Protesters decry Medicaid cuts after bill passes Senate

JEFFERSON CITY — Dozens of protesters gathered on the south side of the Capitol on Wednesday to decry Medicaid cuts that cleared the Missouri Senate on Tuesday night.

The Senate bill, which is backed by Gov. Matt Blunt, would reduce Medicaid benefits for thousands of Missourians and permanently end the Medicaid program in 2008. Medicaid is a federal- and state-funded program for the poor that helps with medical costs.

Tougher seat belt law passes Senate

JEFFERSON CITY — Legislation that would toughen Missouri’s seat belt law easily passed the Senate on Wednesday.

The legislation would let law enforcement officers stop motorists solely for not wearing seat belts. Currently, people traveling in Missouri can be cited for not wearing a seat belt only if they are first stopped for another reason.

Fresh workers’ comp plan moves to Blunt

JEFFERSON CITY — Business was booming at the state Capitol on Wednesday.

The Republican-controlled legislature sent fundamental changes to Missouri’s workers’ compensation law and new limits on lawsuit awards — two measures long sought by business interests — to the desk of Gov. Matt Blunt before the body’s spring break, which begins today.

Senator proposes bill to boost mobile-home owners’ rights

JEFFERSON CITY — A top Democratic leader in the General Assembly is pushing for a bill she says would help Missouri’s mobile-home residents.

Sen. Maida Coleman, D-St. Louis, presented a bill Wednesday to the Senate Economic Development, Tourism and Local Government Committee that would impose new standards on both owners of mobile-home parks and their tenants.

Vradenburg opposes taxes, annexation in City Council bid

The upcoming Columbia City Council election might give Joseph Vradenburg the chance to do something he’s been thinking about for long time.

Vradenburg, who is running against Laura Nauser and Gayle Troutwine for the Fifth Ward seat on City Council, has thought about going into governance of some sort since he was in high school. Vradenburg is an epidemiologist for the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services and sees the upcoming election as an opportunity to pursue another avenue of interest.

Protesters fight Social Security privatization

With signs saying, “Hands off my Social Security,” members of Missourians United to Protect Social Security gathered at the Columbia Labor Temple on Wednesday to announce the coalition’s joining of the national campaign against President Bush’s plans for privatization.

The coalition is made up of several groups including the Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition, the National Society for the Advancement of Colored People and the United Activist Network.

Sen. Green proposes Irish history month

JEFFERSON CITY — Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, a state senator named Green is looking to honor the Irish in Missouri.

Sen. Tim Green, D-St. Louis, has proposed a resolution declaring March 2005 to be Irish-American Heritage Month.

Two face charges in raid of meth lab

An undercover narcotics investigation led to the seizure of a methamphetamine lab and the arrests of two Centralia residents Wednesday.

The Missouri Highway Patrol arrested Tracy McIntyre, 31, and Andrew Voyles, 28, both of 407 E. Simms St., on suspicion of possession of ephedrine and drug paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell near a school, endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree and possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana, said Sgt. Jason Clark of the Missouri Highway Patrol.

Medicaid cuts move ahead

JEFFERSON CITY — Thanks to a straight party-line vote on an amendment earlier in the day, the Missouri Senate voted to end the state’s Medicaid program when it gave first-round approval to a bill aimed at reducing Medicaid eligibility Tuesday night.

Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons, R-St. Louis County, proposed an amendment that would eliminate the welfare program by June 30, 2008. The amendment modified the larger Senate bill that would cut 89,000 recipients and reduce coverage for another 23,000.

Partial closing of Seventh Street debated

The Columbia Special Business District is at odds with the idea of closing Seventh Street between Ash and Walnut streets for an eventual expansion of the Boone County Courthouse.

The county’s Space Needs Committee determined at a Monday night meeting that its recommendation for courthouse expansion should include a request for evaluation of a potential closing of Seventh Street.

Bill seeks reporting of sexually active teens

JEFFERSON CITY — Teachers, doctors and other professionals who work with children would be required to report any knowledge of young teens having sex, consensual or not, to the state’s child-abuse hot line under legislation pending in the House.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Richard Byrd, R-Kirkwood, said the legislation fixes flaws recently identified when the state’s child-abuse reporting law faced a court challenge. But opponents call Byrd’s proposed changes confusing and unnecessary and worry it would prevent teachers, among others, from using sound professional judgment about what constitutes child abuse.

First Missouri execution since 2003

Seven hours before he became the first Missourian killed by the state since 2003, Stanley Hall said he

wasn’t afraid of dying.

School funding fix hits obstacles

JEFFERSON CITY — Real estate agents and rural lawmakers are opposing an effort to rewrite Missouri’s school funding method because of a provision that would make more information about home sales available to assessors.

The proposed school funding plan received its first hearing Tuesday before a Senate committee in what’s expected to be a long legislative process.

Students get close-up civics lesson

What’s the only reason a 14-year-old would want to spend seven hours talking to county government officials?

“It was a chance to get out of school for a good reason,” said Molly Musterman, a freshman at Southern Boone County High School.

Gasoline price just short of record high

ST. LOUIS — The price of gasoline at the pump is less than a penny away from the nation’s record high, a government agency and the AAA Auto Club said Tuesday.

In the St. Louis region, prices spiked 28 cents at some stations overnight, prompting consumers to shop around.

Ex-aide alleges discrimination at Bearfield School

The Columbia Public School District is facing its second lawsuit in two years in connection with allegations of racial discrimination at Bearfield School, an alternative program school.

Louis Gatewood, a former instructional aide at Bearfield, said in the lawsuit that he was denied advancement opportunities and was treated differently than his white coworkers during the 2001-2002 school year. Gatewood also said Bearfield principal Russell Hardesty and school psychologist Dale Wilkinson made offensive racial comments about black employees and students that fostered a hostile working environment.

Lawyer sees life experience as asset in City Council bid

Gayle Troutwine doesn’t have a campaign slogan, but if she did, it would probably include the words “life experience.”

Troutwine, who is running against Laura Nauser and Joseph Vradenburg for a three-year term as the Fifth Ward representative to the Columbia City Council, thinks life experience sets her apart from her competitors. Each seeks to replace John John, whose term will expire after the April 5 election.

Illegal purchase of firearm alleged

A Columbia woman was indicted by a federal grand jury Friday and arrested Tuesday by Columbia police on suspicion of illegally purchasing a firearm for her then-boyfriend, Richard T. Evans, in May 2003.

The gun in question was not the one authorities say Evans used in the fatal shooting of Columbia police Officer Molly Bowden last month, U.S. Attorney Todd Graves said at a news conference Tuesday.

Filibuster ties up medical cuts

JEFFERSON CITY — The debate over Gov. Matt Blunt’s proposed cuts to Missouri’s health care programs for the poor hit the floor of the state Senate on Monday.

The Democratic minority blocked action by staging a filibuster against a bill designed as a companion to Blunt’s proposed budget, which sought to take nearly 90,000 people off Medicaid. The stalling tactic went on into the night with no resolution reached as of press time.

Administering the Law

One look at Dwayne Carey gives away that Boone County’s rookie sheriff values hard work.

The 37-year-old still looks like a football player. He works out as conscientiously as he did in high school when he was fighting for the starting tight end position with the Hickman Kewpies.