Friday, May 31, 2013

State Employees Honored at Annual Recognition Event




Missouri Office of Administration Doug Nelson
 
May 31, 2013


JEFFERSON CITY, MO – State employees will be recognized today for their dedication to public service at the annual Missouri State Employee Recognition Day ceremony held from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. on the steps and south lawn of the Missouri State Capitol. This event is part of the Missouri State Employee Recognition Week celebration.

The event provides an opportunity to say “thank you” to the dynamic and innovative employees who touch the lives of Missouri citizens every day through their professionalism, commitment to service excellence, and diligence. The theme for this year’s event is, Missouri State Employees – Dedicated People Committed to Excellence!

State employees will have the opportunity to visit with representatives from state agencies, organizations, and local businesses that have displays and information highlighting their programs and services. Scheduled entertainment includes a performance by the Jefferson City Swing Dance Club.

“Missouri state employees are often the first point of contact for Missourians needing access to information and resources about state services,” said Gov. Jay Nixon. “State Employee Recognition Day is a way to express our appreciation to all state employees for their dedication and commitment to serving the people of Missouri.”

In conjunction with State Employee Recognition Week and Day, the annual Missouri State Employee Awards of Distinction will be presented to state employees by Gov. Nixon during a ceremony in his office.  Recipients of the 2013 program were:

Heroism (2 recipients)
  • Bill Finney – Department of Corrections – Central Training Unit
  • Selenda Webb – Department of Corrections – Missouri Eastern Correctional Center
Awarded for demonstrating exceptional judgment or courage in a potentially serious situation outside the scope of the workplace, or in a situation far above and beyond the duties and responsibilities of the employee’s position and which reflect credit upon the State of Missouri.

Human Relations
  • Glenda Muschany – Department of Social Services – Family Support Division
Awarded for outstanding contributions toward enhancing the quality and morale of the workplace, or creating a better public image of state government

Innovative Suggestion of the Year
  • Jennifer Calvin – Office of Administration – Division of Personnel
Awarded to an employee who submitted a suggestion via the Missouri Relies on Everyone (MoRE) State Employee Suggestion System that best exemplifies how the ideas of state employees can serve to initiate and/or establish a new method, practice, plan, or design which provides an “added value” to state government, or solves a unique problem in a creative manner.

Leadership
  • Kristina Chamley – Department of Health and Senior Services – Bureau of Home and Community Based Services
Awarded to an employee who exemplified and promoted outstanding leadership qualities and behaviors.  The employee “sets the standard” for others to follow, and consistently performs at a superior level in achieving significant and tangible benefits for his/her department/agency.

Public Service
  • Dee Ann McKinney – Department of Economic Development – Division of Tourism
Awarded for outstanding dedication to the advancement of state service which enhances the quality of life to citizens that is far and above the employee’s normal job requirements, or who through volunteering service and/or time improved the quality of life for members of the community.

Safety ( A team of 8 recipients)
  • Joe Dotson – Department of Transportation – Southwest District Traffic/Signal Shop
  • Dusty Reid; Tim Smith; Cheyne Matzenbacher; Randall Norman; Ranger Josh Rolls; Gary Swearingen; Kerry Kroll; – Department of Natural Resources – Roaring River State Park
Presented to an employee or team of individuals whom created and/or used innovative initiatives or approaches to protect and ensure the health and safety of state workers or customers.

