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Morning headlines: Wednesday, January 4, 2012

An interior view of the Missouri State Capitol building in Jefferson City, Mo.
(via Flickr/jimbowen0306)
An interior view of the Missouri State Capitol building in Jefferson City, Mo.

Workers' comp, civil lawsuits top priorities for business groups this legislative session

Missouri business groups are listing changes in workers' compensation, employment law and civil lawsuitsas their top priorities in the legislative session that starts at noon today.

Representatives of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Missouri Merchants and Manufacturers Association and other groups outlined their priorities at a news conference Tuesday.

Proposals backed by the business groups include legislation making it harder to sue for job discrimination and overruling some court decisions on workers' compensation. They're also supporting proposals to curtail what they call frivolous lawsuits. The business groups contend the measures would boost economic development in Missouri without costing state government any money.

Majority of Ill. Republicans voicing support back Romney

The majority of Republicans from Illinois who are publicly endorsing a presidential candidate favor Mitt Romney. Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford is cheering on the presidential hopeful as Romney's Illinois campaign chairman.

Other Romney backers include Congressman Aaron Shock and U.S. Senator Mark Kirk.  GOP Chairman Pat Brady, another supporter, says it may be a risk for a politician to publicly endorse a presidential hopeful this early in the nominating process.

"But you know, that's what you do when you're trying to lead and get people elected, you got to get behind people you think are the best," said Brady. "If people don't like that, that's fine. But we got to win elections and do things different than we have done in the past."

State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka is one Republican watching without saying which candidate she's rooting on. Senate Minority leader Christine Radogno and House GOP leader Tom Cross, also have yet to endorse anyone.

Husband of missing southeast Mo. woman sentenced to five years

The estranged husband of a missing southeast Missouri woman has been sentenced to five years in prison for threatening the woman's sister.

Clay Waller has not been charged in his wife's disappearance, but pleaded guilty in federal court in October to threatening Jacque Waller's sister through an Internet posting. He had been seeking a sentence of less than one year for the threat, and federal sentencing guidelines called for 6-12 months behind bars. But KFVS-TV in Cape Girardeau reportsthat a federal judge yesterday instead issued the longer sentence.

Jacque Waller was last seen leaving Clay Waller's house in Jackson on June 1. Her body has not been found. No charges have been filed in her disappearance, but authorities have said Clay Waller is a suspect.