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Tuesday, 11 February 2014 17:30

Missouri House takes aim at synthetic drugs

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri House members have given first-round approval to legislation taking aim at synthetic drugs.
 
The bill would add several specific substances to what is considered synthetic marijuana.
 
It was endorsed by a voice vote Tuesday and needs a second vote before moving to the Senate.
 
In recent years, Missouri has tried to keep pace with evolving synthetic drugs and twice has approved legislation targeting them. Sponsoring House member Shawn Rhoads says the current bill is needed to stay ahead in the effort.
 
Lawmakers in 2010 barred spice cannabinoids sold as incense known as K2. A year later, the definition of marijuana in state drug laws was expanded to cover synthetics. The 2011 measure also barred substances marketed as incense or "bath salts" that mimic the effects of cocaine and marijuana.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Supporters of a higher wages are urging Missouri lawmakers to let voters decide whether to increase the state's minimum wage to $10 an hour.
 
Missouri's minimum wage currently is $7.50 an hour - 25 cents higher than the federal minimum wage.
 
Several low-income workers testified Tuesday before a Missouri Senate committee in support of a proposed ballot measure increasing the minimum wage. The workers said they often must skip meals because they don't earn enough to pay all the bills for food, housing, utilities and transportation.
 
A Webster University economist said a minimum wage increase would help the economy, because workers likely would spend the additional money.
 
Lobbyists for several business groups testified against the measure, citing concerns that it could squeeze low-skill workers out of jobs.
Published in Local News
   WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House is applauding a University of Missouri football player's decision to announce that he is gay, with President Barack Obama's spokesman, first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden all portraying him as a courageous and inspirational athlete.
   Biden and the first lady took to Twitter on Monday to comment on Michael Sam, the all-American college player who declared publicly on Sunday that he is gay. Mrs. Obama says she "couldn't be prouder" of Sam's courage, both on and off the field.
   The tweet was signed "-mo," which is how the White House marks messages personally sent by the first lady.
   "Your courage is an inspiration to all of us," Biden said. The message was signed "-VP," which designates that the vice president sent it personally.
   Sam could become the first openly homosexual player in the NFL. He's scheduled to participate in the league's weeklong scouting camp, where potential draftees are evaluated, later this month in Indianapolis. He is currently projected to be a mid-round draft pick in May.
   White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president "shares the sentiments expressed by the first lady and the vice president and so many others in marveling at his courage and congratulating him on the decisions he's made, on the support he's had from his team and wishing him well in the future, including in professional football."
   Carney said Sam's announcement should not affect his standing on the NFL draft and that his abilities should be measured by his performance.
   "And in this case, his performance has been exceptional," Carney said.
 
Published in National News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Former U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway says she is running for Missouri governor in 2016.
 
Hanaway's announcement Monday makes her the first Republican to enter the race. Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster has been building a gubernatorial campaign since last year.
 
The office will be open because Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon is barred by term limits from seeking re-election.
 
Hanaway is a former state lawmaker from St. Louis County who in 2003 became the first women to serve as Missouri House speaker after helping Republicans win a majority in the chamber.
 
She lost a bid for secretary of state in 2004 but was appointed the next year by President George W. Bush to serve as U.S. attorney for the eastern Missouri. She held that position until April 2009.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri organizations representing teachers, administrators and school board members are supporting a plan for unaccredited districts as state education officials start digging into several proposals.
 
The Missouri School Boards' Association said Monday the plan calls for a contract between the State Board of Education and unaccredited school districts. Districts would commit to improving their performance while the state would classify the districts as provisionally accredited. It would relieve the school systems from a Missouri law that requires unaccredited school districts to pay for students to transfer to higher-performing districts elsewhere.
 
Kansas City and two school districts in St. Louis County are unaccredited.
 
Numerous plans have been submitted to the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The State Board of Education is holding a work session Monday.
Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri education officials are digging into proposals to help struggling school districts.

Three Missouri districts, including Kansas City, are currently unaccredited, and a 2013 law gave the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education more power to intervene in struggling school systems.

More than a half-dozen improvement plans have been submitted by school districts, education organizations and the Cities for Education Entrepreneurship Trust, a private school reform group under contract with the state.

The State Board of Education scheduled a work session on the proposals Monday. The education department plans to present its recommendations to the board on Feb. 18.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - More Missouri students could get personal help with filing out college applications this fall.

The Coordinating Board for Higher Education has announced an expansion of "College Application Week."

More than 2,000 students filled out applications during the inaugural event last October at 26 high schools in St. Louis, Kansas City and parts of rural Missouri. The board says it hopes to double the number of participating high schools this fall.

The program is available to all high school seniors, but the goal is to increase the number of applications from students in low-income families and those who would be the first in their families to attend college.

Members of the Missouri College Advising Corps provide one-on-one help to students when filling out applications.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Hundreds of people who have developmental disabilities could begin receiving publicly funded services as Missouri officials tackle a waiting list for in-home services that now stands at almost 1,400 people.

Governor Jay Nixon is proposing nearly $24 million for in-home services for people who qualify for Medicaid that officials say would cover 970 people. The Department of Mental Health says about 500 people would remain on the waiting list that several years ago stood at more than 2,000 people.

Other states also have waiting lists for the services. The waits can lead to financial challenges and psychological strain.

Published in Local News
ST. LOUIS (AP) - New filings in a class action lawsuit challenging Missouri's treatment of convicted sex offenders seek the release from custody of more than 200 men in the program.
 
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the legal challenge to the Missouri Department of Mental Health claims its Sex Offender Rehabilitation and Treatment Services program is mismanaged, overcrowded and essentially a prison disguised as a mental hospital.
 
The program was created to treat sex offenders who complete prison sentences but are deemed unsafe to be released. They are held indefinitely as mental health patients at secure facilities in Farmington and Fulton
 
Since the program was started 14 years ago, no one has successfully completed treatment. The suit was first filed in 2009. Missouri is among 20 states with similar treatment programs.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Women with dense breast tissue would have to be notified about the need for additional screenings at their mammograms under legislation passed by the Missouri Senate.
 
The measure was passed 32-0 by senators on Thursday and it now heads to the House. Sponsoring Republican Sen. Dan Brown, of Rolla, says mammograms might not pick up cancer if a woman has dense tissue. He says his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer only after a biopsy was taken after several mammograms turned up negative.
 
Starting in 2015, the bill would require facilities that perform mammograms to notify patients that if they have dense breast tissue that additional tests might be required to detect cancer.
 
Legislature: Mammograms is SB 639
Published in Local News

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