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Cedric Alvis stands on the sidelines (copy)

Battle assistant Cedric Alvis stands on the sidelines during a timeout in a state quarterfinal game against Carthage on Nov. 12, 2016, at Battle. The former Hickman standout was named coach of his alma mater Friday.


remember the never-forgotten: a moment of stillness on campus
 
 09.11.19

A wreath lies on a plaque Wednesday in front of the MU Columns on Francis Quadrangle. U.S. flags are hung annually in honor of the nearly 3,000 lives lost during the 2001 terrorist attacks.

For national 9/11 coverage, see Page 6A


Alexandria Wells / Alexandria Wells  

A wreath lies on a plaque in front of the columns on the Quad

A wreath lies on a plaque in front of the columns on Francis Quadrangle on Wednesday. The flags are hung up annually in honor of the nearly 3,000 lives that were lost during the attacks in 2001.


State_news
Vehicle tax bill survives criticism in the House, passes to Senate
 MickEasley  / 
 09.11.19

A bill to restore a sales tax break on multi-vehicle trade-ins moved forward to the Missouri Senate on Wednesday, despite criticism about whom it truly benefits.

The Missouri House of Representatives convened to discuss House Bill 1, the subject of this week’s special session. Supporters of HB1 stressed it would erase any uncertainty surrounding a sales tax credit for vehicle trade-ins, while others called into question the motives behind it. The house voted 126-21 to pass the bill.

The Missouri Department of Revenue estimated that 14,000 annual transactions make use of the tax credit.

Rep. Becky Ruth, R-Festus, the bill’s sponsor, said clarity would benefit Missourians from all backgrounds who are trying to buy better cars.

“It is up to us to make sure our language and our legislation is clear and concise so there is no more ambiguity, no more uncertainty for the people of our state, as to what the normal operating procedures should be,” Ruth said.

A similar bill was passed in the House during the 2017 regular session, but it died in the Senate.

House Democrats questioned who would benefit the most from the bill: individuals struggling to purchase a new vehicle or private businesses looking for tax breaks.

Rep. Sarah Unsicker, D-Shrewsbury, who voted against the bill, said she worries that the bill is actually helping corporations and that it may take funding away from roads and bridges.

“If we make this just about individuals, like (Ruth) referenced, I would support this bill,” Unsicker said. “However, I believe this bill is, to a substantial extent, corporate welfare.”

Unsicker was not the only member concerned with large businesses receiving tax breaks as a result of HB1.

Rep. Doug Clemens, D-St. Ann, introduced an amendment to limit the tax credit to individuals and private businesses with 12 employees or less. A similar amendment was shot down during the bill’s hearing before the House Committee on Ways and Means on Tuesday.

Some Republican representatives challenged the amendment for not distinguishing between full-time and part-time employees and limiting potential businesses that would benefit from the tax credits.

“Twelve employees — I don’t see that as a large corporation. I see that as somebody who has taken advantage of the opportunity that the government here has given them to pick themselves up by their bootstraps,” Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon, said.

The amendment was ultimately voted down.

All of Boone County’s representatives voted for the bill, including Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia, and Martha Stevens, D-Columbia. In total, 21 Democrats voted for the bill.

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, said she wasn’t surprised that so many members of her party voted for the bill.

“Our issue has not been with this specific bill itself,” Quade said in a press conference after the session. “It’s been the fact that we’re spending tens of thousands of dollars on an issue that is not an emergency when we have true emergencies that we should be dealing with.”

Democrats previously called on Parson to include legislation on gun violence in the special session, which he declined to do.

Two Republicans voted no: Rep. Andrew McDaniel, R-Deering, and Jeff Pogue, R-Salem.

Rep. Shane Roden, R-Cedar Hill, and Bill Falkner, R-St. Joseph, both voted pass. Seven representatives were absent and seven seats are currently vacant.

The special session was scheduled to coincide with a veto session, which the House also held Wednesday. In July, Parson vetoed two bills, House Bills 399 and 477, but the House didn’t overturn either one.

Supervising editor is Tynan Stewart.


Local
featured
Seen a lot of monarch butterflies lately? You're not alone.
 Kaitlyn Hoevelmann  / 
 09.12.19

If you’ve noticed more monarch butterflies fluttering around Columbia lately, it’s probably not your imagination. But don’t let them fool you: They’re not out of the woods, yet.

The monarch butterfly population has been declining for the past two decades, reaching a record low in 2013. Causes for the decline include extreme weather events, habitat loss and pesticide use.

But last year’s annual population count found that monarch population numbers in the area east of the Rocky Mountains, including Columbia, increased 144% from the previous year, according to Monarch Joint Venture, a nationwide coalition of organizations dedicated to protecting monarchs.

The same might hold true for this year, but it’s too soon to know for sure. In any case, it’s natural for insect populations to fluctuate year to year, Monarch Joint Venture communications specialist Cora Lund Preston said.

The organization has received many calls this summer from people who said they have been seeing more monarchs than usual.

“Lots of people are seeing lots of monarchs this year, so it’s a very good sign,” Preston said.

Don’t mistake your monarch: Watch out for that black line

The population count of monarchs happens over the winter in Mexico, where monarchs gather after making their journey south. Since the count this year won’t happen until then, it’s difficult to say what the population is, Preston said.

However, many conditions this year are similar to last year.

