Afton Harper

News Intern

Afton Harper is a journalism student at Missouri State University. She works as a staff reporter for her college newspaper, The Standard, and is an intern reporter at KSMU. In her free time, she enjoys playing with her dog guide Payton and snapping macro photos

A new bill in the U.S. House of Representatives aims to help married couples pay off their student loans. 

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler’s bill would provide financial relief to married couples paying off their student loans by allowing them to apply for the loan interest deduction individually.

According to Hartzler’s office, current law says married couples are only allowed to take the deduction as a couple, even if both partners are qualified.

Fort Leonard Wood
Scott Harvey / KSMU

A Congresswoman from the Ozarks is working on a bill that would encourage the federal government to buy military medications from American drug manufacturers.

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler sees it as a matter of national security.

Hartzler, who's sponsoring a bill along with Representative John Garamendi, says the U.S. military is too dependent on China for sustainable and quality medicine.

Garamendi said most general medications American service members take are supplied by Chinese companies, which makes the U.S. vulnerable. 

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Missouri lawmakers are considering a bill that would waive the fees for domestic violence survivors to get a copy of their birth certificates.  

Advocates say the bill would save shelters money and help survivors get back on their feet.

In Missouri, it costs $15 for a copy of a birth certificate from a local health department.

Lisa Farmer is executive director of the largest domestic violence shelter in Springfield, Harmony House.

Farmer said Harmony House spends between $4,000 to $6,000 every year on birth certificate fees.  

Salvation Army of Springfield / Used with permission

The Salvation Army, Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri, and Fisk Transportation all say thieves stole the catalytic converters from their vehicles this week. 

The vehicle parts are valuable because they often contain high-dollar metals like rhodium or platinum.

Steve Roberson with the Salvation Army in Springfield said their truck’s catalytic converter was stolen Wednesday night in front of the nonprofit’s thrift store on South Campbell. The Salvation Army uses its truck to make up to 250 stops a day to deliver food and clothing to families in need, he said.

Springfield Police Department
Ryan Welch / KSMU

The Springfield Police Department has released its annual report showing the past year's crime data.

The number of violent crimes and property crimes both went up in 2019. 

According to the 2019 FBI Uniform Crime Report, aggravated assaults in Springfield increased by almost 20 percent in 2019, and the police department said in a press release that gun violence played a major role in that increase. 

Police Chief Paul Williams said most people don’t need to worry about being victims of random acts of violence, as most violence is between people who know each other.