Missouri Minute: Bayer to pay billions to settle litigation; Parson vows not to close state again

Good morning, MBA readers,

Bayer will pay up to $11.3 billion to settle litigation over two products it inherited in its 2018 acquisition of Creve Coeur-based Monsanto. The German chemical and pharmaceutical company will spend up to $10.9 billion to settle thousands of cases alleging Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller causes cancer. The company will fork out as much as $400 million more over another Monsanto weedkiller, dicamba. Farmers sued the company alleging the herbicide drifts and damages crops that are not resistant to it. Meanwhile, coronavirus numbers are on the rise, with Missouri recording its largest single-day increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and the U.S. registering its largest one-day jump on Wednesday. Despite that, Gov. Mike Parson said his administration is not considering closing the state again, and he attributed the spike in cases to increased testing. The pandemic continues to drive event cancellations across the state, with a pair of local cultural staples added to the list Wednesday. The annual Roots N Blues music festival in Columbia will not be held this year, and Kansas City’s Starlight Theater has canceled all its shows for the 2020 season.


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Bayer will pay billions to settle litigation cases
The company, which acquired Creve Coeur-based Monsanto in 2018, will pay up to $10.9 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits claiming that Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller causes cancer. It will pay another $1.22 billion to settle two other waves of litigation: one alleging that the toxic chemical PCB got into water sources, and another claiming dicamba, a weedkiller used by farmers, drifts through the air and kills other crops. (Associated Press)

Parson vows not to close state again, says recent surge is not second wave
Gov. Mike Parson said that a surge of COVID-19 cases in Missouri is due to testing and outbreaks in certain areas, but is not a second wave. Missouri recorded its highest number of new cases on Tuesday, with 430. Some counties are seeing a rise in numbers for younger people, like Boone County, where people under 30 make up 52% of infections. (Columbia Missourian)

Federal bill would help Missouri expand Medicaid
A bill proposed by House Democrats would offer incentives to states looking to expand Medicaid coverage. The federal government would pay 100% of costs of expansion for the first three years, up from the current 90%. (Kansas City Star)

Missouri Supreme Court sends absentee voting case back to Cole County 
The Cole County Circuit Court initially dismissed the lawsuit seeking to allow Missourians to cast absentee ballots without notarization, but the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the case should be heard. (Missourinet)

Parson cuts additional $2.4 million from state budget
The cut comes just days before the end of the fiscal year, and it will come out of the budgets of the legislature and statewide offices, including his own. The total amount of budget cuts is now $430 million. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

New committee will decide how to spend remaining coronavirus relief funds in St. Louis County
A six-person team has been formed to decide how the county will spend the rest of its $173.5 million in federal aid. The committee won’t make policies but will oversee four working groups responsible for directing funds to small businesses and community development. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

GNC files for bankruptcy 
The vitamin and wellness product retailer, which has 50 locations in Missouri, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company is looking to close up to 1,200 locations and could sell itself. (Reuters)

Kansas City takes step toward decriminalizing marijuana
A Kansas City Council committee on Wednesday voted in favor of removing marijuana offenses from the city code. The full council is expected to consider the proposal next month. The plan has raised concern that people caught with marijuana would become subject to state or federal charges, but others say the move would promote equality, as African Americans make up 30% of the city but 60% of marijuana-related arrests. (Kansas City Star, KCUR)

Federal food assistance not reaching 40% of eligible Missouri children
Funds meant to help low-income families buy food while kids were home from school this spring reached about six in 10 Missouri families who qualified for assistance. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Amazon-preferred developer eyes facility in Kansas City
Seefried Industrial Properties, which has done several projects with Amazon in the past, is looking to build an $80 million distribution facility in Kansas City. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Southeast Missouri State sees budget cuts amid enrollment drop
The university’s board of regents approved a $139 million operating budget for fiscal year starting in July, a 2.7% decrease in the budget from last year. These cuts are attributed to decreases in state funding and drops in student enrollment, which has fallen nearly 12% in five years. (Southeast Missourian)

Branson to expand 76 Entertainment Community Improvement District
The board of aldermen approved the expansion project, which officials estimate could bring $70 million in investments to the area over time. (Springfield Business Journal)

KC health insurer will donate $18 million to pandemic relief
Nonprofit health insurer Blue KC will contribute $18 million to employers, providers and members who have suffered financial losses due to COVID-19. (Kansas City Business Journal)

St. Louis staffing firm acquires local competitor 
Advanced Resources Group has purchased St. Louis Staffing. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Columbia’s Roots N Blues festival canceled
The annual music festival, scheduled for late September, was called off due to coronavirus concerns. All passes already purchased for the festival can be applied to the event in 2021. (Columbia Missourian)

Emerson donates $500,000 to Springfield community college
Ferguson-based conglomerate Emerson Electric donated $500,000 to Ozarks Technical Community College for the school’s advanced manufacturing program. (Springfield Business Journal)


Say that again

“A Kansas City company believing they can bring forward any additional request that diverts resources away from our students speaks loudly to the systemically racist real estate practices we have allowed to exist here.”

That’s Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Mark Bedell, speaking on the use of tax dollars to incentivize BlueScope Construction to remain in Missouri, KCUR reports. The company has been offered $20 million by Kansas officials to move operations across the border, after receiving tax subsidies in Missouri for 20 years, the Kansas City Star reports. Missouri has offered BlueScope $5.6 million in additional incentives to create 90 jobs over six years, and Kansas City is considering an extension of the company’s property tax abatement. Bedell said that the Kansas City Public Schools district, in which half the students are Black, experiences more funding cuts as a result of such incentives than majority-white districts in Kansas City.


Go figure

$2 billion

That’s how much has been paid out by the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to Missouri residents receiving unemployment benefits since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Missourinet reports. Many who qualified for unemployment received a total of $900 weekly with the additional federal supplement of $600 added to the $300 provided by the state. A recent study by the University of Chicago has shown that 68% of people receiving unemployment benefits are receiving more money than they had from their previous employment. On July 5, those receiving unemployment benefits will once again be required to document their search for new employment if they hope to continue receiving benefits.


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Kansas City’s Starlight Theater announced Wednesday that it was canceling its summer slate of concerts and Broadway shows due to COVID-19. In a statement, Starlight President and CEO Rich Baker said there was not “financially responsible way” to put on shows this summer. The outdoor theater has not seen its stage remain empty for a summer since it debuted in 1950. The nonprofit estimates it could lose up to $4 million this season. Starlight’s announcement comes two weeks after The Muny theater in St. Louis canceled its summer season, bringing a similar expected loss in revenue, and on the same day that Columbia’s annual Roots N Blues music festival was canceled.


Hello, my name is

SOFTwarfare

Founded in Prairie Village, Kansas, this startup recently launched a new product called BioThenticate to help companies better protect sensitive data through the use of multi-factor biometric authentication, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. The mobile app can use iris, fingerprint and facial scans for authentication. It’s designed to facilitate access to secure data and systems while employees are working remotely. By eliminating login credentials such as passwords, the company hopes to reduce instances of information being hacked.


It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning.


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