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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri House has approved legislation allowing more hydroelectric power to count toward the state's renewable energy requirement.

A 2008 law approved by voters requires investor-owned utilities to use renewable energy sources for gradually increasing amounts of their electricity generation. That law restricted how hydroelectric power could count toward the requirement.

The House bill (HB44) would allow all hydroelectric power produced in Missouri or owned by a Missouri power company to count starting in 2018. Beginning in 2021, hydroelectric power generated elsewhere could count.

The bill cleared the House Thursday on a vote of 95-46 and now goes to the Senate.

Sponsors of the 2008 ballot measure criticized the bill, saying it would reverse possible economic development benefits from the law.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Debate has stalled in the Missouri Senate on legislation that Democrats say is part of the state's "war on labor."

Senators stayed late Monday night to debate SB29, legislation that would bar public-sector unions from deducting dues out of employee paychecks.

Republican supporters say the legislation would give public employees the choice of how they want their dues spent. But Democrats blocked a vote on the measure, arguing it would hurt organized labor.

The measure would also require union members to annually give consent for their dues to be spent on political contributions. It would not apply to unions representing "first responders," such as police or firefighters.

The Senate passed a similar measure two years ago, but it died in the House.
Published in Local News
Missouri legislators are cutting their work week short because of concerns over a winter storm that's expected to dump snow, sleet and freezing rain on much of the state.

The House and Senate usually meet from Monday until mid-day Thursday each week. But with a mixture of ice and snow expected on Thursday, the Senate has decided to quit for the week around noon Wednesday -- early enough to give lawmakers time to get home before the weather hits.

The State House will also give members a chance to leave early, planning only a technical session on Thursday, in which no bills will be debated.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - State lawmakers are considering several proposals to improve infrastructure that could hit Missourians' wallets.

One proposal could require residents to pay a higher sales tax in order to pay for transportation projects, and another would let electric utilities seek a surcharge to recoup costs from infrastructure projects.

A third measure would call for issuing several hundred million dollars in bonds to fund improvements on college campuses and state facilities. Taxes that Missourians pay could go to paying off the bonds.

Lawmakers say the influx of ideas comes because there is a new willingness to discuss major challenges facing Missouri. They are skeptical everything would pass in the same year.
Published in Local News
Wednesday, 13 February 2013 00:30

MO Senate backs bill to replenish disability fund

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri senators have endorsed legislation intended to replenish an insolvent state fund for injured workers.

Senators gave initial approval Tuesday night to a bill that would raise fees on businesses and narrow the type of future injuries covered by the Second Injury Fund. The fund has a $25 million deficit, which is expected to grow unless lawmakers take action.

The Second Injury Fund was created 70 years ago to cover disabled employees who suffer a second work-related injury or illness.

The legislation also seeks to reverse recent court rulings that concluded occupational diseases are not required to be covered by the workers' compensation system. The bill says they are, and it sets limits on how much money can be awarded for exposure to toxins like asbestos.
Published in Local News
Tuesday, 12 February 2013 08:40

Paul McKee to appeal for tax credit extension

Developer Paul McKee will be in Jefferson City Tuesday, trying to save his stalled NorthSide Regeneration project. The McEagle Properties chairman will ask the House Economic Development Committee to extend the tax credit program he's been using to amass land for the project.

The $95 million Distressed Areas Land Assemblage credit was passed in 2007 and will expire this August.

McKee's company has received more than $40 million so far and amassed 2,200 parcels of land in north St. Louis for the project. But McKee told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he's needs to buy another 500 parcels for contiguous sites.

The NorthSide project calls for new and refurbished homes, retail and manufacturing space, along with schools and medical facilities on a two square mile area just north of downtown.
Published in Around Town
Tuesday, 12 February 2013 00:45

Paul McKee to appeal for tax credit extension

Developer Paul McKee will be in Jefferson City Tuesday, trying to save his stalled NorthSide Regeneration project. The McEagle Properties chairman will ask the House Economic Development Committee to extend the tax credit program he's been using to amass land for the project.

The $95 million Distressed Areas Land Assemblage credit was passed in 2007 and will expire this August.

McKee's company has received more than $40 million so far and amassed 2,200 parcels of land in north St. Louis for the project. But McKee told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he's needs to buy another 500 parcels for contiguous sites.

The NorthSide project calls for new and refurbished homes, retail and manufacturing space, along with schools and medical facilities on a two square mile area just north of downtown.
Published in Local News
Missouri mental health officials are hoping Governor Nixon and state lawmakers will include the Fulton State Hospital in a proposed state bonding package.

The hospital is Missouri's only maximum and intermediate security psychiatric hospital and is the oldest public mental health facility west of the Mississippi River.

The Department of Mental Health is proposing a new 300 bed, high-security facility that would cost about $211 million.

Officials say current facilities are antiquated and a new building would save utility cots and make for a safer facility.

Fulton State Hospital is in Fulton, Missouri, about 100 miles west of St. Louis.
Published in Local News
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