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4:52 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Mo. auditor says new law gives more flexibility

Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich.
Credit Photo courtesy of the Missouri Auditor's Office

Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich says a newly enacted law will give him greater flexibility in determining when and how to audit governmental agencies.

Schweich said Monday that the measure regarding the auditor's authority updates the state's World War II-era statutes and increases accountability in government. He said it clarifies the legality of many things the office already does, such as performance audits of agencies.

Gov. Jay Nixon signed the bill last Friday without much comment.

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Under the Microscope
11:59 am
Mon July 15, 2013

Insurance industry 'whistleblower' talks health care reform

Credit Alan Cleaver / flickr

Listen to KBIA's Harum Helmy chat with insurance industry 'whistleblower' Wendell Potter on Under the Microscope.

For about two decades, Wendell Potter spun carefully crafted public relations messages for Humana and Cigna, the insurance companies where he worked. He recalls convincing consumers that high-deductible insurance plans would be good for everyone; telling them that by paying more, they’d have more skin in the game of their own health.

“I frankly just got so disillusioned and, ultimately, disgusted with what I was doing,” Potter said.

He said through his own research, he knew high-deductible plans were not the best insurance coverage for those with middle-class income.

“The median household income in this country is just barely $50,000,” Potter said. “A family that’s earning $50,000, if they’re in a plan with a high deductible, they face bankruptcy or foreclosure [if something happens]. I’ve talked to a lot of people who have lost their homes and have to declare bankruptcy because they have been in these kinds of plans. They think they have adequate coverage and they don’t.”

In 2008, Potter left the insurance industry and became a consumer advocate. He testified in Congress against high-deductible plans. In 2010, he published a book detailing the ways public-relations practices of the insurance industry affect American health care. 

Now, Potter writes columns and travels around the country to debunk what he calls are “myths” about the Affordable Care Act. The law imposes stricter rules on insurance companies. They can no longer refuse coverage for consumers who have a pre-existing condition, for example. Companies also have to spend at least 80 percent of every dollar of a consumer's premium for patient care and quality improvements, not profits or administrative costs. 

On a recent visit to Columbia, Potter sat down with KBIA's Harum Helmy to chat about health care reform and the insurance industry's response to it. 

Listen to a longer version of the interview.

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Politics
7:56 am
Mon July 15, 2013

Construction begins on many Boone County roads

Credit Stew Dean / Flickr

Starting today, a number of Boone County roads are undergoing construction. Lake of the Woods Road is closed at the intersection with St. Charles Road and is scheduled to reopen on August 5. Rangeline Road is down to one lane between Richland Road and Highway WW so the road can receive a new fog seal treatment. Rangeline is set to reopen to full traffic by Friday.

A full list of roads affected by construction may be found through the Columbia/Boone County Office of Emergency Management.

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Arts and Culture
7:56 am
Mon July 15, 2013

Edina, Mo. featured in new movie

Knox County Courthouse, Edina, Mo.
Credit Missouri Association of Counties

Too bad tiny Edina, Mo., doesn't have a movie theater, because the town itself is about to make it to the big screen. The remote northeast Missouri town of 1,200 residents offers the sort of rural remoteness that brought independent film director Chris Grega to the town square to shoot scenes for his suspense horror film, "Sound of Nothing." The film will premiere July 18 at the Tivoli Theatre in St. Louis as part of the St.

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Politics
7:50 am
Mon July 15, 2013

Mo. counties will be able to enact burn bans

Credit Jacob Fenston / KBIA

Missouri counties will be allowed to approve ordinances enacting burn bans when the state fire marshal determines doing so would be appropriate.

Gov. Jay Nixon signed into law broad legislation that included the burn ban issue.

Burn bans approved by counties could carry a penalty of up to one year in jail for any violations. Burn bans also could prohibit use of skyrockets and missiles, but not other consumer fireworks.

The legislation takes effect Aug. 28.

