Morning round-up
9:30 am
Wed September 21, 2011

Morning headlines: Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wentzville Mayor: news couldn't be better

The United Auto Workers announced Tuesday that GM plans to invest $380 million and bring more than 1,800 jobs to its Wentzville plant as part of a proposed contract with the union.

Mayor Paul Lambi says he's hoping the union will ratify the contract on Monday.

"The announcement made by the UAW seems to be a positive indication that contract negotiations went well," said Lambi. " And it seems to me that I would expect that contract to be approved and ratified."

If the four-year contract is ratified it would mean a second shift would be added in the first quarter of next year, with the added production of a mid-size pickup truck in 2013.

The Wentzville plant currently produces the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana.

Health advocates seek to raise Mo. cigarette tax

The American Cancer Society and a coalition of health, education and business groups on Tuesday filed a ballot initiative with the secretary of state's office to raise the tax by $.80.

The Kansas City Star reports that the groups will have to collect more than 90,000 petition signatures by May to get the measure on the ballot, most likely for the November 2012 general election. Similar proposed cigarette tax increases have failed at the polls in 2002 and 2006.

Missouri has the lowest cigarette excise tax in the nation – 17 cents per pack. The average for all states is $1.46 per pack.The Cancer Society estimates the tax increase would raise about $308 million a year in new revenue.

Former Mo. House member fined for campaign violations

A former Missouri House member has been fined more than $500,000 for several campaign contribution violations. Talibdin "T.D." El-Amin of St. Louis, who was recently released from federal prison for corruption charges, was fined for violations going back to 2006. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that El-Amin controlled several campaign committees before he went to prison for accepting a bribe in 2009.

The state Ethics Commission found that El-Amin used thousands of dollars from those committees for personal expenses, and paid thousands to family members. The commission found El-Amin didn't properly account for tens of thousands of dollars in contributions and expenses and treated campaign accounts like a cash machine.

On Tuesday, El-Amin called the ethics penalty an "administrative charge" and said he had no other comment.