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New fiscal year means less Medicaid, more ZIP codes

By Tom Weber, KWMU / AP

St. Louis, MO – The states of Missouri and Illinois - along with a number of cities, local governments and businesses - start their new fiscal year today.

It's also a day when a number of changes take effect, including new requirements on renewing a driver's license in Missouri.

MEDICAID

The new fiscal year also means an end to Medicaid coverage for about 24-thousand low-income parents in Missouri. A last-ditch effort to stop the cuts from taking effect failed in court Thursday.

Lawmakers took steps this year to rein in the cost of Medicaid, which provides health-care benefits to about 1 million people in Missouri.

In all, more than 90,000 people are expected to be dropped from the Medicaid rolls during the new fiscal year. Thousands more will have their benefits reduced.

Three St. Louis mothers went to court this week seeking to block the cuts. The women argued the state made numerous mistakes in implementing the cuts, including dropping some recipients who remain qualified.

WELLSTON SCHOOL

The state of Missouri is taking over a school district for the first time ever today (Friday).

Wellston schools will now be run by a state-named board, including superintendent Charles Brown, a former teacher and administrator in the St. Louis City schools. A judge Thursday rejected a bid by the unaccredited district in north St. Louis County to block the takeover.

Another court hearing is set for next week on whether the state Board of Education made a mistake in its recent decision to deny re-accreditation. Board members cited inadequate improvement in academics.

State officials say students won't notice much difference when the new school year begins under new leadership.

WELLSTON SCHOOLS

A number of Catholic churches in the St. Louis Archdiocese officially close their doors today (Friday).

Most though all but closed last Sunday, after final Masses were celebrated. Other churches will see new parishioners at mass this weekend because parish boundaries were redrawn. The consolidations and closings affect churches in north St. Louis County and south St. Louis City.

TRACKING SEX OFFENDERS

Today is the day the state of Illinois starts tracking dangerous sex offenders with satellites.

The state will start hiring parole officers to operate the global positioning system technology, which will be used once 200 high-risk sex offenders are identified and outfitted with ankle bracelets and transmitters.

Each transmitter sends a signal to a computer that lets the parole officer make sure the sex offender stays away from places like schools and day-care centers.

About 15-hundred sex offenders are on parole in Illinois at any one time. The tracking is just a one-year pilot program, being funded by a federal grant.

CHILD ABUSE CASES

Also starting Friday, people will be allowed to watch child abuse, neglect and foster care hearings.

Supporters say the openness will prevent abusers from hiding from public scrutiny, and they hope more open hearings will revive the public's trust in the state's juvenile care system.

ZIP CODE

About 13,000 addresses in St. Charles County will have to start using a new ZIP code today (Friday).

Population growth is cited as the reason for the move. Everyone in the town of Dardenne Prairie, along with some homes with O'Fallon and St. Charles ZIP codes will now have to use 63368 as their ZIP code.

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