Attorney General Koster releases 13th annual report on vehicle stops


                                                                                                 May 31, 2013
                                                                 (Official press release Missouri Chris Kosters office)
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster today released the 13th Annual Report on Vehicle Stops. The 2012 report contains analysis on more than 1.6 million stops by 616 law enforcement agencies, including racial and ethnic information about drivers who were stopped.
Koster said Missourians can visit his website to compare the 2012 report to vehicle stops data going back to 2000, when data collection was first required by Missouri law.
"One of the best uses of these reports is as a springboard for dialogue and communication between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve," Koster said. "It is vital that Missouri law enforcement agencies continue to review the rates of stops and searches and to continue their outreach efforts."
The Attorney General reiterated that the disparity index for any community is not conclusive evidence of racial profiling.
The "disparity indexes" compare the proportion of stops for drivers of a particular race or ethnicity to the proportion of state or local population of that racial or ethnic group. A value of "1" represents no disparity; values over "1" indicate over-representation, while values under "1" indicate under-representation.
Koster said in 2012 the statewide African-American disparity index was 1.57, down from the 2011 rate of 1.63. This represents the third time in 13 years that the disparity index for African-American drivers has decreased. 
The report shows the rate (disparity index) at which Hispanics were stopped decreased in 2012 to .60, compared to .65 in 2011, a rate lower than that of white drivers. However, search rates (the rates at which drivers of a given race are searched subsequent to a traffic stop) for both Hispanic and African-American drivers continue to be higher than for white drivers. Hispanic drivers were 1.92 times more likely than white drivers to be searched. African-American drivers were 1.83 times more likely to be searched when stopped than white drivers. 
Despite the elevated search rates, Hispanics were less likely than white drivers to be found with contraband subsequent to being searched. While the “contraband hit rate” for white drivers was 25.5, the rate of Hispanics searched and found to have contraband was 16.9. The "contraband hit rate" for African-American drivers was 18.8.
Koster thanked and commended law enforcement agencies for their willingness to compile information for the report. He noted that 96 percent of agencies submitted information.  Twenty-three agencies did not respond in 2012, a decrease from the 25 departments that failed to report in 2011. The Attorney General's office has submitted the names of those agencies that did not respond to the Governor, as required by law.
Koster noted that the report contains information on vehicle stops from individual law enforcement agencies, so each community can examine its own data and situation. For example, it is helpful to compare departments of a similar size or from similar geographic areas. Additionally, factors such as crime patterns or the existence of an interstate highway in a given region may affect data samples. Koster noted that general statewide trends do not necessarily reflect trends for individual departments, which should be considered on an individual basis.
The full report plus data for individual law enforcement agencies can be found online.

Gov. Nixon signs law reinstating public safety exemptions to Missouri Sunshine Law


May 31, 2013
(Official Press Release Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's Office)
JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Jay Nixon today signed House Bill 256, which reinstates important public safety exemptions to Missouri's Sunshine Law. These exemptions, which expired at the end of 2012, help prevent the release of security plans and procedures that protect facilities such as schools, courthouses and hospitals.  The Governor had publicly called on the General Assembly to renew these expired provisions earlier this year.
"Earlier this year I called on the General Assembly to reinstate these narrowly tailored provisions, which help keep sensitive security plans out of the hands of criminals and terrorists, while respecting the bedrock principles of transparency and accountability," Gov. Nixon said. "I want to thank Representative Caleb Jones and Senator Mike Kehoe for their leadership in getting these important public safety protections to my desk and I am pleased to make them law with my signature today."
Specifically, the bill re-institutes exceptions to the Sunshine Law that protect records relating to operational guidelines, policies and specific response plans maintained for the purposes of law enforcement, public safety, first response or public health.  Under the bill, a public governmental body can also close records that relate to security systems and structural plans submitted by private entities with facilities on public property.
The bill, presented to the Governor yesterday, contains an emergency clause and takes effect immediately upon the Governor's signature.

Gov. Nixon announces launch of 100 Missouri Miles Challenge at Special Olympics Missouri State Summer Games


