The Associated Press

A judge in central Missouri has appointed nearly 40 private attorneys to represent criminal defendants after announcing last week that the public defenders' office needed the assistance.

Kristofor Husted / KBIA

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill wants to speak with President Donald Trump about campus sexual assault policy.

In a letter today, McCaskill both criticized the administration's handling of the issue so far and asked to talk with him about working together on new policy.

McCaskill said Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' decision to roll back former President Barack Obama's administration policy on investigating campus sexual assaults is confusing for colleges. McCaskill says it also fails to offer needed support for survivors of sexual assault.

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Missouri elected officials are pushing to expand state confidentiality programs that hide the home addresses of victims of domestic violence.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt introduced legislation Thursday to require federal agencies and courts to accept substitute addresses created through state programs.

Missouri is among 36 states with address confidentiality programs.

The U.S. Senate has overwhelmingly approved a North Dakota judge to serve on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Senate voted 95-1 Thursday to confirm Judge Ralph Erickson of Fargo to the St. Louis-based court. Clerk of the Court Michael Gans says Erickson will replace Kermit E. Bye, who retired last year.

President Donald Trump nominated Erickson in June. He's served in various judicial positions for nearly a quarter of a century. In 2003, he was nominated by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as a federal judge.

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Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has appointed a St. Louis attorney to investigate claims that Hawley's predecessor withheld evidence in a lawsuit over the fatal shooting of a black man by a white police officer.

Hawley, a Republican, on Thursday appointed Hal Goldsmith to investigate. The family of Anthony Lamar Smith has alleged in a letter to Hawley's office that former Attorney General Chris Koster, a Democrat, and that the city of St. Louis withheld evidence in a civil suit over Smith's death at the hands of officer Jason Stockley in 2011.

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Ameren Missouri has announced plans to add enough solar and wind electricity to power 214,000 homes.

The St. Louis-based subsidiary of Ameren Corporation said today that adding at least 700 megawatts of wind power would cost about $1 billion and take until 2020. Ameren says improving technology and renewable energy initiatives with large customers could boost wind investment. The new wind facilities would be located in Missouri and neighboring states, but a statement from the company provided no other details.

University of Missouri Law School / MU

Missouri's attorney general is calling for an investigation into claims that evidence was withheld in a lawsuit over the fatal shooting of a black man by a white police officer.

Attorney General Josh Hawley announced today his office will hire an independent counsel to investigate allegations of wrongdoing under former Attorney General Chris Koster.

Smoking
File Photo / KBIA

Missouri prisons have been ordered to eliminate smoking after an asthmatic inmate serving a life sentence for two murders won a court judgment.

The Kansas City Star reports Missouri has been ordered to go smoke-free by April 1 because of the lawsuit Ecclesiastical Denzel Washington filed.

Kristofor Husted / KBIA

A new report says low commodity prices and weak farm incomes are continuing to hamper the rural economy in parts of 10 Plains and Midwestern states.

The Rural Mainstreet Index for the region fell to its lowest level of the year at 39.6 from August's 42.2. The index released Thursday ranges between 0 and 100, with any number under 50 indicating a shrinking economy.

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There have been more fatal police shootings in St. Louis in 2017 than for a decade — with three months still left until year's end.

The new data comes as the city's police department struggles to contain daily protests following the acquittal of white former police officer in the killing of a black suspect.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson says it wasn't acceptable for police to chant "Whose streets? Our streets!" on Sunday after clearing out protesters and onlookers in the city's downtown.

The mayor decried the chant during a news conference Tuesday. Officers in riot gear were heard chanting after making arrests when an organized protest ended and vandalism ensued. The chant is one that protesters commonly use.

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens has put the National Guard on standby in case of protests that could follow a St. Louis judges’ ruling. The ruling would decide whether a former St. Louis police officer is guilty of murder.

Greitens said in a news release released today (Thursday) that activating the National Guard is a (quote) necessary precaution” to help protect infrastructure and free up police for security at protests.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — House budgeters and Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens' administration are clashing over money for a new program Greitens created to fight prescription drug misuse.

House Budget Committee members drilled administration officials Thursday over why they didn't get specific approval from lawmakers to spend money on the program. It's estimated to cost about $470,000 this fiscal year.

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The number of licensed abortion clinics in Missouri has grown from one to two, and a third clinic is expected to begin taking appointments soon.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains received a license to book appointments for nonsurgical abortions at its Kansas City clinic. The organization also is expected to receive a license for surgical and medication abortions at its Columbia clinic in the next few days.

Currently, only the St. Louis clinic is allowed to perform abortions in Missouri.

Senate floor at the Missouri Capitol
File / KBIA

JEFFERSON CITY — The Latest on developments in the Missouri Legislature, which is scheduled to end its annual session at 6 p.m. Friday:

5:25 p.m.

A long debate over which dog reigns supreme in Missouri could be over soon if Gov. Eric Greitens signs a bill designating Old Drum as the official historical dog of Missouri and Jim the Wonder Dog as the official state wonder dog.

Missouri lawmakers passed a bill Friday that gives each dog a designation as a Missouri state symbol.

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Missouri lawmakers have approved legislation on sales tax increases for the St. Louis Zoo. On Thursday Senators voted to send the bill to Governor Eric Greitens.

If signed, the bill would allow ballot initiatives to be brought in St. Louis City and St. Louis County to raise taxes by up to one-eighth of a percent to fund the zoo.

The measure would also allow the zoo to charge admission for new facilities for people who live in counties that don't adopt a zoo tax.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has pledged to fund nearly 50 stream gauges used to monitor potential flooding along rivers.

