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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Dozens of people are rallying at the Missouri Capitol for what a gay and lesbian group is promoting as "Equality Day."

The gathering in Jefferson City coincides with the second day of U.S. Supreme Court arguments focused on whether same-sex couples can marry and receive the legal rights and benefits associated with marriage.

Some rally participants in Missouri asserted that it is "immoral" to ban gay marriage, as is the case under the state constitution.

Rally participants also focused on bills that would prohibit discrimination or school bullying based on sexual orientation.

The event was coordinated by Promo, an organization that advocates for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality.

Several Democratic lawmakers attended the event.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A mother, father and grandmother who all grieved over the deaths of infants have testified on Missouri legislation to limit the number of young children who can be watched in home day cares.

The bill presented Tuesday before a House committee would change a Missouri law that exempts the relatives of child-care providers from being counted toward the requirements for state licensure. The bill would require licensure for anyone watching more than four children of preschool age or younger, so long as they are being paid for watching at least one of those children.

The bill is called "Nathan's Law," in remembrance of a suburban St. Louis baby who died in 2007 in a home day care. Nathan's mother, Shelley Blecha, was among those testifying for the bill.
Published in Local News
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) - It isn't just Illinoisans who are closely watching a bill in the Illinois House that would regulate fracking. Missouri mining organizations have a keen interest, too.

The Southeast Missourian reports that the Missouri mining industry stands to gain from an increased need for silica sand, which is used in the process of large-scale hydraulic fracturing - or fracking.

Missouri is not an abundant resource of oil or natural gas, but it is a resource for silica sand. The silica sand is critical for the process of fracking.

Environmentalists in Missouri say there is concern that expanded sand mining will cause environmental damage.

The January 2013 Mineral Commodity Summary by the U.S. Geological Survey says Missouri is the sixth-largest producer of industrial sand and gravel.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Some supporters of a Medicaid expansion championed by President Barack Obama are also embracing a Republican alternative put forth in the Missouri House.

Among the witnesses testifying for the Republican plan Monday in a House committee were officials representing medical clinics, hospitals and business groups. Some of those same people have stood by Democrats in recent weeks as they embraced a proposed Medicaid expansion for lower-income adults.

But Missouri's Republican-led committees have repeatedly defeated the Medicaid expansion backed by Obama and Democrats.

The alternative by Republican Rep. Jay Barnes would cover fewer additional adults than Obama's version while also removing some children from the Medicaid rolls. Medicaid recipients would be covered through competitively bid managed care policies and could get cash incentives for holding down their health expenses.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Four more cases of deadly white-nose syndrome have turned up in bats in eastern Missouri.

The state Conservation Department says the disease was recently confirmed in a tri-colored bat and a little brown bat found in a public cave in Washington County.

A little brown bat and a northern long-eared bat, found in two separate public caves in Franklin County, also had white-nose syndrome.

White-nose syndrome does not infect people, pets or livestock but is estimated to have killed 5.5 million cave-dwelling bats nationwide since it first was detected in 2006.

It's caused by a fungus and spreads largely among bats and by human clothing and equipment in caves.

Signs of the disease or the fungus have now been confirmed in 19 bats, all in eastern Missouri, since 2010.
Published in Local News
The Missouri Tigers roller coaster ride of a season is over. It came to a crashing halt Thursday night in Lexington, Kentucky in the opening of the NCAA Tournament. Mizzou fell to Colorado State 84-to-72 . The 9th seeded Tigers season has ended with a record of 23-and-11. It was the third straight year that Missouri has lost it’s opening game of the NCAA Tournament.

Meanwhile, The Saint Louis University Billikens easily handled their first round matchup against New Mexico State Thursday afternoon, winning 64-to-44. They move on to play Oregon on March 23rd.
Published in Sports
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Officials unveiled a public health campaign Wednesday aimed at helping get aging Missouri men and women off the roads when it’s no longer safe for them to drive and at preparing them for life without a license.

The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety’s kicked off its “Arrive Alive After 65” effort with a Columbia news conference that featured two state residents who lost a family member in traffic fatalities caused by older drivers.

The program aims to train doctors, nurses and peer educators to identify vulnerable seniors whose medical conditions may unknowingly pose safety threats. Organizers will start with a pilot project at University Hospital in Columbia and Mercy Hospital in Springfield and later look to take the effort statewide.

The Missouri Department of Transportation reported 126 traffic deaths statewide in 2012 involving drivers 65 and older. Another 435 older Missourians were seriously injured while driving last year, with another 3,500 less serious injuries among older drivers. People 55 and older accounted for more than one in four traffic deaths in Missouri last year.

University of Missouri senior Nina Bolka, whose older sister’s death led to successful family efforts to change Texas driving laws, invoked a phrase more commonly heard by new teen drivers, not those with decades of experience behind the wheel.

“Driving is a right, not a privilege,” Bolka said. A 2007 law named for her sister requires Texas drivers 79 and older to appear in person for license renewals. Previously, such drivers—or their adult children—could renew licenses online. Drivers older than 85 must renew their Texas licenses every two years.
Published in Local News
CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) — James Frost is already serving 40 years in prison for four St. Louis-area rapes. Now, he is getting more prison time for a fifth.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that all the crimes occurred in 2006 in St. Louis city and county. The fifth case was brought by prosecutors in September on the basis of further DNA testing. Prosecutors say Frost assaulted the victim at gunpoint.

As part of a plea deal, Frost on Monday was sentenced to 30 years plus 10 on charges of forced rape, forced sodomy and sexual abuse. The latest sentence will run concurrently with the time already being served on the other attacks.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich is questioning millions of dollars of welfare payments made to low-income residents.

Schweich released an annual audit Tuesday examining Missouri's use of $12.7 billion of federal funds during the 2012 budget. He raised concerns about $68 million of expenses, mainly through programs run by the Department of Social Services.

As he has in the past, Schweich questioned whether some of Missouri's payments under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program were allowed under federal law. The department has said that they are.

Among other things, the audit also cited improper payments to some child care providers and noted that the state failed to perform annual eligibility verifications for some senior and elderly residents receiving home-based services.
Published in Local News
After winning the A-10 tournament 62-56 over VCU Sunday, the Saint Louis University Billikens are the #4 seed in the Midwest for the NCAA tournament. They'll take on #13 New Mexico State on Thursday.

The Missouri Tigers also got a ticket to the big dance. Mizzou is the ninth seed in the Midwest. They'll face the No. 8 seed Colorado State on Thursday.

If Mizzou and SLU make it through the first two rounds of the tournament, they would face each other in the Elite 8.

After an up and down season, the Fighting Illini made it into the tournament with a No. 7 seed and will face No. 10 seed Colorado in the Eastern Region on Friday.
Published in Sports

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