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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri House and Senate have each passed bills that would prevent people younger than 18 from purchasing electronic cigarettes.
   But the legislation passed on Thursday would also exempt those products from the state's tobacco taxes, which opponents say would allow the nicotine products to be sold with fewer restrictions.
   Supporters say taxing the products would prevent the measure from passing the Republican-led Legislature. They argued that failing to pass a bill would mean children could continue buying the e-cigarettes.
   E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices used to heat a liquid nicotine solution and create vapor that is inhaled.
   The House voted 129-19 to send its bill to the Senate, where senators voted 27-4 in favor of their version. Both chambers must pass identical legislation by mid-May.
 
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Senate has confirmed a longtime employee of the Missouri Department of Social Services to be the agency's new director.
 
Brian Kinkade has served as the department's acting director since last May and also was acting director from 2011 to 2012. With his confirmation on Thursday, Kinkade becomes the agency's permanent director.
 
Kinkade's tenure at the Social Services Department spans the past five gubernatorial administrations. He previously was the agency's deputy director and head of its divisions of Budget and Finance and Child Support Enforcement.
 
The Social Services Department oversees the state's Medicaid and other welfare programs.
 
He also served as executive director of the Missouri Public Service Commission and was a budget analyst for the state Senate Appropriations Committee.
Published in Local News
Wednesday, 16 April 2014 07:41

Missouri Unemployment Rate Rises

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's unemployment rate increased in March, though the size of payrolls also grew.
 
   The Department of Economic Development reported Tuesday that the jobless rate grew to 6.7 percent from 6.4 percent last month. Employers added a net of 3,500 jobs in March.
 
   Top gainers were the construction and education and health services. Construction jobs grew by 2,000 and education and health services grew by 1,600. On the other hand, the leisure and hospitality sector declined by 1,900 jobs.
   Missouri's civilian labor force of about 3 million people grew by 8,450 during March. The labor force counts people with jobs and those who are on unemployment but looking for work.
Published in Local News

   An independent report says the University of Missouri failed to follow parts of the federal law that governs sexual harassment when handling the case of a former swimmer's suicide.

   The report released Friday says the Columbia campus should have investigated 20 year old Sasha Menu Courey's 2011 death after her parents raised questions about the events leading to her suicide.   Menu Courey alleged she had been sexually assaulted by as many as three football players 16 months before she died.

   School officials have previously said they didn't act sooner because neither Menu Courey nor her parents sought a police investigation and didn't respond to a later request for information.

   The case has been referred to Columbia police.

Published in Local News
   Suspended Mizzou wide receiver Dorial Green Beckham has been dismissed from the Missouri Tigers' football team.  The university released a statement Friday afternoon saying the decision was made by Head Coach Gary Pinkel in conjunction with Athletics Director Mike Alden.
   In a statement, Coach Pinkel said, "This decision was made with the best interests of all involved in mind."  He went on to say, "Dorial's priority going forward needs to be focusing on getting the help he needs."  He added, "As we have all along, we will continue to do everything we can to assist Dorial and his family.  We care deeply about Dorial and his well-being, but hopefully he can benefit from a fresh start."
   Director Alden also commented, saying in a statement, "We have a high standard of conduct for our student-athletes."  He added that the athletics department is "responsible to the community at large and to the ideals and values of the University of Missouri."  He called Green Beckham's dismissal, "a necessary step" for the team, the department, the school and the community."
   Earlier in the day Green Beckham had released a statement.  His father, John Beckham shared the statement by phone with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Friday.  Beckham told the paper his son wrote the statement himself.
   It reads:
"First and more importantly, I take responsibility for my conduct and my mistakes.  Don't blame my girlfriend or her friends for anything.  I am not looking for sympathy.  I thank those who have given me concern.  I have been young and dumb.  I want to be better.  During my suspension I'm entering counseling.  With help, I know I can be stronger emotionally and spiritually.  My relationship with God, my family, friends, teammates and coaches are most important in my life, not football.  It may not be possible to fix everything, but it won't be for not trying. - Dorial Green Beckham"
 
   Green Beckham had been the subject of a burglary investigation after allegedly forcing his way into an apartment Sunday morning in a dispute with his girlfriend.  The investigation was closed after the victims declined to press charges saying they feared community backlash.  On Monday, Coach Gary Pinkel had announced Green Beckham's indefinite suspension for an unspecified violation of team rules.
 
Published in Local News
   COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - A former Missouri basketball player is seeking a protection order against Zach Price, who remains suspended from the team after being arrested twice for allegedly assaulting his roommate and a woman.
   The Columbia Daily Tribune reports that Earnest Ross filed the petition in Boone County Circuit Court on April 2.  Price was arrested twice the next day after reportedly first ramming his car into another vehicle and then in a later encounter with Ross and the woman. Police say he hit his male roommate in the face then pushed the woman to the ground.
   The restraining order request identifies Ross as the roommate and his girlfriend as the other victim. Price sat out last season after transferring from Louisville. No charges have been filed in the case.
 
Published in Local News
Thursday, 10 April 2014 10:27

Prisoner May Never Face Death Penalty

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A man convicted of one killing and suspected in two others may never face the death penalty due to sentencing delays caused in part by a prosecutor's stroke and the killer's own failing health.
 
Gregory Bowman is imprisoned in Missouri for strangling a teenager in St. Louis County in 1977. He was also convicted of killing a 14-year-old girl and a 21-year-old woman in Belleville, Ill., in 1978, but the convictions were overturned. He was never retried.
 
The Missouri Supreme Court in 2011 upheld Bowman's Missouri conviction but ordered re-sentencing.
 
The hearing is now delayed until April 2015. Colleen Blake, the clerk for St. Louis County Circuit Judge David Vincent, says the prosecutor handling the case had a stroke in January, and Bowman has a potentially fatal kidney ailment.
   
Published in Local News

St. Louis, MO (KTRS) - Missouri House members began hearings today on how the state deals with failing school districts.

 

A bill passed by the Senate in February calls for allowing students enrolled in struggling schools to transfer to a better one within their home district. Only if students could not get into a better school in their home district, would they be allowed to transfer to another district. In those cases the unaccredited district would pay for some of the tuition.

Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri voters would be asked to approve a one-cent sales tax for transportation funding under legislation endorsed by the state House.
 
The proposed constitutional amendment approved on Tuesday would appear on the November ballot if passed by the Legislature. It needs another affirmative vote in the House before moving to the Senate.
 
State transportation officials estimate the tax to generate about $800 million annually. It would need to be reauthorized by voters after 10 years to remain in effect. Ten percent of the funds raised would go toward local transportation projects.
 
Supporters say the penny tax is necessary for the state to maintain roads and bridges, and to finance new infrastructure projects. Opponents say the sales tax hike would disproportionately hurt low-income Missourians who may not frequently use roads.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri senators are going forward with a two-prong funding plan for public schools that bases their state aid on the strength of the economy.
 
A Senate panel agreed Monday to the basic approach of the House school funding plan but tweaked its specific dollar amounts.
 
The House plan would add $122 million to Missouri's $3.1 billion in basic aid for school districts. But it would authorize an increase of up to $278 million if revenues meet Gov. Jay Nixon's more optimistic projections.
 
The Senate Appropriations Committee decided to provide a minimum $115 million increase, leaving a larger portion of the potential $278 million increase dependent upon improved revenue collections.
 
Senators typically change the House budget plan. Negotiators from the two chambers must work out their differences by early May.
 
Published in Local News
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