Associated Press

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  Ridesharing company Uber will give free rides on Missouri's inauguration day in Jefferson City.

A statement from Uber provided to The Associated Press on Thursday says free rides through the app-based service are available from 7 a.m. Monday until 2 a.m. Tuesday.

Incoming Republican Gov. Eric Greitens and four other statewide elected officials will be sworn into office Monday. Celebrations include a Capitol ball.

Rides are free for those going to inaugural events.

David Shane / Flickr

Missouri lawmakers are kicking off the 2017 legislative session with flowers and a reading of the Bill of Rights.

Yesterday was the first day of session, which runs through mid-May.

Most House members wore red roses on their lapels, and senators wore orange boutonnieres. Ceremonies included listening to the National Anthem and a reading of the Bill of Rights.

Lawmakers were sworn in, and friends and family packed the chambers.

David Shane / Flickr

After meeting with investors in a proposed St. Louis soccer stadium, Missouri Gov.-elect Eric Greitens still opposes spending state money for the project.

Senior adviser Austin Chambers said Greitens met yesterday in Jefferson City with members of the group SC STL.

The group is seeking to build a $200 million soccer stadium downtown in hopes of attracting a Major League Soccer expansion team.

The group wanted $40 million in state tax credits to help fund the project.

j.stephenconn / flickr

A Columbia state lawmaker will be Missouri Republican Gov.-elect Eric Greitens' deputy chief of staff.

Yesterday, Greitens announced he picked Republican Rep. Caleb Jones for the job. Jones will work alongside Greitens' pick for chief of staff, Michael Roche of Anheuser-Busch.

Greitens has never before held public office and says he'll pick outsiders to lead state government. Jones has served in the House since 2011 and will bring government experience to Greitens' administration.

David Shane / Flickr

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon set an aggressive agenda to attract jobs after the Great Recession.

An Associated Press analysis shows the Democratic governor promoted business deals projected to cumulatively create about 48,000 jobs in exchange for up to $2 billion of state incentives.

As Nixon prepares to leave office Jan. 9, those businesses have reported hiring a little over 21,000 employees. The state so far has paid about $166 million of incentives to those firms.

j.stephenconn / flickr

Missouri Republican Gov.-elect Eric Greitens is kicking off a statewide tour in advance of his upcoming inauguration.

Greitens started his tour yesterday at Truman State University in Kirksville. He thanked a crowd of supporters on campus and promised to remember them when he takes office Jan. 9.

He also planned stops in Kansas City and St. Joseph, and visits to cities including Springfield, Joplin and St. Louis later in the week.

The legislative session begins today.

ALEX HEUER / St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov.-elect Eric Greitens has named leaders for his public safety team.

Greitens announced Monday that Drew Juden, director of public safety in Sikeston, will be his director of public safety. Greg Favre, command staff officer for the St. Louis Fire Department, will be deputy director.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Greitens made the announcement at Zisser Tire & Auto, a Dellwood business that was looted in 2014 during protests after Michael Brown, who was black, was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson.

Mike Parson, R-Bolivar / Missouri State Senate Website

Lt. Gov.-elect Mike Parson says he is recovering after undergoing heart surgery. He says he will be ready to take office on Inauguration Day next week.

Parson released a statement Monday disclosing the surgery. He said the heart problem was discovered during a routine medical checkup.

James Harris, an adviser to Parson's transition team, said doctors discovered some blockage in Parson's heart and he underwent surgery Christmas Eve at a Springfield hospital. Parson declined to say in which hospital he was treated.

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Jonathunder / Wikimedia commons

First-time offenders convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana no longer will face jail time, and most adults will be able to carry concealed weapons without a permit under new Missouri laws.

Those laws and several others took effect Sunday.

Shorter prison sentences for some nonviolent drug crimes are part of an overhaul of the state's criminal laws.

USDAgov / Flickr

The Missouri Department of Conservation says a beetle that is fatal to ash trees has spread to southwest Missouri. 

Eric Greitens
Dave Ingraham / Flickr

Missouri Republican Governor-elect Eric Greitens will make budget cuts after he takes office.

