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Archive for February, 2013

(Jefferson City) (AP) – First Missouri lawmakers limited the money people can win in nuisance lawsuits against big hog farms. Now a proposal advancing in the Senate would bar those lawsuits altogether if a farm or business is operating with an environmental permit from the government.

Legislation given initial approval Thursday by a Senate voice vote would provide what the sponsoring lawmaker described as a “warranty” against nuisance suits complaining about air, water or soil pollution from entities that are complying with government rules.

The bill comes two years after Gov. Jay Nixon signed into law a measure that limited the money people could win in nuisance lawsuits against farms. This year’s legislation would apply not only to nuisance lawsuits targeting farms but to any entity that is operating within the bounds of its government-authorized permission to discharge water, solid waste or air emissions.

(Little Rock) (AP) – Arkansas House Speaker Davy Carter says no state agency will receive any less funding than it did last year’s budget as part of his proposal to cut $150 million in taxes.

Carter told reporters Tuesday that he didn’t envision any scenario that reduced funding levels for an agency but acknowledged that some agencies may not receive the amount the governor has requested.

Earlier this week, Carter called on lawmakers to approve $150 million in tax cuts, but offered few details about the reductions he would like to see or where the money would come from. He said he wants to link a capital gains tax cut to discussion over expanding health insurance to more low-income people.

Gov. Mike Beebe has said the state can’t afford any more reductions in revenue.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – The Missouri House has approved legislation that would make it more difficult for workers who sue for discrimination to prove their cases.

House members voted 94-55 to pass the measure Thursday. It now goes to the Senate. Gov. Jay Nixon has vetoed similar measures in each of the past two years.

Currently, employees must show that discrimination contributed to bad actions in the workplace. The proposed legislation would require people to prove that discrimination was a “motivating factor” in an employer’s actions.

Supporters say the change would limit frivolous lawsuits and help businesses. Opponents say it would weaken protections against discrimination in the workplace.

Eight Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the measure in the House.

(Little Rock) (AP) – The Arkansas Legislature has approved a bill allowing state employees to receive a cash award if they expose waste and inefficiencies that lead to savings for the state.

The Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed the bill and sent it to Gov. Mike Beebe. The proposal would change the state’s whistleblower law to include a reward for reporting fraud and abuse in government. A state employee whose report leads to savings for the state would be entitled to 10% of those savings. The Legislature would have to sign off on awards larger than $12,500.

The House passed the bill two weeks ago by a 65-20 vote. Opponents questioned whether the bill is necessary.

A spokesman for Beebe said Wednesday that he isn’t sure if the governor will sign the bill.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – A former southwest Missouri lawmaker has been chosen as executive director of the Missouri Republican Party.

Former state Rep. Shane Schoeller, of Willard, was selected Thursday to oversee the daily operations of the Republican Party.

Schoeller lost an election last November for secretary of state and previously served six years in the House, rising to the number two spot as House speaker pro tem.

He succeeds Lloyd Smith, who resigned last month as executive director to make an unsuccessful bid for Congress.

Missouri Republicans have revamped their leadership since the 2012 elections, when they lost five out of six statewide races but gained a supermajority in the state House. Ed Martin, who lost a bid for attorney general in November, was selected last month as party chairman.

(West Plains) – A rash of cattle thefts across the Ozarks has come to Howell County, according to law enforcement authorities.

Sheriff Mike Shannon says a farm in southern Howell County had a theft incident recently:

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The number to the sheriff’s office is 417-256-2544.

(Washington) – With the across-the-board cuts expected to hit at the end of the week, many in Washington are scrambling to get things done to avoid the Sequestration.

Senator Claire McCaskill, however, is less than optimistic that a proposal will be passed:

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She continued, saying that the cuts will be problematic for economic growth:

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McCaskill also talked about the monetary impact to other services in Missouri:

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Cuts stemming from the Sequestration are expected to start Friday.

(Little Rock) (AP) – State agencies in Arkansas are working to figure out what they will have to cut if automatic reductions in the federal budget go into effect.

State Budget Director Brandon Sharp says about $54 million in federal cuts have already been identified, but the total loss would likely be tens of millions of dollars higher.

For instance, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences derives grants from federal agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health, which have not yet identified which programs will be reduced or eliminated.

The state Health Department says it will find a way to work around cuts targeted at early childhood immunizations, an area that’s in line to lose about $78,000 in Arkansas.

(West Plains) – The West Plains Public Library Foundation has announced that their annual Chili Cook-Off raised over $9,000 for the Foundation.

A total of $9,078.07 was raised, which goes to the Library Foundation, which helps fund programs and events at the library.

Officials with the library say that the amount was the most raised by the event, and they’re looking forward to next year.

(Sikeston) – The Southeast Coalition for Roadway Safety has announced grant funding is available for area schools for Project Graduation and other events. Cathy Walters has more:

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