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Insurance bill triggers contraception debate

Earlier this year, Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a bill that would modify state laws regarding abortion, contraception and sterilization. On Wednesday, members of the Missouri General Assembly will meet for their annual veto session and are expected to try to override Nixon. There’s a good chance they’ll succeed.

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Missouri legislature to consider at least two bills vetoed by Gov. Nixon

Article previewing state legislature’s upcoming veto session / 494 words / The Columbia Missourian

Missouri lawmakers have one last chance to make law from legislation that Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed earlier this year. The General Assembly’s annual veto session is scheduled for Sept. 12.

States’ rights, religious freedom and women’s health will converge to drive the debate over Senate Bill 749. Arguments about business competitiveness and accusations of retroactive taxation promise to see House Bill 1329 buffeted back and forth across the proverbial aisle.

Rep. Mike Talboy, D-Kansas City, who is minority floor leader in the House, said he anticipates the vote on SB 749 to be tense. Still, he thinks there’s a good chance the legislature will override the governor’s veto and pass the bill.

“I would anticipate that one is going to be the most difficult to sustain the governor’s veto,” Talboy said. “It’s probably the most fueled and emotional type of bill that we’re going to see in veto session.”

In the Senate, Majority Leader and SB 749 co-sponsor Tom Dempsey, R-St. Peters, also thinks an override of the veto is probable. He is less certain about HB 1329. There have been instances, he said, when votes for a bill during the regular session did not translate to override votes during the veto session.

“If they had a desire to support their governor, then the House would not have the votes to override that bill,” he said.

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Columbia rally sparks debate over women’s issues

Article exploring the emergence of women’s health as a campaign issue following controversial remarks by Congressman Todd Akin / 581 words / The Columbia Missourian

A blond woman going by “Pillamina” and donning a birth control dispenser costume led a rally of pink-clad women and men holding signs that said “Women Are Watching” outside Rep. Mary Still’s campaign office Thursday evening.

“When women vote, Democrats win,” Still said with a smile — and to great applause. A crowd of about 120 supporters had come out to hear her and others speak as part of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s “Women Are Watching” bus tour, of which Pillamina was the ringleader.

“Todd Akin’s idiocy is a very convenient diversion for Rep. Still,” Schaefer said Thursday before Still’s rally.

Learning the Dream

Long-form profile as part of the American Next, a special project exploring the hopes, fears and changing expectations of Missouri’s next generation in challenging times / 4063 words / The Columbia Missourian

As a boy, growing up and going to school in an African refugee camp, the only thing Ahmed Abdalla really knew about America was that he wanted to move there.

He was just a baby when his parents escaped genocide and famine in their native Somalia. They left family behind — some murdered, others simply refusing to budge. They fled on foot, finding their way to a series of temporary safe havens. Six years later and with as many more children, the Abdallas built the first home their children would know. They lived in Kakuma, a refugee camp in northwestern Kenya.

In Kakuma, America’s allure was as ubiquitous as heat. It came with no proof: Ahmed had never known a refugee to return to the camp; there were no newspapers or radios and little access to modern media. Still, this rumor of America saturated Ahmed’s childhood and the refugee culture. Dreaming of a new life in America wasn’t discussed. It was understood.

Ahmed was 13 and had spent seven years in Kakuma when his family was relocated to St. Louis. There, they began another winding journey through a series of apartments, jobs and the maze of laws, challenges, demands and possibilities that is the real America.

Seven more years after his dream of America came true, Ahmed — now 20 and a doorman at a posh downtown hotel — is still learning what it means to live here.

Ahmed’s story echoes both the enduring gratitude and steep learning curve that often follow refugee resettlement. All is new in this new world and not all as it seemed from afar. From what he knew to what he imagined to what he found, Ahmed discovered that dreams-made-real take some getting used to.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Sarah “Jonesey” Johnson

Interview as part of the American Next, a special project exploring the hopes, fears and changing expectations of Missouri’s next generation in challenging times / 3734 words / The Columbia Missourian

It’s a really odd little story. I realized when I was 34 that what I wanted to do with the rest of my life was to be a librarian. And I wanted to learn how to fix books. And I really wanted to do that in places like after Hurricane Katrina, and after the flood in Iowa. Libraries fall through a lot of monetary aid cracks, yet they are an incredibly important part of any community.