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Politics
7:47 am
Mon July 15, 2013

Municipal court convictions may draw extra financial charge

Courts of Justice, St. Louis.
Credit Acradenia / Flickr

People convicted in municipal court of things like driving too fast or playing their music too loud soon could be forced to cough up another $3.

The Kansas City Star reports that the money will help replenish the pension fund of roughly 150 retired Missouri sheriffs and their spouses. But the surcharge has sparked outrage from some municipal judges across the state. They say it's unfair, might violate the state constitution and worry that other fees will be added.

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Politics
7:27 am
Mon July 15, 2013

Lawmakers limit State Highway Patrol's spending power

Credit Ryan Famuliner / KBIA

State lawmakers have limited the spending authority of the Missouri State Highway Patrol over frustration concerning the purchase of a new airplane frequently used by the governor.

A new law taking effect Aug. 28 will require the patrol to get legislative approval before spending more than $100,000 from a special state fund on any vehicle.

The new restrictions come after lawmakers complained that they were not told in advance about the patrol's purchase last December of a new $5.6 million airplane. Records show that Nixon has flown on the plane frequently.

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Science, Health and Technology
7:24 am
Mon July 15, 2013

MU engineers developing low-cost toilet

Credit loop_oh / Flickr

  Some MU engineers are teaming up with colleagues at Duke University to develop a low-cost toilet for developing countries with water shortages.

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Politics
7:18 am
Mon July 15, 2013

Nixon sets personal record for bills vetoed

Credit File photo / KBIA

Gov. Jay Nixon has set a personal high mark for vetoes during this year's legislative session. He rejected 29 of the 145 non-budgetary bills sent to his desk. That's almost 20 percent of them.

The high veto rate may reveal something about both the Republican-led Legislature and Democratic governor.

Political science professor Peverill Squire of the University of Missouri said the new Republican supermajority in the legislature appears to have passed more conservative bills. He said Nixon may be positioning himself for future federal office.

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Politics
7:16 am
Mon July 15, 2013

Nixon vetoes lieutenant governor succession bill

Credit KBIA file photo

There will be no immediate answer on how Missouri replaces a lieutenant governor who leaves partway through a term.

Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed legislation that would require a new lieutenant governor to be selected during the next general election, while an aide for the departing officeholder handles the office's duties in the meantime. Under the vetoed bill, the lieutenant governor's responsibilities as Senate president were to be handled by a senator.

Nixon says the measure would have created a "confusing and untenable process."

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Crime
7:14 am
Mon July 15, 2013

Man shot and killed in McKee Park

Credit Null_Value / Flickr

Columbia police say a man was killed in a shooting at a city park. The shooting occurred late Sunday at McKee Park in northeast Columbia.

Police say a man died from gunshot wounds after being taken to a hospital. His name has not been released but police say he was a black male in his late teens or early 20s.

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Politics
5:32 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Nixon signs gun-safety course for first-graders

Credit File Photo / KBIA

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has signed legislation allowing a gun safety course sponsored by the National Rifle Association to be taught to first-graders.

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Faith/Religion
5:30 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Interfaith gardens grow food and fellowship

Volunteers work in one of Columbia's interfaith community gardens.
Photo courtesy Lily Chan

 

Volunteers from different faith communities have been working together to grow food. Columbia has more than 30 community garden plots, and several of them are interfaith gardens. 

Monta Welch is the founder of a group called Interfaith Care for Creation, which has started an interfaith garden project in Columbia.  The goal of the program is to educate different faith communities about environmental stewardship, she said. 

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Politics
5:30 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Nixon vetoes legal shield for old lead mines

Credit Jacob Fenston / KBIA

Gov. Jay Nixon has vetoed legislation that would have shielded a Missouri lead mining company from punitive damages in some contamination lawsuits.

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Politics
5:25 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Without Nixon signature, Mo. abortion law passes

Credit Jacob Fenston / KBIA

Without his signature, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has allowed legislation that will require doctors to be in the room for the initial dose of a drug used in medication abortions.

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