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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers open their annual session Wednesday with some different priorities than those of Gov. Jay Nixon.
 
Republican legislators plan to pursue an income tax cut again after the Democratic governor vetoed last year's attempt.
 
House Speaker Tim Jones wants to consider "right to work" legislation that prohibits union bargaining fees from being a condition of employment. Nixon has said he would veto such legislation, so lawmakers may consider bypassing Nixon by referring it to the ballot.
 
Nixon has made Medicaid expansion a priority for a second straight year. But it's still not a priority for Republican legislative leaders.
 
There is agreement among the governor and some lawmakers that Missouri should change its student transfer law affecting unaccredited school districts. But so far, there is no consensus on a specific plan.
Published in Local News
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Missouri has dropped the GED and made the switch to a new high school equivalency exam.
 
The Columbia Missourian reports that beginning this month, Missouri began using HiSet, which Educational Testing Service is offering. The switch came with the introduction of a more costly computer-based version of the GED.
 
Even though the state went with the lowest bidder, the new exam will be more costly for some test takers.
 
Previously it cost $40 to take the GED once, with each retake costing another $40.
 
Missouri adult education official Tom Robbins says the most affordable way to take the HiSET is to pay $95 for the five-test battery. Participants get two free retests within a 12-month period. Out of that amount, $10 goes to the state to administer the program.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Death penalty opponents are using the 25th anniversary of Missouri's resumption of capital punishment to highlight their desire to halt executions.
 
George Mercer was executed on Jan. 6, 1989, for the 1978 rape and slaying of waitress Karen Keeten in the Kansas City area. Mercer's execution was Missouri's first after a nationwide moratorium on capital punishment was lifted in 1976.
 
Since then, Missouri has executed 70 inmates.
 
Death penalty opponents planned a news conference Monday at the Missouri Capitol.
 
Missouri slowed its execution pace in recent years during court challenges to its procedures.
 
But it executed two people in the past two months and is scheduled to execute Herbert Smulls on Jan. 29 for the 1991 robbery and slaying of suburban St. Louis jewelry store owner Stephen Honickman.
Published in Local News

Ameren Missouri and Illinois crews are also dealing with the perilous conditions.

There are nearly 53-hundred customers in St. Clair County without power and 500 in Macoupin County without power in Illinois.

In Missouri, crews are working to restore power to a dozen customers in St. Charles and about 30 customers in St. Louis County. The St. Louis County customers have been affected by a downed power line at Lindbergh and Schuetz. Over 600 customers in Jefferson County are crossing their fingers that power will be restored to them soon. 

Published in Local News

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri county prosecutors are working together to improve their crime-fighting efforts.

The Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys has created committees to discuss best practices, with a focus on getting convictions while protecting the rights of criminal defendants.

The Kansas City Star reports the committees will study such issues as handling forensic evidence, eyewitness testimony and the use of jailhouse informants. Other subcommittees will consider handling cases involving children, the elderly, drunken driving and sex crimes.

Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd says the effort was prompted in part by two recent cases — the release of 29-year-old Ryan Ferguson after he was jailed for more than a decade for a Columbia homicide, and the dismissal of sexual assault allegations in a Maryville case that caused a public uproar.

Published in Local News
Thursday, 02 January 2014 15:21

Missouri drivers have safest year since 1940's

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The year 2013 was the safest on Missouri roads in more than six decades.
 
Preliminary figures released Thursday by the Missouri State Highway Patrol show that 741 people died in traffic crashes last year.
 
Patrol Capt. Tim Hull says that's the lowest number since 683 people died on Missouri roads in 1947.
 
Missouri officials have placed an emphasis on reducing traffic fatalities in recent years.
 
The Department of Transportation has installed cables in the medians of some four-lane highways to prevent cross-over crashes and rumble strips on the sides to warn drivers when they are close to running off the road.
 
Since 2005, Missouri traffic fatalities have declined 41 percent.
 
Of those killed in crashes last year, 63 percent were not wearing seatbelts as they were required to do.
 
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Wages will rise for Missouri's low-income workers and taxes will fall for some corporations when the new year arrives.
 
Missouri's minimum wage will increase for about 100,000 workers from $7.35 an hour to $7.50. The increase is a result of an annual inflationary adjustment included in a law passed by voters in 2006.
 
The state's corporate franchise tax rate also will ratchet down in 2014. That's the result of a 2011 law passed by legislators that gradually phases out the franchise tax by 2016.
 
Other new laws taking effect Wednesday are the result of bills passed in 2013. Those include additional health screenings for newborns and new benefit entitlements for workers' compensation claims stemming from serious illnesses.
 
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Fourteen Missouri schools will share $7.5 million in federal funds aimed at low-achieving schools.
 
The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has awarded funding to eight schools in St. Louis and four in St. Louis County's Riverview Gardens School District. Also receiving money are Martin Luther King Elementary in Kansas City and Frederick Douglass High School in Columbia.
 
This is Missouri's third round of funding from the federal School Improvement Grants program.
 
State officials say schools generally use the money for hiring staff such as instructional coaches and career counselors. Other uses include special reading and math programs, professional development, and extended learning programs such as classes on Saturdays or during spring and winter breaks.
 
Published in Local News
Missouri has been awarded a $7.5 million federal grant to continue a program that helps the state's lowest-achieving schools.  
 
The U.S. Department of Education announced the award from the federal School Improvement Grants program on Monday. In all, the agency awarded more than $43 million in such grants to seven states.
 
Missouri's education department will distribute the federal funds to districts showing the greatest need and strongest commitment to improving achievement at their lowest-performing schools.
 
This is the third year Missouri has received a grant from the federal program
 
Published in Local News
A University of Missouri-Columbia professor is part of a group of researchers who have discovered a 1.4 million-year-old human hand bone.
 
The Columbia Daily Tribune reports that the bone is believed to be the earliest evidence of the modern hand. Pathology and anatomical sciences professor Carol Ward says the significance of the discovery is that researchers now know the modern human hand appeared very early in human evolution.
 
The bone was found near Lake Turkana in Kenya.
 
Published in Local News

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