STATE AGENCY BOOSTS TRAINING STANDARDS FOR POLICE
The Missouri Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission on Dec. 1 approved strengthening training requirements for law enforcement officers in an effort to reduce bias in policing and minimize confrontations. In August, Gov. Jay Nixon ordered the POST Commission, which oversees the licensing of law enforcement officers in the state, to review training requirements in response to concerns, both in Missouri and nationally, about questionable police practices, including the unfair targeting of minorities.
The commission mandated that law enforcement training academies include instruction in four areas: fair and impartial policing practices, including implicit bias recognition; de-escalation techniques and crisis management; proper handling of people with mental health or cognitive impairment issues; and officer well-being. The new rules also require officers to undergo an additional two hours of training in each of those areas annually.
The new standards will require officers to undergo 24 hours of additional training annually to maintain their law enforcement license, a 50 percent increase over existing requirements. At present, officers must have 48 hours of continuing education every three years.
JUDGE BLOCKS STATE FROM PULLING ABORTION LICENSE
The Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia will keep its state license authorizing abortions to be performed there until at least Dec. 30, U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughery has ruled. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services was poised to pull the clinic’s license on Dec. 1, but Laughery temporarily blocked that action on Nov.30 and extended the restraining order following a Dec. 2 hearing.
According to the Columbia Daily Tribune, Laughery said there is a “substantial likelihood” that Planned Parenthood will prevail in its lawsuit claiming the health department failed to follow normal procedures in pulling the clinic’s license. Although the license remains in place, no abortions are being performed at the Columbia clinic because it currently isn’t in compliance with a state law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
Amid political pressure from Republican lawmakers, University of Missouri officials in September pulled the privileges of the clinic’s doctor at University Hospital. Following that action, the health department swiftly moved to revoke the clinic’s abortion license. In its lawsuit, Planned Parenthood contends the department arbitrarily refused to give the clinic time to come into compliance with the law. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Dec. 29.
BUDGET COMMITTEE SKEPTICAL OF STL STADIUM PROPOSAL
The House Budget Committee on Nov. 30 held an informational hearing on a proposal to build a new $1 billion football stadium on the St. Louis riverfront to replace the 20-year-old Edward Jones Dome as the home of the St. Louis Rams. Gov. Jay Nixon’s administration backs the plan and says no additional legislative authorization is needed to issue bonds that would help finance the new facility’s construction.
Committee members, however, were highly skeptical of the administration’s position and warned that lawmakers might refuse to make the annual appropriations necessary to pay off the bonds if the plan is pushed through without legislature approval. In September, 21 Republican senators – a majority of the chamber — sent Nixon a letter vowing to block appropriations for a new stadium.
Commissioner of Administration Doug Nelson conceded to the budget committee that the legislature cannot be compelled to pay off the debt. Nelson said that if bonds are sold for the project, the legislature’s opposition would be a fact the state would be obligated to disclose to potential bond purchasers.
Rams owner Stan Kroenke plans to build a $2 billion new stadium for the team in the Los Angeles area, where it played for nearly 50 years before moving to St. Louis in 1995. However, two other NFL teams – the San Diego Charges and Oakland Raiders – have proposed a competing LA stadium that the two teams would share. The NFL has said it will authorize just one stadium and the relocation of two teams. The league is expected to make a decision in early 2016.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Kroenke met with Nixon on Dec. 1 at the Rams practice facility to discuss the riverfront stadium proposal, marking their first meeting on the subject. Proponents of the stadium project say that even if the Rams move, a new stadium is necessary for the city to someday lure another NFL team.
NET FY 2016 REVENUE GROWTH JUMPS UP TO 4.2 PERCENT
Net state general revenue collections were up 4.2 percent through the first five months of the 2016 fiscal year compared to the same period in FY 2015, going from $3.22 billion last year to $3.36 billion this year. Through the first four months of FY 2016, year-to-date net general revenue growth had 3.05 percent
Net general revenue collections for November 2015 increased by 9 percent compared to those for November 2014, going from $633.2 million to $690.4 million.