Missouri Minute: State lawmakers hear plans for pandemic funds; auto workers look to weather plant closures

Hello, MBA readers,

Following recommendations from federal regulators and citing “an abundance of caution,” Missouri health officials have suspended distribution of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine has been administered to more than 6.8 million patients in the U.S. and linked to serious blood clots in six of them. Federal authorities are investigating those cases. As the state awaits further federal guidance on the vaccine, Missouri is seeking clarity from the U.S. Treasury on how $2.8 billion in pandemic aid should be distributed. That money is part of nearly $3 billion Missouri is receiving under the latest federal coronavirus relief package. State lawmakers held a hearing Monday to screen groups in the state asking for a portion of the funding. And, in Kansas City, shutdowns of two automotive plants continue to drag on amid a global microchip shortage, leaving thousands of area employees temporarily out of work. The General Motors plant has been shuttered for two months, and although union workers are supposed to receive about 75% of their compensation while on temporary layoff, union officials say some members have yet to be paid.

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Missouri halts Johnson & Johnson vaccine use
State health officials have paused administration of the vaccine, citing federal guidance after six reported cases of rare, serious blood clots in vaccine recipients. More than 6.8 million doses have been administered nationally. (Missouri Independent)

St. Louis earnings tax case moves to state court
The lawsuit seeking earnings tax refunds for people who have worked outside the city during the pandemic was initially filed in federal court. Plaintiffs’ attorneys said they hope the change of venue expedites the case. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Auto workers look to weather plant closures
In the Kansas City area, Ford closed its Transit van line this week and General Motors workers have been on temporary layoff for two months amid a global microchip shortage. A union representative said workers at the GM plant are “devastated.” (Kansas City Star)

Proposed bill would make gun stores essential businesses
A bill being considered by the Missouri House would also allow other expanded gun carrying and purchasing rights. (Columbia Missourian)

Say that again

“I can show with one towboat that I can remove 150 cars’ worth of carbon dioxide off the road a year by going to this technology.”

That’s Dave Lee of ABB Marine & Ports, a company whose products include electric power systems for ships. Amid the push to reduce carbon emissions and adopt more renewable energy sources, some are promoting barges as a less carbon-intensive way to transport goods, St. Louis Public Radio reports. Environmental agencies have pushed back on some of those claims, though, saying a majority of the studies backing those assertions are funded by the barge industry. The industry plays a sizable role in U.S. shipping, with 100 million tons of cargo, including 65% of U.S. corn exports, moving along the Mississippi River each year. Lee expects those ships will increasingly integrate new technology aimed at enhancing energy efficiency and reducing carbon output.

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$2.8 billion

Missouri will receive $2.8 billion for general state spending, plus another $195 million for construction projects, from the American Rescue Plan signed by President Joe Biden last month. On Monday, a Missouri House subcommittee held a hearing at which people and organizations brought forward projects that required funding. The subcommittee is tasked with screening requests ahead of recommendations from Gov. Mike Parson during special sessions that will be held later this year. All of Missouri’s public colleges and universities were on hand to make requests, which combined to be about $420 million across the 13 four-year institutions. The Missouri State Highway Patrol asked for $88 million to build a new training facility. In addition to the state funding, cities and counties in Missouri will receive $2.5 billion from the federal relief package.

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Peter Mallouk, CEO of financial advisory Creative Planning, on Tuesday celebrated the grand opening of a Kansas City nonprofit called Pathway Financial Education, which will provide free financial education and specifically target underserved communities. The goal of the program is to promote self-sufficiency and financial health, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. It will be led by Vince Clark, Creative Planning’s vice president of business development and chief corporate affairs officer. Pathway will offer courses online and in person, and will have its first round of enrollment in a few weeks for small business owners.

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The St. Louis startup has raised $5.1 million in a new round of funding, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The company said the money will help advance its CommandEP system, which produces a three-dimensional hologram of a patient’s heart to help guide heart surgeons during procedures. The system was recently cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The funding round included investment from TechWald Holding, an Italian health care company, and BioGenerator and Cultivation Capital, both based in St. Louis.


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