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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Gov. Jay Nixon has signed legislation authorizing tax incentives for big-time sports events and some charitable donations.

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Nixon highlighted his support for the charitable tax breaks by traveling to a food bank in Cape Girardeau on Friday. He signed the sports incentives without comment.

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The sports legislation authorizes up to $3 million of tax credits annually for organizations that host amateur sporting events such as NCAA tournaments or Olympic trials. Lawmakers hope the cash will help Missouri compete with other states.

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The other bill reinstates tax credits for donations to food pantries, child advocacy centers and pregnancy resource centers that had expired in recent years. Nixon says the tax credits can leverage private donations to help "our most vulnerable citizens."

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Both bills were passed by the Legislature on March 13.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri House has passed a nearly $25 billion budget that would fund modest increases for public education but not the Medicaid expansion sought by Gov. Jay Nixon.

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House approval of the budget Thursday sends it to the Senate, where more changes are likely.

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The 2014 budget plan would provide a roughly 2 percent increase in basic aid for public K-12 schools, colleges and universities. But school funding would still fall $620 million short of what's called for under a state formula.

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Missouri's Tourism Division would get one of the largest percentage increases in the budget - from nearly $14 million this year to almost $20 million next year.

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The budget leaves out more than $900 million of federal funds that Nixon had recommended for a Medicaid expansion.

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri has approved legislation seeking to reinstate a cap on some damages in medical malpractice lawsuits after the state Supreme Court struck down the existing limit.

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A 2005 law capped noneconomic damages in such cases at $350,000. It was part of a broader effort to curb liability lawsuits. The state high court ruled last summer that the cap is unconstitutional.

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House members voted 93-62 on Thursday to pass legislation that attempts to impose the damages limit while avoiding the constitutional problem referenced by the court. It now goes to the Senate.

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Supporters of limiting noneconomic damages contend it would reduce health care costs and help keep doctors in Missouri. Opponents say there is a fundamental constitutional right to a jury trial.

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is continuing to push for a Medicaid expansion, but he's open to alternatives that could use federal money to buy private insurance for lower-income adults.

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Nixon said in an interview Thursday that he's willing to consider an Arkansas model that would use Medicaid money to purchase policies through an online insurance exchange created under President Barack Obama's health care law.

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The 2010 law called for states to expand Medicaid to adults earning up to 138 percent of poverty, or $32,500 for a family of four. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year made that optional for states.

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Nixon is visiting Hermann and Perryville to build support for a Medicaid expansion. Republican legislators have rejected his plan. But Nixon says he hopes for a compromise.

 

Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Health care workers could refuse to participate in procedures or research that violates their religious, moral or ethical principles under a measure passed by the Missouri House.

The House sent the measure to the Senate Tuesday with a 116-41 vote.

Workers seeking to invoke the so-called conscience protection would have to provide reasonable notice.

The measure would also bar discrimination against all medical personnel for opting out of certain procedures or research. It would apply to abortions, sterilizations, embryonic stem-cell research, assisted reproduction and contraception. Hospitals, clinics and medical or nursing schools also could refuse to perform procedures that violate the institution's conscience.

Some Democrats who voted against the bill said it could negatively impact patient safety.

House members approved similar legislation last year.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri House has approved legislation aimed at increasing the transparency of initiative petitions that bypass the Legislature to put proposed laws or constitutional amendments on statewide ballots.

Sponsors of the petitions must gather signatures from registered voters for their proposal to qualify for the ballot.

Under the House legislation, the secretary of state's office would offer a public comment period after a proposal is submitted. For those proposals that actually qualify for the ballot, the Joint Committee on Legislative Research would hold a public hearing.

The bill would also make it a misdemeanor to intimidate or obstruct someone who is trying to sign an initiative petition.

The House approved the measure Thursday on a vote of 151-3. It now moves to the state Senate.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Gov. Jay Nixon is opposing a tax overhaul plan backed by the Missouri Senate because it contains a sales tax increase.

Nixon said Thursday that the proposed one-half cent sales tax hike would be especially harmful to seniors and veterans on fixed incomes and also could also hurt working-class parents trying to provide for their children.

The bill given initial approval Wednesday night by the Republican-led Senate also includes a three-quarters of a percentage point decrease in the state income tax for individuals and businesses. That income tax cut would more than offset the sales tax hike, resulting in an estimated $450 million loss in state revenues once both tax changes are fully phased in.

The legislation needs another Senate vote before it can move to the House.
Published in Local News
Absentee voting has closed in advance of tomorrow's St. Louis primary.

There are more than a dozen offices on the ballot, but the biggest contest is for Mayor. Mayor Slay is seeking his fourth term and is challenged by Lewis Reed, president of the Board of Aldermen.

The general election is April 2.
Published in Local News
A group in Kansas City will bid on the 2016 Republican National Convention.

Organizers envision most of the convention taking place at the Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City. But say other events could be held at venues in the city's Kansas suburbs. The Republican convention was held in Kansas City in 1976.
Published in Local News
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A wide open debate on possible fixes for the state's pension mess is set for the Illinois House.

House Speaker Michael Madigan has scheduled a hearing for Thursday. Lawmakers are expected to vote on pension changes he is proposing.

A provision among the changes calls for penalizing retirement before age 67 with reduced benefits.

Another measure requires employees hired after January 2011 to pay an additional 5 percent toward their pensions on top of other contributions.

Riverside Democratic state Rep. Michael Zalewski says the expected votes are intended to gauge lawmakers' support for some potential reforms.

Zalewski says there's been enough talk about the changes and now is the time for legislators to actually show where they stand.
Published in Local News
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