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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

Last-minute Missouri House budget heads to governor

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Monday, May 13, 2024   

Missouri's House of Representatives approved a budget of about $51 billion just before a Friday 6 p.m. deadline.

Gov. Mike Parsons has labeled it the "largest supplemental budget in Missouri's history," and can either accept it as-is or make cuts.

Rep. Cody Smith, R-Carthage, the House budget chair, expressed satisfaction for managing to boost funding for education and infrastructure without risking budget shortfalls. He mentioned a surplus of more than $1.5 billion in general revenue, to be used for potential growth or future projects.

"We've got a balanced budget, we've got less spending than we did have last year, and we've got a healthy rainy day fund," Smith outlined. "I think that package is what I'm most proud of."

Smith is especially pleased with the infrastructure spending for Interstate 44 repairs but expressed disappointment in the budgeting process, due to the lack of a conference committee and challenges in the final weeks. Still, he described the final budget as "strong."

Sen. John Rizzo, D-Independence, the Senate Minority Leader, told reporters a special session could be needed due to the budget being "rushed" and the possibility of other issues coming up.

Rep. Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, the House Minority Leader, also shared her dissatisfaction with the budgeting process.

"We cannot allow the 'new normal' for spending taxpayer money to become just two guys writing a budget in secret and then jamming it through the process at the very last minute, full of pork and appeasing lobbyists," Quade stressed.

Quade described the budget as being completed in the "technical sense" but feels lawmakers deliberately low-balled spending, as several are competing in Republican primaries for statewide offices. She pointed out it is a strategy allowing them to claim credit for cutting overall state spending.


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