May 31, 2013
(Official Press Release Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's Office)
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Gov. Jay Nixon joined thousands of athletes, coaches and families at the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics Missouri State Summer Games in Columbia today to launch the 100 Missouri Miles Challenge. The new initiative encourages Missourians to complete "100 Missouri Miles" of physical activity by the end of the year, while enjoying the incredible outdoor resources found in the Show-Me State. Missourians taking the challenge can register online at www.100MissouriMiles.com, and track their progress alongside the Governor's and First Lady's. Missourians can also connect with the challenge through Facebook and Twitter.
Gov. Jay Nixon joined thousands of athletes, coaches and families at the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics Missouri State Summer Games in Columbia today to launch the 100 Missouri Miles Challenge.
Gov. Jay Nixon joined thousands of athletes, coaches and families at the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics Missouri State Summer Games in Columbia today to launch the 100 Missouri Miles Challenge.
"From neighborhood greenways to backcountry hiking trails, Missouri's nationally-recognized trails can accommodate a wide variety of activities for all ages, interests and ability levels," Gov. Nixon said. "Because this initiative is all about bringing people together for healthy competition and outdoor physical activity, tonight's opening ceremonies for the Special Olympics Summer Games is the perfect place to kick things off.  Whether you run, walk, bike, paddle or roll, I encourage all Missourians to join me and the First Lady as we explore 100 Missouri miles of trails this year."
Missouri was recently named the "Best Trails State" by American Trails, a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting our nation's hiking, biking and riding trails. The national award is presented every two years to the state with the most innovative and successful trail sharing efforts, programs, and systems.
"With more than 16,500 athletes across Missouri, Special Olympics works year round to increase physical fitness for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, build communities and improve our athlete's overall health, saidMark Musso, President and CEO of Special Olympics Missouri. "We are proud to help launch the Governor's 100 Miles Challenge as a way to highlight our state's beautiful outdoors and the benefits of staying healthy and active."
Earlier this year, Gov. Nixon announced that attendance at Missouri's State Parks increased in 2012, another sign of Missouri's economic recovery. More that 18 million guests visited Missouri's State Parks in 2012, the fourth consecutive increase in attendance since Gov. Nixon took office, reversing a 10-year decline.
Missouri trails and state parks are also important drivers of tourism and economic activity. A recent economic impact study found that visitors to state parks produced an overall economic impact of $1.02 billion and supported more than 14,000 Missouri jobs.  Another study found that the Katy Trail alone generates nearly $18.5 million a year in economic impact for the state, supports 367 jobs, and makes an overall economic impact of $8.2 million to the local trail communities.
The Governor's 100 Missouri Miles Challenge is a partnership with the Missouri State Parks, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, and the Missouri Division of Tourism.
To take the Governor's 100 Missouri Miles Challenge, sign up at www.100MissouriMiles.com 
About the Special Olympics: The Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.  The State Summer Games will bring together than 2,500 athletes and coaches, along with family and friends from across Missouri.

Gov. Nixon declares state of emergency in response to severe and dangerous weather


May 31, 2013

(Official Press Release Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's Office)
JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Jay Nixon tonight declared a state of emergency in Missouri as a widespread severe weather system continued to move across the state, bringing heavy rain, hail, straight-line winds, flooding and radar-indicated tornadoes. This severe weather follows several days of heavy rain throughout much of the state, leading to flooding along many streams and rivers. The severe weather threat continues tonight in parts of Missouri, and is likely to continue tomorrow for much of the state. 
"Much of Missouri is experiencing dangerous severe weather tonight, on the heels of several days of heavy rain," Gov. Nixon said. "I urge Missourians to closely monitor weather conditions, so they can take shelter or move to higher ground if needed. The risk of severe weather remains with us well into tomorrow. The state of Missouri will continue to work closely with local officials to help protect lives and property from these storms."
The State Emergency Operations Center has been actively monitoring the storm system this week. Gov. Nixon has been receiving updates from his emergency management team, including senior officials from the Missouri Department of Public Safety, Missouri National Guard, Missouri State Highway Patrol and State Emergency Management Agency to assess the current weather situation and address local needs.
Gov. Nixon has also activated the Missouri State Emergency Operations Plan, which allows state agencies to coordinate directly with local jurisdictions to provide emergency services

