Hello, MBA readers,
On the back of news that the U.S. saw record high job openings in March, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has announced that he will discontinue expanded federal unemployment benefits implemented in response to the pandemic. Among the aid being cut is a $300 weekly unemployment supplement, which Parson said has “incentivized people to stay out of the workforce.” Small business groups have praised Parson and other governors who have cut the benefits. Labor advocates, meanwhile, said the governor’s actions will jeopardize vulnerable individuals and do little to drive people back to the workforce. As unemployment aid goes down, gas prices could rise as parts of the Southeast continue to struggle with fuel shortages. Following a cyberattack on the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S., full pipeline operations aren’t expected to resume until the end of the week. In the meantime, safety and environmental regulations have been waived to speed the delivery of fuel by other means. In more local news affecting fuel prices, Missouri‘s gas tax is one step closer to a 12.5-cent increase. The Missouri House approved a bill Tuesday that would increase the tax by that amount over five years, generating hundreds of millions of dollars annually for transportation infrastructure. The bill now waits approval from the governor.
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Gas tax hike passes House, awaits governor’s approval
The bill passed Tuesday night would increase Missouri‘s gas tax by 12.5 cents over five years, generating an estimated $338 million annually for the state road fund and $125 million per year for city and county infrastructure projects. (Missouri Independent)
Ameren reports 60% surge in quarterly earnings
The St. Louis-based utility reported first-quarter earnings of $235 million, an increase of $87 million, or 60%, from the same quarter last year. The surge in profits was attributed to higher customer charges and new infrastructure investments. (St. Louis Post- Dispatch)
Gas pipeline cyberattack stirs panic buying, alternative transport
More than 1,000 gas stations across the Southeast have reported shortages as the shutdown of the nation’s largest fuel pipeline drags on after a cyberattack. The U.S. Department of Transportation is allowing expanded highway transport of gasoline in some states, and officials are mulling maritime shipping options. (Associated Press)
St. Louis scores another early victory in earnings tax case
A judge has denied a bid to require the city to change a form that allows workers to request refunds of earnings taxes collected by the city. Plaintiffs are suing over taxes collected from nonresidents who are employed by St. Louis firms but have worked remotely during the pandemic. (St. Louis Business Journal)
Port KC advances riverfront development deals
A Port Authority of Kansas City committee recommended approval of two deals covering three acres in the Berkley Riverfront area. Plans call for a hotel and apartment complex. (Kansas City Business Journal)
O’Reilly Automotive executives sell $53.7 million of shares
Six executives and board members of the Springfield-based automotive retailer sold shares, according to recent filings. Chairman David O’Reilly sold off the most, worth $30.7 million. (Springfield Business Journal)
St. Louis comptroller declines to sign health inspection contract approved by former mayor
Just before Tishaura Jones became St. Louis mayor, the city health department signed a contract with an official in then-Mayor Lyda Krewson’s administration to review business reopening plans. Now, Comptroller Darlene Green has sent the contract back to Jones for consideration. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Schmitt sues St. Louis County for pandemic restrictions
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a lawsuit regarding continuing COVID-19 measures, objecting to an order that requires masks at outdoor events and mandates organizers get pre-approval for large events. (St. Louis Business Journal)
Ozarks Coca-Cola opens new warehouse, distribution center
The beverage bottling company plans to host a Saturday ribbon-cutting ceremony for the multimillion-dollar project, which adds 432,000 square feet to the facility. (Springfield Business Journal)
After June 12, Missouri residents will be able to receive a maximum of $320 per week in unemployment benefits. Gov. Mike Parson announced Tuesday that Missouri will cease supplementing unemployment benefits with federal pandemic aid next month, cutting the $300 weekly federal bonus currently being provided on top of state benefits. Parson cited complaints from businesses in the service industry that have struggled to fill job openings with the $620 weekly allotment of unemployment aid outpacing their low wages. Parson’s decision to end federal unemployment aid in Missouri comes on the heels of the same move in several other Republican-led states. The news follows a Bureau of Labor Statistics report released Tuesday that showed 8.1 million job openings nationally as of the end of March, a record high for that figure dating back to 2000.
Say that again
“We must take action to ensure that my grandkids, your grandkids, don’t grow up in a world where people in one neighborhood die, on average, 18 years younger than their friends, co-workers and family members because of where they grew up.”
That is Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr. The county recently announced plans to launch a $5 million initiative to attempt to reach six zip codes on the east side of Kansas City where COVID-19 vaccination rates are low, KCUR reports. The zip codes are made up of mostly low-income residents, who have experienced difficulties accessing the vaccine. The neighborhoods are also predominantly Black and Hispanic, two demographic groups that have been hesitant to get vaccinated, The Kansas City Star reports. The program will run from June through November and will attempt to vaccinate 5,000 people. Along with vaccinations, the program will provide basic health screenings to individuals who have had difficulty accessing those services or have avoided them in the past.
Hello, my name is
The University of Missouri-St. Louis has named a new leader for its geospatial technology-focused center at the T-REX incubator in downtown St. Louis. Werner was most recently a planner with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. UMSL launched the center last year in an effort to connect with the geospatial technology sector in St. Louis. Werner will primarily be tasked with forming and maintaining those connections with organizations like the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which is building its new western headquarters less than two miles from the downtown center.
NEWS: We have been approved for full grandstand capacity for our October 23-24 Hollywood Casino 400 weekend! #HC400
Details: https://t.co/j2adL6xnfO pic.twitter.com/tdZnxYCQ6B
— Kansas Speedway (@kansasspeedway) May 7, 2021
The Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas, is selling tickets with no capacity restrictions for the NASCAR race weekend set to take place in late October. The venue has the capacity to hold 48,000 spectators and held a NASCAR race weekend earlier this month with limited fan capacity, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. The move is a continuation of a recent trend that has seen large event venues begin to reopen and operate with increased capacity. Just last week, the Opera Theatre of St. Louis sold out for the 2021 summer season in just five days. The Opera Theatre will be operating outdoors at festival grounds on the campus of Webster University, and it sold tickets equivalent to 25% capacity, St. Louis Public Radio reports.