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Morning headlines: Thursday, February 16, 2012

St. Louis Police Chief Dan Isom
Joseph Leahy/SLPRnews
St. Louis Police Chief Dan Isom

Police budget cuts 50 officers through attrition

St. Louis Police Chief Dan Isom's budget proposal calls for cutting 50 officers through attrition, not layoffs. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Isom presented the budget Wednesday to the Board of Police Commissioners.

The department is faced with a $3.8 million shortfall. The city allocated $168 million to the department - a 3 percent increase over last year. But pension costs came in $5 million higher than anticipated.

Isom's budget also cancels recruit academy classes and includes no new vehicle purchases in the coming year. Mayor Francis Slay says he supports Isom's proposal, but the mayor also says that any reduction in force is an "absolute last resort."

State high court to hear arguments today on U.S. House districts map

The legal dispute over Missouri's new congressional districts is returning to the state's high court. The Missouri Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments today in a pair of challenges claiming the redrawn U.S. House districts are not sufficiently compact. The state constitution requires congressional districts to be "as compact and as nearly equal in population as may be."

Congressional districts are redrawn every 10 years based on the most recent census. Missouri is losing one of its nine U.S. House districts because its population growth since 2000 did not keep pace with other states.

The Republican-controlled Legislature enacted the new map last year after overriding the veto of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.

Missouri lawmaker wants state to change sex offender registry

Republican Missouri House member Rodney Schad of Versailles is sponsoring a bill that would exempt people from registering for Missouri's sex offender list  if they have been convicted of some non-contact offenses, such as indecent exposure. Only the names and information of people convicted of the most serious sex crimes would be listed on a state website. The website would not include the school and work and addresses of adult sex offenders, nor any information about juvenile offenders.

About 12,000 people are currently on Missouri's active sex offender registry.

Schad says the current format makes it difficult to tell which offenders pose a danger to the public.