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(via Flickr/jglazer75)

Updated with comments from Quinn, statement from GOP leaders

Illinois state lawmakers now know when they'll have to return to Springfield to wrestle with the state's financially-strapped pension system.

Gov. Pat Quinn today announced an Aug. 17 legislative session for lawmakers to push forward with "full-scale reform." House members were already scheduled to meet that to vote on whether to expel indicted Democratic Rep. Derrick Smith.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

Illinois lawmakers are losing a century-old political perk - the ability to award college scholarships.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation Wednesday to end the practice after one last round of awards this summer.

The awards are actually tuition waivers, meaning universities wind up educating the students and not getting any payment.

Over the years, legislators have given waivers to the children of friends, campaign donors and political allies.

(via the Institute for Justice)

Updated at 1:25 with statement from the city.

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined a request to review an opinion from a lower federal appeals court that allowed a St. Louis man to keep a mural that protests eminent domain.

(University of Missouri-St. Louis)

Updated at 1:00 p.m. following conference call and media availability.

Updated at 1:07 to correct who would have to provide the tuition waiver.

Missouri residents attending the four campuses of the University of Missouri system will see their tuition increase by three percent - about $230 - next year.

The system's Board of Curators voted 7-0 during a teleconference meeting this morning to approve that increase, as well as increases in a variety of fees that students pay for specialized programs.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Updated 12:24 p.m. with judge's recommendation for Blagojevich to go to Colorado prison.

A federal judge in Chicago has agreed to delay the start of ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's prison term.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel on Tuesday agreed to allow Blagojevich to report to prison on March 15.

(via Flickr/KellyB.)

Missouri lost 3,300 jobs in November but the state's jobless rate still dropped.

The Department of Economic Development reported Friday evening that the state's unemployment rate dropped three-tenths of a point to 8.2 percent last month.

The decline in nonfarm employments comes after the state reported that it added about 1,100 jobs in October. However, the state reported a net loss of 4,000 nonfarm jobs in September.

(via Flickr/Meagan)

The Environmental Protection Agency says air tests in Joplin don't indicate health concerns from asbestos.

The EPA's regional office says it will continue to monitor air in Joplin as the town recovers from the May 22 tornado that ripped apart about a third of the southwest Missouri community.

The agency said its plan includes sampling the air at various locations in and around the tornado's impact zone. The emphasis is on monitoring for asbestos and particulate matter.