National Salute hails veterans

For most of Columbia, Valentine’s Day is already a distant memory.

But at the Truman Veterans Hospital, thousands of brightly colored hearts and other reminders of the holiday continue to line the hallways and patient rooms. Still more wait to be distributed.

State House approves lawsuit limits

JEFFERSON CITY — A measure to restrict awards for lawsuits cleared another obstacle on Thursday.

The bill, approved in the House of Representatives and introduced in the Senate, would restrict a case’s venue to the location where the injury took place and cap most punitive damages at $250,000. For health-care providers, it would limit punitive damages to $250,000 without regard to the number of people named in the case.

Greenspan: Go slowly with Social Security

WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan urged Congress on Wednesday to take a go-slow approach in setting up the private Social Security accounts favored by President Bush. The president said he wasn’t ruling out taxing high-income workers more to help the retirement program.

Bush, who has been stumping across the country for the personal accounts, kept up that effort in New Hampshire. But his comments about levying Social Security taxes on more of big wage-earners’ income got the attention.

Rally groups protest Blunt’s Medicaid cuts

JEFFERSON CITY — Protesters dumped a large trash bin full of prosthetic limbs, discarded walkers and empty prescription bottles in the Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday to demonstrate their disdain for Medicaid cuts proposed in Gov. Matt Blunt’s budget for fiscal 2006.

The spectacle was intended to call attention to Blunt’s proposal to eliminate Medicaid coverage for durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs. Participants at the rally said Blunt’s plan suggests such equipment is refuse that the state need not fund.

SMSU name bill advances to the Missouri House

A bill that would drop the “Southwest” from Southwest Missouri State University’s name moved to the state House of Representatives on Wednesday for a first reading.

Senate Bill 98 passed, 25-7, its third and final reading in the Senate on Wednesday morning. Senators perfected the bill’s wording early Tuesday morning after an almost 14-hour filibuster.

Legislators consider repealing helmet law

Tracy Benton has spent 22 years riding motorcycles, the past five in Missouri. Much has changed in that time — bikes are faster, more powerful and more popular. But in Missouri, one thing has remained constant for Benton: Helmet-wearing is required by law.

Benton, who leads the mid-Missouri chapter of the Freedom of the Road Riders, said he should be entitled to make up his own mind about helmet-wearing.

City aims to assess planning

The city wants your input, and that’s news to some people.

In an effort to better increase communication between the public and city planners, the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission formed a 12-member committee last week that includes representatives from various public organizations and private companies.

Two arrested on liquor charges; cash, business records seized

Undercover agents with the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control on Sunday arrested Zachary Riley, 36, and Autumn Cox, 41, on charges of operating a nightclub, the Corn’s Lake Bar in rural Boone County, without a state liquor license.

A court date has been set for Feb. 24 for a misdemeanor charge of selling alcohol without a license.

U.S. Cellular sponsors Black History Month art competition

Elementary students are celebrating Black History Month by participating in the second annual U.S. Cellular-sponsored art competition.

Columbia Public School students in grades one through five can participate by submitting an original portrait of a famous historical or present day African-American person using any art medium. The competition began Feb. 1.

Earnings tax proposed as funding fix

Only two weeks before a self-imposed deadline, a legislative committee charged with fixing the formula for distributing state money to school districts discussed what some members called a novel plan to replace local property taxes with a statewide earnings tax.

The plan is the brainchild of Rep. Ed Robb, R-Columbia. Robb is a former MU economics professor who specialized in governmental budgeting.

Best film will win screening at True/False

Aspiring filmmakers from mid-Missouri can win a chance to have their short film screened at the upcoming True/False Film Festival.

The CATapult Cinema Showdown is a contest of three- to five-minute films inspired by “This Charming Couple,” an 18-minute educational short filmed in Columbia in the 1950s by the government. The film explores the dangers of hasty marriage in the face of rising divorce rates and focuses on the engagement, marriage and ultimate divorce of a young couple, Ken and Winnie.

Final Respects

Officer Molly Bowden’s police cruiser was draped in black as its radio

crackled in the crisp air at Memorial Park Cemetery in Columbia on Tuesday afternoon.

Housing Authority tables vote on solicitation

For the second month in a row, the Columbia Housing Authority tabled a resolution Tuesday that would restrict door-to-door solicitation in Oak and Paquin Towers.

A standing room only crowd of about 30 people filled a meeting room in the Housing Authority building. Most were present either in support of or opposition to resolution 2277, which would ban all uninvited visitors from the residential hallways of Oak and Paquin Towers. Certain groups would be allowed to set up tables in the lobbies of the two buildings with permission from the Housing Authority’s executive director.

SMSU bill unfrozen with Floyd’s OK

Although it appears the bill allowing Southwest Missouri State University to drop the “Southwest” from its name will clear the Senate today, it has a long way to go in the House of Representatives.

Members of Boone County’s delegation in the House oppose the name change and said Tuesday they were unsure how it would work its way through the lower chamber.

House bill seeks limits on punitive damages

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri House debated a measure Tuesday that would limit the awards Missourians can expect in civil cases.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Richard Byrd, R-St. Louis County, would cap most punitive damages at $250,000 or three times economic damages awarded in the case, whichever is higher. It would also limit the trial venue to the location of the injury, unless the injury occurred outside the state.

New ruling backs tax rate

The Missouri Supreme Court sided against anti-tax activist Henry Lane on Tuesday and upheld the legality of the Columbia Public Schools’ method for setting its tax rate in 2001.

The seven-member court ruled unanimously in favor of the district and Boone County Collector Pat Lensmeyer.

Honoring the fallen

The notes of “Ode to Joy,” the heavy steps of friends and family, and muffled whispers and sobs were the only sounds inside Mizzou Arena on Tuesday afternoon. A gym so full of people is rarely so silent. A single-file line wound slowly down from the top of the bleachers, across the gymnasium floor and ended where Columbia police Officer Molly Bowden’s body lay in her dress uniform, adorned with a medal.

Before the service began, more than a thousand mourners had stopped to stand before the casket. Some left flowers on the floor beside it.

Family of the badge mourns

They did not even know Columbia police Officer Molly Bowden, but they still came to honor her.

Hundreds of law enforcement officials from all over the Midwest came to Columbia on Tuesday to offer their support for Bowden and her family.

In memory

Remembering a life of service

Law enforcement officers from across the Midwest came to Mizzou Arena on Tuesday to honor Officer Molly Bowden. Even with thousands of people in the arena, only quiet sobs and whispers could be heard during the funeral.

Services included a photo montage of Bowden’s life; speeches by her family, fellow police officers and Rep. Kenny Hulshof; and ended with an emotional salute to Bowden.

Columbia pays tribute to Bowden’s memory

An estimated 3,000 people are expected to gather at Mizzou Arena today for the funeral of Columbia police Officer Molly Bowden. At a news conference Monday, police gave a detailed plan for today’s activities in response to the expected turnout.

Police and Columbia Public School District officials also made plans for managing traffic disruptions due to a procession after the funeral.