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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri Senate committee has advanced legislation on student transfers and unaccredited school districts, clearing the way for debate by the full chamber.
 
The Senate Education Committee endorsed the bill Thursday. Committee Chairman David Pearce, a Republican from Warrensburg, says the vote is a huge step.
 
Numerous bills have been filed this year to address struggling school districts and a state law requiring unaccredited districts to pay tuition and transportation costs for students who transfer to a nearby accredited school. The law has led to financial problems for unaccredited districts and concerns among accredited schools about the number of transfers they must accept.
 
Students have transferred during the current academic year out of St. Louis County's unaccredited Normandy and Riverview Gardens districts. The Kansas City district is also unaccredited.
 
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's four-year public universities would be rewarded for good performance under legislation passed by the state Senate.
 
Under the bill, the 13 universities would get funding increases tied to certain performance standards.
 
The colleges would work with the Department of Higher Education to develop five goals. Three of those goals must be tied to graduation and retention rates as well as job placement in a field appropriate for a graduating student's degree level.
 
The legislation would apply only in years the state can afford to increase higher education funding and would expire in 2016.
 
A 2012 state law requires the development of a funding formula for Missouri's public universities.
 
Senators voted 33-0 to send the measure to the House on Thursday.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri House Republicans are sticking together this year in their quest to enact an income tax cut.
 
The House passed a pair of tax cut plans Thursday on party-line votes, with Republicans in support and Democrats in opposition.
 
That's a stark contrast from last September, when 15 House Republicans splintered from the majority to prevent an override of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of an income tax cut.
 
House Speaker Tim Jones says Thursday's solid Republican vote should be a signal for Nixon to work with lawmakers on tax cuts.
 
Nixon denounced the bills as "fiscally irresponsible experiments" that would funnel money away from schools.
 
Nixon has said he will sign an income tax cut only if it protects school funding and also reins in state tax credits.
 
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri senators have given first-round approval to legislation that would reward the state's four-year institutions for good performance with more funding.
 
Under the measure endorsed Tuesday, public universities would establish performance criteria. The criteria would be used to determine how much extra money the institutions get during years the state can afford to increase college funding.
 
Universities would work with the Department of Higher Education to establish five performance goals. A university's goals must include graduation and retention rates, as well as job placement statistics. The formula would expire in 2016.
 
Missouri is currently using a similar mechanism to fund the universities but the measure would put the change into law.
 
The bill needs another vote before moving to the House.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Two bills making their way through Missouri's Republican-led Legislature represent the state's latest attempt to oppose the federal health care law.
 
Senators passed measures last week that would impose additional regulations on insurance navigators, who help consumers sign up for health plans on the exchange marketplace.
 
One bill would require navigators to take a written exam and undergo a criminal background check before working with consumers. Another would require navigators to purchase a $100,000 bond and be liable for unlawfully sharing a customer's personal or financial information.
 
Republicans say the measures would protect Missourians from fraud. But Democratic opponents say the bills are designed to block access to health care.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The state of Missouri faces the loss of nearly $70 million this year in tobacco settlement payments due to a unique pricing advantage enjoyed by some cigarette companies.
 
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Missouri is the only state which signed a landmark settlement agreement more than 15 years ago to not eliminate a loophole allowing small cigarette manufacturers and retailers to avoid making escrow payments. The payments are required of companies that didn't sign the settlement.
 
State lawmakers have refused requests by two Missouri attorney generals over the past 12 years to neutralize the pricing advantage. And a federal arbitration panel found that Gov. Jay Nixon neglected to file lawsuits against the smaller tobacco companies to force them to pay into the escrow fund when he was attorney general.
 
Missouri could also lose tens of millions in tobacco money each year for at least seven years.
Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers could clear up a legal thicket entangling communities' red light cameras while also applying the brakes to cameras designed to nab speeders.

State approval would be required for speed or red light cameras on state highways, and communities seeking to place them elsewhere would need to follow specific requirements. Speed cameras on local roads would be limited to school zones, work zones and areas where serious traffic accidents are excessive.

Legislation endorsed by a House committee also seeks to address recent court cases over red light cameras. Appeals courts have focused on how points are assessed for violations caught by red light cameras.

The bill would specify that traffic infractions captured by speed or red light cameras would not lead to points on a motorist's driving record.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Republican former U.S. Senate candidate John Brunner says he is contemplating a run for Missouri governor in 2016.

Brunner told The Associated Press on Friday that he has received encouragement to run but doesn't plan to make a decision until after the 2014 elections.

His comments came several days after former U.S. attorney and Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway announced her Republican candidacy for governor. Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich (shwyk) is another potential Republican candidate, but he first faces re-election this year.

Democratic Governor Jay Nixon is barred by term limits from seeking re-election. Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster already is building a gubernatorial campaign.

Brunner is a former St. Louis area businessman who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in the 2012 Republican primary.

Published in Local News
Wednesday, 12 February 2014 16:37

Missouri Senate delays debate on tax cuts

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Senate has delayed a debate on tax cuts while negotiations continue with Gov. Jay Nixon's office.
 
Senators had been expected to debate legislation Wednesday that would cut income taxes for individuals and many businesses.
 
But Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard said that debate will wait until next week to give more time for the Republican sponsor of the measure to try to work out a compromise with the Democratic governor's office.
 
Nixon vetoed an income tax-cut bill passed last year, citing technical problems and concerns that the measure could drain money available for public schools.
 
Richard said negotiations are focused on the dollar amount of the proposed tax cut and whether it should apply both to individual and businesses that report income on individual tax returns.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking to force Missouri to recognize same-sex marriages performed in states or countries that allow them. Here are five things to know about Missouri's law.
 
   ---
 
   CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT: Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment - with 70 percent support - in August 2004 that prohibits same-sex marriage. The measure states: "That to be valid and recognized in this state, a marriage shall exist only between a man and a woman." Missouri was a trailblazer of sorts, becoming the first state to enact such an amendment after the Massachusetts high court permitted gay marriage there. Other states adopted similar measures in subsequent years.
   ---
 
   MISSOURI HIGH COURT: Last October, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled against a man seeking state survivor benefits after his same-sex partner, Highway Patrol Cpl. Dennis Engelhard, was killed while working in 2009. Missouri's law governing state survivor benefits defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The state's high court said Kelly Glossip was ineligible for the benefits because he was not married to Glossip.
   ---
 
   EXECUTIVE ACTION: In November, Democratic Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced that he was directing state tax officials to accept joint tax returns filed by same-sex couples who were legally married elsewhere. Nixon noted that Missouri's tax code is tied to the federal one, and that federal officials had recently decided to allow legally married gay couples to file joint federal tax returns. Officials from the Missouri Baptist Convention were among several plaintiffs who sued in January contending that Nixon's policy violates the Missouri Constitution. Some Republican state House members have filed articles of impeachment against Nixon because of the policy, though no hearings have been held.
   ---
 
   DISCRIMINATION LAWS: Missouri law does not currently prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. The state Senate, on the final day of the 2013 session, passed a measure that would have added sexual orientation to a list of anti-discrimination categories that already includes race, color, gender, religion and disabilities. But the bill never was considered by the House. Nixon has called for passage of the measure this year, but no legislative hearings have been held on it.
   ---
 
   GAY FOOTBALL PLAYER: The ACLU's lawsuit isn't the first significant event in Missouri this week pertaining to gay rights and discrimination. Michael Sam, an All-American football player at the University of Missouri, publicly announced he is gay. Sam is preparing for the National Football League draft, and if he makes a team, he could become the first openly gay NFL player.
Published in Local News

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