Attorney General Koster releases 13th annual report on vehicle stops

                                                                                                May 31, 2013 
                                                                     (Official press release from Missouri General)
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster today released the 13th Annual Report on Vehicle Stops. The 2012 report contains analysis on more than 1.6 million stops by 616 law enforcement agencies, including racial and ethnic information about drivers who were stopped.
Koster said Missourians can visit his website to compare the 2012 report to vehicle stops data going back to 2000, when data collection was first required by Missouri law.
"One of the best uses of these reports is as a springboard for dialogue and communication between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve," Koster said. "It is vital that Missouri law enforcement agencies continue to review the rates of stops and searches and to continue their outreach efforts."
The Attorney General reiterated that the disparity index for any community is not conclusive evidence of racial profiling.
The "disparity indexes" compare the proportion of stops for drivers of a particular race or ethnicity to the proportion of state or local population of that racial or ethnic group. A value of "1" represents no disparity; values over "1" indicate over-representation, while values under "1" indicate under-representation.
Koster said in 2012 the statewide African-American disparity index was 1.57, down from the 2011 rate of 1.63. This represents the third time in 13 years that the disparity index for African-American drivers has decreased. 
The report shows the rate (disparity index) at which Hispanics were stopped decreased in 2012 to .60, compared to .65 in 2011, a rate lower than that of white drivers. However, search rates (the rates at which drivers of a given race are searched subsequent to a traffic stop) for both Hispanic and African-American drivers continue to be higher than for white drivers. Hispanic drivers were 1.92 times more likely than white drivers to be searched. African-American drivers were 1.83 times more likely to be searched when stopped than white drivers. 
Despite the elevated search rates, Hispanics were less likely than white drivers to be found with contraband subsequent to being searched. While the “contraband hit rate” for white drivers was 25.5, the rate of Hispanics searched and found to have contraband was 16.9. The "contraband hit rate" for African-American drivers was 18.8.
Koster thanked and commended law enforcement agencies for their willingness to compile information for the report. He noted that 96 percent of agencies submitted information.  Twenty-three agencies did not respond in 2012, a decrease from the 25 departments that failed to report in 2011. The Attorney General's office has submitted the names of those agencies that did not respond to the Governor, as required by law.
Koster noted that the report contains information on vehicle stops from individual law enforcement agencies, so each community can examine its own data and situation. For example, it is helpful to compare departments of a similar size or from similar geographic areas. Additionally, factors such as crime patterns or the existence of an interstate highway in a given region may affect data samples. Koster noted that general statewide trends do not necessarily reflect trends for individual departments, which should be considered on an individual basis.
The full report plus data for individual law enforcement agencies can be found online.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Legislation would impose a $200 million sales tax increase on Missourians who need prescription drugs


May 30, 2013
(Official Press Release Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's Office)
JEFFERSON CITY - House Bill 253, passed by the General Assembly earlier this month, would increase taxes on Missourians who take prescription medication if it becomes law, Gov. Jay Nixon said today.  An initial review has determined that the bill would eliminate the current sales tax exemption on prescription drugs and result in an estimated tax increase of $200 million annually, the Governor said.
"The out-of-pocket cost of prescription drugs, especially for those suffering from cancer, heart disease or other life-threatening conditions, already puts a strain on many Missouri families," Gov. Nixon said. "That is why it is so troubling that House Bill 253 would repeal Missouri's long-standing sales tax exemption on prescription drugs.  If enacted, this provision would impose a $200 million sales tax hike on Missourians and increase the cost of the medications they need. This is a tax increase that Missourians cannot afford and don't deserve."
Since 1979, Missouri law has exempted prescription drug costs and co-pays from state sales tax.  Language in Section 144.030 of House Bill 253 would repeal this exemption, resulting in an estimated $200 million tax increase on Missourians who take prescription medication.
Additional review of this legislation is ongoing.

Express Scripts to create 100 new jobs in Joplin, Gov. Nixon announces


May 30, 2013
(Official Press Release Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's Office)
JOPLIN, Mo. - One of the largest pharmacy benefit management companies in the U.S. is expanding in the state of Missouri again, Gov. Jay Nixon announced today. St. Louis-based Express Scripts will be adding up to 100 new local jobs for work-at-home customer service representatives in Joplin, representing a capital investment of approximately $960,000 into the local economy. The Joplin announcement follows two significant expansions by the company at its St. Louis headquarters since 2009.
"Express Scripts' decision to further invest in the state of Missouri by adding these jobs in the Joplin area will have a significant impact on the area's economy," Gov. Nixon said. "I am pleased my administration could help make this important project a reality. It's the latest sign of the positive momentum of the Show-Me State's economy."
In just the last six weeks, Missouri has seen major jobs creation announcements by Ford (900 new manufacturing jobs at the Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo), Monsanto (675 new jobs at its St. Louis County facility) and Yanfeng Automotive Trim Systems (263 new auto supply manufacturing jobs at a new facility in Riverside). Missouri employers created more than 12,000 new jobs in April alone, and the state's current unemployment rate of 6.6 percent, which has decreased three full points since 2009, has been lower than the national unemployment rate for 44 consecutive months.
Express Scripts manages more than a billion prescriptions each year for tens of millions of patients in the U.S. The company provides integrated pharmacy-benefit management services, including network-pharmacy claims processing, home delivery, specialty benefit management, benefit-design consultation, drug-utilization review, formulary management, and medical and drug data analysis services for its clients, which include employers, health plans, unions and government health programs. The company also distributes a full range of biopharmaceutical products and provides extensive cost-management and patient-care services.
The state of Missouri helped make Express Scripts' expansion in Joplin possible through a strategic package of economic incentives, which the company can redeem if it meets strict job creation and investment criteria.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Attorney General Koster takes action against St. Louis County boarding kennel

