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Morning headlines: March 13, 2012

Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon.
(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)
Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon.

Good morning! Here are some of the starting headlines of the day so far:

Nixon to hold news conference Tuesday on proposed cut in state aid to the blind

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is taking his case to the public to try to reverse a proposed cut in state aid to the blind. The Democratic governor is holding a news conference Tuesday in Columbia with leaders from organizations for the blind to oppose a cut made by the Republican-led House budget committee.

The panel recently voted to eliminate a $30 million program that covers medical care for blind people who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. The committee instead would provide $6 million for a new, slimmed-down program for the blind. House Republicans said the reduction was part of their plan to reverse a cut in funding for public colleges and universities that Nixon had proposed. Both proposals would affect the budget that takes effect July 1.

Romney to campaign in Missouri Tuesday

After urging Mississippi and Alabama Republicans to speed him toward the presidential nomination, Mitt Romney is campaigning in Missouri ahead of its Saturday caucuses. Romney is scheduled Tuesday to speak on jobs and the economy at a morning event in the Kirkwood Park area of St. Louis, and to hold an evening event in Liberty, Mo., north of Kansas City. The former Massachusetts governor made a final pitch to Alabama voters on Monday in Mobile, where he appeared with comedian Jeff Foxworthy.

Romney repeated his familiar jabs at President Barack Obama, saying the president has botched policy on energy, taxes, health care and other issues. Romney said his GOP rivals spent their careers in Washington, which he said made them less able to fix the federal government's problems.

Commission agrees on boundaries for Missouri Senate districts

A bipartisan commission has agreed to new boundaries for Missouri's 34 state Senate districts after making some adjustments to an earlier proposal to smooth population differences. Commissioners approved the plan 10-0 on Monday. Chairman Doug Harpool says the changes are designed to distribute population more evenly and are not likely to affect the political characteristics of the districts. This is the second attempt to draw new Senate districts based on the 2010 census.

A different bipartisan panel deadlocked on a map last year, handing the task to a special panel of appellate judges. The Missouri Supreme Court in January rejected the panel's map. The tentative redistricting plan had been criticized by some St. Louis Republicans was challenged in a federal lawsuit.

Missouri state auditor releases summary of Sunshine Law violations

State auditor Tom Schweich released a summary Monday of Sunshine Law violations from audits done over the last two years.

The report came just as Sunshine Law week begins in Missouri.

Of the 55 violations noted, the most common violations by local governmental bodies included failing to note why they closed a meeting or to document their votes to go into a closed meeting.

Deputy Auditor Harry Otto says it's important for the public to be aware of the law and to hold public official accountable.

"They generally should be performing in sunshine where you can see what's going on," Otto said. "Occasionally and for good reasons that might not always be the case, so there are exceptions and if they stay within the exceptions they stay within the law."

The cities of Florissant and University City were cited in the report, as well as the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Authority and the City of St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners.

Otto said all those bodies were notified about the violations in their initial audit.

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.