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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) — Authorities have identified a 62-year-old woman whose body was found in a vehicle submerged in the Mississippi River.

The Southeast Missourian reports authorities say Autumn Vinson of Jackson, Missouri was found dead in the car submerged in about five feet of water Friday.

Darin Hickey, spokesman the Cape Girardeau Police Department, says police are investigating. Hickey says the body was found in the back seat of the vehicle, but it's unclear how it got there because the submerged vehicle was full of water.

An autopsy is scheduled for Sunday.

The body was found after a passer-by called police Friday morning to report seeing the antenna and roof of the vehicle in the water.

Sunday, 19 January 2014 10:20
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers are backing down on a proposal to penalize public universities for failing to meet certain funding and academic goals.

Instead, legislation considered by the Senate Education Committee recently would only allow performance standards to be used for year-to-year higher education funding increases.

If passed, the plan would be familiar to the state's four-year public universities. Governor Jay Nixon used the model informally when he gave them a $25 million increase for the current fiscal year.

Committee chairman and sponsoring Senator David Pearce of Warrensburg says universities should be financially rewarded for achieving performance goals. Under his plan, the universities would work with the Department of Higher Education to develop their own performance criteria.

Sunday, 19 January 2014 10:19
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — An abortion facility in Missouri would need to be inspected at least four times each year under legislation proposed in the state House.

The proposal is a priority for Missouri Right to Life, which called it a "strong bipartisan and pro-life" measure. The bill was filed this past week by Republican Kathy Swan of Cape Girardeau (juh-RAHR'-doh). It has more than 100 co-sponsors.

Under the bill, inspections could be conducted as frequently as the Department of Health and Senior Services deems necessary but would need to happen at least four times per fiscal year. No advanced notice would be required.

Planned Parenthood said the state already has authority to inspect as frequently as it chooses. The organization says the legislation is about making it more difficult to get an abortion.

Sunday, 19 January 2014 10:15
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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The resumption of the commercial slaughtering of horses was blocked Friday as President Barack Obama signed a budget measure that withholds money for required federal inspections of the slaughtering process.

The measure provides temporary funding for the federal government, but it stops the U.S. Agriculture Department from spending on horse slaughterhouse inspections.

The president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says the federal government's action reflects the opinions of many Americans that horse slaughter is "abhorrent and unacceptable."

The last domestic horse slaughterhouses closed in 2007, a year after Congress withheld inspection funding. Since federal money was restored in 2011, plants in Missouri, Iowa and New Mexico have fought to start slaughtering to potentially export horse meat for overseas consumers.

Saturday, 18 January 2014 09:44
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Missouri death-row inmate scheduled for execution this month says the state prison system is improperly storing expired doses of a new lethal injection drug provided by an Oklahoma pharmacy that's not licensed to do business in the neighboring state.

Attorneys for Herbert Smulls filed a complaint with the Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy on Friday. They want the board to recall an "expired, unsafe" batch of the sedative pentobarbital provided to Missouri by an unidentified Oklahoma compounding pharmacy. The complaint says the pharmacy gave erroneous instructions to store the drug at room temperature.

Missouri switched to its one-drug execution method late last year and has since killed two inmates. The complaint includes Missouri state records showing the pentobarbital given to both inmates had expired eight to 10 days earlier.

Saturday, 18 January 2014 09:40
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal investigators say Southwest Airlines pilots who recently landed at the wrong airport in Missouri have told them they were confused by the small airport's runway lights.

The National Transportation Safety Board said Friday the pilots of the Boeing 737 with 124 passengers on board told investigators they saw the bright runway lights of Graham Clark Downtown Airport, located in Hollister and mistakenly identified it as the larger Branson Airport, which is seven miles away.

NTSB said the pilots contacted the Branson control tower and were told they were 15 miles from their target. But the pilots responded they had the runway in sight. They were cleared to land.

The Downtown Airport runway is half as long as the Branson runway. The runways are oriented in a similar direction.

Saturday, 18 January 2014 09:37
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CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois lawmakers are questioning the effectiveness of the state's system for giving tax breaks to corporations.
   Legislators held the first of several hearings on the issue Friday in Chicago.
   Dan Long is executive director of the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. He tells legislators Illinois businesses benefited from about $1.5 billion in tax breaks in 2012.
 