                                                                                                   May 23, 2013
                                                                       (Official press release Missouri Chris Kosters office)
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster, in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Agriculture, has obtained a temporary restraining order to prevent a St. Louis boarding kennel owner from housing any dogs.
Koster filed a lawsuit April 22 against Greg Striebel and Landmark Animal Center, Inc., for violations of the Animal Care Facilities Act (ACFA) after inspectors from the Missouri Department of Agriculture discovered that Striebel and Landmark Animal Center:
  • had operated their commercial boarding kennel without a license since January 31, 2013;
  • failed to meet certain housing requirements, which created risks of injury and illness to boarded animals, such as:
    • failed to provide or repair jagged, rusted enclosure doors;
    • failed to repair or replace rusted and corroded outside doors and hinges that compromised the safety and structural integrity of the gates and panels;
    • failed to repair breaks in overhead chain link fencing that posed a threat of injury to the animals;
  • failed to properly maintain records of current vaccinations for boarding animals.
In his lawsuit, Koster sought a temporary restraining order to prohibit Striebel from any further violations of the ACFA and from conducting any ACFA-regulated activity until further order of the court. The suit also seeks a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per violation of the ACFA and demands that the defendants pay court costs.
Koster, in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Agriculture, has made cracking down on illegal dog breeders and sellers a priority in his office.  "We want Missouri to be known as a state that raises animals in a humane environment and offers dogs from well-operated kennels to buyers across the country," Koster said.   

Attorney General Koster reaches settlement with defunct Missouri medical spa and its owner who failed to provide pre-paid services


                                                                                                    May 23, 2013
                                                                   (Official press release Missouri Chris Kosters office)
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster today announced a settlement with Skin Rx, LLC and its owner, Laura Rackers. Formerly with locations in Jefferson City and Columbia, the Skin Rx MedSpa & Laser Center accepted payment from consumers for cosmetic procedures, including laser hair removal, but closed the business before services were provided or completed. Six consumers who had pre-paid for services from Skin Rx complained to the Attorney General's office, which pursued legal action on their behalf.
Under the terms of the settlement Skin Rx and Ms. Rackers agreed to pay restitution totaling $5,445.00 to the six Missouri consumers.  In addition, they agreed to refrain from claiming, demanding, charging, collecting or receiving any compensation or payment for services until those services have been fully performed.
"Consumers have recourse available when purchased services aren’t delivered. My office will hold Missouri businesses accountable when they don’t follow through as promised," said Koster.
Missourians can file complaints against businesses with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-800-392-8222 or online.
The Attorney General recommends that consumers considering pre-purchasing health spa services first check with their local BBB and the Missouri Attorney General’s office about complaints against a specific business.

Missouri supports our veterans and military families


May 23, 2013

(Official Press Release Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's Office)
This Memorial Day, as we honor those who have paid the ultimate price in protecting our freedom, it also reminds us to renew our efforts on behalf of the military veterans who have come back home.
The state of Missouri has been proud to honor and support those who are serving, or have served, in our military and their families. Over the past four years, we have started several programs and passed legislation on behalf of military families, for both active-duty members and veterans.
In 2010, I initiated the Show-Me Heroes program to encourage Missouri employers to hire veterans, and to recognize the efforts of those employers. To date, nearly 3,000 employers have taken the Show-Me Heroes pledge, meaning they will give first consideration to veterans when they have job openings. Those employers have put more than 4,271 veterans to work in the past three years. The employers know they are not just helping those veterans, they also are getting someone who is trained, disciplined, and who will work hard.
Last year, we strengthened Show-Me Heroes by adding an on-the-job training component for returning veterans employers agree to hire. Through this on-the-job training program, employers are reimbursed for 50 percent of the veteran's wages during a contracted training period. These resources are helping Missouri veterans obtain necessary skills to transition from military to civilian careers.
More help came to spouses of active-duty military in Missouri as well, as they became eligible for the same financial assistance provided to the spouses of National Guard and Reservists. That assistance includes payment of overdue bills; transportation and day care costs while they are pursuing employment; and vocational counseling and subsidized employment.  
We have also recognized that military spouses often face unemployment when they leave a job to relocate. That is why I signed a bill last year that provides them with unemployment benefits of up to 20 weeks, or until they find new employment. In the past two years, some 248 Missouri families have been helped by this assistance after they relocated.
That same law from 2011 also helps military spouses who move to Missouri and have professional licenses in good standing. They can apply for a 180-day courtesy license to make the transfer of their professional credentials to Missouri as seamless as possible. A realtor in good standing in Georgia whose husband was transferred from Ft. Benning to Ft. Leonard Wood, for example, could apply for a temporary realtor's license that would enable her to work in that profession while she goes through the process of obtaining a permanent license here.
Missouri also has become an attractive location for retired military veterans, many of whom are now active in the civilian workforce. A law I signed in 2009 is phasing out the state tax on their military pensions, and the tax will be eliminated by 2016. It's another way we are recognizing their service to our country.
Finally, last year, I worked across the aisle to provide a dedicated funding source for Missouri's seven veterans homes, which house and care for more than 1,300 military veterans. Under legislation I signed, Missouri's veterans homes will have the resources they need to provide the high-quality, modern care our veterans deserve for many years to come.
The bottom line is that, in Missouri, we are proactively taking steps to help our troops and their families, both during and after their service. They sacrifice so much in order to ensure we remain free, and I am proud Missouri can offer these ways to thank them.

