The dome of the Missouri Capitol Building in Jefferson City, Mo. Mo. House of Representatives members voted against a ban on smoking in their Capitol offices - a move challenged by an ADA lawsuit. (via Flickr/jimbowen0306)
Rossie Judd of Fenton, Mo. has filed an Americans with Disabilities Act complaint against the policy, saying in her complaint that it denies her "meaningful access to the House of Representatives" as a result.
Foreclosure activity in the St. Louis area hit an all-time high in 2010. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that according to figures released by the data firm RealtyTrac, one in every 57 houses in the 17-county St. Louis region received at least one foreclosure filing during the year. The filings are up nearly 12 percent from last year and slightly above the previous records in 2008. The Post-Dispatch reports that these figures come despite billions of federal dollars poured into mortgage modification programs in the past two years, and despite the relatively stable housing market in St. Louis.
Missouri House members are preparing to start work on a new congressional map that will have only eight districts, down from the current nine. U.S. House districts are redrawn every 10 years to reflect changes in population based on the census. The U.S. Census Bureau announced last month that Missouri will lose one seat in the U.S House. The eight districts are the fewest for Missouri since the census of 1850. The state Legislature is responsible for drawing the new congressional districts and will approve them just like any other legislation. A special House committee on redistricting scheduled an organizational meeting Thursday morning, with no plans to take public testimony.
Missouri farmers took in a smaller harvest last year of some of the state's leading crops, Missouri Agricultural Statistics reports that corn production totaled 369 million bushels in 2010, down 17 percent from the previous year. Soybean production totaled 210 million bushels, down 9 percent from the 2009 crop. Hay production fell 7 percent compared with the previous year. And grain sorghum production reached its lowest level since 1955. But harvests did rise last year for cotton and rice farmers. Rice production, in fact, broke the previous state record set in 2005.
Democratic Illinois lawmakers have approved a 67% income-tax increase in a desperate bid to end the state's crippling budget crisis. Legislative leaders rushed early Wednesday morning to pass the politically risky plan before new General Assembly was sworn in at noon. The increase now goes to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. He supports the plan to temporarily raise the personal tax rate to 5% from the current 3% rate. Corporate taxes also would climb.