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Morning headlines: February 15, 2012

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster
Missouri Attorney General's office
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster

Koster wants U.S. Supreme Court to reject individual health insurance mandate

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster wants the U.S. Supreme Court to reject an individual health insurance mandate but uphold other parts of the federal health care law. Koster, a Democrat, said Tuesday his office filed a written argument in support of a lawsuit by Florida and other states.

The federal law requires most Americans to obtain health insurance by 2014. Koster says the mandate goes beyond what courts have ruled is the authority of Congress to regulate interstate commerce. Koster also says the federal law conflicts with a voter-approved Missouri law barring the government from requiring people to have health insurance and penalizing those who do not.

Republican attorney general candidate Ed Martin says Koster should oppose the entire federal health care law.

Mo. State Senator wants auditor to investigate cost of death penalty

State Sen. Joe Keaveny of St. Louis  says the audit would be the first comprehensive study in Missouri to compare the cost of the death penalty with sentencing an offender to life in prison without parole.

Keaveny filed a bill seeking the audit this week.

Keaveny says the goal is to determine the cost of capital punishment, not to analyze whether the death penalty is an effective deterrent to crime.

Ill. Attorney General opposes using mortgage settlement to help prop up budget

Illinois government will receive roughly $100 million from a major mortgage settlement over foreclosure activities by some of the nation's biggest banks. Consumers will receive about $1 billion.

A spokeswoman for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says the attorney general decides how to use state government's share and she is firm on using it to help people in danger of losing their homes.

Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn's administration has also said the $100 million should be used to fight mortgage fraud.

Governors in Missouri and Wisconsin want to divert the money to other uses.