Attorney General Koster obtains judgment against failed Branson resort developer for polluting Table Rock Lake



                                                                                                  May 23, 2013
                                                                      (Official press release from Missouri General)
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster today announced a judgment obtained in the Stone County Circuit Court against Indian Ridge Resort, Inc. and developer James E. Shirato.  The company and Shirato began, but never completed, an 850-acre development located on Highway 76 southeast of Branson near Table Rock Lake.  The development was to include hundreds of homes, condominiums, an eight-story hotel, water park, golf course, conference center, and retail space.
Construction has been stalled for several years and the site features deep erosion gullies, allowing sediment and topsoil to drain into Table Rock Lake, where it collects in coves, harming aquatic life and the lake ecosystem. 
"Table Rock Lake is a valuable state resource, and my office will continue to take action against those who endanger it and other natural resources in Missouri," said Koster, who also credited the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for assisting with the case.
The judgment requires Indian Ridge Resort and Shirato to bring the site into compliance with the Missouri Clean Water Law, as well as pay a civil penalty of $100,000, and $25,719 for costs already incurred by the state in investigating and remediating damage to the lake.  In addition, the court required the defendants to pay all future state costs incurred at the site.

Attorney General Koster reaches settlement with defunct Missouri medical spa and its owner who failed to provide pre-paid services

                                                                                                 May 23, 2013
                                                                     (Official press release from Missouri General)

Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster today announced a settlement with Skin Rx, LLC and its owner, Laura Rackers. Formerly with locations in Jefferson City and Columbia, the Skin Rx MedSpa & Laser Center accepted payment from consumers for cosmetic procedures, including laser hair removal, but closed the business before services were provided or completed. Six consumers who had pre-paid for services from Skin Rx complained to the Attorney General's office, which pursued legal action on their behalf.

Under the terms of the settlement Skin Rx and Ms. Rackers agreed to pay restitution totaling $5,445.00 to the six Missouri consumers.  In addition, they agreed to refrain from claiming, demanding, charging, collecting or receiving any compensation or payment for services until those services have been fully performed.
"Consumers have recourse available when purchased services aren’t delivered. My office will hold Missouri businesses accountable when they don’t follow through as promised," said Koster.
Missourians can file complaints against businesses with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-800-392-8222 or online.
The Attorney General recommends that consumers considering pre-purchasing health spa services first check with their local BBB and the Missouri Attorney General’s office about complaints against a specific business.

Attorney General Koster takes action against St. Louis County boarding kennel

                                                                                                May 23, 2013 

                                                                         (Official press release from Missouri General)

Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster, in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Agriculture, has obtained a temporary restraining order to prevent a St. Louis boarding kennel owner from housing any dogs.

