Robb offers school funding strategy

It was a short debut for a plan to overhaul the formula for funding public education, but the idea probably will get a curtain call.

The plan, designed by Rep. Ed Robb, R-Columbia, would eliminate property taxes in favor of an income tax as the engine for funding public schools.

RFK Jr. talks green policy, blasts Bush

Attorney and activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. spared no words about environmental ethics when he spoke to a full house at Columbia College on Wednesday night.

Kennedy’s speech, “Our Environmental and Ethical Destiny,” covered the effects of coal-burning plants, the faults of the Bush administration and the protection of the environmental infrastructure.

Scientist profiles embryo history

A group of academics spoke about embryos and stem cell research Wednesday night in MU’s Monsanto Auditorium, and despite the potentially controversial topics, the discussion was anything but heated.

Jane Maienschein, regent’s professor of philosophy and biology and director of the Center for Biology and Society at Arizona State University, presented ideas from her book “Whose View of Life?: Embryos, Cloning, and Stem Cells.” Moving beyond what has often become, she said, a science versus morality debate, Maienschein presented some of the historical, biological and political issues pertaining to embryos.

Group discusses U.S. Patriot Act

Hickman High School students heard various opinions about the U.S. Patriot Act in an open forum Wednesday night.

Teachers, parents and about 50 students gathered in the high school’s commons to hear speakers talk about the act and related issues, such as racial profiling, national security and the infringement of basic civil liberties.

30-year-old park to get face-lift

Developed in the 1970s, Paquin Park is now showing its age.

A washed-out wooden privacy fence partially encases the small, little-known park on Waugh Street, tucked between Paquin Tower and Lee Elementary School. Directly across from the wooden gazebo, which is damaged from the impact of a partially fallen tree, are aging shuffleboard courts with painted white stripes so faded that they’re nearly indistinguishable.

Underage abortions targeted

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri’s House gave first-round approval Tuesday to a bill that would make it a crime to transport minors to other states for abortions without parental consent.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jane Cunningham, R-St. Louis County, told the House that minors in Missouri are going to abortion clinics in Illinois that don’t require parental consent. Missouri law requires anyone younger than 18 to get consent from a parent, guardian or court before having an abortion.

Rehab programs face cuts

Local mental health care providers said Tuesday that their clients could be severely harmed by proposed budget cuts to the Department of Mental Health. Agency directors said hundreds of Boone County residents would lose services if Gov. Matt Blunt’s budget proposal is accepted in its current form.

About 80 people crowded into a news conference at the Roger B. Wilson County Government Center commission chambers to listen to local providers and a former drug addict speak about the likely repercussions of the proposed cuts and the benefits the agencies provide to people within the community. After the speakers finished, several people in the crowd also spoke, including a few residents of the Phoenix House, an outpatient substance abuse program.

New commission eyes efficiency

JEFFERSON CITY — It took a half hour and several tries before the commission, hand-picked by Gov. Matt Blunt to increase the efficiency of state government, could choose its next meeting date.

The commission has 20 members, many of whom have held posts in state government. The creation of the panel was a major plank in Blunt’s campaign platform and a goal he reaffirmed during his State of the State address.

Indonesian honoree questioned

Security personnel at Columbia Regional Airport questioned a recent Missouri honor medalist Saturday after they thought they found explosive material on a cake wrapper in his luggage.

Goenawan Mohamad, a founding editor of Tempo, a weekly Indonesian news magazine, and Bambang Harymurti, Tempo’s editor in chief, received a 2004 Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism on Thursday.

Bill would fix flawed fee system

JEFFERSON CITY — Opponents of concealed guns joined with supporters Tuesday as the House endorsed legislation that attempts to fix a flaw in a law identified by the state Supreme Court.

In a ruling a year ago, the court upheld the legality of concealed guns but said a 2003 law authorizing concealed weapons could unconstitutionally impose new costs on county sheriffs who process the applications.

Vets’ families would benefit under bill

JEFFERSON CITY — House members endorsed legislation Tuesday that would provide a free college education to the spouses and children of military members killed or seriously wounded in combat.

Sponsoring Rep. Mike Cunningham, R-Marshfield, said 31 Missourians had been killed in the war in Iraq, but he did not know how many family members would qualify for the scholarships. They could be granted to the families of anyone killed or suffering 80 percent disability from combat action after Sept. 11, 2001.

Students lobby for vote on Board of Curators

JEFFERSON CITY — It has been more than 20 years in the making, and on Tuesday, student lobbyists from MU said they are on the verge of successfully gaining full voting rights on the university’s governing board of curators.

“This could be the year we get it done,” MU student lobbyist Charles Stadtlander said.

Symphony society announces full summer lineup

A 17-year-old piano virtuoso, a Generation-X violinist, a multi-choir community concert and tributes to both the Beatles and Beethoven are just a few of the featured performances scheduled for the Missouri Symphony Society’s summer season.

The society announced its eight-week schedule Monday for the 2005 Hot Summer Nights Music Festival. The series will comprise 17 performances in June and July, held mainly at the Missouri Theatre. This year’s festival is a week longer than last summer’s and includes three additional concerts.

Little and loving it

As the bell rings for school to end, Barbara Stratton knows her job. She’s the crossing guard for kids, the greeter for parents and the dismissal coordinator for the school. That, and she’s the principal.

“Is your mom coming to chess (club) tomorrow night?” Stratton asks one student as Cedar Ridge Elementary School is being dismissed. When he says Mom can’t make it, she runs to her office to send home a flier.

Medicaid faces more cuts

JEFFERSON CITY — Sen. Chuck Purgason, R-Caulfield, has a problem with Medicaid.

“The system we’ve got here sucks,” Purgason told a Senate committee Monday. He was there presenting a bill that would eliminate a number of state health services, including coverage for expenses related to dental work, podiatry, wheelchairs, eye care and prosthetic limbs.

Off the Ground

With a few strong pushes, Alex Hoffman launches himself into a skateboarding flow.

The 13-year-old Smithton Middle School student speeds down a vertical ramp at Columbia Skate Park, continuing through a concrete half-pipe, gaining momentum and confidence with each successful move.

Request prompts smoking ban study

City and county health officials got the thumbs up to investigate proposed changes to Columbia’s smoking ordinance at Monday night’s Columbia City Council meeting.

The council voted 5-1 to let the Columbia/Boone County Board of Health form a committee to look into a potential indoor smoking ban.

Annexation proposals delayed by City Council

Opponents of Billy Sapp’s 1,000-acre annexation proposal fought and won round one Monday. Now it’s round two, and opponents are ready for another fight.

Harg Area Residents for Responsible Growth spokeswoman Renee Richmond voiced the group’s concerns at a public hearing on the revised Billy Sapp annexation proposal at a Columbia City Council meeting Monday night. The proposed annexation would bring 170 acres into the city limits.

Environmental stances challenged

A nationally recognized scientist and author challenged conventional wisdom about the environment and its relationship to the U.S. economy in a speech at MU’s Life Sciences Center on Monday.

Jay Lehr began his presentation by warning, “What I’m going to tell you is not what you’re used to hearing.”

Substance-abuse agency would lose half of funds

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Department of Mental Health opened its books to a Senate committee Monday amid protests against Gov. Matt Blunt’s proposed cuts.

Department director Dorn Schuffman told the Senate Appropriations Committee that the division of alcohol and drug abuse would lose nearly half its funding to Blunt’s proposed Medicaid cuts, which total about $12 million.