. But the supporters are right too.
The language of Amendment 2 clearly states: "No person may clone or attempt to clone a human being". It then goes on to provide this layman's definition of cloning:
"Clone or attempt to clone a human being" means to implant in a uterus or attempt to implant in a uterus anything other than the product of fertilization of an egg of a human female by a sperm of a human male for the purpose of initiating a pregnancy that could result in the creation of a human fetus, or the birth of a human being.
While that is clearly not the medical definition of cloning, which does include SCNT, it probably meets the definition of cloning as most of the people who will be voting on this question think of it.
So what do you think? Does Amendment 2 allow cloning or not?
Over the next few days we'd like to start a dialogue on Constitutional Amendment 2, the Stem Cell Research Initiative. Feel free to comment.
Fox News' Bill O'Reilly and St. Louis' KFTK radio host Jamie Allman asked a good question recently: Why isn't it reported more often that Jim and Virginia Stowers, the Kansas City couple who have spent $28 million of their own money to get Amendment 2 passed, also own BioMed Valley Discoveries, Inc., a for-profit company, which could stand to make "billions" from stem cell research?
Sounds like a fair question considering if Constitutional Amendment 2 passes there won't be very many chances for anyone -- including elected officials -- to ever ask a question again, because the amendment's language specifically states "no state or local governmental body or official shall eliminate, reduce, deny, or withhold any public funds" at any time from any firm or institution performing stem cell research.
It also says "all state and local laws, regulations, rules, charters, ordinances, and other governmental actions shall be construed in favor of the conduct of stem cell research and the provision of stem cell therapies" and no law or other governmental action shall "prevent, restrict, obstruct, or discourage any stem cell research or stem cell therapies and cures that are permitted by this section to be conducted or provided, or create disincentives for any person to engage in or otherwise associate with such research or therapies and cures."
Is there any other kind of government expenditure that has such limits placed on it? Is this the best way to make laws -- especially such a complicated one. Do legislators who support Amendment 2 even know that they are giving up their legislative power to amend this law 5, 10 or even 100 years in the future?
These are just honest questions, ones that we're sure other undecided voters have too. Anyone have some answers out there?
Several Christian and conservative leaders will meet in St. Louis this weekend to hold a rally against Amendement 2, the Stem Cell ballot initiative.
Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, Alan Keyes, Rick Scarborough, and Star Parker will be among the featured speakers at Saturday's "Christians Against Human Cloning" rally at St. Alphonsus "Rock" Church, 1118 N. Grand Blvd., in the center of St. Louis City.
Several pastors and church leaders from the area are expected to attend and will be asked to urge their flocks to vote against the controversial amendment.
Supporters of the bill point to language in the proposal which states "No person may clone or attempt to clone a human being." But opponents say the full text of the amendment places a very narrow definition on what "cloning" actually is, thus leaving open the possibility for cloning as most know it.
A new ad featuring actor Michael J. Fox will soon be hitting televisions across the state. The ad, paid for by U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill, again links the upcoming Stem Cell initiative to the heated campaign for U.S. Senate.
"Unfortunately Sen. Jim Talent opposes expanding Stem Cell research," says Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's disease. "Sen. Talent even wanted to criminalize the science that gives us a chance for hope."
In February, Talent withdrew his support for a bill he co-sponsored to ban all forms of human cloning (including embryonic therapeutic cloning techniques that are seen as crucial to stem cell research), angering many of his pro-life supporters.
Talent has said he personally opposes the current embryonic stem cell ballot initiative, instead favoring research involving adult stem cells.
UPDATE:This video from a Chicago TV station and this story in USA Today outlines some of the controversy stemming (no pun intended) from Michael J. Fox's ad and comments made in response by conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
The debate before yesterday's debate centered around a television ad that was being run by U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill's campaign and featuring a young veteran telling how difficult it was for him to receive medical care after he returned home from Iraq.
The "Josh" ad, as it has become known, featured Kansas City native Josh Lansdale, a former medic that was wounded while serving in Iraq. The ad was pulled from the air after Landale's story could not be verified by a Kansas City television station.
"This isn't about the veteran, it's about the credibility of Claire McCaskill's television ads," said Jim Talent's Senior Advisor Lloyd Smith. "McCaskill can not prove the ad is true. McCaskill can settle this right now by providing the media with the veteran's appointment schedule as verified by the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Kansas City."
"I think it's a really sad moment," McCaskill said on the matter last night. "Sen. Talent has sent men and women to die for us over there. And they've been injured. They don't mind going to fight for us, but I don't think they expected to be attacked when they get home."
U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill visited a northside senior center tonight to talk health care.
The Democrat was joined by Comptroller Darlene Green and soon-to-be State Rep. Jamilah Nasheed, who hosted the event at the Homer G. Phillips Senior Living Community in the Ville neighborhood.
