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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri House committee is considering legislation to offer additional financial assistance to persuade more top students to stay in the state after graduation day.
 
The legislation would add a forgivable loan of up to $5,000 per academic year to Missouri's Bright Flight scholarship. Each year a student works in Missouri after school would count toward one year of loan forgiveness. Leaving before the loan is repaid would require repaying the loan with interest.
 
Republican House member Mike Thomson, of Maryville, says too many top Missouri students leave. Bright Flight scholarships are awarded based on ACT or SAT scores. The legislation was examined Tuesday by the House Higher Education Committee.
 
Gov. Jay Nixon has proposed $17 million in next year's budget for a Bright Flight loan program.
Published in Local News
Wednesday, 22 January 2014 16:50

Lawmakers mull change to abortion rules

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri women would have to wait 72 hours after seeing a doctor before an abortion could be performed under legislation being considered by the House Health Care Policy Committee.
   The panel heard testimony from supporters Wednesday on how the bill would give women more time to think before terminating a pregnancy. Opponents argued the measure would just be a logistical delay designed to push women further into pregnancy before having an abortion, which can increase risk.
   Under current law, a woman must wait 24 hours after seeing a doctor before an abortion can take place. Only South Dakota and Utah require 72-hour waiting periods.
   The committee took no action on the legislation Wednesday.
Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers are backing down on a proposal to penalize public universities for failing to meet certain funding and academic goals.

Instead, legislation considered by the Senate Education Committee recently would only allow performance standards to be used for year-to-year higher education funding increases.

If passed, the plan would be familiar to the state's four-year public universities. Governor Jay Nixon used the model informally when he gave them a $25 million increase for the current fiscal year.

Committee chairman and sponsoring Senator David Pearce of Warrensburg says universities should be financially rewarded for achieving performance goals. Under his plan, the universities would work with the Department of Higher Education to develop their own performance criteria.

Published in Local News
CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois lawmakers are questioning the effectiveness of the state's system for giving tax breaks to corporations.
   Legislators held the first of several hearings on the issue Friday in Chicago.
   Dan Long is executive director of the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. He tells legislators Illinois businesses benefited from about $1.5 billion in tax breaks in 2012.
 
   Yet lawmakers note Illinois has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.
   Republican state Rep. David McSweeney says "What is clear is what we're doing isn't working."
 
   But Connie Beard of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce calls the state's main incentive program a "very valuable tool" for attracting and keeping business.
   The hearings could lead to legislation to change the state's incentive programs during the General Assembly's spring session.
Published in Local News
Thursday, 16 January 2014 12:21

Missouri House looking at revenge porn bill

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri House committee is considering legislation that would outlaw a phenomenon known as "revenge pornography."
 
"Revenge porn" is posting online sexually explicit photos or videos of ex-romantic partners as a way of humiliating them.
 
Sponsoring Rep. Kevin Engler told the House public safety committee Thursday that revenge porn can have a devastating effect on a person's life. The Farmington Republican's legislation would prohibit someone from observing and then disclosing images of intimate sexual acts without the other person's consent.
 
Disclosing the explicit images would be considered a felony and is punishable by up to four years in prison.
 
The panel did not vote on Engler's bill. Other states, including Pennsylvania and Virginia, are considering similar measures.
Published in Local News
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois is creating a statewide system to regulate access to firearms by people who have mental health problems.
 
The Department of Human Services unveiled an online database Monday that will be used to compile information about people a professional deems a "clear and present danger" to themselves or others.
 
Human Services Secretary Michelle R.B. Saddler says Illinois' new concealed-carry law broadened the requirements of who must report information and kind of details must be shared.
 
Mental health professionals must report people in Illinois who've been declared in court to be mentally disabled, developmentally disabled, or meet qualifications for posing a "clear and present danger."
 
That information is checked against a list of those qualified to own a gun. The Illinois State Police then investigate the matter.
 
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers open their annual session Wednesday with some different priorities than those of Gov. Jay Nixon.
 
Republican legislators plan to pursue an income tax cut again after the Democratic governor vetoed last year's attempt.
 
House Speaker Tim Jones wants to consider "right to work" legislation that prohibits union bargaining fees from being a condition of employment. Nixon has said he would veto such legislation, so lawmakers may consider bypassing Nixon by referring it to the ballot.
 
Nixon has made Medicaid expansion a priority for a second straight year. But it's still not a priority for Republican legislative leaders.
 
There is agreement among the governor and some lawmakers that Missouri should change its student transfer law affecting unaccredited school districts. But so far, there is no consensus on a specific plan.
Published in Local News

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A group of eight Missouri lawmakers are calling upon Missouri's governor and attorney general to investigate concerns raised about Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro.

The lawmakers made the request Wednesday after The Kansas City Star reported that newly disclosed emails raised questions about the selection of CEE-Trust as a consultant. The Indianapolis-based firm's bid for developing an improvement plan for the Kansas City district and other struggling schools was nearly three times higher than the closest competitor.

The emails also highlighted some of Nicastro's behind-the-scenes work to create a special district that would operate some of the state's lowest-performing schools.

The lawmakers say the emails raise concerns about Nicastro's "fitness to lead."

Nicastro says the focus should be on ensuring that children "have the quality schools they deserve."

Published in Local News

Missouri's proposed incentive package, designed to lure more Boeing jobs to St. Louis, will get its final touch Tuesday.

Governor Nixon will sign the bill at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium at 10:30 AM. Joining the governor for the signing: local lawmakers, labor leaders, and representatives of the Missouri Aerospace Training Consortium. The bill, passed by the General Assembly last week, authorizes up to $1.7 billion in incentives over 20 years.

The legislation was the product of a special session that Nixon called.

Published in Local News
Thursday, 05 December 2013 15:19

Illinois lawmakers do not pass tax incentives

CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois has taken a giant step toward fixing its biggest financial problem by approving a major pension overhaul this week. But lawmakers' inaction on tax incentives aimed at keeping companies in Illinois has triggered new concerns about the state's business climate.

The Senate and a House committee considered legislation giving tax breaks to Archer Daniels Midland Company, chemical distributor Univar and newly-merged OfficeMax and Office Depot. But the House adjourned after the pension vote, essentially pushing the issue into 2014.

The slow action, at least in the business world, could mean other states with interest in taking Illinois jobs have more of a chance to swoop in.

Still, lawmakers say they had no other choice. Their first priority was approving a plan aimed at fixing Illinois' $100 billion pension crisis.

 

Published in Local News
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