Greitens' senior adviser Austin Chambers announced plans for budget cuts Thursday but declined to provide further details, including how much spending previously approved by lawmakers the next governor will restrict.

Greitens takes office January 9. He replaces outgoing Democratic Governor Jay Nixon, who was barred by term limits from seeking re-election.

CameliaTWU / flickr

A recent report by a Missouri task force says the state's public universities and community colleges should not stray from the types of degrees their institutions can grant unless they have a good reason to do so.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Missouri lawmakers asked the task force, made up of 16 state higher education leaders, to address the issue after a dispute between the University of Missouri System and Missouri State University.

Michael Allen / flickr

One of mid-Missouri's fastest growing tourist attractions is a place where nobody wanted to be prior to its closing in 2004 — the Missouri State Penitentiary.

The Jefferson City News Tribune reports that 32,811 people this year visited the old state prison, a haunted-looking place that first opened in 1836. The number of visitors was a 25 percent increase over 2015. And Mayor Carrie Tergin noted that as recently as 2009, just 3,000 people visited the landmark.

CAFNR / flickr

Missouri Gov.-elect Eric Greitens has chosen a northeast Missouri woman to be the next director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

Greitens announced on his Facebook page Tuesday that he had chosen Chris Chinn, 41, to lead the department. She and her husband, Kevin, are fifth-generation farmers who raise hogs, cattle and crops near Clarence in Shelby County.

Greitens called Chinn an "outsider" and a leading advocate for agriculture and family farms. In 2013, she was named by the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance as one of their Faces of Farming & Ranching.

Ninety-six-year-old Cyrus Porter is a devoted Taylor Swift fan and has traveled to her shows, but on Monday, he didn't have to go anywhere. Swift came to him.

A day after Porter hosted 72 people for Christmas, a van pulled into the driveway of his home in New Madrid.

Out stepped Taylor Swift and her parents. The 27-year-old singer stayed about an hour and sang "Shake It Off" as Porter's relatives sang along.

Swift had learned about the World War II combat veteran's fandom and decided to surprise him.

David Shane / Flickr

Missouri lawmakers hope that the upcoming session will finally produce a ban on lobbyist gifts, thanks to support from Republican Gov.-elect Eric Greitens. 

Authorities in the St. Louis area are searching for a 5-month-old girl after someone took off with the minivan she was in earlier this week.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the baby, Eden Brooke Hawthorne, was last seen in the 2006 Chrysler Town and Country van at a Church's Chicken in Normandy on Monday night.

Police say the mother rode to the restaurant with the baby and four other people. The mother and a man went inside the restaurant, and the minivan left with the baby inside.

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Jonathunder / Wikimedia commons

A federal appellate court has reinstated a judge's 2013 ruling that a central Missouri technical college's mandatory drug testing policy is unconstitutional when applied to most students.

The 9-2 ruling yesterday by the full 8th U.S. District Court of Appeals in St. Louis sided with the American Civil Liberties Union in reversing an earlier decision by a three-judge panel of that court.

That trio had overturned a federal judge's injunction barring State Technical College of Missouri — formerly Linn State Technical College — from drug screening all of its 1,200 students.

j.stephenconn / flickr

The Missouri lawmaker behind a failed attempt to protect some businesses opposed to same-sex marriage says he doesn't plan to try again next year.

Republican Sen. Bob Onder told The Associated Press on Wednesday that too much time was spent this year on the proposed constitutional amendment, only for it to fail.

It would have barred government penalties against businesses such as florists that cite religion while denying some goods and services for same-sex weddings. It also needed voter approval.

Provided by Columbia Parks and Recreation

A 144-mile stretch of a former railroad line is expected to be transferred to the state of Missouri by the end of next year for use as a hiking and biking trail.

Gov. Jay Nixon was at Ameren headquarters in St. Louis Wednesday to announce details of plans to develop the former Rock Island rail line from Windsor, in western Missouri, to Beaufort, about 60 miles southwest of St. Louis.

Nixon says the new trail will strengthen economies along its path and bolster the state's image as a leading hiking and biking destination.

David Shane / Flickr

Republican Gov.-elect Eric Greitens is appointing a North Carolina corrections official to lead Missouri's Department of Corrections.

