Morning headlines: Thursday, March 29, 2012
Mo. Senator accuses state labor department of improperly manipulating wages with unions
A top Missouri Senate leader says the state labor department is improperly working with unions to manipulate wages paid on public works projects. The state calculates an annual "prevailing wage" for various construction trades in each county based on surveys of wages already paid on jobs.
Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, a Republican from Dexter, said Wednesday that state bureaucrats and labor unions had engaged in what he called "collusion.
He distributed copies of emails appearing to show union staff asking state labor department officials how many hours had been reported by non-union contractors in various counties. Mayer says unions use that information to submit enough hours on each survey to unfairly boost wage rates.
A labor department spokeswoman says that information is a public record that anyone can request.
Mo. Governor Nixon proposes plan to avoid cuts to health benefits for the blind
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon says his administration has identified some additional federal money that could help avoid cuts to a program that provides health benefits to the blind.
Nixon's administration said Wednesday that most of the additional $18 million of federal Medicaid money could be used to restore the blind benefit cuts included in a budget plan passed by the house.
The budget plan would replace a $30 million dollar health care program for the blind with a $6 million program. Nixon has opposed the cut. House republicans say it is necessary to avoid making a cut that Nixon had proposed to public colleges and universities.
Nixon's new budget recommendations will be considered first by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Search continues for construction worker who fell into Mississippi River
The search will resume this morning, for a construction worker who fell with a piece of equipment into the Mississippi river Wednesday during a bridge-building project.
Authorities called off the search late Wednesday afternoon because of strong river currents.
Engineer Greg Horn with the Missouri Department of Transportation says the man was working near a cement pylon of the bridge project when the equipment he was harnessed to plunged into the water.
Police say the man's family has been notified and came to the search site Wednesday. The worker's name hasn't publicly been released.
Federal workplace safety investigators are on the scene.
New bill would make CPR training requirement for public school graduation
Missouri public school students would need training in CPR as a graduation requirement under new legislation approved by the state House. The CPR training would be based on national guidelines for emergency cardiovascular care and include hands-on practice and testing.
First responders could provide the training under agreements with individuals schools, but the legislation doesn't require that instructors be specially certified.
The requirement would take effect starting in the fall of 2014. Supporters say it could save lives by increasing the number of people who know how to perform CPR.
Wednesday's House vote sends the bill to the Senate.