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Tuesday, 09 April 2013 11:51

Illinois voters head to the polls today

CHICAGO (AP) - Up and down the state, Illinois voters are electing mayors, highway commissioners and filling school boards and fire protection districts.

Tuesday's turnout is expected to be low. And it won't be helped by rain in some parts of Illinois or by the many races in which candidates are running unopposed. Still, a number of communities do have real contests, including West Chicago, where three candidates are running for mayor.

The race to replace former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has received the most attention in the Chicago area.

Voters in some places will be asked to do more than elect candidates, including Tazewell, Woodford, Marshall and Fulton Counties, where voters will decide if they want to add a 1 percent sales tax to fund school facilities improvements.

Published in Local News

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A sweeping anti-abortion bill is headed to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

 

The House gave final approval Friday to the measure, which blocks tax breaks for abortion providers and outlaws abortions performed solely because of the baby's sex.

 

The measure also declares that life begins "at fertilization," language that abortion opponents call a statement of principle and not an outright ban on abortion, though the bill's opponents are skeptical.

 

Brownback is likely to sign the bill into law.

 

Abortion opponents argue the bill lessens the state's entanglement with terminating pregnancies. Abortion-rights advocates say it threatens access to abortion services.

 

The bill also prohibits abortion providers from being involved in public school sex education classes and spells out in greater detail what information doctors must provide to patients before performing abortions.

Published in National News
Saturday, 06 April 2013 07:18

Obama: Proposed budget not his ideal plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — Confronting bipartisan criticism, President Barack Obama is conceding that his proposed budget is not his "ideal plan." But he says it offers "tough reforms" to the nation's benefit programs while closing loopholes for the wealthy.

 

Obama argues his approach will provide long-term deficit reduction without harming the economy.

 

In his first comments about a budget he is to release next week, Obama says he intends to reduce deficits while providing new spending for public works projects, early education and job training.

 

Obama says in his weekly radio and Internet address that he's willing to compromise to move beyond what he calls "a cycle of short-term, crisis-driven decision-making."

 

In the Republican address, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback says that ideas for fixing the federal government are coming from the states.

Published in National News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Senate has passed legislation that would ensure that pharmacies could refuse to stock certain prescription drugs, such as emergency contraception.

 

The legislation passed the Senate by a 24-9 vote Thursday and now heads to the House.

 

Sponsoring Sen. David Sater is a Republican pharmacist from southwest Missouri who describes the legislation a business freedom issue. Sater says some states have mandated that birth control or emergency contraception be stocked by pharmacies. But he says a pharmacy - like a clothing store - should be free to sell what it chooses.

 

The bill was opposed by some Democrats. Senate Minority Leader Jolie Justus, of Kansas City, cited concerns the bill could be used to limit access to birth control.

 

Published in Local News

 JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri House has passed a bill that would allow school districts to hire police resource officers.

 

Sponsoring Republican Rep. Sheila Solon, of Blue Springs, says the measure is part of efforts to keep schools safer after the Connecticut elementary school shooting that killed 20 children.

 

She says that school resource officers are considered county or municipal employees but her bill would allow school districts to hire them directly.

 

The bill would also strengthen the state's mandatory child abuse reporting laws by preventing supervisors from impeding a report.

 

The House voted 129-20 to the send the measure to the Senate Wednesday.

 

Published in Local News
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 13:51

Gov. Nixon open to GOP Medicaid proposals

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says he's open to many of the Medicaid changes sought by Republican lawmakers as part of a plan to expand health coverage to low-income adults.

 

In an unusual move, the Democratic governor met privately for about 45 minutes Wednesday with House Republicans at the Capitol.

 

Republicans have repeatedly defeated Nixon's plan to expand adult Medicaid eligibility to 138 percent of the poverty level, which is about $32,500 for a family of four. A Republican-led House committee was to vote later Wednesday on an alternative that adds fewer adults to Medicaid while injecting more private-sector competition.

 

Nixon said he's open to a private insurance model for Medicaid and to new co-payment requirements for participants.

 

States that expand to 138 percent of poverty can receive full federal funding.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Gov. Jay Nixon has signed legislation authorizing tax incentives for big-time sports events and some charitable donations.

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Nixon highlighted his support for the charitable tax breaks by traveling to a food bank in Cape Girardeau on Friday. He signed the sports incentives without comment.

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The sports legislation authorizes up to $3 million of tax credits annually for organizations that host amateur sporting events such as NCAA tournaments or Olympic trials. Lawmakers hope the cash will help Missouri compete with other states.

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The other bill reinstates tax credits for donations to food pantries, child advocacy centers and pregnancy resource centers that had expired in recent years. Nixon says the tax credits can leverage private donations to help "our most vulnerable citizens."

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Both bills were passed by the Legislature on March 13.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri House has passed a nearly $25 billion budget that would fund modest increases for public education but not the Medicaid expansion sought by Gov. Jay Nixon.

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House approval of the budget Thursday sends it to the Senate, where more changes are likely.

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The 2014 budget plan would provide a roughly 2 percent increase in basic aid for public K-12 schools, colleges and universities. But school funding would still fall $620 million short of what's called for under a state formula.

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Missouri's Tourism Division would get one of the largest percentage increases in the budget - from nearly $14 million this year to almost $20 million next year.

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The budget leaves out more than $900 million of federal funds that Nixon had recommended for a Medicaid expansion.

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri has approved legislation seeking to reinstate a cap on some damages in medical malpractice lawsuits after the state Supreme Court struck down the existing limit.

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A 2005 law capped noneconomic damages in such cases at $350,000. It was part of a broader effort to curb liability lawsuits. The state high court ruled last summer that the cap is unconstitutional.

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House members voted 93-62 on Thursday to pass legislation that attempts to impose the damages limit while avoiding the constitutional problem referenced by the court. It now goes to the Senate.

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Supporters of limiting noneconomic damages contend it would reduce health care costs and help keep doctors in Missouri. Opponents say there is a fundamental constitutional right to a jury trial.

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is continuing to push for a Medicaid expansion, but he's open to alternatives that could use federal money to buy private insurance for lower-income adults.

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Nixon said in an interview Thursday that he's willing to consider an Arkansas model that would use Medicaid money to purchase policies through an online insurance exchange created under President Barack Obama's health care law.

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The 2010 law called for states to expand Medicaid to adults earning up to 138 percent of poverty, or $32,500 for a family of four. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year made that optional for states.

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Nixon is visiting Hermann and Perryville to build support for a Medicaid expansion. Republican legislators have rejected his plan. But Nixon says he hopes for a compromise.

 

Published in Local News
Page 8 of 10

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