Morning round-up
9:16 am
Wed June 1, 2011

Morning headlines: Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Joplin Clean-up Continues

Cleanup efforts in Joplin will move ahead today when Gov. Jay Nixon says crews will begin hauling away debris left by a massive tornado that leveled a third of the city and killed 139 people.

Government officials say the rubble will be taken to three landfills - two in Kansas and one in Lamar, Mo. Environmental officials have said the debris must be handled carefully because it could contain asbestos used in the construction of older buildings and other hazardous waste.

The tornado damaged or destroyed more than 8,000 buildings. Nixon says the federal government will cover 90 percent of the cost of the debris removal. He says the Missouri National Guard will lead the cleanup effort.

Ill. Lawmakers Approve Workers' Comp Overhaul

It took two tries, but a major overhaul of the Illinois workers' compensation system has been approved by state lawmakers.  The measure now goes to Gov. Pat Quinn, who supports it.

The workers' compensation changes are supposed to save business more than $500 million in fees related to worker injuries.

It was approved 62-43 in the Illinois House last night.

It had previously failed in the House, and Democrats had threatened to abolish workers' comp entirely. That threat and further arm-twisting produced enough support for passage. Republicans say the bill isn't real reform. They also complain that it hits doctors too hard by cutting their fees.

St. Charles Votes to Put Smoking Ban on 2012 Ballot

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the St. Charles County Council voted last night for legislation to put the countywide smoking ban on the November 2012 election ballot. The fate of the smoking ban now goes to County Executive Steve Ehlmann who will decide whether he’ll sign or veto the measure.

The ban would apply to bars, restaurants and most other indoor public places.

Supporters of the measure say secondhand smoke is a health hazard that can lead to cancer. Opponents complain that business and customer rights would be violated.

The Post-Dispatch reports that unlike smoking bans already in effect in St. Louis and St. Louis County, the St. Charles proposal includes no exemptions for bars in which food service is a relatively small portion of their business.

County Executive Steve Ehlman has said he has a problem with government telling people how to run their businesses but that he recognizes the health concerns.