Missouri Minute: State appeals court backs wind project; Education board relaxes attendance requirements for school funds 

Good morning, MBA readers,

The courts have delivered significant announcements this week in two longstanding legal sagas affecting big Missouri business interests. The Grain Belt Express, a planned power transmission line that would pass through eight Missouri counties, is one step closer to construction as a Missouri appeals court ruled in favor of the contentious project that has been disputed by local landowners. On the other hand, Bayer’s $10.9 billion settlement of claims that Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller caused cancer was criticized by a federal judge and may now be in jeopardy. Plus, with 773 new COVID-19 cases reported Tuesday, Missouri saw its highest single-day increase in case count. That has education officials across the state bracing for the pandemic’s effect on schools and relaxing requirements for schools to receive certain funding.


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Missouri appeals court backs sale of controversial wind project
The court supported the sale of a project that would carry wind-generated power from Kansas to Indiana along a 780-mile long transmission line that would cut through Missouri. Landowners challenged the decision by state regulators that allowed Invenergy to acquire the line from Grain Belt. The decision brings the long-delayed project one step closer to construction. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Bayer’s $10.9 billion Roundup settlement may be in jeopardy
The settlement is being held up by U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria, who has expressed skepticism over how Bayer has proposed to handle future claims involving the herbicide. Many lawyers not involved in the settlement have said the proposed plan would serve Bayer, which acquired Creve Coeur-based Monsanto, producer of Roundup, in 2018. (Bloomberg)

Southwest Missouri boot factories to shutter
Two Justin Boots factories, among the largest manufacturers in Cassville and Carthage, are closing, leaving a total of nearly 300 workers out of jobs. The Texas-based company said the decision comes as a result of hard times brought by the coronavirus. (Missourinet)

Missouri sets record for most COVID-19 cases reported in a single day
The state reported 773 new cases on Tuesday, 220 more than the previous record of 553 set on June 25. Officials partly attributed the jump to delays in data entry caused by the July Fourth holiday weekend. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Education board relaxes attendance requirements for school funds 
The state board of education has passed two emergency rules relaxing attendance requirements for funding. Normally, schools must hit attendance thresholds to acquire different levels of funding, but those rules will not apply to the coming school year in an effort to allow schools to adopt hybrid models of education during the coronavirus. (KCUR)

Columbia makes face masks mandatory to reduce virus spread
The mask order is set to run 90 days and will require people to wear face masks when in public. The punishment for not wearing a mask is a $15 fine for individuals and a $100 fine for businesses per non-compliant employee. (MBA)

St. Louis sleeping pod startup brings on equity partner, seeks more funding
zPods, which sells customized sleeping pods, recently entered an equity partnership with Minnesota-based manufacturer Lindar. The partnership comes as zPods turns to market its product to those with autism, who may experience sleep and sensory processing disorders that could be partly alleviated by the pods. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Gateway Arch delays reopening of tram rides
Gateway Arch National Park has delayed the second phase of its reopening for certain attractions, including tram rides, which will be closed until further notice. The move comes as COVID-19 cases rise in the area. (KSDK)

Southwest to no longer accept cash payments
Southwest Airlines, the largest carrier at both St. Louis Lambert International Airport and Kansas City International Airport, will no longer accept cash payments. The move comes amid calls to limit cash as a result of its potential to spread COVID-19. (Dallas Morning News)

Officials release guidelines for reopening schools in St. Louis County
They include recommendations for social distancing, daily screenings and contingency plans. Individual schools are able to create their own plans for reopening, and many will announce their frameworks on July 20. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Columbia suspends recycling collection
The city will not collect recycling because of staffing issues and declining markets for the materials. Several collectors have tested positive for COVID-19 recently, and the city said that is contributing to shortages of staff. (Columbia Missourian)

T-Mobile pulls plug on Sprint’s 5G network
Sprint’s 5G service was once expected to be the future of the company, but it has now been shut down by T-Mobile. The company has switched over customers to its own 5G networks in several cities, and it’s expected to roll out 5G in many more locations. (Kansas City Business Journal)


Say that again

“A dancer’s job is to touch each other, to lift each other, to turn each other, to roll around on the floor with each other. And until we can do that safely, how do we bring these wonderful artists back?”

That’s Jeffrey Bentley, Kansas City Ballet executive director, grappling with the question of safely getting dancers together to rehearse and perform during the COVID-19 pandemic. On Tuesday, the Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City Symphony, Lyric Opera Of Kansas City, and Harriman-Jewell Series opted out of large gatherings at the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts, KCUR reports. The groups announced they are canceling or postponing performances at the venue through the end of the year. These are trying times for performing arts organizations, which have seen revenue plummet amid cancellations and concern about audiences returning when venues reopen. One survey found that two-thirds of theatergoers will not return until there is a coronavirus vaccine.


Go figure

4,555

That’s the number of masks that had been decontaminated as of July 1 by a $500 million federal decontamination system that can process up to 80,000 masks per day, KCUR reports. The Battelle CCDS Critical Care Decontamination System is funded entirely by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and was given to Missouri in late April. But several hospitals had developed their own decontamination methods at the beginning of the pandemic, when supplies of N95 masks were low. Additionally, the Battelle system has been vastly underutilized because it has a turnover period of three days, whereas ultraviolet light systems used in hospitals can get the job done in three to four hours.


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The Missouri Department of Agriculture announced late last month that rabbit shows at the Missouri State Fair would be canceled out of concern over the spread of a contagious virus that can be fatal to rabbits. This tweet juxtaposed that decision with Missouri’s current plans to hold its state fair despite concerns about the coronavirus. As other Midwestern states, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Minnesota, have canceled state fairs, Gov. Mike Parson has resisted calling off Missouri’s, The Kansas City Star reports. The annual event is scheduled to take place Aug. 13-23 in Sedalia. Several county fairs are also scheduled to take place in the Kansas City region over the next several weeks.


Hello, my name is

RiskGenius
The Overland Park, Kansas-based software startup was one of six companies selected for the inaugural class of “bcp tech,” an insurance technology accelerator launched by Kansas City insurance brokerage Brush Creek Partners. RiskGenius, the lone local company in the cohort, uses machine learning on insurance policies to help underwriters, brokers and regulators perform risk analysis in a policy or a portfolio, Startland News reports. The accelerator will commence in August and continue for eight weeks.


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


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