SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn says he hopes a bill that would kick-start high-volume oil and gas drilling passes "swiftly" through the Illinois House and Senate after a House committee voted to send it to the full House.
The House Executive Committee voted 11-0 Tuesday to approve a measure regulating hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking" - the use of high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals to crack rock formations deep underground and release oil and natural gas.
Proponents say it's safe and would create jobs in cash-strapped southern Illinois. Quinn has promised to sign the bill.
Opponents worry that fracking could cause air and water pollution and deplete water resources.
They favor a two-year moratorium on the practice, but House and Senate bills calling for a pause have been stalled.
Smoothie King is seeking to add 25 franchise locations in the St. Louis area over the next five years.
The New Orleans-based chain, which has eight existing locations, said it's cutting its franchise fee by 40 percent -- $10,000 -- to spur growth.
So far in 2013, nine new franchises nationwide have tapped into the incentive program, the company said. The chain, which has more than 500 domestic locations, has targeted adding 1,000 new franchised and corporate locations in the U.S. in the next five years.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports Smoothie King plans to hold an event in St. Louis on May 2 for potential franchisees to obtain information about the company.
The St. Louis Business Journal reports that BJC HealthCare wants to demolish four buildings near Forest Park to add one million square feet of office space. The work is set to begin sometime in late-summer and should be complete by the middle of 2014. Employees will start to move in by 2017.
Local contractors have been awarded the contract to complete the work of the next ten years.
The bipartisan commission released its recommendations Thursday for overhauling Missouri's voting laws.
Missouri now allows people to vote by mail only if they meet certain conditions, such as a disability or absence from their district on election day. The commission says voters should be allowed to mail their ballots without such restrictions.
It also recommends requiring all local election authorities to establish one location where voters can cast ballots in-person beginning six weeks before election day. For presidential elections, highly-populated areas would be required to establish an additional polling place for early voting.
The 11-member commission is made up of local election authorities, attorneys and former lawmakers.
Legislation to be filed Tuesday by Rep. Jay Barnes would stop short of Obama's call to expand Medicaid coverage to adults earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or $32,500 for a family of four. But it would add some adults to the Medicaid rolls while also removing some children whose parents earn up to three times the poverty level.
Private insurers would bid to offer managed care plans, and patients could get cash for avoiding costly medical care.
House Speaker Tim Jones says Barnes' plan is a "commonsense conservative" proposal. But he says it could be at least a two-year project.