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Members of the senate walk onto the floor of the House chambers ahead of this year's State of the State address.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

City-County Merger Plan Could Face Big Hurdles From Missouri Lawmakers

Updated at 3 p.m. on Thursday to detail Senate action on nonbinding merger resolution. In a Capitol building often defined by division, state Rep. Peter Merideth believes Better Together’s city-county merger proposal is unifying the disparate St. Louis delegation. But the St. Louis Democrat said it’s not the kind of unity that proponents probably wanted or expected. “One thing that we’ve seen in this building is a remarkable amount of regional and bipartisan unity in the idea that this is the wrong way to go about a merger in St. Louis,” Merideth said. “I think the thing that we all agree on is that it should not be happening with a statewide vote that doesn’t allow any real, true local control over our own fate.”

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St. Louis, MO – The Cardinals' trip to the post-season will add millions to the local economy.

The St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association says each home game during the current series against Arizona will bring in about $2.1 million. If the Redbirds make the full run through the World Series, the total economic impact could reach $178 million.

The Cards lead their best-of-five Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, 1-0. Game two is today in Arizona, starting at 3:00pm.

East St. Louis, IL – East St. Louis Police Chief Delbert Marion says he opposes a cost-cutting plan to combine his department with several nearby squads.

East St. Louis City Councilman Charles Powell suggested the move in an effort to trim more than one million dollars from the city's budget.

Powell also suggested the city turn over its emergency dispatch services to Saint Clair County.

Fulton, MO – Westminster College in Fulton will lower tuition next fall.

New students will pay $12,300 dollars for the academic year that starts next fall. That figure is down from this year's $15,360.

The liberal arts college started this academic year with a record enrollment of 751. The school's president says the tuition discount is an effort to get that number up to 900 by 2006.

St. Louis, MO – The former prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, was in St. Louis Wednesday for several speaking events.

Netanyahu told a small audience of students and faculty at Maryville University that the U.S. should not hesitate to launch a military attack on Iraq. He says Saddam Hussein needs to be stopped from amassing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons immediately.

Topeka, KS – A reversal and apology to her Show-Me State
neighbors Thursday from Kansas gubernatorial hopeful Kathleen Sebelius. The Democratic candidate issued verbal and written statements saying she was insensitive Wednesday in suggesting that driving on Missouri roads was more terrifying than the 9-11 attacks.

Springfield, IL & Jefferson City, MO – Missouri collected 2.7% less tax money this July, August, and September than it did during those three months last year.

Budget Director Linda Luebbering says state revenue was $76 million short of what lawmakers budgeted for the first three months of the fiscal year. But Luebbering says she wants to study the outlook more before recommending any more budget cuts to Governor Holden.

St. Louis, MO – The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Wednesday that while state law mandates that absentee balloting for next month's election was to begin more than a week ago, the city's absentee ballots still were not ready.
At a press conference Wednesday Sheila Greenbaum with the City Board of Election Commissioners attempted to clear up confusion.

Jefferson City, MO – Tobacco companies are joining forces to try to defeat a tobacco tax increase on the November ballot in Missouri.

They have formed a group called Missourians Against Unfair Taxes, whose members include R.J. Reynolds, Phillip Morris, Lorillard, and Brown and Williamson.

The referendum will ask whether voters want to raise the cigarette tax from $0.17 to $0.72 cents a pack. The new money would go to health care treatment and anti-smoking efforts.

Collinsville, IL – There will be school in Collinsville today, even though teachers there have authorized a strike.

The teachers' union voted yesterday to give at least five days' notice before walking out, with negotiations continuing until then.

At issue is a salary increase. Teachers want a 5% raise the first year, followed by increases of 6% and 7% the next two years. The district has offered a 4% raise in each of the three years.

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St. Louis on the Air

Friday: St. Louis Treasurer Tishuara Jones Discusses City Finances

St. Louis Public Radio reporter Jeremy D. Goodwin will talk to Jones about her plans for St. Louis’ financial relationships.

Curious Louis Answers Your Questions About The St. Louis City-County Merger Plan

Readers have submitted dozens of questions about Better Together's proposal to unify St. Louis and St. Louis County. We'll answer as many as we can in the weeks and months ahead.

St. Louis Public Radio Investigates

Taken: How Police Profit from Seized Property

A data-driven investigation of civil asset forfeiture by St. Louis Public Radio, supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.