Fri March 4, 2011
Morning headlines: Friday, March 4, 2011
- Legislation that would bar the state minimum wage from exceeding the federal rate has passed the Missouri House. A ballot initiative passed in 2006 raised Missouri's minimum wage to $6.50 an hour and tied future increases to the rate of inflation. Proponents of the legislation say the economic climate has changed since 2006 because of the recession. They say capping the minimum wage is necessary to help Missouri companies compete with employers in other states. Critics say lawmakers should not reverse a measure backed by the voters. They argue that letting the minimum wage rise with inflation could help Missouri's economy by giving workers more money to spend.
- Delinquent Missouri taxpayers would get a chance to pay off their debts without owing penalties or interest under legislation approved by the House. Taxpayers would need to pay their bills between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31 to qualify for the amnesty. They also would need to comply with state tax laws for the next eight years, or they would owe the penalties and interest that have been pardoned. The Missouri House approved the legislation 154-0 Thursday. It now goes to the state Senate. Supporters say the measure could bring in as much as $74 million. They say it also offers a clean slate for those who have fallen behind on their taxes.
- A jury has returned a guilty verdict against a man who confessed to killing a suburban St. Louis police officer. St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch has said he plans to seek the death penalty against Todd Shepard for the killing of University City police Sergeant Michael King. King was shot on Halloween night in 2008 while sitting in his squad car. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the jury deliberated about an hour Thursday before convicting 43 year-old Shepard of first-degree murder and armed criminal action. Earlier Thursday, Shepard testified he was motivated to seek out and kill a white officer. Shepard testified he is of mixed race but considers himself black. He described choosing King because he was white and vulnerable in the parked car with the window open.