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Morning headlines: Tuesday, March 15, 2011

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay says the city will lay off 30 firefighters. (UPI/Bill Greenblatt)
  • According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay announced late last night that the city will lay off 30 firefighters. Chief of Staff Jeff Rainford says the city will cut 24 more positions through attrition, bringing the cuts to nearly 10 percent of the departments 600 firefighters. Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson says the layoffs will not impact public safety. Rainford told the Post-Dispatch that the Fire Department is on track to overspend by more than $2 million this year, and the city will have to pay $4.7 million more to float firefighter pensions next year. The city only has $6 million in reserves. City and union negotiations met Monday, but a deal seemed impossible this year. According to the city's budget office, the 30 jobs will save an estimated $1.4 million a year in a salaries. The department will still have to cut several million dollars before next fiscal year.
  • The patients of a terminally ill Canadian toddler deemed to be in a permanent vegetative state have moved him to Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis after a Canadian court ruled that doctors could remove his breathing tube. Thirteen-month-old Joseph Maraachli had been hospitalized since October at London Health Sciences Center in Ontario because of a neurodegenerative disease. Cardinal Glennon physicians will likely perform a tracheotomy by the end of this week to facilitate Joseph's transition to a skilled nursing facility.
  • The Missouri House has endorsed legislation imposing new limits on late-term abortions and criminal penalties on doctors who don't abide by the new standards. A bill given first-round approval Monday would remove a general exception for the woman's health from Missouri's current law banning abortions on viable fetuses. Instead, it would grant exceptions only when the woman's life is endangered by a physical issue or when the pregnancy would post a "substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function." It also would require concurrence from a second physician before an abortion is performed on a viable fetus. Doctors who violate any requirements when aborting viable fetuses one to seven years in prison and a fine between $10,000 and $50,000.

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