Morning headlines: Wednesday, August 15, 2012 | St. Louis Public Radio

Morning headlines: Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Aug 15, 2012

St. Charles County voters could face two anti-smoking ballot measures

St. Charles County voters could face not one but two ballot measures in November that would restrict smoking.

A petition drive heavily financed by Ameristar Casino was submitted to the Elections Commission earlier this month. That measure would exempt the casino and many bars and restaurants from the smoking ban. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that on Monday, County Councilman Joe Cronin introduced an alternative an. Though stricter than the first, it also would exempt gambling establishments.

Both measures face hurdles. A county official says the petition drive paperwork is missing some required language. County Elections Director Rich Chrismer will decide that issue after verifying signatures. Cronin's proposal must make it past a divided council and County Executive Steve Ehlmann, who vetoed a similar proposal last year.

Missouri's unemployment rate up

A new report says Missouri's unemployment rate edged higher last month while the number of nonfarm jobs declined. The Department of Economic Development says the jobless rate rose one-tenth of a point in July to 7.2 percent. That compares with a national rate of 8.3 percent. The Missouri agency also reported Tuesday that nonfarm payroll employment decreased in July by 7,700 jobs.

Officials said record heat and severe drought affected outdoor jobs in such areas as construction, landscaping, lawn care and recreation. July's monthly increase in unemployment was the first in Missouri since June of last year.

Judge schedules hearings on health care measure

A Missouri judge has scheduled two hearings this month on a challenge to the ballot language of a health care measure that goes before voters in November. The lawsuit by Republican Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder and several top GOP lawmakers contends the ballot summary is unfair and misleading. Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, a Democrat, wrote the summary.

Online court records show Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green will hear arguments Friday and again on August 28th.

The ballot proposal was approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature in response to the federal health care overhaul.  It would bar Missouri officials from creating a health insurance exchange without approval from voters or the Legislature. It also would prohibit state agencies from taking federal money to prepare for the online insurance marketplace.

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