   Yet lawmakers note Illinois has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.
   Republican state Rep. David McSweeney says "What is clear is what we're doing isn't working."
 
   But Connie Beard of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce calls the state's main incentive program a "very valuable tool" for attracting and keeping business.
   The hearings could lead to legislation to change the state's incentive programs during the General Assembly's spring session.
Friday, 17 January 2014 16:33
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The lockdown at Hillsboro High School is over. Sometime before 10 AM school officials say someone found a loose bullet in the building. The school was placed on lockdown, but officials said it was only as a precaution. During the lockdown, authorities performed a search of the school, but never discovered a weapon. The lockdown was lifted after 1 PM.

Friday, 17 January 2014 14:38
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CHICAGO (AP) - The question of raising the minimum wage, both in Illinois and nationally, has emerged as a significant 2014 campaign issue. Gov. Pat Quinn and other Democrats are pushing to raise the state's minimum wage of $8.25 per hour, and most Republicans oppose the idea, arguing it could push employers to actually cut jobs. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.
 
Here are edited excerpts of what Illinois' six gubernatorial candidates told The Associated Press about where they stand on the issue:
DEMOCRATS:
GOV. PAT QUINN, CHICAGO: "People are making $8.25 an hour in Illinois. That's not enough in my book ... How are we going to treat folks in our society who do some of the hardest jobs imaginable, get paid very, very modest wages we need to raise?"
 
TIO HARDIMAN, HILLSIDE: "The minimum wage should be raised to at least $12.00 per hour. However, we have to eliminate the (corporate) Head Tax or cut the Head Tax by 50 percent in Illinois before increasing the minimum wage."
 
------------------------
REPUBLICANS:
STATE SEN. BILL BRADY, BLOOMINGTON: "I believe the state and federal minimum wage rates need to be paired. I support a moratorium on increases in the Illinois minimum wage until such a time that the federal rate has caught up with our state rate."
 
STATE SEN. KIRK DILLARD, HINSDALE: "In an environment where jobs could possibly be negatively impacted, increasing the minimum wage is unwise ... Illinois cannot take the chance that more people will be out of work because of a minimum wage increase. Small businesses will be impacted the most and these are the very businesses that employ the bulk of Illinois residents."
 
BUSINESSMAN BRUCE RAUNER, WINNETKA: "Without action from Washington (to raise the federal minimum wage), I would favor increasing Illinois' minimum wage if we also adopt creative solutions to avoid further damage to our state's already shattered business climate. That can be done by providing incentives to small businesses to help offset the added costs. It can be done through workers' compensation reform, tort reform and elimination of other impediments to job growth."
 
STATE TREASURER DAN RUTHERFORD, CHENOA: "I believe every American should be able to make as much money as possible, legally and ethically. State government should not put an artificial cost of doing business, increase on a business, church or local unit of government."
Friday, 17 January 2014 13:12
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Crime statistics for St. Louis County have been released and police chief Tim Fitch is pleased with the results. Serious crime in the areas under protection of the St. Louis County Police Department has decreased in 2013 from that of 2012.
Index crime statistics comparing 2012 to 2013 in unincorporated St. Louis County and the municipalities served by County officers show an overall reduction of 7.4 percent.
The 2013 report represents an overall crime reduction for the fifth straight year, and the lowest crime total since 1969.
There were eight homicides reported in both 2012 and 2013, but the number of rapes increased
by 126-percent.  Officials say this is due to the Justice Department collecting data using a new definition of rape, which was a revision to the Uniform Crime Reporting’s 80-year-old definition.
The new definition broadens the scope of the previously narrow definition of rape.
Meanwhile, robbery decreased by 6-percent and aggravated assault decreased by just over one percent.
Other statistics show a reduction in arson by over 26-percent, larceny decreased by 8.4 percent and motor vehicle theft decreased by 25 percent. Burglaries were also down over 3 percent.
Chief of Police Timothy Fitch stated, "I am very proud of our patrol officers, detectives and support personnel because this decrease emphasizes their continued dedication and commitment to the community. It is a great accomplishment to have a reduction in crime reported from the previous year, and to have a lower number for our fifth year in a row is an even greater accomplishment. Our emphasis has been and will continue to be to ensure the safety of everyone within St. Louis County."
Friday, 17 January 2014 11:41
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