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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Two bills making their way through Missouri's Republican-led Legislature represent the state's latest attempt to oppose the federal health care law.
 
Senators passed measures last week that would impose additional regulations on insurance navigators, who help consumers sign up for health plans on the exchange marketplace.
 
One bill would require navigators to take a written exam and undergo a criminal background check before working with consumers. Another would require navigators to purchase a $100,000 bond and be liable for unlawfully sharing a customer's personal or financial information.
 
Republicans say the measures would protect Missourians from fraud. But Democratic opponents say the bills are designed to block access to health care.
Monday, 17 February 2014 13:25
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St. Louis, MO (KTRS) - A pair of suspects connected to a Highland, Illinois bank robbery are in custody.

 

Police say the first man was captured in Highland on Sunday night. The second man was found early Monday morning in Michigan.

 

Police and the FBI do not believe there are any more suspects. 

Monday, 17 February 2014 13:23
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The state of Missouri faces the loss of nearly $70 million this year in tobacco settlement payments due to a unique pricing advantage enjoyed by some cigarette companies.
 
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Missouri is the only state which signed a landmark settlement agreement more than 15 years ago to not eliminate a loophole allowing small cigarette manufacturers and retailers to avoid making escrow payments. The payments are required of companies that didn't sign the settlement.
 
State lawmakers have refused requests by two Missouri attorney generals over the past 12 years to neutralize the pricing advantage. And a federal arbitration panel found that Gov. Jay Nixon neglected to file lawsuits against the smaller tobacco companies to force them to pay into the escrow fund when he was attorney general.
 
Missouri could also lose tens of millions in tobacco money each year for at least seven years.
Monday, 17 February 2014 12:40
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   CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) - The Chicago-area family of a missing Southern Illinois University student is offering a reward for information in the 19-year-old sophmore's disappearance.
   Authorities say Pravin Varughese has been missing since Wednesday. His family says they are offering a $15,000 reward. His sister, Priya Varughese, says family members "just want him home." She says her brother, a cousin and a roommate were at a party the night he disappeared.
   Carbondale Police Sgt. Rich Brunner says officers have searched for Pravin Varughese using dogs and by air. He says the searches have covered much of the SIU campus and city. Brunner says friends and police handed out flyers Sunday. Vigils also have been planned.
    Vaughese and his family are from the Chicago suburb of Morton Grove. He was studying criminal justice.
Monday, 17 February 2014 10:44
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Average retail gasoline prices in St. Louis have risen 3.8 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.19 a gallon on Sunday.
This is according to GasBuddy.com's daily survey of nearly one thousand gas outlets in St. Louis. This compares with the national average that has increased 5.0 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.34 a gallon.
Gas prices in St. Louis yesterday were 53 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago, but 13 cents per gallon higher than a month ago.
The national average has increased 6 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 34 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.
 
Monday, 17 February 2014 10:34
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   Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency not to follow through on its own proposal to reduce amounts of ethanol that must be blended with gasoline.  
   The EPA wants to reduce by billions of gallons the amount of biofuels required in gasoline sold in America.  The agency says the additive is less necessary with more fuel-efficient engines and lower fuel demand.
   Governor Quinn says lowering the requirement could hurt farmers growing renewable fuel crops, like corn.  His office says Illinois' ethanol industry is one of the nation's largest.  
   Critics say ethanol isn't as environmentally friendly as advertised.  The pressure to grow more crops for ethanol has led to planting in areas that might otherwise be set aside for conservation.  Critics also say diverting crops for fuel has contributed to rising food prices.  
   But ethanol advocates say its essential to American energy independance.
 
Monday, 17 February 2014 08:28
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   Funeral arrangements are set for a former Missouri state representative from Crystal City who died over the weekend.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Ron Casey died early Sunday morning at the age of 61.

   Casey had suffered a head wound the week before when he fell on a concrete floor at his brother's home.

   Casey represented part of Jefferson County for 12 years in the state House.  

   Visitation will be held at the Second Baptist Church in Festus on Tuesday from 2-to-8 p.m.  Funeral services will also be at the church at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Monday, 17 February 2014 08:23
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   CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) - Officials are set to announce a new president the Southern Illinois University system Monday afternoon during a meeting in Edwardsville.

   Board members say nearly 100 people applied for the job.

   The new president will replace Glenn Poshard, who's retiring and plans to step down in June even though his contract expires in 2015.

   SIU has campuses Carbondale and Edwardsville, and medical and dental schools in Alton and Decater.

Monday, 17 February 2014 08:18
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   Illinois lawmakers are considering a measure that would make it illegal for adults to smoke in a motor vehicle if there are children present.  Officials with the American Lung Association say they support the measure as a way to educate parents about the dangers of second-hand smoke to their child.  

   Senate bill 2659 would make it illegal to smoke with a minor in the vehicle.  Violators would face a one-hundred-dollar fine, but police wouldn't be able to pull drivers over just for violate the smoking ban.  

   Fourteen other states are considering similar measures.  Five states, including Arkansas and Louisiana have already made smoke-free cars the law.

Monday, 17 February 2014 07:13
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   A year after severing ties with Rome, St. Stanislaus Kostka Church is looking for an affiliation that will allow it to keep its Catholic ties.  Reverend Marek Bozek tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the church wants to have options.  

   Bozek tells the paper he's partial to the Episcopal Church because it's in full communion with the Old Catholic Church of Utrecht.  The European body separated from Rome more than 100 years ago over issue of papal infallibility, but its sacraments are seen as valid by the Vatican.  Bozek says they don't actually want to become Episcopalian, but would like to work toward becoming an Old Catholic parish.  

   St. Stans is also talking with the Ecumenical Catholic Church, the Polish National Catholic Church, and even some more marginal groups, like Roman Catholic Womenpriests.

   The church just north of downtown had governed its own finances since the 19th century.  It's been in a battle for its survival and autonomy since 2003, when the archdiocese first asked the parish to hand over control of its property and assets. Church officials refused and were excommunicated, as was Rev. Bozek.

 

   In 2008 the archdiocese sued for control of the church, but a St. Louis Circuit Court ruled in 2012 in favor of St. Stans.  The archdiocese agreed last year to dismiss its appeal, after St. Stans agreed not to affiliate itself with the Vatican.
Monday, 17 February 2014 06:50
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