Greitens announced his pick Wednesday of North Carolina community supervision Director Anne Precythe.

The Senate must confirm her appointment.

Current Missouri prisons chief George Lombardi had applied to stay on when Greitens assumes office in January, but later withdrew his application.

j.stephenconn / flickr

The Missouri Supreme Court has reinstated the law license of former St. Louis Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr.

Bosley's license was suspended indefinitely in September 2014 over allegations that mishandled clients' money.

Bosley served as St. Louis mayor from 1993 to 1997 and has run a law firm that handles personal injury lawsuits and other cases.

The state Supreme Court had court found Bosley violated attorney rules by mingling clients' money with personal funds, failing to keep complete records and not promptly paying money to clients.

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Jonathunder / Wikimedia commons

A Missouri appeals court has ordered a new trial for a man sentenced to three decades in prison for infecting another man with HIV and endangering four others with the disease while attending college.

A Missouri Court of Appeals panel sided yesterday with Michael L. Johnson's claim that the St. Charles County trial court abused its discretion by admitting excerpted recordings of phone calls Johnson made while jailed. Those recordings weren't disclosed to Johnson's attorneys until the morning of the first day of trial.

David Shane / Flickr

Outgoing Democratic Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is warning the Democratic Party against veering to the left after the party's defeats in this year's elections.

Nixon told The Associated Press yesterday that the party needs to include those with more centrist values.

Nixon says identity politics can lead to exclusion and says it's wrong not to welcome those who enjoy sporting activities including shooting, hunting and fishing.

David Shane / Flickr

Missouri Republican Gov.-elect Eric Greitens has named a top Anheuser-Busch official, Michael Roche, to be his chief of staff.

The Kansas City Star first reported the pick Tuesday.

Roche is vice president of national affairs for the brewery and worked as a federal lobbyist for the company.

Greitens' former campaign manager, Austin Chambers, says he'll stay on as a senior adviser.

Chambers also confirmed that Jennae Neustadt will be Greitens' legislative director. She previously worked as chief of staff for Republican state Sen. Bob Onder.

Adam Procter / flickr

Documents obtained by the Columbia Daily Tribune show 16 students who drank at University of Missouri fraternities were taken to hospitals for alcohol poisoning since August 2015.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports those incidents include cases reported to the university police department or the Department of Student Life. Records show six incidents involving an emergency medical response where a student didn't have to be transported to a hospital.

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mikecogh / Flickr

Six federal inmates serving time in Missouri-related drug cases are getting their sentences shortened by President Barack Obama, and three others got pardons.

The commutations were among 153 announced yesterday by the White House, along with 78 pardons. That's the largest number of individual clemencies in a single day by any president.

Obama issued pardons to Bob Edward Bone of St. Louis and Larry Wayne Childress of Williamsville in methamphetamine conspiracy cases, and Emmanuel Gabriel Leeper of Plano, Texas, for a marijuana-possession conviction.

22860 / flickr

Advocates for domestic violence victims and the National Rifle Association are working with lawmakers to keep firearms out of the hands of batterers.

The Columbia Missourian reports that the issue is with a new law that allows Missourians to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. The concern is that law enforcement officers will no longer be able to use the permitting process to ensure guns don't fall into the wrong hands when the law takes effect Jan. 1.

Karen Blaha / flickr

The dangerous wintry mix that settled over Missouri during the weekend is gone, but bitter cold on Monday forced dozens of schools to call off classes and made venturing outdoors miserable.

Parts of the state awoke to temperatures below zero Monday morning, and readings most everywhere else were in single digits. Schools remained closed in many places because it was too dangerously cold for the kids to get out.

Nearly 40 water main breaks in the St. Louis area were blamed on the frigid conditions.

ALEX HEUER / St. Louis Public Radio

A newspaper reports that members of Missouri Gov.-elect Eric Greitens' transition team have agreed to not publicly discuss their activities.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says documents obtained through the state's open-records law show members of the transition team are required to pledge in writing that they won't discuss the group's inner workings.

That "Code of Conduct and Confidentiality Agreement" notes that not complying with its 17 requirements may result in the offender's ouster from the transition team, and "other sanctions" deemed appropriate.

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