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Archive for April, 2013

(Jefferson City) (AP) – Missouri senators are debating legislation that seeks to reinstate a cap on some damages in medical malpractice lawsuits after the state Supreme Court struck down the previous limit.

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

Missouri lawmakers are considering a measure that attempts to impose the limit on damages while avoiding the constitutional problem cited by the high court.

Senate debate about the legislation continued into the evening hours Tuesday. Earlier this year, House members voted to approve the measure.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – The Missouri House gave first-round approval Monday to the first overhaul of the state’s criminal code since 1979 but with time running out in the legislative session its chances of passing are slim.

The plan, a product of a Missouri Bar committee, would create new classes of felonies and misdemeanors.

Sponsoring Rep. Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia, said the current classification system lacks a middle step in sentencing for certain crimes. The current code, for example, classifies the crimes of forgery and involuntary manslaughter by a drunk driver in the same felony category.

The new felony class would carry sentences ranging from three to 10 years, bridging the gap between “B” felonies – a five- to 15-year sentence- and “D” felonies, a one-to seven-year term.

In an attempt to keep up with inflation, the overhaul also would increase the amount people are fined for committing certain crimes.

The effort has garnered bipartisan support and its Senate sponsor is a Democrat. But one House Democrat said Monday that lawmakers could have considered more major changes to the state’s criminal laws.

“Our sentences may still be too long and we may still be incarcerating people for lengths of time that are bad for them and bad for society,” said Rep. Rory Ellinger, D-University City.

A Senate panel completed a series of public hearings on the matter earlier this month, but has not voted on the bill. The House measure needs one more vote before moving to the Senate. Lawmakers adjourn May 17.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – After coping through several lean years, Missouri’s Republican legislative leaders now are at odds over whether to save or spend an apparent excess of money.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Kurt Schaefer says he expects Missouri will end its fiscal year on June 30 with about $400 million more than had been projected. He wants to spend more than $200 million of that to replace an aging state mental hospital in Fulton.

But House Budget Committee Chairman Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood, prefers to save the money as cushion for next year’s budget while waiting to see if the economy continues to improve.

The difference of opinion among Missouri’s top legislative budget writers will have to be resolved soon. Lawmakers face a constitutional deadline of May 12 to send a budget to Gov. Jay Nixon for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Schaefer, R-Columbia, has been pressing House members to revise the revenue projections agreed in December – upon which the budget is based – because tax revenues have been better than expected. But Stream and other House leaders have refused to do so.

“Being momentarily ahead of the consensus revenue estimate is not a good enough excuse to me to engage in a new large amount of additional spending,” House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, told reporters Monday night. “I just don’t see that that’s fiscally prudent, fiscally conservative or anything the House has done in the past.”

Schaefer contends House members are acting as if the excess revenues do not even exist.

“It’s some kind of alternate reality in this building where generally accepted accounting principles don’t seem to apply,” Schaefer said.

Missourians should get an update soon about state revenues. Tuesday was the final day of April, and monthly revenue figures typically are released a few days after the close of the month.

Linda Luebbering, the budget director for Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, has said previously that revenues are running ahead of projections, but that may diminish in coming months.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – The Missouri Senate has passed legislation that would change how the minimum wage required for public construction projects is calculated for rural counties.

The so-called prevailing wage for a given trade is currently calculated based on voluntary surveys collected and submitted by contractors on a public works project.

The bill passed by the Senate would require those wage surveys to be split between union and non-union wages. Then the wage would be set by whichever group, union or non-union, reported more hours of work. If there are no reports for a current year the wage would then be set by an average of reports from the last six years.

Senators voted 23-10 to pass the bill Monday. It now heads back to the House.

(Melbourne) (AP) – Authorities say officers shot and killed a Melbourne man accused of shooting his wife.

Authorities say Dennis Lawrence was fatally shot Saturday night near his home in Melbourne. The sheriff’s office says Lawrence’s wife, Shelley Lawrence, called 911 to report that her husband had shot her.

