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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A published report says groups with ties to the pension-reform law adopted last month have contributed close to $3 million to Illinois Supreme Court justices who might decide its fate.
 
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that six of seven justices have taken money in the past 13 years from labor unions, business groups and a political committee controlled by Chicago Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.
 
Retired teachers have sued to stop the pension-reform plan that cuts retiree benefits to reduce a $100 billion debt.
 
Most of the pension-related money went to former Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride. He accepted $2.5 million from both Madigan and business groups in a 2010 retention battle.
 
Current Chief Justice Rita Garman says court decisions are based on constitutional standards, not politics.
 
Thursday, 02 January 2014 13:47
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's most prolific political financier gave nearly $1.3 million to various political causes in the closing weeks of 2013.
 
Online state campaign finance reports show that retired investment firm executive Rex Sinquefield gave $750,000 to Teachgreat.org, $495,000 to Grow Missouri and $25,000 to Missourians for Excellence in Government during the final weeks of December.
 
Teachgreat.org is backing a potential ballot initiative that would end tenure protections for public school teachers and instead make their employment contingent on student achievement.
 
Grow Missouri is backing a potential ballot initiative that would cut Missouri's income tax rates.
 
Missourians for Excellence in Government is a political action committee that has funded candidates, most notably St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.
 
Online records show Sinquefield gave more than $3.8 million in Missouri political contributions in 2013.
Thursday, 02 January 2014 13:46
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CHICAGO (AP) - The new year is bringing relief to some Illinoisans newly insured under the nation's health care law. Others still aren't sure whether they're covered.
 
The major benefits of the law took effect Wednesday. But problems with the federal website meant many people signed up at the last minute. Insurers haven't processed all the paperwork.
 
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois has been adding staff to keep up with calls. Worried patients without insurance cards are calling doctors like John Venetos in Chicago, who's decided to provide care and risk he won't be paid.
 
Stroke survivor Nancy Pace of Benton says she's relieved to have good insurance for the first time since 2005. She called Blue Cross on Wednesday, paid her premium and got her member number over the phone.
Thursday, 02 January 2014 13:44
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 BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - St. Clair County officials say they've reached a tentative contract with emergency dispatchers after years of negotiations.
The Belleville News-Dispatch reports the contract was approved by the southwestern Illinois county and runs through 2014.
Negotiations first began in 2011, but became contentious about how on-the-job experience was counted for work at a 911 answering service at the county sheriff's department.
The deal includes retroactive pay increases for 2011, 2012 and 2013 as well as an increase for 2014. Employees who leave their posts within three years of being hired will have to reimburse the county for a portion of their training expenses.
The previous contract for the dispatchers expired in January 2012.
 
Thursday, 02 January 2014 10:44
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - The widow of former men's basketball coach Charlie Spoonhour has established a scholarship fund in his honor at Missouri State University.
Spoonhour was head coach at the school in Springfield from 1983 to 1992 before moving to Saint Louis University and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He died in February 2012.
His widow, Vicki Spoonhour, said she created the fund for the university's men's program because the school gave her husband his first Division I coaching job and the couple made many friends in Springfield. The Springfield News-Leader reports she declined to say how much she donated.
Spoonhour compiled a 197-81 record at Missouri State, which was then known as Southwest Missouri State, while leading the Bears to five NCAA Tournament appearances.
Thursday, 02 January 2014 10:32
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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Friends of a slain University of Missouri-Columbia student have raised more than $5,000 to help his family and create a scholarship fund.
The Columbia Missourian reports part of the money has gone to the family of 21-year-old Jarrett Mosby for immediate expenses. The rest will establish an ongoing college fund that will benefit Mosby's 6-year-old son, Jarrett Mosby Jr., and later help other African-American men attend college.
Mosby, of Collinsville, Ill., found shot to death Dec. 23 in a car in the village of Madison, Ill. He was five months from graduating as a business major and was in the area during the university's winter break to visit his son.
A 24-year-old suspect was taken into custody Monday and charged with first-degree murder.
 
Thursday, 02 January 2014 10:19
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Missouri's most prolific political financier has made more than $1 million in year-end donations to some of his favorite causes.  Online state campaign finance reports show that retired investment firm executive Rex Sinquefield gave $750,000 to Teachgreat.org, $245,000 to Grow Missouri and $25,000 to Missourians for Excellence in Government during the final weeks of December.
Teachgreat.org is backing a potential ballot initiative that would end tenure protections for public school teachers. Grow Missouri is backing a potential ballot initiative that would cut Missouri's income tax rates, and Missourians for Excellence in Government is a political action committee funding candidates like St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.
Online records show Sinquefield made about $3.6 million in Missouri political contributions in 2013.
 
Thursday, 02 January 2014 08:16
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ST. LOUIS (AP) - A Missouri judge has ordered the Archdiocese of St. Louis to release by the end of the working day Friday the names of all priests accused of sexual abuse in the past 20 years.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports St. Louis Circuit Judge Robert Dierker's disclosure order also includes the names of those who made the complaints.
The judge said the archdiocese could withhold the names of those involved in cases the church determined were "unsubstantiated," leaving it unclear what the archdiocese will ultimately release from 234 complaints identified by the court.
A woman who is suing a defrocked priest, the archdiocese and Archbishop Robert Carlson sought the records. She alleges former priest Joseph Ross began abusing her 16 years ago.
 
 
Thursday, 02 January 2014 07:34
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Thursday, 02 January 2014 06:48
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers are considering changes to the governor's authority over the state budget.
The discussion comes after budget disputes in recent years. Most recently, Gov. Jay Nixon froze $400 million in the current year's spending plan, while citing concerns lawmakers would override his veto of a tax cut.
The veto was sustained and all but $134 million for capital improvements has since been released.
Republican House member Todd Richardson plans to propose a constitutional amendment for the annual legislative session starting next week. Richardson says he wants governors to have the ability to restrict spending when it is needed to keep the budget balanced, while also protecting the Legislature's power to decide how funds are spent.
Nixon says Missouri governors' current tools for managing the budget are needed.
Thursday, 02 January 2014 06:11
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