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Morning headlines: Tuesday, October 18, 2011

UPI/Bill Greenblatt
Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon (L) welcomes China's Ambassador to the United States, Zhou Wenzhong during a state dinner last year. Nixon says Mo. officials expect to finalize billions of dollars of export agreements during an upcoming trip to China.

Nixon to announce details of China trip

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says state officials expect to finalize billions of dollars of export agreements during an upcoming trade trip to China. Nixon plans to announce more details of the trip today during a visit to a Cargill soybean processing facility in Kansas City.

The governor said Monday the trip will allow the state to sign export agreements with Chinese agencies and provide a chance for numerous Missouri businesses to close deals with Chinese customers.

The timing of the trip is a little less than ideal. That's because Missouri lawmakers meeting in a special session have failed to agree this fall on a proposal for millions of dollars of tax credits to transform the St. Louis airport into a trade hub with the Chinese.

Racetrack officials react to Quinn's slot machine opposition

Officials at Fairmount Park Racetrack in the Metro East are reacting to news that Illiniois' governor will not support slot machines at tracks. Governor Pat Quinn announced Monday he's fine with five new proposed casinos mostly in the Chicago area, but no slot machines at horse tracks.

Lanny Brooks is executive director of the Illinois Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association at Fairmount Park. He says getting slot machines is crucial.

"It's a do or die situation," Brooks said. " If we get them we exist long after I'm gone. If we don't get em our days are numbered."

Brooks says slots would allow Illinois' race tracks to compete with tracks in other states, such as Indiana, where they already have the machines. He says he's still hopeful a compromise can be reached during the Legislature's upcoming veto session in Springfield.

Missouri River flooding officially over

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Monday the river has fallen below flood stages from Fort Peck in Montana to St. Louis and water is off the levee system.

Col. Anthony Hofmann, commander of the Kansas City district, says the corps is assessing the damage to the levees and dams to come up with a repair bill. He expects a report by mid-November.

So far, $27.7 million has been set aside for repairs. The corps is waiting on funding by Congress for the rest. Early estimates show repairs could top $1 billion.

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