The Springfield News-Leader reports the Missouri Water Science Center in Rolla manages more than 270 real-time gauges, but 49 of them were scheduled for deactivation in July due to unspecified threats to funding. Gauges cost $14,600 annually to operate.

Jacob Fenston / KBIA

The Missouri State Archive is helping preserve centuries of documents submerged in 8 feet of water during recent flooding.

The News Tribune reports that administrative archivist John Korasick was alerted early Monday morning that the Carter County Courthouse basement, where the county keeps its paper records, had been filled with water.

He and senior conservator Lisa Fox followed the state agency's plan for such an emergency and soon had a refrigerated semitrailer for the soggy, warped books and boxes.

File Photo / KBIA

Missouri lawmakers have approved a spending plan to cut core funding for public colleges and universities by about 6.6 percent.

Greitens had asked lawmakers to cut higher education funding by nearly 10 percent to balance next year's budget. Legislators softened those cuts.

Legislators on Thursday sent the plan to Gov. Eric Greitens' desk. It's part of a package of bills outlining the state's $27 billion budget next fiscal year, which begins in July.

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A busy stretch of Interstate 55 in the St. Louis area has reopened after the Meramec River crested in the area.

The Missouri Department of Transportation announced the reopening of southbound lanes of the interstate in Arnold in a news release Thursday. The reopening will allow traffic from St. Louis to Jefferson County to resume. Northbound lanes of the interstate remained open Wednesday, even as the southbound lanes closed because of flooding.

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St. Louis' embattled minimum wage hike will take effect Friday following a two-year legal fight over the city's effort to require employees to pay workers at least $10 an hour.

A circuit court judge lifted an injunction on Thursday that had blocked a 2015 ordinance from becoming law.

Under the ordinance, St. Louis' minimum wage will rise again in January, to $11 per hour, significantly higher than Missouri's $7.70 minimum.

missouri house floor
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Missouri House members want more information on how much money the state is paying in lawsuit settlements and judgments.

House members voted 150-1 on Thursday to pass legislation to require the attorney general and administration commissioner to update lawmakers and others monthly on state legal expenses.

Jefferson City News Tribune

Police in Fulton say a body found encased in concrete inside a container is likely that of a man missing for nearly a week from a group home.

Police said in a statement Tuesday that the body discovered the day before in a Fulton storage unit may be 31-year-old Carl DeBrodie, but results of any autopsy on the body have not been released.

DeBrodie had been living at the Second Chance group home in Fulton for the past nine years and was reported missing April 17.

No other details were immediately released.

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An advocacy group is pushing a bill that would increase the age of people tried in court as adults to 18 years.

KOLR-TV reports that Missouri is one of seven states that treat 17-year-olds as adults in the criminal-justice system. A group called the "Raise the Age Coalition" has been pushing for a change.

Vivian Murphy is the former director of the Missouri Juvenile Justice Association. She says science has proved teenagers' brains still are developing, and that that putting them in with adult inmates makes them more likely to re-offend.

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The St. Louis Zoo may soon be funded by sales tax from St. Louis and surrounding counties, after the Missouri Senate gave initial approval Thursday to a bill creating new rules for sales tax increases.

The bill now needs one more vote before it goes to the House. Senator Gina Walsh, the sponsor of the bill, said it will allow the zoo to raise money in order to remain a largely free attraction.

The bill would allow St. Louis and surrounding counties to raise taxes by up to 0.125 percent to fund the zoo.

Torie Ross / KBIA

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway says she's investigating potential conflicts of interest related to state officials' work with a trucking technology company.

Galloway announced the investigation Friday after the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported current and former Missouri regulators have worked for the nonprofit HELP Inc. It's the only company that provides technology allowing truckers to bypass Missouri weigh stations.

Missouri Capitol
Ryan Famuliner / KBIA

The Missouri Senate passed a proposal Wednesday to spend about $241 million more than planned for the current fiscal year on unexpected expenses, of which about $44 million comes from state general revenue.

Senators voted unanimously in favor of the supplemental budget, which now goes back to the House for final approval.

Most of the money comes from federal funds, and most will go toward unexpected Medicaid expenses. The state has also allocated about $10 million to the Department of Transportation for vehicle replacements and equipment improvements.

Dave Herholz / Flickr

Recent rains have pushed several rivers in Missouri, including the two big ones, above technical flood stage, but damage is expected to be minimal.

The Mississippi River is at or slightly above flood stage at northeast Missouri towns like Canton and Hannibal. It is expected to reach above flood stage south of St. Louis in places like Cape Girardeau by early next week.

The Missouri River is expected to crest 4 feet above flood stage Friday in Boonville, and 1 to 2 feet above flood stage in places like Hermann, Washington and St. Charles.

Columns at University of Missouri
File Photo / KBIA

The Missouri House has passed a state budget plan that provides more money for K-12 public schools while cutting higher education funding and a tax break for senior and disabled renters.

House members sent the $27.8 billion budget for next fiscal year to the Senate for review Thursday.

The plan provides close to $3.4 billion in basic aid for public schools, the full amount called for under state law.

David Shane / Flickr

A federal judge says he will issue a preliminary injunction to block Missouri's rules that he says restrict abortion rights. 

In a memo issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs said his ruling will invalidate Missouri's requirement that doctors who perform abortions must have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, and that clinics meet hospital-like standards for outpatient surgery.

The injunction was sought by Planned Parenthood, which sued to block the restrictions in November. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down similar rules in Texas earlier last year.

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