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Megabus serves St. Louis, but discontinued service to Columbia and Kansas City in The Mississippi River and Missouri River are commercially navigable over their entire lengths in Missouri. The Missouri was channelized through dredging and jettys and the Mississippi was given a series of locks and dams to avoid rocks and deepen the river. Louis is a major destination for barge traffic on the Mississippi. From to traffic deaths have decreased annually from 1, in , to 1, in , to for , to for , to in , to in The current Constitution of Missouri, the fourth constitution for the state, was adopted in It provides for three branches of government: the legislative, judicial, and executive branches.

The legislative branch consists of two bodies: the House of Representatives and the Senate. These bodies comprise the Missouri General Assembly. The House of Representatives has members who are apportioned based on the last decennial census. The Senate consists of 34 members from districts of approximately equal populations. The judicial department comprises the Supreme Court of Missouri , which has seven judges, the Missouri Court of Appeals an intermediate appellate court divided into three districts , sitting in Kansas City, St.

Louis, and Springfield, and 45 Circuit Courts which function as local trial courts. The executive branch is headed by the Governor of Missouri and includes five other statewide elected offices. Following the death of Tom Schweich in , only one of Missouri's statewide elected offices are held by Democrats.

He was a judge in Jackson County and then represented the state in the United States Senate for ten years, before being elected Vice-President in He lived in Independence after retiring. Missouri was widely regarded as a bellwether in American politics, often making it a swing state. The state had a longer stretch of supporting the winning presidential candidate than any other state, having voted with the nation in every election from to with a single exception: , when Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson of neighboring Illinois lost the election despite carrying Missouri.

However, in recent years, areas of the state outside Kansas City, St.

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Louis, and Columbia have shifted heavily to the right, and so the state is no longer considered a bellwether by most analysts. Missouri twice voted against Democrat Barack Obama , who won in and On October 24, , there were 4,, registered voters. On November 8, , there were 4,, registered voters, with 2,, voting Missouri has been known for its population's generally "stalwart, conservative, noncredulous" attitude toward regulatory regimes, which is one of the origins of the state's unofficial nickname, the "Show-Me State".

For , the annual "Freedom in the 50 States" study prepared by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University ranked Missouri as 3 in America for alcohol freedom and 1 for tobacco freedom 7 for freedom overall. With a large German immigrant population and the development of a brewing industry, Missouri always has had among the most permissive alcohol laws in the United States.

The Springfield News-Leader from Springfield, Missouri · Page 10

It never enacted statewide prohibition. Missouri voters rejected prohibition in three separate referenda in , , and Alcohol regulation did not begin in Missouri until Today, alcohol laws are controlled by the state government, and local jurisdictions are prohibited from going beyond those state laws. Missouri has no statewide open container law or prohibition on drinking in public , no alcohol-related blue laws , no local option , no precise locations for selling liquor by the package allowing even drug stores and gas stations to sell any kind of liquor , and no differentiation of laws based on alcohol percentage.

State law protects persons from arrest or criminal penalty for public intoxication. Missouri law expressly prohibits any jurisdiction from going dry. As for tobacco as of July , Missouri has the lowest cigarette excise taxes in the United States, at 17 cents per pack, [] and the state electorate voted in , , , and twice in to keep it that way. Louis , America's "best city for smokers". According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , in Missouri had the fourth highest percentage of adult smokers among U.

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S states, at No statewide smoking ban ever has been seriously entertained before the Missouri General Assembly , and in October , a statewide survey by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services found that only Missouri has counties and one independent city St.

The largest county by size is Texas County 1, sq.

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Worth County is the smallest sq. The independent city of St. Louis City is the most densely populated area 5, The largest county by population estimate is St. Louis County , residents , with Jackson County second , residents , St. Charles third , , and St. Louis fourth , Worth County is the least populous with 2, estimate residents. The five largest cities in Missouri are Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield, Columbia , and Independence. Louis is the principal city of the largest metropolitan area in Missouri, composed of 17 counties and the independent city of St.

Louis; eight of those counties lie in Illinois. As of St. Louis was the 21st-largest metropolitan area in the nation with 2. However, if ranked using Combined Statistical Area , it is 19th-largest with 2. Some of the major cities making up the St. Charles , St. Kansas City is Missouri's largest city and the principal city of the fifteen-county Kansas City Metropolitan Statistical Area , including six counties in the state of Kansas.

As of , it was the 30th-largest metropolitan area in the nation, with 2. In the Combined Statistical Area in , it ranked 25th with 2. Springfield is Missouri's third-largest city and the principal city of the Springfield-Branson Metropolitan Area , which has a population of , and includes seven counties in southwestern Missouri. Branson is a major tourist attraction in the Ozarks of southwestern Missouri. Some of the other major cities comprising the Springfield-Branson metro area include Nixa , Ozark , and Republic. The Missouri State Board of Education has general authority over all public education in the state of Missouri.

It is made up of eight citizens appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Missouri Senate. Education is compulsory from ages seven to seventeen, and it is required that any parent, guardian or other person with custody of a child between the ages of seven and seventeen the compulsory attendance age for the district, must ensure that the child is enrolled in and regularly attends public, private, parochial school, home school or a combination of schools for the full term of the school year.

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Compulsory attendance also ends when children complete sixteen credits in high school. Children in Missouri between the ages of five and seven are not required to be enrolled in school. However, if they are enrolled in a public school their parent, guardian or custodian must ensure that they regularly attend. Missouri schools are commonly but not exclusively divided into three tiers of primary and secondary education: elementary school, middle school or junior high school and high school.

The public schools system includes kindergarten to 12th grade. District territories are often complex in structure. In some cases, elementary, middle and junior high schools of a single district feed into high schools in another district. Homeschooling is legal in Missouri and is an option to meet the compulsory education requirement. It is neither monitored nor regulated by the state's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education []. The University of Missouri System is Missouri's statewide public university system.

The flagship institution and largest university in the state is the University of Missouri in Columbia. Lincoln University and Harris—Stowe State University were established in the mid-nineteenth century and are historically black colleges and universities. Among private institutions Washington University in St. Still University was the first osteopathic medical school in the world. The 19th century border wars between Missouri and Kansas have continued as a sports rivalry between the University of Missouri and University of Kansas.

The rivalry was chiefly expressed through football and basketball games between the two universities, but since Missouri left the Big 12 Conference in , the teams no longer regularly play one another. It was the oldest college rivalry west of the Mississippi River and the second-oldest in the nation. Each year when the universities met to play, the game was coined the "Border War.

Though Missouri and Kansas no longer have an annual game after the University of Missouri moved to the Southeastern Conference , tension still exists between the two schools. Many well-known musicians were born or have lived in Missouri. Rapper Eminem was born in St.

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Joseph and also lived in Savannah and Kansas City. Ragtime composer Scott Joplin lived in St. Louis and Sedalia.

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  • Jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker lived in Kansas City. Louis and grew up in St. The Kansas City Symphony and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra are the state's major orchestras. The latter is the nation's second-oldest symphony orchestra and achieved prominence in recent years under conductor Leonard Slatkin. Branson is well known for its music theaters, most of which bear the name of a star performer or musical group. Missouri is the native state of Mark Twain.

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    Authors Kate Chopin , T. Eliot and Tennessee Williams were from St. He is best known for Blue Highways , a chronicle of his travels to small towns across America, which was on The New York Times Bestseller list for 42 weeks in — Filmmaker, animator, and businessman Walt Disney spent part of his childhood in the Linn County town of Marceline before settling in Kansas City. Meet Me in St. Louis , a musical involving the St. Louis World's Fair, starred Judy Garland. Louis International Airport.