Morning headlines: Friday, May 6, 2011
After Guilty Verdict, Jury Will Now Decide Coleman's Punishment
The jury that convicted Christopher Coleman in the murder of his wife and sons now must decide whether he’s eligible for the death penalty.
Jurors deliberated for nearly 15 hours over two days before finding the 34-year-old Coleman guilty of three counts of first-degree murder Thursday evening. Thirty-one-year-old Sheri Coleman and the couple's 9- and 11-year-old sons were strangled in their Columbia home in May 2009.
Judge Milton Wharton asked jurors to return Friday morning at 10 a.m. for a separate hearing to consider Christopher Coleman's sentence. The hearing could last several days.
Illinois has abolished the death penalty, effective July 1. Gov. Pat Quinn has said he'll commute any death sentences handed down before then to life in prison.
Nixon to Mo. General Assembly: Budget Out of Balance
Democratic Governor Jay Nixon says the state budget sent to him by the GOP-led General Assembly is $30 million out of balance.
In a statement, he commended lawmakers for doing their jobs, but also said he will remove $30 million from the budget, by line-item veto.
House Budget Chair Ryan Silvey of Kansas City says next year’s state budget is not out of balance.
“Well, that’s interesting, considering (the budget we sent him) was 16 million less than he introduced, so that would make the third consecutive out-of-balance budget that he’s asked for, so I guess if you’re looking for a governor that consistently asks for more money than we have, he’s your guy.”
The difference of opinion stems from the repeal of the corporate franchise tax. Governor Nixon signed it into law, but holds that it will take a bite out of next year’s budget, which takes effect July first. GOP leaders disagree, saying the impact won’t hit until Fiscal Year 2013.
Missouri House Endorses Proposal Charging Customers for Nuclear Power Plant
Missouri House members have endorsed a proposal to let utilities charge electric customers for some costs of developing a nuclear power plant before it's built.
The House voted 121-21 Thursday to add the nuclear plant issue to a separate bill, which wasn't put to a final vote. The legislative session ends May 13.
A voter-approved 1976 law bars Missouri utilities from passing the costs of building a nuclear plant along to customers before it starts producing electricity. Utilities are asking this year for the right to charge customers the cost of a securing an early site permit from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Supporters say the legislation is needed to make expansion of nuclear power an option in Missouri. Critics have raised concerns about consumer protections.