Koster filed a lawsuit April 22 against Greg Striebel and Landmark Animal Center, Inc., for violations of the Animal Care Facilities Act (ACFA) after inspectors from the Missouri Department of Agriculture discovered that Striebel and Landmark Animal Center:
  • had operated their commercial boarding kennel without a license since January 31, 2013;
  • failed to meet certain housing requirements, which created risks of injury and illness to boarded animals, such as:
    • failed to provide or repair jagged, rusted enclosure doors;
    • failed to repair or replace rusted and corroded outside doors and hinges that compromised the safety and structural integrity of the gates and panels;
    • failed to repair breaks in overhead chain link fencing that posed a threat of injury to the animals;
  • failed to properly maintain records of current vaccinations for boarding animals.
In his lawsuit, Koster sought a temporary restraining order to prohibit Striebel from any further violations of the ACFA and from conducting any ACFA-regulated activity until further order of the court. The suit also seeks a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per violation of the ACFA and demands that the defendants pay court costs.
Koster, in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Agriculture, has made cracking down on illegal dog breeders and sellers a priority in his office.  "We want Missouri to be known as a state that raises animals in a humane environment and offers dogs from well-operated kennels to buyers across the country," Koster said.   

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Gov. Nixon presents Flag of Freedom award to O'Reilly Auto Parts for hiring veterans under the Show-Me Heroes program


May 22, 2013

(Official Press Release Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's Office)
SPRINGFIELD - A Springfield business that has hired veterans under the Show-Me Heroes program today received the Flag of Freedom award from Gov. Jay Nixon.  The Governor presented the designation to O'Reilly Auto Parts at a ceremony at the company's corporate headquarters.
"O'Reilly Auto Parts has led the way in making it a priority to hire our veterans when they return home," Gov. Nixon said.  "Our veterans are skilled, hard-working and dedicated - traits all employers look for in a new hire.  That's why I'm asking every employer in Missouri to join us in this effort by visiting MO.gov today to take the Show-Me Heroes pledge so we can support our veterans and grow our economy."
O'Reilly Auto Parts is one of the nation's largest chains of auto parts stores, with more than 4,000 retail stores and 24 distribution centers in 42 states. The company was founded in Springfield in 1957, where it currently has 1,080 employees at its corporate headquarters.  O'Reilly has hired approximately 500 veterans since Jan. 1 of this year at its retail and distribution centers across the nation, including its facilities and stores in Missouri.
"In the more than 55 years since O'Reilly Auto Parts opened its first store in Springfield, our company has grown to become one of the nation's top leaders in the automotive aftermarket business.  To achieve this success, we recruit team members who value hard work, friendly service, and a knowledge base our customers count on," said Greg Henslee, O'Reilly Auto Parts' President and CEO. "That's why we've been so proud to hire American military veterans at our stores and distribution centers across the country. America's service men and women have served honorably, and make excellent team members. On behalf of the entire O'Reilly Auto Parts family, we are proud to accept Missouri's Flag of Freedom award."
The Show-Me Heroes program, established by Gov. Nixon in January 2010, helps connect military veterans with job opportunities when they return home from service. Administered by the Missouri Division of Workforce Development, Show-Me Heroes showcases Missouri businesses that are willing and eager to hire veterans. Employers participating in the Show-Me Heroes program sign a pledge to ramp up efforts to reach out to, recruit and interview veterans for job openings at their business.
To date, 2,989 Missouri businesses have taken the Show-Me Heroes pledge and 4,271 veterans have been hired. Businesses, like O'Reilly Auto Parts, that have hired veterans receive the Flag of Freedom award, which consists of a plaque featuring an American flag patch from the combat uniform of a member of the Missouri National Guard worn while that Citizen-Soldier or Airman was deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Last year, Gov. Nixon signed legislation to further strengthen the Show-Me Heroes program by adding on-the-job training (OJT) for returning National Guardsmen, Reservists and recently-separated active duty service members that Show-Me Heroes employers agree to hire.
Through an OJT program, employers will be reimbursed for 50 percent of the Show-Me Heroes participant's wages during a contracted training period. These resources will help Missouri veterans obtain necessary skills to transition from military to civilian careers.
Employers who wish to participate in Show-Me Heroes can visit the state's website, MO.gov, to register and take the pledge.  Once a company has done so, it is listed prominently in an online database that highlights veteran-friendly employers across Missouri. The database includes contact information for the businesses and links to their websites.  Employers receive a special certificate, signed by the Governor, and a decal to display at their location.  The Show-Me Heroes website is a one-stop-shop that, in addition to the employer directory, also includes resources for job-seeking veterans such as links to employment openings in state government.