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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers gave final approval to legislation that could lower treatment cost for some cancer patients.
 
The bill would prohibit insurance companies from charging patients more than $75 for oral cancer drugs rather than traditional intravenous treatments. Sponsoring Rep. Sheila Solon, of Blue Springs, says oral drugs often carry fewer side effects for cancer patients.
 
The House voted 147-6 on Thursday to send the bill to Gov. Jay Nixon's desk. The Senate passed the measure last month.
 
Patients are often charged much more for oral chemotherapy because it is handled as a pharmacy benefit. Traditional intravenous treatments often cost only the standard co-payment for an office visit.
 
House Speaker Tim Jones says the bill would be among the most significant pieces of legislation passed by the Legislature this year.
Published in Local News
CHICAGO (AP) - Parts of Illinois reported a slow start to early voting, but Cook County's suburbs saw an uptick.
 
Cook County Clerk David Orr's office said Tuesday that 2,354 people cast ballots Monday, the start of early voting for March 18's primary. In 2010's primary, nearly 1,300 suburbanites cast first day ballots. In 2012, it was roughly 2,100.
 
Orr's office covers over 120 municipalities excluding Chicago. The region has previously reported a higher turnout than Illinois' average.
 
About 8 percent of Illinois voters cast early ballots in 2010 and 2012 primaries. In suburban Cook, 9.5 percent voted early in 2010. More than 11 percent did in 2012.
 
Orr's office says availability of suburban early voting sites might explain the turnout. There are 43. Chicago has 51.
 
Early voting ends March 15.
Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers are considering an overhaul of the state's payday loan industry that would give borrowers more time to pay back a loan.

The legislation passed by the Missouri Senate last week also would stop borrowers from renewing a loan and would remove a cap on the amount of fees and interest lenders can charge.

Under current law, payday loans can be up to $500 and last from 14 to 31 days. Loans can also be renewed up to six times.

Sponsoring Representative Mike Cunningham of Rogersville says the cap is not necessary since loans can't be renewed, and that market forces would set the interest rates. The measure's opponents said the bill was a step in the right direction, but doesn't go far enough.

Published in Local News
Sunday, 23 February 2014 08:56

Missouri Republicans stress need for unity

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A potential Republican primary for governor is stirring anxieties among some party officials who want to patch over the divisions that have hurt Republicans in recent statewide elections.

At an annual Republican conference in Springfield this weekend, many party officials highlighted the need for unity.

That encouragement came as several Republicans already are positioning themselves for a potential 2016 gubernatorial campaign.

Catherine Hanaway already has announced her gubernatorial candidacy. Auditor Tom Schweich also is expected to run for governor, though he first faces re-election this year, and businessman John Brunner also is contemplating a gubernatorial run. All were networking among fellow Republicans at the convention.

Republicans have faced contentious primaries for U.S. Senate and governor in 2012 and 2008. Democrats ultimately have won those races.

Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri House Republicans are sticking together this year in their quest to enact an income tax cut.
 
The House passed a pair of tax cut plans Thursday on party-line votes, with Republicans in support and Democrats in opposition.
 
That's a stark contrast from last September, when 15 House Republicans splintered from the majority to prevent an override of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of an income tax cut.
 
House Speaker Tim Jones says Thursday's solid Republican vote should be a signal for Nixon to work with lawmakers on tax cuts.
 
Nixon denounced the bills as "fiscally irresponsible experiments" that would funnel money away from schools.
 
Nixon has said he will sign an income tax cut only if it protects school funding and also reins in state tax credits.
 
Published in Local News

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats are determined to cast an election-year spotlight on Republican opposition to raising the minimum wage and overhauling immigration laws.

To try to accomplish that, Democrats are planning to rely on an infrequently used and rarely successful tactic.

It's known as a "discharge petition."

It requires the minority party — Democrats, in this case — to persuade some two dozen Republicans to defy their leadership, join Democrats and force a vote on setting the federal minimum wage at $10.10 an hour.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says Democrats will push the wage issue when Congress returns from break Feb. 24.

Forcing a vote on immigration could occur in a few months.

The odds are daunting for Democrats in what clearly is political maneuvering ahead of this fall's elections.

Published in National News
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 17:30

Missouri House takes aim at synthetic drugs

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri House members have given first-round approval to legislation taking aim at synthetic drugs.
 
The bill would add several specific substances to what is considered synthetic marijuana.
 
It was endorsed by a voice vote Tuesday and needs a second vote before moving to the Senate.
 
In recent years, Missouri has tried to keep pace with evolving synthetic drugs and twice has approved legislation targeting them. Sponsoring House member Shawn Rhoads says the current bill is needed to stay ahead in the effort.
 
Lawmakers in 2010 barred spice cannabinoids sold as incense known as K2. A year later, the definition of marijuana in state drug laws was expanded to cover synthetics. The 2011 measure also barred substances marketed as incense or "bath salts" that mimic the effects of cocaine and marijuana.
Published in Local News
CHICAGO (AP) - Treasurer Dan Rutherford was set to make a big splash in the Republican race for governor this week with his television ads scheduled to hit the airwaves. Instead, he's seeing headlines about allegations of misconduct made by an employee.
 
The Republican called a last-minute news conference last week to say unspecific claims by an employee in his office were untrue and connected to his rival Republican Bruce Rauner.
 
Political experts say the move was risky weeks from the March 18 primary.
 
For one, he opens himself up to more scrutiny. Democratic campaign strategist Pete Giangreco says there are more questions than answers.
 
However, Rutherford could use the attention to his advantage. Political analyst Thom Serafin says it raises Rutherford's exposure level and if handled correctly could benefit him.
Published in Local News
   CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn heads into a critical election-year State of the State address this week with his top priority of pension reform inked into the law.
   The speech on Wednesday is a chance for Quinn to lay out goals for the year and recap his accomplishments.
   But how much credit the Chicago Democrat can take for what he's called the signature achievement of his governorship is up for debate.
   Quinn has won praise for keeping pension reform in the public sphere with his populist tactics, like withholding legislator pay. Pension reform was once a topic more common among economists and business groups.
   However, he's also been criticized for those methods and not doing more to broker the deal himself. Some say he only took notice when there weren't other options.
 
Published in Local News
Sunday, 26 January 2014 10:16

Farming ballot measure campaign heats up

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Opposition is starting to form around a ballot measure that would enshrine a "right to farm" in Missouri's Constitution.

A former Democratic state senator has started a political action committee to fight the ballot measure. Wes Shoemyer says the amendment would take away the people's ability to use the initiative petition process to regulate agriculture.

A coalition of farming and livestock associations, known as Missouri Farmers Care, argues the amendment is necessary to protect farmers from groups that use the ballot box to restrict farming and ranching.

Missouri lawmakers referred the measure to the ballot last year. It will appear on the November ballot unless Gov. Jay Nixon moves up the date. North Dakota voters approved similar constitutional protection in 2012.

Published in Local News
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