School, Taxes and Health Care Top 2007 Legislative Session

JANUARY 3, 2007 - Posted at 7:53 a.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Education, health care and taxes -- the big three of domestic issues -- are all on the agenda as Missouri lawmakers convene today for their annual session.

Governor Blunt and legislative leaders want to cut taxes -- the question is which ones, and by how much -- as one way to deal with an expected revenue surplus.

They also intend to tackle an overhaul of the state's health care programs for the poor, or at the very least must extend a scheduled mid-2008 expiration of the state's Medicaid program.

But both the health care and tax issues are likely to take a back seat to education, either as part of the regular session or in a special session that could be called by Blunt. Lawmakers plan early consideration of Blunt's plan to finance college construction projects by tapping into the profits of the state's student loan agency, MOHELA.

New on the agenda this year will be toughened safety requirements at mental health facilities and group homes. The issue stems in part from a November 27th fire that killed eleven people at an Anderson home for the mentally ill and mentally disabled. Blunt already has embraced a sprinkler-system mandate for such facilities.

Back before the Legislature after past failures could be attempts to toughen Missouri's immigration laws, tighten its seat belt requirements and impose new dam inspection requirements.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)