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Missouri Democrats' filibuster closes in on new state record in attempt to block initiative petition reform – ABC17NEWS

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Missouri Democrats' filibuster closes in on new state record in attempt to block initiative petition reform – ABC17NEWS


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)

A filibuster from Missouri Democrats hit the 28-hour mark on Thursday evening, as they continued to block Republicans in the Missouri Senate from passing legislation that would make it harder for voters to amend the state constitution.

Currently, initiative petitions only need a simple majority of more than 50% to pass. However, Republicans want to make the process more difficult as an initiative petition on abortion that is poised to go on the ballot in November. Initiative petitions were used to legalize medicinal and recreational marijuana and expand Medicaid in Missouri. 

An initiative petition is a form of direct democracy that allows voters to amend their state constitution or state statute without going through the legislature or governor. About half of the states in the U.S. have some form of initiative or referendum.

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The measure would require future amendments to have a majority vote in at least five of the state’s eight congressional districts, as well as a majority vote statewide. Democrats oppose the measure, but the bill passed the House in March.

“We are more than happy to let this SJR out of this chamber without the steroids of politics, otherwise known as ballot candy that has nothing to do with the initiative petition process,”  Senate Minority leader Sen. John Rizzo D-Independence, said during his Tuesday night shift of the filibuster. 

Rizzo added that he would even vote for it if the ballot candy was removed, even though it would be a “horrible vote for him” in an effort to end the deadlock. 

Despite passing the bill in March, the Missouri House added the so-called “ballot candy” that would add language to the ballot asking residents if they want to ban non-citizens from voting and ban foreign entities from sponsoring constitutional amendments. 

However, the Missouri Constitution and federal law already prohibit non-citizens from voting. Democrats argue that Republicans only want this language on the ballot to “deceive” voters. 

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“There’s a group of people in the majority party that are dead set on making sure that people are misinformed about what they are voting on so that they lose their rights to be able to bring things forward to the ballot box,” Rizzo said. “The good news is the Democratic Party is standing strong with the senior John Ashcroft from 1992 who also agrees with us that this was not a good idea in the 90s.” 

The legislature is set to adjourn at 6 p.m. Friday, and the Missouri Senate is still on Monday’s business. The filibuster began around 2:40 p.m. Monday and Democrats have insisted on blocking all actions in the Senate until the session adjourns. The record for the longest filibuster in the Missouri Senate was set by Republicans in May when they stalled for 41 hours.

Check back for updates.



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Missouri

Missouri attorney general is investigating providers of gender-affirming care to youth

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Missouri attorney general is investigating providers of gender-affirming care to youth


A state investigation into the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital has expanded to target therapists and social workers who may have minors seeking gender-affirming care.

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey is seeking redacted or lightly redacted medical records of patients who received care at the facility. The state investigation of the center is one of many currently underway, including one by U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley.

The move left the state’s trans and healthcare communities with concern over future access to gender-affirming care for transgender youth in the state, the Missouri Independent reported.

“The attorney general has created a hostile environment for medical providers where they are afraid to stay and practice medicine,” Katy Erker-Lynch, executive director of PROMO, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group in the state, said.

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Bailey is reviewing the records at the Missouri Division of Professional Registration which oversees the state’s medical licensing as part of the investigation. He had earlier targeted Planned Parenthood Great Plains and Children’s Mercy, a hospital in Kansas City.

Bailey has reportedly interviewed 57 healthcare professionals in connection with the investigation.

Licensed clinical social worker Kelly Storck spoke with senior investigator Nick McBroom as part of the investigation.

McBroom confronted Storck, who brought an attorney with her to the meeting, with a file of letters she had written to Washington University Transgender Care in support of patients seeking gender-affirming care at the facility. Some of the letters had been scrutinized, with many showing some sentences were underlined in green.

When McBroom asked Storck to detail in writing her process for recommending gender-affirming, she refused. The case was subsequently closed, but Storck still has questions and concerns about the investigation.

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“I still have a lot of distrust about who initiated it and who was in my documents,” Storck told the Independent.

The Center earlier turned over a spreadsheet providing information regarding patients seeking gender-affirming care, including visits, medications, and other normally private information.

The mother of one patient who received care at the Center, a 17-year-old trans boy named Levi, described the investigation as “invasive” and said it was causing unwarranted disruption in their lives.

“The state has already basically disrupted our lives,” Becky Hormuth told the Independent. “They’ve disrupted our families, our children’s lives with the legislation that has passed. Then for him to continue going on is even more invasive and damaging.”

