Nov 20, 2014 – Weekly Capitol Update

NIXON DECLARES PREEMPTIVE STATE OF EMERGENCY

Gov. Jay Nixon on Nov. 17 declared a statewide state of emergency and activated the Missouri National Guard to assist local police in managing the protests that are expected if a St. Louis County grand jury decides not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. Although no firm timetable has been set, the grand jury is expected to issue its decision at any time.

Nixon preemptively declared the state of emergency in order to be prepared for possible civil unrest similar to the weeks of protests that followed the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown, an unarmed black teen, by Wilson, who is white. However, critics say the governor’s action unnecessarily heightens tensions and could be viewed as an attempt to intimidate peaceful protesters.

 

GOVERNOR APPOINTS FERGUSON COMMISSION MEMBERS

Gov. Jay Nixon on Nov. 18 appointed a 16-member Ferguson Commission to examine the myriad social, economic, institutional and racial issues that the St. Louis region has been forced to confront following the Aug. 9 shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown by white Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. The commission is to issue a final report by September 2015 but may make interim recommendations during the course of its work.

The commission is co-chaired by the Rev. Starsky Wislon, chief executive officer of the Deaconess Foundation, and Rich McClure, former president and chief operating officer of Unigroup. The commission consists of nine black members and seven white members of varying backgrounds.

 

STATE ISSUES BONDS FOR NEW FULTON MENTAL HOSPITAL

The Missouri Development Finance Board on Nov. 19 approved issuing the initial $92 million in bonds to rebuild Fulton State Hospital. The existing Fulton State Hospital, parts of which opened in 1851, is in deteriorating condition. It is the oldest state psychiatric hospital west of the Mississippi River and houses the state’s only maximum security psychiatric facility.

Overall the project is expected to cost $211 million. Construction is expected to begin in later spring 2015 and be completed sometime in 2017. The General Assembly approved the initial funding for the project in the 2015 fiscal year state budget.