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Morning headlines: February 14, 2012

Flickr/brains the head

Debate brewing in Missouri Capitol over birth control

A Senate committee has scheduled a hearing for today on legislation allowing employers to refuse to provide insurance coverage for birth control, abortions or sterilization procedures, if doing so would go against the employer's religious beliefs.

Sponsoring Sen. John Lamping, a St. Louis County Republican, says health insurance is a benefit and that employers should decide how it is structured.

Representatives from Planned Parenthood of Missouri spoke out against the Senate bill yesterday, as did several Democratic lawmakers. They say the Senate proposal would essentially allow employers to deny their employees necessary medical care, even if the employees don't share their religious beliefs.

Missouri Senate gives initial approve to increasing length of yellow traffic lights

The bill endorsed Monday would have the Missouri Department of Transportation establish standard times for yellow lights based on federal guidelines. The Federal Highway Administration says a yellow light should last three to six seconds, depending on the speed of traffic at an intersection.

Sponsoring Sen. Jim Lembke, a St. Louis County Republican, says that under current law, cities with red-light cameras could shorten yellow lights to increase red-light violations and bring in more revenue from tickets. He says shorter yellow lights make roads more dangerous. The measure must be approved once more before it goes to the House.

Anheuser-Busch InBev to invest millions at facility in Arnold

Anheuser-Busch Inbev says it will invest between $70 million and $80 million to increase production capacity at its Metal Container Corp. subsidy in Arnold. The Jefferson County facility produces aluminum cans for Anheuser-Busch and soda makers. Anheuser-Busch says the expansion should be complete next year and will help Metal Container Corp. maintain the more than 100 workers at the plant.

The maker of beers such as Budweiser, Bud Light and Michelob says the expansion is made possible through a property tax abatement program in collaboration with the city and county. In October, Anheuser-Busch announced plans to invest $1 billion in facilities across the country over the next three years.