After Missouri passed a ban on gender-affirming care for minors last year, Bailey issued an emergency rule banning similar care for trans adults as well. In the document laying out the policy, he said these treatments “lack solid evidentiary support” and “pose very serious side effects.” He withdrew the rule when state lawmakers acted. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, signed the ban into law in June. It was quickly challenged in court, but a judge allowed it to go into effect.

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Body of newborn infant found at recreation area in northwest Missouri

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Body of newborn infant found at recreation area in northwest Missouri


MARYVILLE, Mo. — Police are investigating after the body of a newborn infant was found at a recreation area in northwest Missouri.

The body of the newborn was found Saturday at Mozingo Lake Recreation Park in Maryville. Police Chief Mike Stolte said in a news release that a park employee found the remains while performing routine maintenance in a remote area of the park.

Police said the cause of death has not been determined. No additional information has been released.

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If you have any information about a crime, you may contact your local police department directly. But if you want or need to remain anonymous, you should contact the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline by calling 816-474-TIPS (8477), submitting the tip online or through the free mobile app at P3Tips.com. Depending on your tip, Crime Stoppers could offer you a cash reward.

Annual homicide details and data for the Kansas City area are available through the KSHB 41 News Homicide Tracker, which was launched in 2015. Read the KSHB 41 News Mug Shot Policy.





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Many Missouri schools lack teachers to educate English language learners – Missourinet

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Many Missouri schools lack teachers to educate English language learners – Missourinet


Missouri’s population has a significant number of people from other countries, including many students who are learning in the public school system. Cammy Goucher, the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Curriculum Director for English Language Development and World Languages, said Missouri has roughly 40,000 students whose primary language is not English but they are learning English.

She said out of 554 districts and charter schools, 134 have a teacher who specializes in educating English language learners (ELL). That’s about 25% of Missouri school districts with an ELL teacher.

“Some of those have only one teacher,” Goucher told Missourinet. “And then some of our larger areas have up to 90. I know we have, in many of our rural districts, schools who have 10 to 20 English learners and do not have a designated teacher that works with them.”

According to Goucher, the Missouri districts with the most ELL students include Springfield, Carthage, Monett, St. Louis, and Kansas City. Not all Missouri K-12 public school districts and charter schools have English language learners, but Goucher said that is expected to change in the near future.

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To give you an idea on the teacher to student ratio, Goucher said the teachers are overburdened.

“In Missouri, we have about 870 English language development teachers serving those almost 40,000 students. Most of those teachers are in the larger districts,” she said.

If they do not have the appropriate teacher to educate these students, then how do the children learn?

“We like to work with those districts to first have them dedicate a person or a couple of people who will spend time working with the students. In some districts I’ve been to, that is a reading specialist, and a few districts is the school counselors,” Goucher said.

The state has five specialists who also help school employees with ways to teach these students who are working to become fluent in English. Does Missouri have enough specialists to serve the entire state?

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“It is a tough job to serve everyone that we need to serve,” she said. “We would love to have more, and at one time we did have more. But because of budgetary reasons, we were cut, I believe, it was from nine down to five. There are other states, though, that don’t have anyone helping the person in my position. So, I’m thankful for the five I have.”

Regardless of whether Missouri’s school districts and charter schools have these specialized teachers, Goucher said every district should have a plan in place to be prepared to work with English language learners. If a district or charter school has at least 20 English language learners in their district or charter school, they are supposed to start looking for a full-time or part-time ELL teacher. Or someone within the district can be trained to become certified to teach these students.

Years ago, schools placed English language learners in special education courses. Goucher said that’s no longer happening.

“These students do not have a disability,” she said. “They have a difference. We have had instances where students are actually gifted or very well educated in their home language. They just don’t have English yet. So, it’s our job to kind of fill that gap.”

For ELL students who have been in the United States for less than one year, they are exempt from taking the English Language Arts portion of Missouri’s standardized MAP tests. When they take the assessment, or any end-of-course tests, the students can have a translator if one is available. They are also required to take an annual federally-mandated state assessment to measure their proficiency in English.

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Goucher said Missouri is not alone in the short supply of English language development teachers.

“It’s pretty consistent everywhere,” says Goucher. “Everyone is kind of filling this need at this time- a lack of teachers that are certified to teach the students and an increasing number of students.”

Could artificial intelligence help to fill the gap in the ELL teacher shortage?

“That is something that is really taking off with English language learners,” she said. “One of the big reasons is that we can translate things into so many languages. And we can also create materials for our students. It’s only as good, though, as the questions that you provide. So, the teacher has to have the knowledge to create these tools, but I can see them as being a very good resource in the future.”

Goucher said the federal government has provided English language development teachers with a few workshops to ease them into using some of the artificial intelligence tools.

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