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Tibet (provided)

Members of the Mystical Arts of Tibet (provided)

(Mountain Home) – Arkansas State University-Mountain Home (ASUMH) will present its 5th Performing Arts Series this fall.

All shows will be presented in the Vada Sheid Community Development Center’s Ed Coulter Performing Arts Center on the campus of ASUMH, and includes lectures, concerts, cultural arts, theater, and more.

Season Ticket Packages will go on sale to the general public August 17. Season tickets include six shows for $125, plus fees. Season Ticket Packages are half price for ASUMH students and ages 18 and younger. Individual show ticket sales begin August 24.

Shows include a concert from Mike Farris and Roseland Rhythm Reveue September 25 at 7 PM; the Mystical Arts of Tibet, a music and dance performance, November 16-19; a Christmastime performance from the Ten Tenors December 19; a performance of Romeo and Juliet February 14, 2016 at 4 PM; along with other lectures and musical artists.

For more information, visit www.thesheid.com, or call 870-508-6019.

An ornate box turtle. (MDC)

An ornate box turtle. (MDC)

(Jefferson City) – The Missouri Department of Conservation is urging drivers to be cautious on rural roads, as some small friends may be attempting to cross. Brett Stevens has more:

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(Jefferson City) – 33rd District Senator Mike Cunningham, R-Rogersville, says the First Regular Session of the 98th General Assembly ended differently than normal:

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Senator Cunningham added that Senate Bill 210, which would would extend the sunset on certain health care provider reimbursement allowance taxes and modify provisions relating to MO HealthNet and Disproportionate Share Hospital payments, could have been passed a week earlier than it was:

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Senator Cunningham also says hospitals and nursing homes would have suffered without its passage:

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Senator Cunningham says there were also other priorities for him during this legislative session:

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The last day of the session was May 15. The Missouri Senate is expected to fully adjourn on May 27.

(Rover) – The Current River Callers, in conjunction with the National Wild Turkey Federation and Missouri Department of Conservation, invites teens ages 13 to 17 to an “Extreme Jakes Shooting Event” at the Rover Gun Club in Rover, Missouri on Saturday June 13.

The free event, which includes .22 rifle target shooting, skeet, trap and clay “rabbit” shooting, will take place from 9 AM to 1 PM. Preregistration is preferred and transportation to the event can be requested when you register. Lunch is included, along with entry into the day’s grand prize drawing.

To register for the event, call 573-292-9983.

by Marie French, AP

(Jefferson City) (AP) – The Republican-controlled Legislature sent narrowly targeted tax-code changes to Gov. Jay Nixon this year hoping to avoid a repeat of last year, when the Democrat vetoed numerous tax measures he said were special-interest giveaways not accounted for in the budget.

Nixon’s veto pen also might get a rest because lawmakers failed to pass some of the larger tax exemptions he criticized last year, including one for utilities, before the session ended Friday. And the measures they did pass – such as a fuel tax exemption for watercraft – were more narrowly tailored.

Sen. Will Kraus headed a committee that met over the summer to hear from businesses, individuals and accountants about the state’s tax code. He said the legislative session was a success in terms of tax measures that would rein in decisions by the courts and the Department of Revenue to collect sales taxes on items that were previously exempt. He also said veto overrides could be easier this year.

“If you look at what we passed this year, it was primarily protecting taxpayers from our own Department of Revenues overreach,” the Lee’s Summit Republican said Wednesday. “It was a pretty successful session… there’s always things that don’t get done but there’s always next year.”

Nixon has already signed the priciest tax-related measure that got to his desk: Extending an option for calculating corporate income tax to technology and service-based businesses, such as H&R Block and Cerner, which testified in support of the bill. The measure initially was part of last year’s tax-overhaul bill, but Nixon said the estimated $15 million cost was not accounted for in general revenue and needed more public discussion.

Nixon said the bill’s costs still aren’t dealt with in the budget. He said he signed it because it clarifies tax law and levels the playing field for technology and service-based businesses, but warned that it may require him to withhold more revenue from next year’s budget.

“I don’t know what all they did today,” Nixon said Friday after lawmakers adjourned. “I assume they did some things today that are not free.”

Nixon is considering several other tax-policy changes approved by lawmakers in separate, narrowly tailored bills rather than in one omnibus bill. One would require the Department of Revenue to notify businesses when changes are made to tax policies that will allow the department to start collecting sales tax on previously exempt services or products. Another bill would grant a sales tax exemption for commercial laundries.

Lawmakers also passed sales tax exemptions for mandatory gratuities, aircraft purchased by non-Missouri residents, manufactured homes, and fuel for boats. Another bill sent to Nixon would require employers to withhold income taxes only from employees’ reported cash tips.

Some of the specific bills came amid the fallout of the Senate shutting down during the Legislature’s final week over the forced passage of a contentious right-to-work bill. The House stripped amendments off several Senate measures before sending them to the governor Friday. Observers also noted that a change in House committee structure made it more difficult to tack on additional provisions.

The slow-down in the Senate also doomed some of the costliest measures vetoed by Nixon last year. Those measures included exemptions for: equipment purchased by utilities to transmit power, which had a price tag of $25 million; fitness and gymnastics classes, $26 million; and equipment and utilities used by grocery stores and other retailers to prepare food, which would have cost $10 million.

Supporters questioned the estimated costs of those exemptions, saying they would again push for their passage next year.

The exemptions for commercial laundries and fitness classes are being sought by groups that say the Department of Revenue has only recently begun collecting taxes on their services. Republicans dub the department’s practice “notification by audit” and are pushing to end it.

