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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri is going to begin picking up the tab for students to take the ACT college entrance exam and dramatically reduce the amount of time some elementary and middle school students spend taking state assessments.

When the changes take effect next school year, Missouri will join more than a dozen states that already offer the ACT test to all their students. Missouri plans to offer the test once, free of charge to high school juniors.

Elementary and middle school students also will see changes as the state switches to new assessments tied to the Common Core standards for math and reading. Students in third, fourth, sixth and seventh grades will take a one-hour version of the test. Only fifth- and eighth-graders will take a longer seven-hour version.

Published in Local News
Thursday, 23 January 2014 15:48

Missouri denies horse slaughter application

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Citing federal budget restrictions, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has turned down a permit request from a northwest Missouri business that sought to process horses for meat.
 
   The DNR said in a letter Thursday to David Rains, owner of Rains Natural Meats in Gallatin, that the agency has denied Rains' permit request for his proposed horse slaughter operation because the new federal budget withheld funding for required federal inspections of the slaughtering process.
 
   The resumption of commercial horse slaughter in the U.S. was effectively blocked last week when President Barack Obama signed a budget measure that stops the U.S. Department of Agriculture from spending money for inspections necessary for slaughterhouses to ship horse meat interstate and export it.
 
   Rains didn't immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers are considering whether to permanently block a proposal that could allow more ethanol to be blended into gasoline.
   The Senate rules committee held a hearing Thursday on a resolution that would prevent stations from selling fuel containing 15 percent ethanol.
 
   The state Agriculture Department proposed the rule last year allowing E15 gas to be sold. But a legislative panel delayed the proposal in October, citing a 2006 state law that requires a 10 percent ethanol blend. The department says it has legal authority to allow higher concentrations of ethanol.
   The House and Senate would likely need to pass the resolution by early March to permanently halt the department's proposal. That would require Gov. Jay Nixon's approval, but lawmakers have the ability to override a veto.
Published in Local News
Thursday, 23 January 2014 12:37

Missouri Senate panel endorses tax cut

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri Senate panel has endorsed an income tax cut for businesses and individuals.
 
The legislation backed Thursday by the Senate Ways and Means Committee would gradually reduce Missouri's top individual income tax rate from 6 percent to 5 percent over a decade. It also would phase in a 50 percent deduction over five years for business income reported on individual income tax returns.
 
The incremental tax cuts would take effect only as long as Missouri's net general revenues rose by at least $100 million over the high mark from the previous three years.
 
The legislation also grants an additional $1,000 tax deduction to people with incomes below $20,000.
 
The committee's approval of the legislation means it could be one of the first measures debated this year in the Senate.
Published in Local News
Wednesday, 22 January 2014 16:50

Lawmakers mull change to abortion rules

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri women would have to wait 72 hours after seeing a doctor before an abortion could be performed under legislation being considered by the House Health Care Policy Committee.
   The panel heard testimony from supporters Wednesday on how the bill would give women more time to think before terminating a pregnancy. Opponents argued the measure would just be a logistical delay designed to push women further into pregnancy before having an abortion, which can increase risk.
   Under current law, a woman must wait 24 hours after seeing a doctor before an abortion can take place. Only South Dakota and Utah require 72-hour waiting periods.
   The committee took no action on the legislation Wednesday.
Published in Local News
 JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers could have to cut about $370 million from Gov. Jay Nixon's budget if they don't want to go along with his financial assumptions.
   Republican legislative leaders were still fuming Wednesday about Nixon's budget proposal, a day after he outlined it as part of his State of the State address.
   During a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, Chairman Kurt Schaefer (SHAY'-fer) told the Democratic governor's budget director that Nixon's plan "is an absolute political fiction."
 
   Nixon's budget assumes stronger revenue growth than Republican lawmakers believe will occur. It also assumes lawmakers will generate new revenues or cost-savings by expanding Medicaid eligibility, offering amnesty to overdue taxpayers and tweaking various revenue-collection laws.
   If lawmakers reject those things, they would have to trim about $370 million of spending from Nixon's budget.
Published in Local News
FULTON, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri School for the Deaf in Fulton has two interim leaders while a search continues for a permanent superintendent.
 
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on Tuesday announced that assistant superintendent Margilee LaBoarde and business manager Harold Siebert will be interim superintendents.
 
The education department is looking for a replacement for the recently-retired Barbara Garrison.
 
The Fulton Sun reports LaBoarde has been at the school for 31 years, serving in several positions before being named assistant superintendent. Siebert has been business manager at the school for 13 years.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Republican state senator says he expects to be appointed by the governor to Missouri's utility regulatory commission.
 
Sen. Scott Rupp, of Wentzville, said Tuesday that he has met with Gov. Jay Nixon and his staff about the position on the Public Service Commission.
 
Rupp tells The Associated Press that the governor plans to appoint him to the PSC on March 14.
 
A Nixon spokesman said he could not immediately confirm Rupp's potential appointment.
 
All nominees to the PSC must be approved by the Senate. Republican senators have been reluctant to approve Nixon's appointment of former aide Daniel Hall to the PSC without assurances that the Democratic governor also will name a Republican to the panel.
 
Hall's appointment is now scheduled to receive a Senate committee hearing Wednesday.
Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers are backing down on a proposal to penalize public universities for failing to meet certain funding and academic goals.

Instead, legislation considered by the Senate Education Committee recently would only allow performance standards to be used for year-to-year higher education funding increases.

If passed, the plan would be familiar to the state's four-year public universities. Governor Jay Nixon used the model informally when he gave them a $25 million increase for the current fiscal year.

Committee chairman and sponsoring Senator David Pearce of Warrensburg says universities should be financially rewarded for achieving performance goals. Under his plan, the universities would work with the Department of Higher Education to develop their own performance criteria.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — An abortion facility in Missouri would need to be inspected at least four times each year under legislation proposed in the state House.

The proposal is a priority for Missouri Right to Life, which called it a "strong bipartisan and pro-life" measure. The bill was filed this past week by Republican Kathy Swan of Cape Girardeau (juh-RAHR'-doh). It has more than 100 co-sponsors.

Under the bill, inspections could be conducted as frequently as the Department of Health and Senior Services deems necessary but would need to happen at least four times per fiscal year. No advanced notice would be required.

Planned Parenthood said the state already has authority to inspect as frequently as it chooses. The organization says the legislation is about making it more difficult to get an abortion.

Published in Local News

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