The John Cochran veteran’s hospital in St. Louis has resumed performing surgeries, more than a month after finding spots of surgical equipment. In a statement, the hospital says outside consultants and experts from the Department of Veterans Affairs could not pinpoint the exact cause of the problem. But officials say they replaced damaged instruments and tested the sterilization process several times. They say they’re confident it’s safe to do surgeries. The hospital has also awarded a $6.8 million dollar contract to build a new sterilization facility. The closure of the surgical wing marked the second time in less than a year that concerns were raised about the cleanliness of medical equipment at Cochran.
Legislation making it more difficult for people to win workplace discrimination lawsuits over their dismissals has cleared the state Senate. Missouri law now requires such workers to prove that discrimination was a "contributing" factor in a firing. The Senate bill would require a showing that discrimination was a "motivating" factor. It would also limit the amount of damages that could be awarded in such cases. Senators approved the bill 25-9 on Thursday. It now goes to the House. Proponents say the legislation would bring state law in line with federal policies, possibly making Missouri more appealing to employers. But some critics say the measure is a step backward and could make employers less likely to prevent workplace discrimination.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a measure Thursday that requires consumers to pay sales tax on some Internet purchases. The law says sales taxes must be charged when people buy from online retailers through an Illinois-based partner. For instance, an Illinois business might sell products through Amazon.com. Online businesses generally don’t charge state sales taxes. Illinois costumers are supposed to pay it directly to the state, but rarely do. Proponents of the measure say it levels the playing field between online businesses and brick-and-mortar stores. Opponents say it will drive business out of Illinois.
A deputy U.S. marshal shot in the head while trying to arrest a fugitive early Tuesday morning has died. The U.S. Marshals Service in Washington, D.C. says 48-year-old John Perry died at 7 p.m. Tuesday night at Saint Louis University Hospital. He had been with the U.S. Marshals for almost 10 years. Authorities say the suspect, Carlos Boles, shot Perry and a second U.S. marshal and a St. Louis police officer as they were trying to arrest Boles on charges of assaulting a law enforcement officer and drug possession. Boles was killed in the exchange. U.S. deputy marshal Theodore Abegg was shot in the ankle and as of last night was listed in fair condition at SLU. The St. Louis police officer was hit in his protective vest and received a grazing wound to the face. He was treated at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and released.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn reportedly plans to sign a bill to abolish the death penalty in the state. The two sponsors of the bill say Quinn's staff told them he intends to sign it at a ceremony today. State Rep. Karen Yarbrough and state Sen. Kwame Raoul told The Associated Press on Tuesday that they have been invited to the bill signing in Quinn's Springfield office. Quinn's office declined to comment about his intentions. The new law would take effect July 1. Former Gov. George Ryan imposed a moratorium on executions in Illinois in 2000 after the death sentences of 13 men were overturned. Ryan cleared death row before leaving office in 2003.
A former St. Louis alderman who was recalled from office in 2005 over his support for controversial development projects in his south city ward seems poised to take his old seat back in April. Tom Bauer defeated the current 24th Ward incumbent, Bill Waterhouse. Bauer will face an independent candidate in April. The three other incumbents facing primary challenges all won. In the south side’s 20th ward, Alderman Craig Schmid beat Shannon McGinn. Sixth Ward Alderman Kacie Starr Triplett beat out criminal defense attorney Brad Kessler to continue representing Lafayette Square and Downtown West. And in the St. Louis Hills’ Ward 15, incumbent Donna Baringer beat out former Circuit Clerk Mariano Favazza. As expected, voter turnout was low with less than 7 percent of the city’s registered voters casting a ballot.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Charles and St. Charles County leaders say they will push ahead in the fight against anti-gay protests at military funerals. That's a despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling Wednesday in favor of such demonstrators. In an 8-to-1 ruling, the high court said Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church doesn't have to pay damages to the family of a Marine from Maryland.
It appears that first basemen Albert Pujols will enter spring training on Wednesday with no deal in place with the St. Louis Cardinals.The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that a source familiar with negotiations confirmed Pujols recently rejected the team's contract extension offer. If so, talks presumably would halt Feb. 15 because of a deadline put in place by Pujols' agent. And the likelihood of the three-time National League Most Valuable Player reaching free agency after the upcoming season would increase. There was no comment from the Cardinals on Sunday night. According to reports, Pujols wants a 10-year deal.
Missouri lawmakers are calling for efforts to combat school bullying. Legislators are expected to hold a new conference today in the state Capitol building to discuss legislation. One proposal would develop definitions for "cyber-bullying" and instruct schools to develop policies to combat online bullying. The efforts are backed by the Safe Schools Coalition, which represents 40 organizations across Missouri.
Illinois Republicans are criticizing Governor Pat Quinn ahead of his budget address. Quinn is scheduled to lay out his proposed state spending plan for the next year on Wednesday. Last month, Quinn signed a bill raising income and corporate taxes to help balance the state's multi-billion dollar deficit. Republican State Senator Matt Murphy says he wants Quinn to repeal the tax increases and make more spending cuts. Murphy says given the state's budget problems, he would be open to cutting education funding. Meantime, Quinn says he's made $3 billion in budget cuts since taking office.