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Morning headlines: Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ann Wagner.
(via Wikimedia Commons/ United States Department of State)
Ann Wagner.

Wagner Enters U.S. House Race

Former Missouri Republican Party Chairwoman Ann Wagnerhas announced her candidacy for a U.S. House race.  Congressman Todd Akinannounced Tuesday that he will forgo re-election for his suburban St. Louis seat to instead enter the Republican primary to challenge Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. Hours later, Wagner announced that she will run for Akin's 2nd District seat.

Wagner is the second Republican to officially enter the race following an announcement last week by St. Louis attorney Ed Martin. Both Wagner and Martin were present Tuesday for Akin's Senate announcement. Akin declined to endorse a successor.

Army Corps of Engineers: Damage Assessment Won't Begin Until July

The Army is telling Missouri's congressional delegation that while restoration of the land behind the Birds Point Levee is a high priority, accurate damage assessment won't begin until July at the earliest. The Southeast Missourian reportsthat the letter warns that additional rain could compound the problem and slow the assessment.

The Army Corps of Engineers intentionally breached the levee near the town of Wyatt on May 2 to relieve pressure from the flooding Mississippi and Ohio rivers at nearby Cairo, Ill. The breach flooded 130,000 acres of prime Missouri farmland and damaged or destroyed as many as 100 homes.

U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson of Cape Girardeau criticized the letter's lack of specifics, saying it offered no solutions aimed at draining the floodway faster.

New Illinois Law Would Prohibit Gun Permit for Those Convicted of Domestic Battery or Under Restraining Order

Illinois residents under a restraining order or convicted of domestic battery will no longer be allowed to own firearms in legislation heading to Gov. Pat Quinn's desk. The bill passed the Senate 55-1 on Tuesday.

Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, has 60 days to sign or veto the legislation. Currently, people convicted of domestic violence charges within five years of applying for a state gun permit are prohibited from owning firearms. The new bill would extend that "look back" period indefinitely. Supporters say preventing people with restraining orders from owning guns will reduce killings out of anger or revenge.