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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Pizza parlors, doughnut stores and other restaurants could get a tax break under legislation passed by the Missouri House.
 
The bill would grant a sales tax exemption on the electricity used to produce food that is sold to customers at restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores and convenience stores.
The Department of Revenue estimates the proposed tax break could reduce total state revenues by between $4 million and $20 million annually.
 
Republican House member Craig Redmon, of Canton, says his bill was prompted partly by a recent state Supreme Court ruling that said Schnucks grocery stores could not get tax-free electricity to warm their food under Missouri's existing laws.
 
The legislation passed the House by a 134-12 vote Thursday. It now goes to the Senate.
   
 

NEW YORK (AP) -- The government's latest report card on food poisoning shows a dip in salmonella cases but an increase in illnesses from bacteria in raw shellfish. The report counts cases in only 10 states for some of the most common causes of foodborne illness, but is believed to be a good indicator of national food poisoning trends. Highlights from Thursday's report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

WHAT'S MAKING US SICK?

Salmonella remains at the top of the chart, far ahead of most other foodborne germs. Only campylobacter (camp-ee-loh-bak-tur) - a bacteria commonly linked to raw milk and poultry - comes close. Other causes, listeria, shigella (shih-GEHL'-uh) and E. coli, trail behind.

IS FOOD POISONING GETTING WORSE?

Overall, no. Last year, there were no significant changes in most kinds of food poisoning, compared to the previous three years. The new report tallied about 20,000 illnesses and 80 deaths in the 10 states, similar to previous years. The CDC estimates that 1 in 6 Americans get sick from contaminated food each year, though most cases are not reported.

ANY GOOD NEWS?

Yes, for salmonella. The rate of new cases dropped 9 percent - the biggest drop in about a decade. But officials are cautious about making too much of it, since it was compared to a time period that included a big outbreak linked to eggs in 2010. Last year's rate is similar to what it was about five years ago. CDC officials hope new regulatory proposals, like one to prevent salmonella in chicken parts, will keep pushing rates down.

WHAT ABOUT BAD NEWS?

There was in increase in infections from vibrio (VIB'-ree-oh) bacteria found in raw shellfish, like oysters. Last year, cases were up 32 percent from the previous three years and 75 percent from about five years ago. But the numbers remain very small - only 242 of the 20,000 illnesses recorded in the 10 states. Climate change is warming coastal waters in some places, and that may be helping spread some vibrio strains to new locations, said Dr. Robert Tauxe, a CDC food-germ expert. "The warmer the water, the more vibrio," he said. A strain traditionally found in the Pacific Northwest, is now showing up along the East Coast. Tauxe said it might have been spread through water in ships' ballast tanks.

CAN YOU PREVENT FOOD POISONING?

Carefully wash and clean food, and cook meat, poultry and eggs thoroughly. Avoid raw milk and unpasteurized juices. Promptly refrigerate leftovers. A government report last year showed leafy greens like lettuce and spinach were the leading source of food poisoning, and produce in general accounted for nearly half of all illnesses. There were slightly more deaths attributed to poultry than to vegetables in the decade studied.

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Online:

Food safety: HTTP://WWW.CDC.GOV/FOODSAFETY/

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about ourPRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A surge of eleventh-hour enrollments has improved the outlook for President Barack Obama's health care law, with more people signing up overall and a much-needed spark of interest among young adults.

Nonetheless, Obama's announcement Thursday that 8 million have signed up for subsidized private insurance, and that 35 percent of them are younger than 35, is just a peek at what might be going on with the nation's newest social program.

Still to be announced is what share of those enrolled were previously uninsured - the true test of Obama's Affordable Care Act - and how many actually secured coverage by paying their first month's premiums.

"This thing is working," a confident Obama said of his signature domestic achievement. The days of website woes and canceled policies seemed far behind.

State-by-state statistics, expected as early as next week, will provide a much fuller picture.

A key question is how many of those signed up were young adults, ages 18-34. They're the health care overhaul's most coveted demographic because they're healthier than older adults and their premiums can help cross-subsidize care for the sick. That would help hold down future premium increases.

According to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, young adults 18-34 represent about 40 percent of the people eligible to buy coverage in the health care law's new insurance markets. The White House says that group now accounts for 28 percent of those who have picked a plan in states where the federal government is running the insurance exchanges.

Not perfect, but not bad either, said Larry Levitt, an insurance expert with Kaiser.

"Enrollment among young adults ended up lower than their share of the target population but sufficient to keep the market stable in the vast majority of the country," he said.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is forecasting only a slight average increase in premiums for 2015. Some private insurance experts expect big differences around the country, predicting that insurers will seek noticeably higher premiums, around 6 percent to 8 percent on average.

Republicans were having none of Obama's celebration. A statement from the office of Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he remains committed to repealing the law and replacing it.

The president appeared in the White House briefing room to trumpet the new figures, which beat initial projections by 1 million people

Following the disastrous rollout of the insurance exchanges in October, when HealthCare.gov was virtually unusable, Democrats have been hoping that higher-than-expected results could help their candidates reclaim the political high ground ahead of the midterm elections.

Seven months out from Election Day, they're seeking to turn the page on the law's flawed debut - a strategy underscored last week when Obama announced that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who became the face of the rollout failure, was stepping down.

Polling shows the law remains unpopular in much of the country, yet most Americans say they don't expect it to be entirely repealed, but changed in some way.

With the insurance markets looking increasingly viable, Obama and Democrats were hoping to move the political debate away from repeal and toward efforts to fix lingering issues.

Republicans have been reluctant to pursue fixes for fear of tacitly embracing the overall law. Obama said that it's "absolutely possible" to make improvements but that it would require a change of attitude from Republicans.

---

AP Medical Writer Carla Johnson in Chicago contributed to this report.

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about ourPRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

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