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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A proposal to ban smoking on public college campuses is advancing in the Illinois Legislature.
 
The Springfield State Journal-Register reports the measure passed out of a House committee Wednesday by a 9-3 vote.
 
The state Senate approved the measure last year. It would ban smoking on all properties belonging to state-supported colleges and universities starting July 1.
 
State Rep. Ann William is sponsoring the proposal. The Chicago Democrat says the ban was crafted to reduce students' exposure to secondhand smoke.
 
Some Illinois universities already have enacted their own smoking rules. Illinois State University and the University of Illinois both have bans in place.
 
The measure now heads to the full House for further debate.
Thursday, 20 February 2014 16:21
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's four-year public universities would be rewarded for good performance under legislation passed by the state Senate.
 
Under the bill, the 13 universities would get funding increases tied to certain performance standards.
 
The colleges would work with the Department of Higher Education to develop five goals. Three of those goals must be tied to graduation and retention rates as well as job placement in a field appropriate for a graduating student's degree level.
 
The legislation would apply only in years the state can afford to increase higher education funding and would expire in 2016.
 
A 2012 state law requires the development of a funding formula for Missouri's public universities.
 
Senators voted 33-0 to send the measure to the House on Thursday.
Thursday, 20 February 2014 15:39
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ST. LOUIS (AP) - A southwestern Illinois county that has grappled with heroin deaths is trying a new approach after there were three deadly suspected overdoses in a five-hour span last week.
 
Madison County Sheriff Bob Hertz says he'll be joining the county's top prosecutor, Tom Gibbons, to convene a panel to talk out possible answers to the problem. It could be as early as next week. Hertz says that group may include substance-abuse treatment providers, educators and perhaps addicts.
 
The county's coroner, Steve Nonn, says his office already has handled six suspected heroin deaths this year. Last year, there were 23 in the county, more than three times the number in 2009.
 
Nonn calls heroin providers "dealers in death."
Thursday, 20 February 2014 15:32
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri House Republicans are sticking together this year in their quest to enact an income tax cut.
 
The House passed a pair of tax cut plans Thursday on party-line votes, with Republicans in support and Democrats in opposition.
 
That's a stark contrast from last September, when 15 House Republicans splintered from the majority to prevent an override of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of an income tax cut.
 
House Speaker Tim Jones says Thursday's solid Republican vote should be a signal for Nixon to work with lawmakers on tax cuts.
 
Nixon denounced the bills as "fiscally irresponsible experiments" that would funnel money away from schools.
 
Nixon has said he will sign an income tax cut only if it protects school funding and also reins in state tax credits.
 
Thursday, 20 February 2014 15:31
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ST. LOUIS (AP) - A new federal report shows Illinois has lost nearly 1,800 farms, though an increase in the state's agricultural acreage perhaps reflects consolidation.
 
   The findings come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's farming census conducted every five years. The latest figures are as of 2012.
 
   The report shows the number of farms statewide fell by 1,773 to 75,087 between 2007 and 2012. But the farm acreage rose to 26.94 million, up more than 162,000 acres.
 
   The census also showed that the average size of an Illinois farm climbed by 11 acres, to 359.
 
   Nationwide, the report says the number of farms slip 4.3 percent to 2.1 million, with the total amount of agricultural land relatively flat at 922 acres.
 
   The report is used in evaluating and implementing agriculture policies and programs.
 
Thursday, 20 February 2014 14:57
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FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (AP) - The Fort Leonard Wood Army base in south-central Missouri is expected to lose 1,000 soldiers by October 2015.
 
   Base spokeswoman Tiffany Wood confirmed the cuts to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She says it is part of budget cuts throughout the U.S. military.
 
   Maj. Gen. Leslie Smith, who oversees Fort Leonard Wood, discussed the cuts Wednesday at a town hall meeting on the base. Wood says Army officials told base leadership two weeks ago about the cutbacks.
 
   About 7,000 uniformed personnel work at Fort Leonard Wood, along with 12,000 military personnel there for training and 9,000 civilian employees
Thursday, 20 February 2014 14:35
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - An Illinois lawmaker says Olympic athletes who win medals shouldn't have to pay state tax on their awards.
State Sen. Julie Morrison is sponsor of legislation approved by a Senate committee Wednesday that would waive the tax.
Morrison is a Democrat from the Chicago suburb of Deerfield who says she represents many of Illinois' Olympic athletes. She says Olympic athletes proudly represent Illinois and the U.S. and "we should honor them for their commitment."
 Morrison says exempting Illinois' taxes on the prizes is "one small way to show our appreciation."
Olympians who win a gold medal also receive $25,000. Silver medalists win $15,000, while bronze medalists earn $10,000.
The legislation also applies to Para-Olympians.  It could be considered by the full Senate as early as Thursday.
Thursday, 20 February 2014 09:47
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Anyone with a warrant for a nonviolent ordinance violation is getting a break in St. Louis city.  
Offenders can turn themselves in to the Municipal Court this week to receive a new court date on the spot instead of being booked into jail.  From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.this week, individuals who believe they have a warrant can go to the St. Louis City Municipal Court at 1520 Market Street to cancel warrants and get a new court date. The cost is $35 regardless of the number of warrants.
Warrant forgiveness is good only for City ordinance violations, including but not limited to truancy, nuisance, moving and non-moving violations. People with state charges or DUI/DWI charges are not eligible for warrant forgiveness. Other charges may have a reduced bond.
People can check whether they have a warrant out for their arrest by searching for their name, date of birth and zip code on the City Court's website.
Thursday, 20 February 2014 09:34
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Thursday, 20 February 2014 07:56
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   Boeing Machinists in St. Louis will vote Sunday on a new contract.  

   The tentative deal reached yesterday is designed to lower the cost of making fighter jets and avoid layoffs here.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the deal sweetens buyouts for veteran workers and cuts wages for many future hires, while setting raises, bonuses and benefits through 2022.  

   Boeing officials say the changes are needed in order to reduce the cost of building the F/A 18 Super Hornet, with the hopes of keeping the line going after 2016.  

   The union vote comes one day before the Pentagon releases its next fiscal budget, which isn't expected to include any new Super Hornets for the Navy.  

   Boeing officials plan to ask Congress to add 20 new Super Hornets when they revised the budget. 

   

Thursday, 20 February 2014 04:25
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