The Missouri House has given first-round approval to legislation that would return control of the St. Louis Police Department to the city. The department has been under state control since the Civil War. Last year, the bill fell 12 votes short of first-round approval, but this year it passed overwhelmingly, with more than 75 percent of lawmakers voting yes. Supporters added a new argument this year: that it doesn't make sense to subsidize the St. Louis Police Department while having to cut the state budget in other areas.
Rex Sinquefield in 2008. Sinquefield is donating $300,000 to further political action committee A Safer Missouri's efforts to remove St. Louis and Kansas City police from state control. (UPI/Bill Greenblatt)
University of Missouri Curators have scheduled a virtual meeting this morning to discuss a likely tuition increase at the four-campus system. The video teleconference comes in advance of a late January meeting in Columbia where the curators are expected to approve the system's first tuition increase in three years. School officials have said they hope to keep the increase below 10 percent. Tuition for the coming academic year is typically set in the spring. But university leaders want an early start because Missouri law requires a waiver from the state to raise tuition beyond the Consumer Price Index inflation rate. Students who live in Missouri and take a standard 15 credit course load pay $3,684 in tuition each semester. A 9 percent increase would translate into a $332 boost per semester.
St. Louis police are investigating the accidental shooting of a three-year-old boy. Police say the toddler was critically wounded when he accidentally shot himself in the head. St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the boy underwent surgery Thursday afternoon at St. Louis Children's Hospital. Police believe the boy was with his mother and an infant sibling at their north St. Louis home when he somehow got his hands on a loaded gun. They say he accidentally shot himself and was found lying on a bed. The mother ran to get the father at the neighbor's house and they raced the toddler to the hospital, flagging down paramedics on the way. The toddler remains in critical condition.
The Belleville News Democrat is reporting that lawyers for Christopher Coleman are asking for a delay in the February 15 trial to allow Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to make a decision on a bill that would abolish the death penalty in the state. Coleman is accused of killing his wife and sons in their Columbia, Ill. home in May 2009. He faces a possible death sentence if convicted.
St. Louis police are investigating after a You Tube video surfaced showing a city officer beating a man with his nightstick. The officer is on administrative duty pending the completion of the department's investigation. The video was shot at a convenience store, through an uninvolved vehicle's window. The convenience store owner says the off-duty officer was working security when a young man came in and caused a disturbance. He says the video doesn't show the man grabbing at the officer's ankles and that he believes the officer did nothing wrong. You Tube removed the video Tuesday afternoon.
Illinois legislators will begin the process to redraw the state's political lines in the spring. On Tuesday, lawmakers passed changes to the redistricting process, making public input mandatory. If the governor signs the measure, four public hearing will be required by law. There, voters can tell legislators what they want the map to look like before one is drafted. However, critics say the hearing should also be mandatory after a proposed new legislative map is released. Woodstock Democratic Representative Jack Franks says the reforms aren't a panacea to the politically charged process. The changes will also provide increased protections for monitories, ensuring that districts are drawn so minority voters aren't split into too many districts.
The U.S. Army's chief of staff is pledging to get financial help from Congress for soldiers and families affected by last week's tornado at Missouri Fort Leonard Wood. General George Casey Jr. toured the sprawling southern Missouri post on Tuesday, four days after an EF-3tornado destroyed about 30 homes and left more than 60 others needing repairs. Thousands of people were off the post when the tornado struck on New Year's Eve. Casey noted that only a few people were injured. He said most people at the post had a 15-minute warning through sirens and a public address system. He also praised the support from neighboring communities that have donated thousands of items of food, clothing, toys and bedding.