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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Some Missouri senators are raising concerns that legislators wouldn't have much control over a proposed 1-cent sales tax for transportation projects.

The Senate began debate Tuesday on legislation that would ask voters to approve a dedicated sales tax for highways and other transportation needs. But some senators expressed concern that the money would go straight to the Department of Transportation without need of legislative approval in the budget process.

The sales tax is estimated to raise nearly $8 billion over 10 years. Ten percent of the proceeds would go to local transportation needs. The tax would be resubmitted to voters after 10 years for potential renewal.

When the increased sales tax is in effect, the gas tax rate would be frozen and existing roads could not become toll roads.
Tuesday, 12 March 2013 14:49
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JACKSON, Mo. (AP) — A southeast Missouri man has pleaded not guilty to charges that he killed two people in Cape Girardeau last month.

The Southeast Missourian reports that 22-year-old Kenneth Bell of Cape Girardeau entered the plea at a hearing Monday.

Bell is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Shannon James and Misty Cole. Both were shot to death Feb. 7 inside their apartment.

The next court appearance for Bell is April 18.

Witnesses told police that a confrontation began when James bumped into Bell on a sidewalk. Moments later, James and Cole were shot several times.
Tuesday, 12 March 2013 13:32
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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.
Tuesday, 12 March 2013 12:10
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri Senate committee has endorsed legislation to end an income tax break for low-income seniors and disabled residents who rent their homes, despite pleas from the poor not to do so.

Several disabled renters testified Tuesday that the tax break of up to $750 annually allows them to pay medical bills, utilities and clothing. They pleaded with the Senate Appropriations Committee to keep the tax break.

But the committee voted to advance a bill that would do away with the tax credit and redirect the $57 million of savings to programs that serve seniors and the disabled. The plan is backed by Gov. Jay Nixon.

A commission Nixon appointed recommended ending the tax break for renters while continuing it for homeowners. The credit is intended offset property taxes.
Tuesday, 12 March 2013 11:26
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Streetcars will be returning to the Delmar Loop. Monday evening, the University City Council unanimously approved conditional use permits for the Loop Trolley Company. Plans call for the streetcars to run down Delmar to DeBalivier, then south to the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park. The project is expected to cost around $40-million, with $25-million coming from a federal grant. The trolley should be up and running by late summer of 2014.
Tuesday, 12 March 2013 09:50
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Three jail escapees are back in custody.

Authorities found the three on Tuesday afternoon in a scrap yard where one of the men used to work. Matthew Cook, Kade Stringfellow, and Rodney Green escaped from the Butler County Jail by crawling out through the ceiling. After escaping, the men had to walk about five miles to get to the scrap yard. Cook and Stringfellow were being held on unrelated murder charges, while Green was accused of taking part in a violent home invasion.

No word on any additional charges after the escape attempt.
Tuesday, 12 March 2013 09:40
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Officials who oversee Missouri's driver's licenses are assuring that none of the personal documents supplied by applicants are shared with a private contractor.

Revenue Department officials told a House committee Monday they began requiring documents such as birth certificates and concealed weapons endorsements to be scanned into a state computer system as part of an effort to deter fraud.

Lawmakers raised questions about the process after a southeast Missouri man filed a lawsuit last week challenging the new procedures.

Revenue officials said the digital copies of documents are kept by the department, and only basic information about the applicant is forwarded to a contractor that makes the licenses.

Several dozen lawmakers are backing a bill that would bar Missouri from keeping copies of the documents.
Tuesday, 12 March 2013 04:29
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The great 2012 drought is officially over in the immediate St. Louis area. That's according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The agency's latest update shows soil conditions in the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, Jefferson County and eastern St. Charles County have returned to normal after almost 9 months of drought. Western St. Charles, Lincoln and most of Franklin Counties are still listed as "dryer than normal."

The southeastern third of Missouri, as well as southern and central Illinois had been declared drought-free weeks ago.
Tuesday, 12 March 2013 04:20
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Authorities in Franklin County want to talk to a woman who reported seeing a car drive into the Meramec River Monday evening. Sheriff's deputies say the woman had reported it to a park ranger at Meramec State Park around 5:30 p.m.

The park ranger attempted to locate the car, but couldn't find it. He also lost touch with the woman who'd made the report.

She's described as a white woman driving a white, Chevy Malibu.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Franklin County Sheriff's department.
Tuesday, 12 March 2013 01:54
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A Creve Coeur man is nursing a dislocated shoulder, but still counts himself lucky after falling into a sinkhole at Annbrier Golf Course in Waterloo on Friday.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that 43 year old Mark Mihal had been standing on the 14th fairway when the ground swallowed him up. He landed in a bell-shaped hole, about 18-feet deep.

The course manager and Mihal's golfing companions used a ladder and some rope to pull him out.

Sinkholes are common in the St. Louis Metro area, but geologists say they are usually easy to spot because of a dent in the ground.
Tuesday, 12 March 2013 01:44
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