They’re part of the legitimacy of communities because they provide a sense of history when you get to books and records and the things that prove your right to exist in a place. Things like deeds, legal records, the original maps people drew to define the space you live in. And because our culture is so legalistic, we need the paper trail.

Humans express themselves visually, and one way of visually expressing yourself is in the written language. It also provides cultural legitimacy in the sense that other people like me have written books about the things I am experiencing. So that puts me on a spectrum. And if I’m on a spectrum, then I exist. If I can place myself somewhere measurable, then I have a history. If I have a history, then I have a present. If I have a present, then I have a future.

Hustle and dream

Work profile as part of the American Next, a special project exploring the hopes, fears and changing expectations of Missouri’s next generation in challenging times / 547 words / The Columbia Missourian

Eugene “EZ” Lacy assesses potential customers as they walk by his father’s flea market stall in a converted storage building in Jennings, a municipality in northeastern St. Louis County. A middle-aged woman with long hair, meticulously delicate eyebrows and frosted pink lips comments on the panther carpet hanging behind him.

“You like that?” Lacy asks. “You can take it home right now for $35.”

She stops. She’s already got one at home, she explains, and the mirror that goes with it. She points to the two black panthers on their haunches, facing each other almost in silhouette against a golden-yellow would-be sun on black background. The carpet hangs sideways next to one with a lion, and another with a big cat.

“You can take this one home to have in case something happens to the one you got now,” Lacy says.

She’s not buying it. He tries again.

Brooks Yang in front of book shelves at a bookstore reading

Finding the right space

Brief profile as part of the American Next, a special project exploring the hopes, fears and changing expectations of Missouri’s next generation in challenging times. /539 words / The Columbia Missourian

Brooks Yang may tell you that she’s “kind of doing nothing” these days. Don’t believe her.

Yes, the 23-year-old Princeton grad has moved back in with her parents after graduating last spring. No, she’s not working. And no, she doesn’t have plans to get a job in her field of study, architecture.

In fact, she wants to be a filmmaker — a writer/director, specifically. She’s waiting to hear back from graduate programs for directing and screenwriting. When I met her in February, she was helping two installation artists with box office venue design for the upcoming True/False Film Fest in Columbia. She was also organizing a reading list for herself and taking two classes at MU, in accounting and economics — “to try out thinking in those ways,” she said.

Yang is making plans — and decisions.

Services, growth and controversy: profile of a public agency

Four-part series on Boone County Family Resources, a local government agency that provides disability services / The Columbia Missourian

Columbia’s North Village neighborhood is a vestige of a time gone by. Many residents are fighting to keep it that way.

Susan Thompson knows firsthand how the families of people with disabilities benefit from community support. Thompson, a case manager for Boone County Family Resources, grew up with a mother who is blind.

Max Lewis is both a client and a member of the Boone County Family Resources Board of Directors. The 45-year-old lawyer survived a diving accident on June 12, 1986, but a spinal cord injury paralyzed him from the chest down.

Isaac Pasley had been driving with a learner’s permit for two years, but his mom was still uncertain about him taking the wheel on his own.

Life Story: Dr. George William Nordholtz Eggers Jr.

Obituary describing the life of a local doctor / 851 words / The Columbia Missourian

When you talk to people who knew Dr. George William Nordholtz Eggers Jr., you can tell how they knew him by the different names they call him.

He is “Dr. Eggers” or “Bill” in the medical community. “Billy” to the crowd he grew up with in Galveston, Texas. “Doc” to his poker-playing buddies. “Dad” and “Grandpa” to his family.

Dr. Eggers died Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011, at University Hospital in Columbia. He was 82.

“This was his home,” said Scott McCord, who worked for Dr. Eggers as a medical student in 1962. “He’s one of the reasons I stayed around.”

No injuries reported at two house fires

Breaking news report on two local fires / 220 words / The Columbia Missourian

COLUMBIA, MO. — A stove fire resulted in damage to kitchen cabinets but no injuries Tuesday at 3310 Jamesdale Road.

A second fire at 4515 Rice Road was also reported. There were no injuries, but more details were not available.

Columbia Fire Department responded to the Jamesdale Road fire with three engines, one ladder, a heavy rescue squad and two incident command vehicles at 4:47 p.m. Public Information Officer Steven Sapp said that is the normal turnout for a residential fire of this nature.

“It was a quick knockdown,” Sapp said of the crew’s work to extinguish the fire.