Morning headlines: Friday, March 11, 2011
The John Cochran veteran’s hospital in St. Louis has resumed performing surgeries, more than a month after finding spots of surgical equipment. In a statement, the hospital says outside consultants and experts from the Department of Veterans Affairs could not pinpoint the exact cause of the problem. But officials say they replaced damaged instruments and tested the sterilization process several times. They say they’re confident it’s safe to do surgeries. The hospital has also awarded a $6.8 million dollar contract to build a new sterilization facility. The closure of the surgical wing marked the second time in less than a year that concerns were raised about the cleanliness of medical equipment at Cochran.
Legislation making it more difficult for people to win workplace discrimination lawsuits over their dismissals has cleared the state Senate. Missouri law now requires such workers to prove that discrimination was a "contributing" factor in a firing. The Senate bill would require a showing that discrimination was a "motivating" factor. It would also limit the amount of damages that could be awarded in such cases. Senators approved the bill 25-9 on Thursday. It now goes to the House. Proponents say the legislation would bring state law in line with federal policies, possibly making Missouri more appealing to employers. But some critics say the measure is a step backward and could make employers less likely to prevent workplace discrimination.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a measure Thursday that requires consumers to pay sales tax on some Internet purchases. The law says sales taxes must be charged when people buy from online retailers through an Illinois-based partner. For instance, an Illinois business might sell products through Amazon.com. Online businesses generally don’t charge state sales taxes. Illinois costumers are supposed to pay it directly to the state, but rarely do. Proponents of the measure say it levels the playing field between online businesses and brick-and-mortar stores. Opponents say it will drive business out of Illinois.