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Susan Smith-Harmon

Susan Smith-Harmon

   Texas Governor Rick Perry says that unless Missouri lawmakers override Governor Jay Nixon's veto of an income tax cut, he won't be the only governor trying to lure business from the Show-me State.  Perry made the comments Thursday evening while speaking at a pro-tax cut rally in Chesterfield.  

   Perry had spent the day in the St. Louis area pushing for the override of Nixon's veto of House Bill 253.

   Nixon crisscrossed the state Thursday, telling crowds that the tax cut would imperil critical services like education and risk the state's Triple-A tax rating. 

   Both men spent Thursday morning discussing their positions with McGraw Milhaven on his KTRS morning show.  Nixon continued to criticize the Texas Governor for trying to "poach" business, while Perry said it's merely competition in a very competitive arena.

   Perry also told McGraw that $40 million in business leaves Missouri for Texas every year, although he could not name any specific business. Nixon contests that figure.

   The Missouri Governor said the bottom line is that states should be competing against the world for a piece of the economic pie, not slicing into each other's portion.

   The story made national headlines after KTRS management rejected Perry's ad campaign aimed at convincing Missouri businesses to move to the Lone Star state.

   A federal judge from outside the Southern District of Illinois will preside over the drug trial of former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook.  That after U.S. District Court Judge William Stiehl recused himself on Wednesday.  

   Chief Judge David Herndon told the Belleville News Democrat that he's requested that the chief judge for the federal 7th Circuit in Illinois assign a new judge after determining that all of the judges in the Southern District would recuse themselves.  

   Cook has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor heroine charges and felony weapons charges.  His trial is scheduled to begin October 1st.

Judge: VA can't deny benefits to lesbian Army vet

Friday, 30 August 2013 01:58 Published in National News

   LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge in Los Angeles ruled Thursday that a lesbian Army veteran and her spouse should be entitled to disability benefits given the recent Supreme Court ruling that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act.

   U.S. District Judge Consuelo Marshall said that a federal code defining a spouse as a person of the opposite sex is unconstitutional "under rational basis scrutiny" since the high court's decision allowing legally married gay couples the right to health care benefits.

   "The court finds that the exclusion of spouses in same-sex marriages from veterans' benefits is not rationally related to the goal of gender equality," in the code, Marshall wrote in her four-page ruling.

   The Department of Veterans Affairs denied an application from veteran Tracey Cooper-Harris and her spouse seeking additional money and benefits that married veterans are entitled to receive. Cooper-Harris suffers from multiple sclerosis and receives disability benefits.

   She and Maggie Cooper-Harris got married in California during the brief period in 2008 when same-sex unions were legal in the state. The plaintiffs' attorneys had said previously the couple would receive about $150 more a month in disability payments, and Maggie Cooper-Harris would be eligible for about $1,200 a month in survivor's benefits if her wife died.

   The Justice Department had asked for Cooper-Harris' case to be tossed out on the grounds that veterans' claims can only be heard by an administrative Board of Veterans' Appeals. But Marshall said the case could move forward.

   The law on VA benefits specifically defines spouse and surviving spouse as someone of the opposite sex, which has prevented same-sex married couples from accessing such benefits as enhanced disability or pension payments.

   In a letter to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. earlier this month, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said no court had deemed the provision unconstitutional, nor has Congress taken up a bill to change the definition of spouse. He noted, however, that if spousal definitions were determined to be unconstitutional, the agency would be prepared to update its policies.

   The Defense Department has said that same-sex spouses of military members will be eligible for the same health care, housing and other benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex spouses starting Sept. 3.

 

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