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Committee unveils $19 billion draft budget

JEFFERSON CITY — Holding true to promises Republicans have been making since autumn, a preliminary draft of a $19 billion Missouri budget for fiscal 2006 calls for cuts to state government and includes no additional taxes.

The bulk of the budget cuts centers on social services and the Department of Mental Health. The appropriations bills call for a $59 million increase in spending for K-12 education.

Schiavo case’s effects explored

When Zoe Smith and her husband, Conrad, created a living will in 1992, she never thought she would need to use it.

“It’s really important to have a living will. You hope you never need it, but it’s when you do need it that you thank your lucky stars that you have it,” she said.

City looks to comply with energy ordinance

The change in the way electricity flows to and from Columbia comes at a turning point for the city, which is evaluating upgrades to its own coal-fired plant and looking for long-term energy contracts. The city is also attempting to acquire electricity from renewable sources such as wind farms in Kansas and is considering using methane from Columbia’s own landfill to provide up to 1 percent of the electric supply.

Columbia, which uses an average of 110 megawatts of electricity in April, has the capability to produce up to 86 megawatts of power on its own. But the city is looking for another 75 megawatts in the short term and 120 megawatts by 2015. The city has paid Stanley Consultants $98,500 to evaluate upgrades to the Municipal Power Plant and expects the firm’s final report in April.

Speaker highlights importance of raising attention to the discrimination of women

Martha Burk is a petite, middle-aged woman with graying hair. When she speaks, people listen. On Thursday, Burk’s message was clear: Get their attention.

In an afternoon press conference at Stephens College, Burk announced that a class action lawsuit had been filed in San Francisco against Smith Barney, alleging pay and promotion discrimination against women by the Citigroup, Inc. division.

Pierpont to decide on sales tax issue Tuesday

The Pierpont Store at Highway 163 and Route N has a history much longer than the village it serves.

Almost two centuries ago, the store was part of Boone County’s first recorded distillery and grist mill in what is now Rock Bridge Memorial State Park. In 1834, John Keiser converted it into Missouri’s first paper mill, according to the Missouri State Historical Society. But the distillery proved more profitable and brewing resumed in 1841 under the name McCanathy’s Rye Distillery.

Federal grant to help fund park expansion

A $150,000 grant from the federal government will help the city further construct and expand Flat Branch Park.

Columbia’s grant will go toward the second phase of construction of the downtown park, including an expansion ofthe park into a city-owned parking lot between Locust and Elm streets.

Feminism for the masses

On Wednesday afternoon, when a group of MU students asked bell hooks how she decides what to write about, she took a dark, book-size journal out of her bag. She opened it to show pages and pages filled with writing so small that her mother claims she needs a microscope to read hooks’ letters.

In the book are hooks’ finances and her to-do lists — she writes down 10 things she wants to accomplish that day. It has observations about the world that could become books; a life map with goals for each decade of her life, currently in the 50- to 60-year-old span.

Navy aids MU police in murder legwork

Naval Criminal Investigative Service federal agents — including a renowned “cold case” forensic specialist — have been assisting the MU Police Department in its investigation into the slaying of Jeong Im since early February, Police Chief Jack Watring said Wednesday.

The body of the MU microbiology researcher was found in the trunk of his burning car on the third level of the Maryland Avenue campus parking structure on Jan. 7.

Candidate’s $21,222 tops opponents

Any Columbia resident who hadn’t seen Laura Nauser’s name before the City Council race began has probably seen it by now. According to campaign-

finance reports filed with the Boone County Clerk’s office earlier this week, Nauser — a candidate for the Fifth Ward council seat — has raised $21,222 in funds for her campaign, money that she said she is using to get her name out before the election.

Schiavo case creates interest in living wills

Wendy Lochrie has no plans to leave her death in the hands of someone else.

After working as a nurse’s aide in Illinois hospitals for more than two years and seeing the helplessness some terminally ill patients and their families feel as a result of failing to outline their life-ending decisions in living wills or health care directives, she knows better.

