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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Prison sentences for Missouri juveniles convicted of first-degree murder remain uncertain because lawmakers did not pass a new sentencing scheme before adjourning.

Under state law, people under 18 convicted of first-degree murder are automatically sentenced to life without parole. But a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision said such automatic sentences are unconstitutional.

The high court said states had to consider an offender's upbringing and role in the crime before sentencing a juvenile to life without parole.

Republican Sen. Bob Dixon, of Springfield, proposed legislation that would have left life without parole as a possibility but also would have allowed juveniles to be given a 50-year prison term. But it stalled in the closing days of the Legislature's session that ended last week

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's legislative session is over, but the work may continue for some lawmakers.

Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey says he is considering appointing at least three committees to study issues before the 2014 session.

A joint panel of Senate and House members could look into potential changes to the Medicaid health care program for the poor.

Another committee could study potential projects to be included in a bonding proposal that would be put before voters.

Dempsey said an interim committee also could look into changes to the state's regional solid waste management districts.

All of those committees would be continuing work on measures that failed to pass during the legislative session that ended Friday.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - With time running out on the legislative session, The Missouri Bar and state lawmakers are acknowledging that an overhaul of the state's criminal laws won't cross the finish line.

But that group pledged on Wednesday to push for the criminal code revision next year when lawmakers have more time.

The measure is the product of a Missouri Bar committee charged with updating the criminal code for the first time since 1979. It would create new classes of felonies and misdemeanors and give judges more flexibility in sentencing.

Democratic Sen. Jolie Justus, of Kansas City, is one of the overhaul's sponsors. She says time ran out to pass the 1,000-page bill this year.

Missouri lawmakers end their annual session at 6 p.m. Friday.

 
Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers have given final approval to legislation replenishing an insolvent state fund for disabled workers and changing the way people get compensation for job-related illnesses.

The bill sent to the governor Thursday marks a compromise among some business groups and attorneys who represent injured workers.

The bill temporarily doubles the surcharge paid by businesses to finance a depleted state fund for disabled workers who suffer additional job-related injuries. Payments from the Second Injury Fund have been delayed to more than 1,000 people because of a shortfall.

The legislation also places occupational diseases under the umbrella of the workers' compensation system and provides enhanced payments for people suffering from asbestos-induced cancer. Recent court rulings had allowed claims for job-related illnesses to be pursed in the courts.

 
Published in Local News

Governor Jay Nixon says the latest unemployment figures show Missouri's economy continues to build positive momentum.

The state's jobless rate ticked down a tenth of a percent to 6.6 in April. The hospitality sector saw the largest gains with 4,800 new jobs, but construction and finance both lost 700 jobs.

The national rate sits at 7.5 percent.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers have sent Gov. Jay Nixon a bill that would require public employee unions to get annual consent from their members to deduct fees automatically from paychecks.

The House passed the measure 85-69 on Monday. It passed the Senate earlier this year.

The legislation would also require public employee unions to get annual consent from members to spend a portion of their fees on political activities.

Organizations representing "first responders," such as police and firefighters, would be exempted from the measure.

Supporters say the measure gives public workers more control over how their union fees spent. Opponents argue it makes it harder for unions to participate in the political process.

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers have one week to sort out differences on top legislative priorities, including changes to tax incentives and limits on liability lawsuits for businesses.

House and Senate Republican leaders are attempting to negotiate legislation that would scale back existing tax breaks for historic buildings and low-income housing and create new incentives for certain businesses.

Lawmakers also are working to bridge a gap in on legislation that would replenish an insolvent fund for injured workers and prevent lawsuits over occupational diseases by covering them through the workers' compensation system.

Some priorities already have been sent to the governor, including an income tax cut for individuals and businesses and a $25 billion operating budget.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has signed legislation that would expand the definition of eggs.

The measure approved on Friday defines eggs edible for human consumption as those produced by chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese and guinea fowl. Current law only included chicken eggs in its definition.

Nixon says the expanded definition will allow the state Department of Agriculture to inspect the additional types of eggs and make sure they are kept clean and at proper temperatures.

The bill was sponsored by Republican Sen. Dan Brown, of Rolla.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Children younger than 16 could avoid future federal regulation and continue to work on their parents' Missouri farms under legislation signed by Gov. Jay Nixon.

The measure signed on Friday responds to the federal government's proposed rules last year that would have prevented children from doing certain agricultural work. That proposal was eventually scrapped, but the Missouri Legislature moved forward and passed legislation preventing such regulation anyway.

The bill exempts children doing farm work from getting a work certificate and from limits on the number of hours and days they can work. Children would only need the consent of their parents to work on the family's farm. It was sponsored by Republican Sen. Brian Munzlinger, of Williamstown.

 

Published in Local News

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Missouri prosecutors advising police on undercover investigations now have greater legal protection that their conduct won't violate ethical rules.

A recent change to the Missouri Supreme Court's Rules of Professional Conduct explicitly allows government lawyers to collaborate on undercover operations without risking sanction for professional misconduct.

The amendment further codifies a tactic that former Cape Girardeau County prosecutor Morley Swingle calls "the oldest trick in the criminal investigator's book" - lying to a suspect to help solve a case. Swingle is now an assistant U.S. attorney.

Missouri is among 10 states to make similar revisions to its conduct codes for lawyers. Many came in response to a Colorado case in which a prosecutor's law license was suspended after he posed as a public defender to elicit a murder confession.

Published in Local News

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