One big factor that impacts the monarch population is weather, which Preston said has been favorable for the butterflies.

“There are multiple times during the year where the weather is very important,” Preston said. “While (the monarchs) are overwintering, they’re very vulnerable to extreme weather events, which are becoming more and more common” with climate change.

Another important time for monarchs is the spring, when they leave Mexico to travel north through the U.S. and into Canada.

“They need blooming flowers, nectar plants for the adults to fuel up on so they have enough energy to reproduce and start the journey north, and then they also need ample milkweed,” Preston said.

Milkweed is a native plant monarchs lay their eggs on. After hatching, the caterpillars eat the milkweed. Having enough of it is important for monarchs to survive.

“Basically, when the milkweed is doing well and growing well, and when there are not limiting extreme weather events, then it can be a good year for monarchs,” Preston said.

Other than good weather, Preston said another factor that contributed to the increase in numbers last year was the efforts across the region to protect monarchs.

“We are hopeful that is also making a difference and that if we continue doing this habitat work, and really continuing to scale up our efforts, we’re hopeful that we can continue to see a rising population,” Preston said.

The monarch population is measured in hectares, and one hectare is equal to almost 2½ acres. Preston said a national goal in the conservation community is to have an average of six hectares of forest occupied by monarchs at their overwintering site in Mexico.

While the population did reach that goal last year, it’s still not the average.

Pep talks for caterpillars

People can help monarchs in Missouri by planting native plants, including milkweed and nectar plants.

“The No. 1 thing that people can do themselves is to keep in mind that no area is too small when it comes to putting in native plants,” said Ryan Lueckenhoff, a private land conservationist for the Missouri Department of Conservation in Columbia.

Jill Edwards, an MU senior academic adviser in the psychology department, raises monarch butterflies in her free time. The biggest challenge is making sure they have enough milkweed to eat when they’re caterpillars.

Each day, she cleans out their net houses, a mesh habitat for the monarchs, and provides new milkweed. During the busiest time of the year, Edwards said that might take her up to 2½ hours.

Edwards said it’s been a good year for monarchs and other types of butterflies as well, which she said have an easier time since they often eat more than one thing. But she’s working on bringing up her monarch babies to do better than the previous generation.

“I like to tell my caterpillars, ‘In this world, if you only eat one thing, that can be trouble.’ And so I’m always telling them, ‘Try something else, maybe you want to eat something else, just because it’s scary if you count on one thing in this world,’” Edwards said. “With climate change and everything else that’s happening, I really worry about them.”

According to the Monarch Joint Venture website, there are some risks associated with raising monarchs. But people are encouraged to do so responsibly “in small numbers, for outreach, personal enjoyment or citizen science.”

A citizen science activity that can help experts get a better picture of what’s going on with the monarch population in the summer is to report observations to programs like Journey North and the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project.

“It is challenging when they’re distributed all over the country, but it’s very valuable to have that data of how the summer population is doing for research analysis,” Preston said.

Lueckenhoff said he’s noticed a growing number of people in Columbia taking an interest in monarchs.

“There’s been more and more people out there that are becoming aware of what monarch populations are doing and just about pollinators in general,” Lueckenhoff said. “And with that awareness, it seems like you have more and more people that are looking into doing native plantings on and around their property.”

Edwards has also noticed people in Columbia making a difference and is hopeful for the future.

“I’m hoping that the trend just keeps going up, because butterflies are outstanding,” Edwards said. “They’re the coolest. They’re magic.”

Supervising editor is Katherine Reed.


Nation_world
FDA moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes after wave of lung illness
 pgarrett21  / 
 09.11.19

Update: This story has been updated to include information from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services about the number of e-cigarette illness cases in the state. 

The Trump administration announced Wednesday a plan to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes to combat the vaping epidemic, according to a news release from the FDA.

This ban has been proposed to fight lung illnesses potentially caused by the use of e-cigarettes.

This comes after criticism of vaping companies for the number of children using flavored e-cigarettes. According to the CDC, e-cigarettes are unsafe for children through young adults because of the presence of nicotine and can lead to addiction to various other drugs in the future.

The proposed plan comes as “preliminary numbers from the National Youth Tobacco Survey show a continued rise in the disturbing rates of youth e-cigarette use, especially through the use of non-tobacco flavors that appeal to kids,” according to the release.

At MU, there have been a few patients with respiratory problems that doctors suspected were caused by vaping but were unable to confirm, according to a MU Health Care pulmonologist. The pulmonologist also said that there has been at least one case where vaping was the leading diagnosis of respiratory distress, MU Health Care spokesperson Jesslyn Chew said via email.

According to a press release by the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services, the department has issued a health advisory regarding severe lung disease associated with vaping.

“Any person, particularly young people, experiencing unexplained chest pain or difficulty breathing after vaping in the days or weeks prior to their symptom onset should seek medical attention,” the release said.

The CDC reports that as of Aug. 22, 193 potential cases of severe lung illness associated with e-cigarettes have been reported by 22 states.

The Missouri Poison Center has received more than 600 calls with complaints related to the use of e-cigarettes over the past 10 years and managed more than 30 cases of people experiencing difficulties breathing because of vaping over the past five years, according to the release.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced in a statement Thursday that nine possible cases of lung illness associated with the use of e-cigarettes are currently under investigation by the department: two cases are confirmed and the other seven remain under investigation.