ST. LOUIS (AP) — Businessman John Brunner has enthusiastically endorsed Mitt Romney, but the other two Republicans seeking Missouri’s U.S. Senate seat appear more hesitant to do so. During a debate last night in St. Louis, Brunner praised Romney. But Congressman Todd Akin said he could support Romney on some issues, but not necessarily everything. Former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman largely avoided a direct answer about support for Romney.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A judge has upheld the authority of Missouri governors to control spending, while concluding that a common budgeting tactic runs afoul of the state constitution.  Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem rejected a challenge to Democratic Governor Jay Nixon’s ability to control the rate of spending and to hold back money when revenue is short. Republican Auditor Tom Schweich (schwyk) had sued last year over some of Nixon’s budget decisions.  Beetem’s ruling was dated last week but released Friday. The judge ruled it was unconstitutional to include an estimate for certain budget items that allows more money to be spent if it is available.  Beetem said it violated a requirement to distinctly specify the amount and purpose for budget appropriations, but he stayed the effect to allow for any appeals.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former Kansas City Star columnist has sued the newspaper’s parent company, saying his reputation was damaged when the newspaper fired him for allegedly representing the work of others as his own.  Steve Penn was fired from The Star in 2011 for using sections of press releases verbatim or representing other peoples’ conclusions and opinions as his own. The newspaper said it found more than a dozen examples of misrepresentation in Penn’s columns.  In his lawsuit filed June 29th in Jackson County against McClatchy Newspapers Incorporated, Penn says his supervisors knew about his use of press releases, which he says was a “widespread practice.” He also accuses the newspaper of making an example of him.  He’s seeking at least $25,000 and punitive damages.  McClatchy didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment Friday.

CHADWICK, Mo. (AP) — An evacuation order has been lifted for about 25 southwest Missouri homes after crews contained a wildfire in the Mark Twain National Forest.  The fire burned more than 1,200 acres of the 1.5 million-acre forest. Christian County Sheriff Joey Kyle says it started Thursday when a farmer’s brush-clearing equipment hit a rock and created a spark. Kyle says the fire damaged a porch and siding on one home and came within feet of two others. No injuries have been reported.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Republican House Speaker Steven Tilley says there is no need for a special session to decide whether Missouri should opt out of a Medicaid expansion.  State Senators Brad Lager and Bill Stouffer cited a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision saying states cannot be penalized with the loss of their existing federal Medicaid dollars if they refuse to go along with an expansion included in President Barack Obama’s health care law.  Other Republican legislative leaders already have said Missouri will not expand Medicaid eligibility.  Tilley said he doesn’t want to waste taxpayer money for a special session. He cited last year’s failure by legislators to pass an economic development bill during a special session.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) —Governor Jay Nixon has signed legislation that could shorten the time some nonviolent offenders have to spend on probation or parole.  The legislation allows some nonviolent felony offenders to receive 30 days of credit toward their probation or parole sentences for every month they go without a violation.  Other parts of the law allow people who violate probation or parole to be sent to jail for a few hours or days, instead of undergoing a full-fledged hearing.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Lottery says it sold nearly $1.1 billion worth of tickets during the past year.  Lottery officials say the record ticket sales generated $280 million in proceeds for the state. The figures count sales for the 2012 budget year that ended June 30.  Scratcher tickets were the top seller by far last year, accounting for more than $744 million of sales. The Missouri Lottery also sold nearly $95 million worth of Powerball tickets and almost $43 million in Mega Millions tickets.  Officials say $689 million was distributed to lottery winners in the 2012 budget year.