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Colin Jeffery

Colin Jeffery

The new face of food stamps: working-age Americans

Sunday, 26 January 2014 10:17 Published in National News

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a first, working-age people now make up the majority in households that rely on food stamps.

That's a switch from a few years ago, when children and the elderly were the main recipients.

Some of the change is due to demographics, like the trend toward people having fewer children. But the slow economic recovery is also playing a role, with high unemployment, stagnant wages and an increasing gulf between low-wage and high-skill jobs.

Government data shows that food stamp participation has grown fastest among workers with some college training. It's a sign the safety net has stretched to cover what used to be the middle class.

The program now covers 1 in 7 Americans.

Farming ballot measure campaign heats up

Sunday, 26 January 2014 10:16 Published in Local News

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.

Missouri to pay for ACT, reduce some testing times

Sunday, 26 January 2014 10:13 Published in Local News

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.

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