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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn says the Illinois House should act quickly to approve a pension-reform package because the state's economy depends on it.

House Speaker Michael Madigan's plan to increase employee contributions and trim benefits is scheduled for a House vote Thursday.

Years of state underfunding of pension accounts has left Illinois $97 billion short of covering future obligations.

The Democratic governor says the liability grows by $17 million a day. He says Illinois' economy won't fully recover until reform is approved.

But union representatives told a House committee Wednesday the opposite is true. Illinois Education Association President Cinda Klickna says cutting pension benefits takes away money retirees spend in local communities and especially hits teachers who don't have Social Security benefits.

 

Wednesday, 01 May 2013 15:39
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The St. Louis Zoo is once again asking for feedback on plans for their new expansion.

After zoo officials bought the old Forest Park Hospital in October 2012, they said no work would start without input from the public. This evening, there is an open house in the zoo where you can make your voice heard.

The event runs from 4-7PM in The Living World near the north entrance to the zoo. 

You can see the expansion plans here.

 

Wednesday, 01 May 2013 13:31
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A new state report that Illinois coal once shunned for its high sulfur content is enjoying record demand overseas.

The Illinois Office of Coal Development said Wednesday that the report it had done by Energy Ventures Analysis Inc. showed that 13 million tons of Illinois coal was exported last year. That's a five-fold increase from the 2.5 million tons shipped out of the U.S. in 2010.

Officials attribute the increase to the state's wealth of coal, competitive pricing and Illinois' proximity to shipping routes including the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

Total Illinois coal output rose 25 percent to 47.2 million tons in 2012, up from 37.8 million tons in 2011.

The Office of Coal Development is a division of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

 

Wednesday, 01 May 2013 13:15
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The St. Louis area unemployment rate still sits above seven percent--at 7.5 %--but there is good news in the latest set of job numbers.

The number of jobs in the area has increased over last year. Some of the sectors that showed the largest gains were trade, education, and health services. While the area with the greatest number of losses was the government.

In total, there are 2,300 more jobs in March 2013 compared to March 2012.

 

Wednesday, 01 May 2013 13:12
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POTOSI, Mo. (AP) - A mistrial has been declared in the first-degree murder case of an eastern Missouri man accused of killing his son-in-law.

The Park Hills Daily Journal reports jurors deliberated for several hours Tuesday before telling the judge they wouldn't be able to reach a unanimous verdict in the case of 47-year-old Martin Gorse of Cadet. The judge declared a mistrial and the case will be retried.

Gorse is accused of killing 31-year-old Ronald Coleman Jr. last year at Gorse's home. Gorse testified that he and Coleman argued. He claimed he shot the younger man in self-defense.

 

Wednesday, 01 May 2013 12:42
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Prosecutors say a St. Louis County man recruited three teenagers to become prostitutes.

Anton Morris faces multiple charges, including sexual trafficing of a child. Morris allegedly convinced three girls, aged 16, 17, and 19, to start working for him as a prostitutes. Authorities say he set the first girl with a hotel room and started offering her services as a prostitute on April 15.

Morris now sits in jail on a $100,000 bond.

 

Wednesday, 01 May 2013 12:19
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Mercy's hospital system is consolidating its physician clinic business office functions and with that comes job cuts.

The Chesterfield-based hospital system announced is cutting 70 jobs--19 here in St. Louis, the rest in Springfield, Mo., and  Oklahoma City. 

Mercy said it's trying to place eligible employees in open positions elsewhere within the company. Severance is being provided to employees based on their length of employment. 

"Mercy’s revenue management division recently completed a consolidation of its hospital and physician clinic business office functions," Mercy said in a statement. "By bringing these teams together, the division will be able to achieve some of the patient satisfaction goals that Mercy has long been working toward, from creating a combined statement covering both hospital and clinic bills, to establishing a single phone number for scheduling appointments." 

Mercy operates 32 hospitals and 300 outpatient facilities in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, and has 38,000 employees. 

Wednesday, 01 May 2013 10:13
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The FBI is asking for the public's help in identifying who made threats against Southern Illinois University in Carbondale last fall.

 

   The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan reports that authorities say a threat was made against the school last September, a day before a bomb threat forced the late-night evacuation of a campus building. Both threats were mailed.

 

   Calling the threats "frightening," the FBI said Tuesday they were not a harmless prank even though no one was harmed. The agency says evacuations are disruptive.

 

   The FBI says the person behind the threats is likely immature and may have various grievances, been continually angry during last fall's semester "and prone to making rash, if unbelievable, statements about his complaints."

Wednesday, 01 May 2013 10:08
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The days are numbered for an iconic building in downtown St. Louis. City officials say the Cupples 7 building is now slated for demolition. It's the only unrenovated structure remaining from the Cupples Station complex located west of Busch Stadium. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay says on his website that his administration did everything possible to save the Cupples building, but it has now been deemed a public safety threat. Slay says if there's a developer out there with the money to rehab the building, now would be the time to come forward. 

 
Wednesday, 01 May 2013 09:19
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    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri House has endorsed a bill that would allow motorcyclists to forgo wearing helmets on the road.

    The measure given first-round approval Tuesday would allow riders over the age of 21 to not wear a helmet when travelling.

   Current law requires motorists to wear helmets or face a fine of up to $300 on the first offense. Future violations carried steeper fines and the possibility of prison sentences.

   The bill needs one more House vote before moving to the Senate. Lawmakers adjourn May 17.

Motorcycle Helmets is HB555    Online: Legislature: http://www.moga.mo.gov

Wednesday, 01 May 2013 08:15
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