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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri House has approved legislation aimed at increasing the transparency of initiative petitions that bypass the Legislature to put proposed laws or constitutional amendments on statewide ballots.

Sponsors of the petitions must gather signatures from registered voters for their proposal to qualify for the ballot.

Under the House legislation, the secretary of state's office would offer a public comment period after a proposal is submitted. For those proposals that actually qualify for the ballot, the Joint Committee on Legislative Research would hold a public hearing.

The bill would also make it a misdemeanor to intimidate or obstruct someone who is trying to sign an initiative petition.

The House approved the measure Thursday on a vote of 151-3. It now moves to the state Senate.
Published in Local News
Thursday, 07 March 2013 15:30

Missouri House approves term limits

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri House has passed a term limits bill that would let lawmakers serve longer in the House or Senate but not spend more total time in the Legislature.

Currently, lawmakers generally are limited to eight years in the House and eight years in the Senate. A proposed constitutional amendment would let officials serve 16 years in the Legislature. The time could be spent entirely in one chamber or split between the two.

House members passed the measure 121-31 on Thursday, sending it to the Senate. The proposal would appear on the ballot if it passes the Legislature.

Backers of the proposal say the change would allow the Legislature to operate better. The advocacy group U.S. Term Limits says the proposal is an effort to "cling to office."
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Gov. Jay Nixon is opposing a tax overhaul plan backed by the Missouri Senate because it contains a sales tax increase.

Nixon said Thursday that the proposed one-half cent sales tax hike would be especially harmful to seniors and veterans on fixed incomes and also could also hurt working-class parents trying to provide for their children.

The bill given initial approval Wednesday night by the Republican-led Senate also includes a three-quarters of a percentage point decrease in the state income tax for individuals and businesses. That income tax cut would more than offset the sales tax hike, resulting in an estimated $450 million loss in state revenues once both tax changes are fully phased in.

The legislation needs another Senate vote before it can move to the House.
Published in Local News
ST. LOUIS (AP) - A federal judge has ordered a small library in southern Missouri to stop blocking access to websites related to Wicca and other minority religions, calling it a violation of patrons' First Amendment rights.

U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber issued the ruling Tuesday in St. Louis in a case involving the Salem Public Library.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued last year on behalf of Salem resident Anaka Hunter. Salem is a largely Christian community of 5,000 residents in the Missouri Ozarks.

The suit said Hunter was trying to do research at the library but filtering software blocked access to sites about things such as Wicca, a pagan religion that worships nature and involves witchcraft.

The library director declined comment Wednesday.
Published in Local News
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Laurence Bowers had 24 points and 11 rebounds in his final home game, contributing to a rough evening for old coach Mike Anderson's first appearance as a visitor and helping Missouri finish unbeaten at home with a 93-63 rout over Arkansas on Tuesday night.

Fellow senior Jabari Brown helped finish off the Razorbacks early with 13 of his 23 points in a dominant first half with the Tigers (22-8-11-6 SEC) leading 48-22. The third senior, Alex Oriakhi, had 10 points and eight rebounds and topped 1,000 career rebounds.

BJ Young had 27 points for Arkansas (18-12, 9-8), which shot just 31 percent in the first half while going 1 for 15 from 3-point range. The Razorbacks surrendered a season high in points.

Missouri finished 17-0 at home for its second unbeaten slate in five years. The Tigers shot 58 percent in the first half and 57 percent the rest of the way.
Published in Sports
Tuesday, 05 March 2013 16:18

Missouri's unemployment rate drops again

Missouri's unemployment rate continues to drop, but slowly.

January's rate dropped one-tenth of a point to 6.6 percent--which is the lower level in over four years.

A spokesperson for the Department of Economic Development says that Missouri's rate has been below the national average for 41 months. The national rate sits at 7.9 percent now.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Registered sex offenders would have to vote at their local county clerk's office under a bill under consideration in the Missouri House.

The House Elections Committee held a hearing on the measure Tuesday. Republican Rep. Tim Remole, of Excello, is sponsoring the legislation. He says it will protect voting rights for registered offenders while also protecting children in schools that are designated as polling places.

No one testified in opposition to the proposal, but the Missouri Association of County Clerks says it would cost money to turn local election offices into polling places on election day.

If offenders can't make it to the clerk's office on the election day, they would be required to cast an absentee ballot.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's revenues are up nearly 9 percent through the first two-thirds of the state's fiscal year.

Figures released Monday by the state Office of Administration show Missouri's finances have improved mainly because of a decline in tax refunds and an increase in individual income tax collections.

Through February, net general revenues were up 8.7 percent compared with the same period a year earlier. The total includes a 5.5 percent increase in individual income taxes and a 16.5 percent decline in tax refunds. Sales tax collections have remained relatively flat for the fiscal year.

Missouri's 2013 budget year began last July and runs through the end of this June.

Tax collections in February alone were virtually unchanged from February 2012. But for the entire fiscal year, collections were up $394 million.
Published in Local News
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) -- Authorities say a 13-month-old girl has been found safe, hours after an Amber Alert was issued for the infant who was in a car apparently stolen from a Springfield parking lot.

< The Springfield News-Leader reports the child, Harmony Blue, was in the car with an older child when the car was taken from a store parking lot Saturday afternoon. Police say the children's father left them and the keys in the car while he was in a store and briefly chased after the car on foot.

The older child was dropped off nearby and recovered by police.

Springfield police Lt. Brian Phillips says the young girl was reunited with her family Saturday evening and the car was recovered, but he declined to release details.

There was no arrest reported.
Published in Local News
SAVERTON, Mo. (AP) - Juveniles are suspected in a series of fires at a tiny Mississippi River town in northeast Missouri.

Ralls County and state investigators say three fires over the past four months at vacant homes in Saverton were intentionally set by youngsters. The Hannibal Courier-Post reports that the names and ages of the suspects, and the number of them, were not released.

The matter has been turned over to juvenile authorities.

Saverton is an unincorporated town of about 75 residents near Hannibal and about 100 miles north of St. Louis.
Published in Local News

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