Several dozen elderly African-American men and women listened as McCaskill talked about the shortcomings of the Medicare Part D program, the voting record of her opponent, Sen. Jim Talent, and the overall state of healthcare in America.
UPDATE: This video had been reposted on several conservative websites claiming it shows some kind of fraudulent behavior relating to an absentee ballot. That allegation was not made in the video, in our story that accompanied the video, or by any person in the room at the time the video was shot. Simply, that is not what happened.
For that reason, we've disabled the embedding feature on YouTube, meaning it can no longer be reposted on other sites. You can now only see this video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cida3VwmCG0
In recent days, these campaigns have been doing more than their fair share of mudslinging. We ask that both sides refrain from trying to turn our reports into more mud.
Blacks Aren't Getting Very Much From Well-Funded Stem Cell Supporters
By Antonio D. French
Thursday, September 28, 2006 at 1:13 PM
Several African-American elected officials and community leaders have asked supporters of the extremely well-funded Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures why so little of their budget is being spent with and on the black community.
"As we head into the final days before the November election, I believe that more emphasis should be given to the inclusion efforts of the Coalition," wrote St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green in a letter to Dr. William H. Danforth.
In the letter, written on Sept. 8 and recently obtained by PUB DEF, Green tells Danforth, who has often been the public face of the Stem Cell initiative, that more minorities should be added to the Coalition's staff.
"If at the end of the day when the vendor list is tallied and African-Americans have been fairly represented, then this non-partisan initiative can certainly shine through as inclusive," wrote Green.
The Comptroller isn't the only one complaining about how little of the organization's $16 million is trickling down to black political vendors around the state. Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellanrecently wrote about a similar letter from Ald. Freeman Bosley, Sr. written to Brad Ketcher, the Coalition's campaign manager.
PUB DEF has been told that that letter was not actually ever mailed. But Ketcher did receive a letter from the chairman of the St. Louis Black Leadership Roundtable. In his response letter, dated Sept. 14 and also obtained by PUB DEF, he said "more than $2 million has been expended or is committed to be spent for African-American outreach."
Outreach? Is that money spent with black firms to reach black voters or money spent with out-of-town white-owned companies, such as Clear Channel Radio or Washington-based mail houses?
"The Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures has many African American vendors, consultants, staff members and volunteers on our team," said spokewoman Connie Farrow. She told us to look on the campaign's financial reports filed with the state. And so we did.
As of July 1, over $1.2 million to California-based Winner & Mandabach. $350,000 to Seattle-based Michael D. Meyers Co. for direct mail. $94,000 to Ketcher. $64,000 to Farrow. $75,000 to Sandra Aust from the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing. $12,000 to the Kelley Group (that's Robert J. Kelley of the Greater St. Louis Labor Council, AFL-CIO).
Oh wait, a black person: $6,000 to Rev. B.T. Rice for "issue outreach". Not looking so good, Connie.
"The next campaign finance reporting deadline is Oct. 15, which we will meet. Our Coalition and supporters continue to identify opportunities to strengthen our efforts in the African American community," said Farrow.
We will see.
[Editor's Note: PUB DEF contacted the Coalition for Lifesaving Cures last week about doing some advertising. To date, we have not heard back from them.]
The Tilles Park Neighborhood Association will sponsor a State and Local Ballot Issues Forum tonight at 7 p.m. at the St. Louis Police Officers Association Hall, 3710 Hampton. The event is open to the public and will be moderated by Dave Drebes, publisher of the Arch City Chronicle.
Proponents and opponents of Constitutional Amendment 2 (the stem cell initiative), Constitutional Amendment 3 (the tobacco tax increase), the non-binding (and now irrelevant) police department residency referendum, Proposition B (the minimum wage increase), the proposed recreation sales tax, and the Charter Amendment to increase fines will be speaking on these issues.
UPDATE: More on tonight's line-up...
Constitutional Amendment 2 (stem cell): A representative for Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures v. Dr. Rob Hanson, MD, PhD, Missourians Against Human Cloning.
Constitutional Amendment 3 (tobacco tax): Cindy Erickson, Committee for a Healthy Future v. Ron Leone, Missourians Against Tax Abuse.
Proposition B (minimum wage increase): Proponent Amy Blouin, Give Missourians a Raise.
Proposition P (city recreation sales tax): Proponent Charles Bryson, Office of the Mayor.
Four charter amendments: Neutral presentations by Board President Jim Shrewsbury.
Police Dept Residency Nonbinding Vote: 6th Ward Alderman Lewis Reed v. Kevin Ahlbrand, St. Louis Police Officers Association.
TPNA was unable to secure the ballot numbering on the city charter amendments. As of 8:40 a.m. this morning, the Board of Elections did not have sample ballots. Absentee balloting in Missouri began this morning.