“It will at least stop the practice of surprising business owners with the erroneous tax policy that they’re using,” said Rep. Eric Burli

 

by Jim Salter, AP

FILE - In this  March 11, 2015 file photo, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III speaks during a news conference in Ferguson, Mo. Ferguson city leaders project a $2.5 million budget shortfall during the current fiscal year and a similar shortage in fiscal 2016, largely due to unrest and fallout after the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Knowles told The Associated Press on Thursday, May 21, that layoffs or significant cuts are unlikely. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

FILE – In this March 11, 2015 file photo, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III speaks during a news conference in Ferguson, Mo. Ferguson city leaders project a $2.5 million budget shortfall during the current fiscal year and a similar shortage in fiscal 2016, largely due to unrest and fallout after the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Knowles told The Associated Press on Thursday, May 21, that layoffs or significant cuts are unlikely. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

(Jefferson City) (AP) – Ferguson city leaders project a $2.5 million budget shortfall during the current fiscal year and a similar shortage in fiscal 2016, largely due to the unrest and fallout after the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, the town’s mayor said Thursday.

Mayor James Knowles III said several businesses damaged or destroyed in the riots have not returned, so sales tax revenue is about $400,000 less than budgeted. The city voluntarily agreed to reduce the amount of money collected through the municipal court. Beyond that, police were issuing few tickets in the months after the shooting because they were too busy dealing with protests, Knowles said. As a result, municipal court revenue for the current fiscal year is expected to be $1.2 million – about half of what was projected.

Knowles said layoffs or significant cuts are unlikely because the city had some $8 million accumulated from fiscal management over the last decade, which will be used to help meet the shortfall. He said city leaders, currently working on the budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, will look at ways to save money such as not filling some job vacancies.

“We’ll have to tighten our belts significantly,” Knowles said.

Brown, who was black and unarmed, was fatally shot by white police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. The shooting resulted in protests, some violent, that lasted for weeks, spurring a national “Black Lives Matter” movement. When a grand jury in November declined to prosecute Wilson, unrest escalated again, with several businesses looted or burned.

The U.S. Department of Justice also declined to prosecute Wilson, who resigned from the police force in November. But in a separate report in March, the Justice Department found evidence of racial profiling among police and a profit-driven municipal court system.

City leaders are meeting with the Justice Department as they seek an agreement for changes to the way Ferguson’s municipal government operates.

Knowles said it is unclear how long negotiations with the Justice Department will take. The legal cost and other costs associated with the negotiations are expected to reach $500,000.

Despite the financial hardship, Knowles is optimistic.

Some businesses that left have been replaced. A condominium and commercial development is about to get started. Plans call for redevelopment of West Florissant Avenue — the site of many protests – which should bring in new businesses.

“If that’s the way we’re going to continue, not only is the worst behind us but great days are ahead,” Knowles said.

 

(Missourinet)

(Missourinet)

(Jefferson City) (AP) – St. Peters Rep. Robert Cornejo has entered what could be a crowded race for Missouri House majority leader.

Cornejo told The Associated Press on Thursday he’s running for the position, which became vacant after former House Speaker John Diehl resigned last week.

Diehl acknowledged exchanging sexually suggestive messages with an intern.

Cornejo says he’s dedicated to helping other House Republicans raise campaign money. He says he’s shown leadership through work on a bill to address issues with local courts.

Columbia Rep. Caleb Rowden and Assistant Majority Leader Mike Cierpiot of Lee’s Summit also are running for the majority leader post.

The majority leader determines if, when and how long House members debate bills. It’s considered a stepping stone to speaker, the House’s top position.

 

(Little Rock) (AP) – A Texas-based company is asking Arkansas’ highest court to require the state to return more than $1.3 million in taxes it collected on sand that was used in natural gas drilling.

Attorneys for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration and Weatherford Artificial Lift Systems Inc. in Texas appeared before the state Supreme Court Thursday over a Pulaski County judge’s ruling that the state improperly charged taxes on the sand. DFA is appealing the judge’s ruling that sand qualifies as equipment, meaning taxes can’t be collected.

Lawmakers last year approved changing state law to exempt from sales taxes sand that is used in natural gas drilling. The case pending before the high court is focusing on whether the sand was already exempt before that legislation was approved.

(Little Rock) (AP) – The Arkansas Supreme Court has upheld a man’s driving while intoxicated conviction, saying his argument that a blood sample was taken illegally was an “absurd” interpretation of state law.

In an opinion released Thursday, the court affirmed the DWI conviction of Ernie Charles Metzner.

Metzner’s appeal argued that a circuit court judge was wrong not to suppress a blood-alcohol test taken after the Benton County Sheriff’s office obtained a search warrant to take a blood sample from him. Metzner argued that Arkansas’ implied-consent law prohibits a search warrant in order to obtain a chemical test of the blood.

The court said it would not interpret the law “as to reach an absurd conclusion” that would afford DWI suspects more protection than other criminal defendants.

(Little Rock) (AP) – Federal prosecutors say a former Arkansas treasurer convicted of steering state investments to a broker who gave her cash should be sentenced to 15 to 20 years in prison.

In court papers filed Monday, they argue that a lesser sentence could send the message that public officials are above the law.

Prosecutors said that the sentence backed by former Treasurer Martha Shoffner’s attorneys in her bribery and extortion conviction was too lenient. Shoffner’s attorneys say she should get 12 to 18 months, with half in home detention.

Shoffner, a Democrat, was convicted last year of accepting $36,000 from a bond broker in exchange for steering state investments to his firm. She resigned in 2013, days after the FBI said she accepted cash in a pie box at her Newport home.