Morning round-up
9:23 am
Thu September 8, 2011

Morning headlines: Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mo. Senate to consider new measure repealing teacher social media restrictions

A Mo. Senate committee has endorsed a measure to repeal a contentious new law restricting teachers' interaction with students over websites such as Facebook. The Senate Education Committee voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to repeal the law.

The action comes after  a Mo. judge issued an order in September blocking the new law from taking effect, citing concerns that it could violate free speech rights.

Mike Wood of the Missouri State Teachers Association told the Senate Education Committee they support the changes being proposed by GOP Senator Jane Cunningham, who sponsored the original language struck down by a Cole County judge:

“Everybody wants to make sure that our students are protected, and we think this new language accomplishes that by giving the control back to the local districts and not putting undue restrictions on policies that school districts may develop," Wood said.

The new language would require school districts to adopt their own policies regarding communication between students and all school personnel, not just teachers.  But it also falls outside Governor Nixon’s special session call, which only allows for the old language to be removed.

Ill. Gov considering deep cuts

Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn's administration says it considered deep cuts to parole officers and tax collectors while looking for ways to balance the Illinois budget. Programs moving people with disabilities and mental illness into community care were also considered for cuts.  

But Quinn aide Kelly Kraft said Wednesday those ideas have been discarded. She says they never rose above the level of brainstorming. Still, Kraft acknowledged the ideas were shared with the General Assembly as recently as Tuesday.

The Democratic governor says legislators have not given him enough money to keep state government running for a full year. He says he'll have to make deep cuts to keep within the budget that lawmakers approved.

Ameren Mo. customers to see small decline on bills starting later in Sept.

The Missouri Public Service Commission has approved a reduction in the charge that the company passes on to customers for the cost of the fuel and power it purchases. The change will save $2.54 per month for a residential customer using 1,100 kilowatt-hours of electricity monthly.

Ameren Missouri serves about 1.2 million electric customers in the state.

Seat belt usage slightly up in Mo.

A new report shows the percentage of Missourians using seat belts edging higher but still below the national average.  A survey by the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety found 79 percent of the general population is wearing seats belts, slightly higher than last year's figure of 76 percent. The national average is 85 percent.

Among Missouri teens, seat belt use remains relatively flat at 67 percent compared with 66 percent last year.

The report released Wednesday by the Missouri Department of Transportation says the numbers are based on observations of more than 127,000 drivers and passengers at 460 rural and urban sites.

The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety is a partnership of safety organizations including law enforcement, health care, state and federal agencies and planning organizations.