State briefs 3/4/08

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Anti-affirmative action measure draws protest

ST. LOUIS -- Opponents of a proposal banning most affirmative action programs in Missouri are trying to discourage people from signing an initiative petition to get it on the 2008 ballot. The Missouri Civil Rights Initiative is collecting signatures to get a measure on the ballot that would "ban state and local government affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment in public contracting, employment or education based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin." Those opposed to the measure have organized in a group called Working to Empower Community Action Now, or We Can. The group is concerned that people, hearing they're signing a petition related to civil rights, will not know the ramifications of what they're supporting, said director Brandon Davis.

Senate passes bill aimed at child harassment

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Adults who harass children over the Internet could be charged with a felony under legislation given initial Senate approval. The measure is prompted by the 2006 suicide of a St. Charles County teen. A neighborhood mother is among those accused of creating an Internet account used to send harassing messages to Megan Meier. No charges have been filed, partly because there was no applicable state law. Sponsoring Sen. Scott Rupp, a Republican from Wentzville, says his bill likely wouldn't have stopped the suicide. But the measure updates state laws for harassing and stalking by focusing on the message rather than how it's delivered.

$80 million in spending approved by House

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The House has approved almost $80 million in extra funding for school districts, health care and other state programs. The money is to cover costs that were not included in the state's $21.5 billion budget approved last year by legislators. About one-third of the additional money, or about $29 million, would be distributed to school districts. The supplemental money was approved 151-1 and now goes to the Senate. Lawmakers already have approved several other supplemental spending bills. One that allows an additional $17 million of spending was given final approval Monday by the House and sent to the governor. It includes money for repairs to the state Capitol and emergency generators at veterans homes.

Farmhouse owned by John Ashcroft destroyed

WILLARD, Mo. -- A vacant farmhouse owned by former attorney general John Ashcroft was destroyed in an early morning fire Monday. The southwest Missouri home sits on more than 100 acres owned by Ashcroft, who was a U.S. senator and Missouri governor before President Bush appointed him attorney general in 2001. Ashcroft spokesman Mark Corallo said the house "had great sentimental value" and was the first home Ashcroft and his wife lived in when they married in the 1960s.

-- From wire reports

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