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Thursday, 23 January 2014 12:37

Missouri Senate panel endorses tax cut

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri Senate panel has endorsed an income tax cut for businesses and individuals.
 
The legislation backed Thursday by the Senate Ways and Means Committee would gradually reduce Missouri's top individual income tax rate from 6 percent to 5 percent over a decade. It also would phase in a 50 percent deduction over five years for business income reported on individual income tax returns.
 
The incremental tax cuts would take effect only as long as Missouri's net general revenues rose by at least $100 million over the high mark from the previous three years.
 
The legislation also grants an additional $1,000 tax deduction to people with incomes below $20,000.
 
The committee's approval of the legislation means it could be one of the first measures debated this year in the Senate.
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 could have to cut about $370 million from Gov. Jay Nixon's budget if they don't want to go along with his financial assumptions.
   Republican legislative leaders were still fuming Wednesday about Nixon's budget proposal, a day after he outlined it as part of his State of the State address.
   During a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, Chairman Kurt Schaefer (SHAY'-fer) told the Democratic governor's budget director that Nixon's plan "is an absolute political fiction."
 
   Nixon's budget assumes stronger revenue growth than Republican lawmakers believe will occur. It also assumes lawmakers will generate new revenues or cost-savings by expanding Medicaid eligibility, offering amnesty to overdue taxpayers and tweaking various revenue-collection laws.
   If lawmakers reject those things, they would have to trim about $370 million of spending from Nixon's budget.
Published in Local News
FULTON, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri School for the Deaf in Fulton has two interim leaders while a search continues for a permanent superintendent.
 
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on Tuesday announced that assistant superintendent Margilee LaBoarde and business manager Harold Siebert will be interim superintendents.
 
The education department is looking for a replacement for the recently-retired Barbara Garrison.
 
The Fulton Sun reports LaBoarde has been at the school for 31 years, serving in several positions before being named assistant superintendent. Siebert has been business manager at the school for 13 years.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Republican state senator says he expects to be appointed by the governor to Missouri's utility regulatory commission.
 
Sen. Scott Rupp, of Wentzville, said Tuesday that he has met with Gov. Jay Nixon and his staff about the position on the Public Service Commission.
 
Rupp tells The Associated Press that the governor plans to appoint him to the PSC on March 14.
 
A Nixon spokesman said he could not immediately confirm Rupp's potential appointment.
 
All nominees to the PSC must be approved by the Senate. Republican senators have been reluctant to approve Nixon's appointment of former aide Daniel Hall to the PSC without assurances that the Democratic governor also will name a Republican to the panel.
 
Hall's appointment is now scheduled to receive a Senate committee hearing 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

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — An abortion facility in Missouri would need to be inspected at least four times each year under legislation proposed in the state House.

The proposal is a priority for Missouri Right to Life, which called it a "strong bipartisan and pro-life" measure. The bill was filed this past week by Republican Kathy Swan of Cape Girardeau (juh-RAHR'-doh). It has more than 100 co-sponsors.

Under the bill, inspections could be conducted as frequently as the Department of Health and Senior Services deems necessary but would need to happen at least four times per fiscal year. No advanced notice would be required.

Planned Parenthood said the state already has authority to inspect as frequently as it chooses. The organization says the legislation is about making it more difficult to get an abortion.

Published in Local News

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Missouri death-row inmate scheduled for execution this month says the state prison system is improperly storing expired doses of a new lethal injection drug provided by an Oklahoma pharmacy that's not licensed to do business in the neighboring state.

Attorneys for Herbert Smulls filed a complaint with the Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy on Friday. They want the board to recall an "expired, unsafe" batch of the sedative pentobarbital provided to Missouri by an unidentified Oklahoma compounding pharmacy. The complaint says the pharmacy gave erroneous instructions to store the drug at room temperature.

Missouri switched to its one-drug execution method late last year and has since killed two inmates. The complaint includes Missouri state records showing the pentobarbital given to both inmates had expired eight to 10 days earlier.

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
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri House member has renewed her call for state Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro to resign.
 
Democrat Genise Montecillo, of St. Louis, addressed Nicastro during a hearing of the House Budget Committee on Wednesday.
 
Nicastro has faced criticism over various issues in recent months, including the award of a contract to a consulting firm to draft a turnaround plan for unaccredited school districts.
 
Montecillo urged Nicastro to step down last year. On Wednesday, she said the commissioner's resignation would be the responsible thing to do for Missouri's children.
 
Nicastro responded that she has a history with urban schools and that her record speaks for herself. She said others can do her job as well but that she's not sure the state could find anyone more willing and committed.
Published in Local News

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