Republican Sen. Jim Talent, in the middle of a very close campaign with Democrat State Auditor Claire McCaskill, took a few minutes yesterday to sit down with PUB DEF to discuss what he sees as the choice facing Missouri voters in November. He also answers why he's taken the position he has on the stem cell debate and why he hasn't taken a position on the proposal to raise Missouri's minimum wage.
St. Louis Congressman Lacy Clay and Republican Congressman Jon Porter from Nevada will convene a congressional field hearing Friday at 1:00 p.m. at Washington University Medical Center.
According to a press release from Clay's office, the subject of discussion will be how the creation of a proposed national electronic health records network could "prevent thousands of unnecessary patient deaths each year, save billions of healthcare dollars, and provide emergency responders with a powerful new Homeland Security tool to assist them in the event of a terrorist attack or major natural disaster."
Experts from the government and the private sector will offer testimony about the issues facing healthcare providers as they attempt to create a secure, electronic health records system.
The Gateway Green Alliance and the Universal African Peoples Organization will be hosting a forum Wednesday on the debate surrounding the Stem Cell Initiative.
"Will the Stem Cell Initiative that Missourians vote on in November be beneficial or harmful for black Missourians?" This will be the focus of a panel at 7:00 p.m. on August 2 at the Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar Blvd.
Moderated by Ziah Reddick, the discussion will feature Pastor B.T. Rice of the New Horizon 7th Day Christian Church speaking in favor of the ballot initiative and Stephanie Rubach, RN, of Missourians Against Human Cloning speaking against it.
The U.S. Senate passed a bill yesterday that would make it a crime, punishable by up to a year in jail, to transport a minor across a state line to obtain an abortion.
Locally that means that teens from East St. Louis, Belleville, or Centralia, for instance, would have more limited access to St. Louis abortion clinics. Missouri senators Kit Bond (R) and Jim Talent (R) voted in favor of the law, Senate Bill 403, while both Illinois senators voted against it.
Starting this week, backers of the Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative will start running a 30-minute infomercial on television stations around the state. The program, which backers call a documentary, will feature interviews with Missouri medical experts and patient advocates, including Dr. William Danforth.
U-City Urges Passage of Universal Health Care Resolution in Congress
By Antonio D. French
Tuesday, June 06, 2006 at 12:30 AM
University City's Council passed a resolution at its meeting Monday endorsing House Resolution 676, "The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act."
The city is the first in Missouri to endorse the bill. Similar resolutions are under consideration by city councils in Richmond Heights, Webster Groves, Kirkwood, Hazelwood, Creve Coeur, and St. Louis City.
H.R. 676 was introduced by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) with sixty-eight cosponsors in the House. Supporters say the act would provide a national universal, comprehensive, single-payer system of health care.
There will be a ceremony on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. on the front steps of University City Hall, 6801 Delmar, in which supporters will call on other cities to pass similar resolutions in support of universal health care for all Americans.
State Rep. Sherman Parker will be hosting three roundtables on health care issues on Friday, June 2.
The first, at the Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Peters, MO will begin at 11:00 am. Parker will appear at a senior center "to be announced" at 1:30 p.m., followed by a discussion at the People’s Health Care Clinic, 5701 Delmar, at 4:00 p.m.
Parker is running in August's Republican Primary election against Congressman Todd Akin.
Former Gallery Urbis Orbis co-owner and Emmy-winning "Living St. Louis" producer Margie Newmanis blogging. The St. Louis City expatriate is chronicling her physical and mental preparations for the half-marathon known as the LaSalle Chicago Distance Classic.
"Yes, it's true. This 43-year-old, mildly overweight, sort-of-exercising, formerly-jogging-but-never-very-serious-about-it human being, who has never done anything particularly athletic, will attempt to overcome all that," wrote Newman in her first blog entry. "Over the next 16 weeks I will train, in a quite organized fashion, to ultimately run 13.1 miles, one after the other."
Newman is running to help raise funds for lymphoma research. Her sister was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma last year.
Anti-abortion group makes graphic statement at State Capitol
By Antonio D. French
Tuesday, April 11, 2006 at 11:51 PM
Anti-abortion activists parked two large trucks in front of the State Capitol on Tuesday displaying graphic photos of aborted fetuses. They were meant to send a loud message to President George W. Bush and others during the President's visit to Missouri.
Operation Rescue, a controversial and vocal anti-abortion activist group, was responsible for the display. The organization released a statement Tuesday calling on Bush to change his position on abortion in cases of rape.
"Babies conceived in rape are no less human or deserving of life than those conceived through consensual relationships," said the group's statement.
They said that Bush's statements on opposing abortion except in the case of incest or rape sends "mixed signals about the sanctity of life, the humanity of the pre-born, and your overall concern for the well-being of women."
Click on the photo to see a close-up of the truck's image. Warning: It is very graphic.