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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - An unaccredited St. Louis-area school system facing bankruptcy could end up paying $130,000 for lobbying efforts while urging Missouri lawmakers to approve a financial rescue.
 
A document obtained by The Associated Press through an open-records request shows the Normandy School District agreed to pay a $90,000 retainer in monthly installments for representation and could spend up to $40,000 more to hire additional consultants. The costs have prompted concern from some lawmakers.
 
Missouri legislators are considering a $5 million budget infusion for Normandy aimed at preventing the district from running out of money this spring. A state transfer law is requiring the district to pay to send students to other accredited districts.
 
A Normandy spokeswoman says the district is doing what anyone needing legislative assistance would do.
Published in Local News

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Hundreds of lobbyists in at least 20 states get public pensions because they represent associations of counties, cities and school boards.

Legislatures granted them access decades ago on the premise that they serve governments and the public. In many cases, such access also includes state health care benefits.

But several states have started to question whether these organizations should get such benefits, since they are private entities in most respects: They face no public oversight, can pay their top executives private-sector salaries and sometimes lobby for positions in conflict with taxpayers.

New Jersey and Illinois are among the states considering legislation that would end their inclusion.

But such groups argue that they are entitled to public pensions because they give a voice to government entities that serve taxpayers.

Published in National News
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Dozens of environmentalists and land owners are meeting with lawmakers in Springfield hoping to persuade them to temporarily ban high-volume oil and gas drilling in Illinois.

Opponents of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," held a rally and lobbied Illinois legislators Tuesday. They're hoping to win support for a two-year moratorium on the practice instead of regulations that would allow it.

Fracking opponents say they were ignored during negotiations over a regulatory bill, which proponents say would give Illinois the nation's toughest regulations.

Protesters say they fear the water around their southern Illinois homes could be polluted by the practice.

Fracking uses high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals to crack rock formations to release oil and natural gas.
Published in Local News

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