The North Central Unit at Calico Rock sent in a three-person team along with a search dog to assist in the hunt for Lawrence. Authorities say he was eventually located in a nearby wooded area.

Department of Correction spokeswoman Shea Wilson tells the Batesville Daily Guard that officers opened fire after Lawrence did not respond to officers’ commands to put his weapon down.

The sheriff’s office says Shelley Lawrence was taken to a Little Rock hospital with injuries that weren’t life-threatening.

(West Plains) – Former history professor and director of development Carol Silvey will give the keynote address at Missouri State University-West Plains’ 2013 commencement ceremony at 10 AM Saturday, May 18, at the West Plains Civic Center arena.

The title of Silvey’s presentation will be “Words to Live By.” Everyone is invited to attend the event.

Chancellor Drew Bennett says that Silvey’s involvement with Missouri State-West Plains started just a few years after the campus was established in 1963, when she was a faculty member and later a member of the administrative staff during her 37-year tenure.

A native of Douglas County and the descendant of a long line of educators, Silvey joined the university staff on September 1, 1968, as a history instructor and history department chair, teaching students the importance of history and giving them a greater appreciation for its impact on the future. In 1991, she was tapped to initiate the campus’ development program, so she began serving as a part-time faculty member and part-time director of development for the next few years. In 1994, the director’s position transitioned to a full-time administrative appointment for Silvey, and she began building the campus’ endowment from nothing to $1 million.

Silvey also is known for her volunteerism and support of community service projects, many of which have benefitted the university and the community. She has served on numerous committees and boards for both government and civic organizations, and she has given her time to many worthwhile causes. In recognition of her efforts, she has received numerous awards through the years, including the Business and Professional Women’s Woman of the Year Award, the West Plains Chamber of Commerce’s Volunteer of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Awards, Outstanding Rotarian for Community Service Award, Mountain Grove Chamber of Commerce’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the university’s Staff Community Service Award.

In 2009, she received the Friend of Education Award from the Missouri Association of School Superintendents; in 2010, she received Missouri State-West Plains’ inaugural Distinguished Faculty/Staff Award, and the Missourian Award, a prestigious award that acknowledges the state’s most accomplished citizens; and in 2012, she became the first employee of the West Plains campus to receive recognition on Missouri State University’s Wall of Fame.

In 2006, Silvey retired from Missouri State-West Plains, but her legacy of giving continues through the endowed scholarship established in her name by friends and colleagues as a lasting tribute to her commitment to help students achieve their goals of a higher education. Donations to the scholarship not only came from the university’s seven-county primary service area, but also from as far away as Massachusetts and California.

For more information about commencement activities, contact the Missouri State-West Plains academic affairs office, 417-255-7272 or visit wp.missouristate.edu.

(West Plains) – West Plains City Clerk Mallory Thompson has some good news and some not-so-good news when it comes to the progress at the city parks:

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There will be a “lunch at the park” at the Wayhaven Park on May 22 from 11 to 2 that day which will serve as a grand opening ceremony.

(Mountain Grove) – A resident of Mountain Grove suffered serious injuries Sunday afternoon after the moped he was driving ran off-road and overturned.

49-year-old Dwayne Hendrix was taken from the scene of the accident to Mercy Hospital in Springfield by Air Evac.

The accident happened at 5 PM on Route AM near Mountain Grove.

(Willow Springs) – Pool passes in the city of Willow Springs are now available, according to City Administrator Bob Pollard:

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For more information, call the water park at 417-469-1537.

(Mountain Home) – A man from Salesville faces Theft and Forgery charges after he reportedly passed a counterfeit bill.

Bradley Stowers was arrested April on the charges, and was held on $5,000 bond, which was posted.

A press release from the Baxter County Sheriff’s Office states that Stowers received a check from his employer to purchase goods, and that he made the check payable to himself and used the counterfeit $100 bill to buy goods.

Stowers is expected to appear in court May 2.