ST. LOUIS (AP) - A stretch of the Mississippi River near St. Louis is reopened to shipping after the Coast Guard concluded 11 barges that sank last weekend in the rain-swollen waterway weren't a hazard to navigation.
The 15-mile stretch was reopened Monday, while investigators continue trying to determine what caused 114 barges to break free Saturday night from where they were docked in St. Louis County.
Four of the barges hit the Jefferson Barracks Bridge spanning the river between Missouri and Illinois. Officials determined that the bridge was undamaged.
All of the barges that didn't sink were corralled.
Coast Guard Lt. Colin Fogarty says the breakaway could have been caused by various factors related to the elevated current of the rain-swollen river.
Fogarty says efforts to salvage the sunken barges will begin soon.
"The rain is not gonna help us at all and it could hurt us. Depends on how much rain we get." That's Foley Missouri alderman Ken Jaspering talking about efforts to keep the Mississippi River from flooding the tiny town of 161.Some 500 people including a half dozen inmates pitched in on Monday to help sandbag.
So what about today's (Tuesday's) rain? Jaspering tells KTRS' Michael Golde, "I've been here since 1940 (laughs) so I've seen some stuff. But it shouldn't get as bad as 2008."
Authorities say makeshift levees mostly held back the water in communities along the Mississippi River and other Midwestern waterways.
An inch of rain is expected to fall today on a wide swath of the country from Oklahoma to Michigan.
In Illinois--Governor Pat Quinn says emergency workers dealing with the growing flood threat near Peoria are also dealing with people checking out the swollen river:
'This is not a river to get on. The Illinois River or any of its tributaries. They're very swollen. Same way with the Mississippi River. We don't want people taking chances coming near the river. The current is much stronger than ever. We have boats. We've rescued a lot of people."
Missouri Residents could soon be on Daylight Saving Time all the time.
On Monday, the Missouri House voted to join the "Daylight Saving as the New Standard Time Pact." The legislation they passed says that once 19 other states sign on, Missouri will stay on Daylight Saving Time all year, instead of returning to Standard Time in the fall.
The bill must still be approved by the Missouri Senate.
Daylight Saving Time year round would mean in December, the sun wouldn't rise in St. Louis until after 8 AM.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Republican senators have made it clear that there will be no Medicaid expansion in Missouri this session.
The Republican-led Senate voted down a Democratic attempt Monday night to insert $890 million of federal funds into Missouri's budget to expand Medicaid eligibility to an estimated 260,000 lower-income adults.
The vote was just the latest in a series of similar defeats in the Missouri Legislature for the Medicaid expansion backed by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon and called for under President Barack Obama's health care law.
But this vote carried a bit more weight. That's because it ensured that neither the Senate nor the House version of the budget includes the Medicaid expansion. Under legislative rules, negotiators cannot insert money into the final budget that wasn't in either chamber's plan.
A broken water main is forcing some south city residents to boil their water.
The city of St. Louis has issued a boil order while crews finish repairs to a 12-inch water main at Jamieson and Westway Road, near Francis Park. The boil order affects the southwestern part of the city, including those south of Arsenal, west of Hampton, north of Eichelberger and east of River Des Peres.
Residents are instructed to boil water for three minutes before drinking it or using it in cooking. If water sample tests due back Tuesday afternoon are clear, the boil order could be lifted at that time.
Because of the boil order, all three campuses of the Word of Life Lutheran School and Step Ahead Childcare Academy in Southwest St. Louis will be closed Tuesday.
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin wants consumers to pay sales tax on their purchases, whether they shop in a local store, or online.
Consumers are already supposed to pay sales tax for online purchases. But very few do since there's no uniform collection method, and the onus to pay is placed on the consumer, not the retailer. In Illinois, for instance, those who file state tax returns are asked to list their online purchases and pay sales tax for them.
Durbin says the current rules are not fair to brick and mortar stores, who must collect sales tax from their customers. Durbin has sponsored a bill that would require Internet stores to do the same.
The Senate will soon begin debate on the Market Fairness Act. It could be voted on as early as this week.
Missouri Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt have both said they favor the move.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri senators are considering a nearly $25 billion budget plan that may be most notable for what it doesn't contain.
Senate debate on the budget began Monday with education funding among the first items up. The budget includes a $66 million increase on top of the current $3 billion in basic aid for public schools. But that still falls $620 million short of what's called for by a state formula.
Later Monday, senators were to discuss more contentious topics. The Senate budget plan wipes out funding for the motor vehicle and driver's license division. The intent is to register senators' disapproval of licensing procedures that include making electronic copies of applicants' personal documents.
Like the House, the Senate plan includes no money for Gov. Jay Nixon's proposed Medicaid expansion.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri social service officials have told a House panel the state could save $28 million annually by moving people from welfare programs onto federal disability payments.
The Republican-led committee is investigating a contract that pays Boston-based Public Consulting Group $2,300 for every Missouri resident moved onto disability payments.
Officials with the Department of Social Services told the panel Monday the contracts saves money for the state and assigns people to the appropriate program.
People on welfare are required to engage in job-seeking activities. Committee Chairman Rep. Jay Barnes, of Jefferson City, says people receiving disability payments are unlikely to seek work because it would negatively affect their federal benefits. Barnes called for the hearing in early April.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - An expansion of Medicaid under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul could increase Illinois' unpaid bills.
The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports that the expansion would also force the state to take even longer to pay its existing $9 billion in backlogged bills.
Medicaid is the government health program for the poor and disabled. The General Assembly is considering approving a federally subsidized expansion of the program. Estimates show that about 342,000 additional Illinois residents could become eligible under the planned expansion.
The federal government would fully fund the first three years of the expansion. It would then incrementally drop the funding.
The Illinois Senate in February approved a measure authorizing the enrollment increase. Officials expect the House to vote on the issue by May 31.
CHICAGO (AP) - State Treasurer Dan Rutherford says Texas Gov. Rick Perry has a point in picking out Illinois' financial problems, but Illinois businesses should stay put.
Perry is in Chicago to try and lure Illinois companies to Texas. He wants competition between the states and says Texas is a better place for companies. The Republican former presidential candidate is meeting with companies and speaking at a bioscience conference. He's made a similar trip to California.
But Illinois Republicans aren't so thrilled by the trip.
Rutherford is a Republican and considering a 2014 run for governor. He says Perry's attempt to poach businesses should "sound an alarm to state leaders."
He says Illinois has the factors it needs for a good business climate, but it should address its nearly $100 billion pension problem.