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Morning headlines: Monday, December 5, 2011

(Missouri State Redistricting Office)
Some lawmakers are raising constitutional questions about new Missouri House and Senate districts. The St. Louis area is shown here.

Lawmakers raise constitutional questions about new districts

Some Missouri lawmakers are questioning the constitutionality of new state House and Senate districts. A judicial panel approved the new districts last week, and many of the Senate districts split a single county among multiple new districts. The state's Constitution says Senate district lines cannot cross counties except when the county has too many residents to fit into one district. That's why it's okay to split the 1 million residents of St. Louis County into multiple districts, including some that dip into St. Louis city or Jefferson County. Lawmakers, though, are questioning why less populated counties, like west-central Johnson County, are split among multiple districts.

Incoming Univ. of Illinois students to find out tuition earlier

Trustees of the University of Illinois say they'll set tuition rates for the schools' three campuses in January - several months before the decision is typically made.

"There's nothing gained by waiting," said system president Michael Hogan. "It hampers our ability to provide access and recruit all the right kinds of students. We've been behind the curve."

The university still doesn't know how much money it will receive from the state, but Hogan says the system will be fine even if state support is less than expected. He says the U of I has done a better job building a surplus that will cover any gap between tuition and state aid.

Few nibbles at auction of Cape Girardeau federal building

Just one prospective buyer has expressed any interest in a former federal courthouse in Cape Gireardeau. The General Services Administration is trying a second time to sell the building. Three bidders expressed interest in a first round, but all backed out. The government is trying to sell the building for $750,000. Homeless activist Larry Rice attempted to force the federal government to use the building as a shelter, an effort the General Services Administration rejected in 2009.

Mizzou to play bowl game in Shreveport

The University of Missouri is going to a record seventh consecutive bowl game. The Tigers yesterday announced that they have accepted a bid to the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. They'll play the Tar Heels of the University of North Carolina on Dec. 26. Mizzou was 7-5 this season, with a 5-4 record in the Big 12.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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