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Missouri Senate Moves to Consolidate Departments

Jefferson City, Mo. – The Missouri Senate has given first-round approval to a bill designed to shrink the size and cost of state government.

Among the recommended actions in the bill is the combining of the Missouri Highway Patrol and the Water Patrol into one law enforcement entity. Its sponsored by Senate President Pro-tem Charlie Shields.

"Also, (it) will move the alcohol and tobacco folks into the Department of Revenue, and frankly will eliminate positions there," says shields.

The bill also includes a proposal to move the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control from the Department of Public Safety to Revenue. If it becomes law, most of the burden of enforcing the states alcohol and tobacco laws would fall on city and county law officers. Republican Senator John Griesheimer of Franklin County opposed the move, but didnt try to block it.

"We got to make difficult choices here, and everybody's got a pet project or a pet agency or whatever, pet program, that they may want to keep, but I dont know its really sad that that's what were going to come to," says Griesheimer.

Shields says the moves would save the state an extra $2 million per year. The bill was also amended to study the possible merger of the three state agencies that handle Medicaid: the Departments of Social Services, Health and Senior Services and Mental Health.

The bill needs one more Senate vote before moving to the House.

Marshall Griffin is the Statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.
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