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Morning headlines - Tuesday, July 10, 2012

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(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Patriot Coal files for bankruptcy protection

St. Louis-based Patriot Coal has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the company lists about $3.6 billion in assets and $3.1 billion in liabilities in court documents filed Monday in New York. The company says it’s entering bankruptcy to restructure its finances, and has lined up enough financing to continue mining and shipping coal to customers.

Patriot was spun off from Peabody Energy in 2007, and the Post-Dispatch says analysts do not expect the filing to impact Peabody.

Patriot is the first major coal company to announce bankruptcy, but other St. Louis-based companies are also struggling. In June, Arch Coal announced it would lay off about 750 workers in its mines.

Nixon still mum on Medicaid expansion

Elana Gordon contributed reporting from Kansas City.

Gov. Jay Nixon has yet to make clear whether he thinks the state should take part in a voluntary expansion of its Medicaid program.

The federal health care overhaul originally required states to raise Medicaid eligibility to about 130 percent of the poverty line, but the expansion is voluntary in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling.

Speaking to reporters in Kansas City on Monday, Nixon said he hopes to work with businesses, health care providers, and lawmakers to figure out what's best for the state.

"Both the law and the opinion are complicated," Nixon told reporters. "There are a myriad of issues, and ultimately our goal is to make sure that Missourians have access to affordable health insurance while continuing to keep our fiscal house in order. And that will guide us through it."

The federal government will cover 100 percent of the expansion between 2014 and 2017. Missouri would have to chip in about $60 million in the first year after that, and about $250 million five years later. The state's program already costs about $2 billion.

The Republican-controlled General Assembly has indicated no willingness to expand the health care program for the poor.

Nixon expands "Move Over" law, continues DNA collection fee

Gov. Jay Nixon has signed legislation that expands the state’s “Move Over” law.

Motorists are now required to change lanes and yield to MoDOT vehicles with amber or white lights, including those marked for emergency response or motorist assistance. The lane changes were already required for stopped police cars, ambulances, or other emergency vehicles.

The "Move Over" expansion was a priority for the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission.

Nixon on Monday also signed a measure that continues until 2019 a DNA collection fee that’s charged to individuals convicted of a crime in Missouri. It had been scheduled to expire in 2013. It also eliminates a requirement that money be directed into the state’s general fund if revenue growth isn’t sufficient.

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