State News Briefs

Southern crime lab gets more funding

One of the two funding allocations disclosed by Gov. Matt Blunt before his State of the State address is designated for the Missouri Southern crime lab.

While in Joplin Jan. 21st, Blunt announced an allocation request to be included in the supplementary budget request will add $72,000 to the crime lab’s budget this year.

Crime lab funding would also increase $72,000 for fiscal year 2006. Total appropriation for the crime lab would increase to $216,000.

Last year, the Joplin Police Department ended a relationship with the Southern crime lab as part of a cost cutting measure.

The newly announced allocation increase is intended to allow the JPD and other area law enforcement agencies to send evidence to the Southern crime lab.

Blunt bans all video games in prisons

An executive order issued by Gov. Matt Blunt on Monday bans all video games in the Missouri state corrections system.

“We don’t need people who work for Missouri taxpayers to determine which video games are or are not violent,” Blunt said.

He said prison is designed to let inmates know they have committed a wrong act in society and they are being punished.

Instead of game playing, the inmates will learn skills and abilities that will allow them to go back into society and become productive citizens, Blunt said.

Nodler sponsors stiffer penalties

Mike and Amy Mann testified in support of legislation to stiffen penalties for involuntary manslaughter.

The Mann family lost seven-year-old, blonde hair and blue-eyed Jessica Mann and her grandfather, James Dobson, last year when a drunk driver left the road, crossed a ditch and struck them in front of their home.

Prosecuters told the Mann family it was possible the drunk driver responsible could serve as few as 18 months, Mike Mann said.

The current maximum sentence for involuntary manslaughter is seven years, a sentence often cut short by plea bargains and good behavior.

Senate Bill 37, sponsored by Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin) would make involuntary manslaughter a class A felony if the driver has a blood alchol level of 0.12, one-and-a-half-times the legal limit, or if a fatality occurs as a result of the vehicle leaving the road.

State lowers target for MAP tests

State education officials have revised downward the goals Missouri’s public schools will be expected to meet this year, in an effort to help more schools meet annual academic performance objectives.

The revised goals lowers the target for students scoring at a proficient or advanced level on the MAP test from 38.8 percent to 26.6 percent. The target for mathematics is lowered from 31.1 percent to 17.5 percent.

Schools that receive federal funds to educate low-income students who do not meet education targets are subject to penalties.

“We think the revised adequate yearly progress targets are far more realistic goals and will be helpful for many school districts throughout the state,” said Commissioner of Education D. Kent King.