Workers’ comp revisions become law

JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Matt Blunt signed a fundamental rewrite of the state workers’ compensation system into law Wednesday. The changes will reduce the number of injuries that qualify for benefits and increase scrutiny on the program’s judges.

Blunt praised the new law, which his Democratic opponents say will make life harder for injured workers, as a necessary reform to a program he says is costing Missouri business.

Falun Gong movement core of talk

The struggle between the Chinese government and the spiritual practice of Falun Gong highlights how weak the Chinese government really is, 2001 Pulitzer Prize winner Ian Johnson said Wednesday at Jesse Wrench Auditorium in Memorial Union.

Johnson’s lecture, which focused on his award-winning coverage of the Falun Gong movement in Beijing, was part of the Paine Lectures sponsored by the MU Department of Religious Studies, the School of Journalism, the Asian Affairs Center and the Center for Religion, the Professions and the Public. His book, “Wild Grass: Three Stories of Change in Modern China,”highlights the events of the movement.

Shaping College Dreams

Je’Vonte Prayer has dreams of becoming a professional basketball player — after he goes to college, of course.

Eleven-year-old Je’Vonte is one of 50 fifth-graders from Eugene Field Elementary School who experienced college a little earlier than most at “College Day” at Columbia College on Wednesday.

Protesters dispute cuts to Medicaid

JEFFERSON CITY — One e-mail changed Barbara French’s whole day.

When French, 67, of Edgar Springs, received an alert from a liberal think tank Wednesday morning that Gov. Matt Blunt’s proposed cuts to Medicaid would come up in a House committee that night, she sprang into action.

School bus driver accused of child molestation

A man arrested Sunday on suspicion of first-degree child molestation and possession of child pornography was a driver for First Student, the company that operates the buses for Columbia Public Schools, said Columbia Police Capt. Zim Schwartze.

Justin Blaine, 22, is accused of inappropriately touching an acquaintance’s daughter inside the Quick Trip convenience store at 3211 Clark Lane, police said.

Pursuit of death penalty likely

A prosecutor said Wednesday he is inclined to seek the death penalty for a southeast Missouri man accused of slaying a state trooper with a shotgun and a rifle in an ambush outside the officer’s home.

Carter County Prosecutor Michael Ligons charged Lance Shockley, 28, of Van Buren with first-degree murder and armed criminal action on Tuesday.

Blockbuster offers refunds for ‘no late fees’ program

When Blockbuster announced the end of late fees in December, some customers were unaware of the program’s fine print.

On Tuesday, Blockbuster announced that it will improve communication of the program as part of a settlement with 47 states, including Missouri.

MUHC faces proposed budget cuts

Medicaid might not be the only part of Missouri’s health care system to undergo budget cuts from Gov. Matt Blunt. Last week, Blunt handed down

$239.2 million in proposed budget cuts across state agencies and, though he promised no reductions in higher-education funding, the MU Health Care system was on the list.

Forum urges MU to open civic discourse

MU needs to start a dialogue with the people of Missouri to emphasize the value of higher education, panelists at the Chancellor’s Global Issues Forum said on Tuesday.

Richard Wallace, MU chancellor emeritus; Mel George, a former MU mathematics professor and interim chancellor; and Ron Turner, a former University of Missouri System executive vice president, presented points, posed questions and then facilitated discussions during the Higher Education in a Global Context Forum. The panelists addressed the problem of funding and breaching communications between the public and the university.

State execution location changed

The state will move all future executions to a prison in the eastern Missouri town Bonne Terre, starting with the scheduled April 27 execution of convicted killer Donald Jones, Department of Corrections officials said on Tuesday.

Missouri has executed 62 men since the death penalty was reinstated in 1989, most recently executing Stanley Hall on March 16 for abducting a woman and throwing her over a Mississippi River bridge railing in 1994.

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