ST. LOUIS (AP) - Federal watchdogs say they're launching an effort to bolster labor-law compliance involving hand-harvested crops in Illinois and Missouri.
The U.S. Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division announced the initiative Tuesday. The intent is to safeguard agricultural workers against violations of fair labor, visa, migrant and seasonal agriculture worker, and sanitation laws.
The government says the effort focusing on growers, farm labor contractors, agricultural brokers and processors comes after earlier initiatives uncovered numerous compliance issues.
Ninety-eight investigations between the 2010 and 2012 fiscal years by the division's St. Louis district resulted in more than $100,000 in back wages for 228 employees. It also resulted in more than $80,000 in assessed civil penalties.
Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich says his audit of Brentwood city government revealed sloppy accounting and a lack of documentation at city hall. Schweich says those factors were behind his rating the St. louis County suburb as "poor."
The audit came about because of a citizen petition drive that began in 2011. Residents became concerned about the city's finances after former city administrator Chris Seemayer pleaded guilty to stealing $30,000 but continued to collect city benefits.
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (AP) - The former chief circuit judge in Madison County, Illinois says she's running for Congress.
Forty-eight year old Democrat Ann Callis announced her candidacy Tuesday for the state's 13th Congressional District seat now held by Rodney Davis. Davis is a Taylorville Republican who was narrowly elected to the House last November.
Callis has been a judge since 1995 and resigned last Friday from her 7 year role as the county's chief circuit judge.
The congressional district stretches across parts of central and southwestern Illinois.
A Davis campaign spokesman says that in the partisan-divided district, "it's no surprise that the Washington Democrats have been attempting to recruit candidates from the moment Congressman Davis was elected last fall." Andrew Flach adds that Davis looks forward to debating the issues against any eventual opponent.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Senate has passed a bill that would require a doctor to be physically present when an abortion-inducing drug is first administered.
The legislation was passed with a 23-7 vote on Monday. It now heads back to the House.
Senate Democrats opposed the measure but allowed it to come to a vote after reaching a compromise. An amendment was adopted to remove a provision that would've required the patient to see the same doctor a few weeks after receiving the drug.
Supporters say the measure protects the health of a mother, but opponents say it restricts abortions, particularly in rural areas where doctors are not always readily available.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri House committee has advanced a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at protecting gun rights.
The amendment approved on Tuesday would define the right to bear arms as "unalienable" and require the state to defend against any "infringement" of that right. It would also include defending one's "family" with a firearm as a guaranteed constitutional right.
Sponsoring Republican Sen. Kurt Schaefer, of Columbia, says the legislation would protect against proposed gun control laws at the state and federal level.
The Senate passed the same measure earlier this year. If passed by the full House, Missouri voters would need to approve the constitutional change.
A charity is asking for help after they were victimized by a burglar.
In one week, Habitat for Humanity was burglarized in the Carondelet neighborhood two separate times, with the suspects taking around $15,000 worth of tools.
The organization is now asking for help to replace their stolen tools. Instead of giving tools, Kyle Hunsberger, director of construction, says money is the most helpful donation. He also says there is something else the community can do, "It goes without saying, don't buy tools from somebody that rolls up in a pickup truck and says they have a really good deal."
Anyone interested in helping, can donate at habitatstl.org.
Anyone with information on the burglaries is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 866.371.TIPS
Police are asking for help to find the suspect in a Maplewood bank robbery.
Police say a man robbed the PNC Bank on Big Bend. That suspect is described as a white man, between 5'8" and 5'10".
Police say the suspect was wearing a ball cap, a dress shirt and tie, and appeared to be wearing a fake beard. Anyone with information is asked to call the Maplewood Police Department at 314-646-3621 or 314-781-3733.
Drivers in downtown St. Louis could encounter problems at the intersection of Washington and Jefferson.
MSD says a 150-year-old section of sewer pipe collapsed. The pipe was 20 feet underground, but opened up a hole in the road. A spokesperson with MSD tells KTRS, drivers should expect two lanes of Westbound Washington to remain closed for at least a few days, but there is no estimate on when work will be completed.
CARUTHERSVILLE, Mo. (AP) - Police in southeast Missouri are investigating a road rage incident on Interstate 55 that included several shots fired into a car.
KFVS-TVreports that a silver Sport utility vehicle passed a car Monday afternoon and suddenly slammed on its brakes, causing the car to strike the rear of the SUV.
Pemiscot County Sheriff's Capt. Ryan Holder says someone got out of the SUV with a handgun and fired seven or eight shots into the car. Four people in the car were not struck by any bullets but were injured by broken glass.
Authorities continue to search for the SUV. It isn't clear what prompted the attack.
ST. LOUIS (AP) - A new audit has found that a St. Louis agency that administers federal Head Start grants made nearly $340,000 in improper expenditures, mostly because of bad bookkeeping.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the audit by the Office of Inspector General recommends that the agency, YWCA of Metropolitan St. Louis, pay back the money.
Wrongdoing is not alleged. The discrepancies were within grant years 2008 and 2009.
YWCA CEO Adrian Bracy says in a letter to federal officials that discrepancies occurred after the agency's chief financial officer died suddenly.
The YWCA received more than $63 million in federal grants from 2007 to 2009 to create Head Start centers and slots for low-income preschoolers in independent child care centers and through subcontracts with the Urban League of St. Louis.