Eric Greitens | St. Louis Public Radio

Eric Greitens

Stephen Webber, June 2017
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Webber joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies for a candid episode of the Politically Speaking podcast.

Webber is a former state representative from Columbia who was elected last year as party chairman. He took on that role after narrowly losing a state Senate race to Republican Caleb Rowden.

Downtown St. Louis,  looking east
File photo | Brent Jones | St. Louis Beacon

After the difficult process this year of piecing together Missouri’s budget, lawmakers believe they’ve found a way to get more money for vital state services: Cutting tax credits.

But a report from state Auditor Nicole Galloway’s office shows that even with big changes to popular incentives, it could be years before the state saves a significant amount of money.

Gov. Eric Greitens signs the Foster Care Bill of Rights into law. (June 22, 2017)
Marshall Griffin|St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Eric Greitens on Thursday signed into law a bill designed to improve the safety and quality of life of children in Missouri's foster care system.

 

At the heart of the measure is the Foster Care Bill of Rights, which begins by stating the “best interests of the child shall be the first priority of the children’s division” of the Department of Social Services.

More than 200 supporters wait for Gov. Eric Greitens to arrive at an anti-abortion rally at the Missouri Capitol.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 6:30 a.m. June 15 with Senate passing abortion bill — Missouri senators passed legislation early Thursday that would require annual health inspections of abortion clinics and enact other new restrictions on the procedure.

After a long day of closed-door meetings, the Senate eventually voted 20-8 in favor of the measure, which was sponsored by GOP Sen. Andrew Koenig of Manchester and now heads to the House. A competing bill filed by Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, had been considered the main vehicle before Wednesday.

Commerical planes parked at a St. Louis Lambert International Airport terminal.
St. Louis Lambert International Airport

Updated at 8:10 p.m. with how much it'll cost to switch to a REAL ID license — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens signed a bill Monday aimed at averting a scenario in which Missouri residents could have been turned away at airports starting in January for lack of valid identification.

The legislation will give residents the option to get driver's licenses or other identification cards that comply with the federal REAL ID Act. Compliance with the tougher proof-of-identity requirements is necessary at airports, some federal facilities and military bases.

Gov. Eric Greitens speaks with reporters after touring Our Lady's Inn, a St. Louis pregnancy center for women experiencing homelessness, on June 8, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When it goes into its second special session Monday, the Missouri General Assembly will focus on a frequent — and arguably, favorite — target: local control.

On issues ranging from gun rights to anti-discrimination regulations, Republican leaders have made it clear that they believe there should be a consistent law across Missouri. That’s why since 2007, they’ve approved bills to bar communities from enacting stricter gun laws, overturned Kansas City’s higher minimum wage (there’s an action pending against St. Louis’ higher wage, too), and tossed out Columbia’s plastic bag ban.

Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

As promised, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is calling lawmakers back to Jefferson City — for the second time — to target organizations and local governments that support abortion rights.

The session begins next Monday. “I'm pro-life, and I believe that we need to defend life and promote a culture of life here in the state of Missouri,” the governor said in his announcement on Facebook.

Greitens' Cabinet appointees shown clockwise from top left: Sarah Steelman, Chris Chinn, Anne Precythe, Carol Comer, Joel Walters, Chlora Lindley-Myers, Randall Williams, Charles "Drew" Juden
Credits listed clockwise from top left / Jason Rosenbaum; Dept. of Agriculture; Tim Bommel, House Communications; Office of Gov. Eric Greitens; Linkedin; City of Sikeston

Updated June 6 to correct that the Department of Mental Health's director is appointed by a commission. Original story from Feb. 22, 2017:

With new administrations come new agency directors, and it’s up to the governor to choose those people. Most of  Republican Gov. Eric Greitens’ Cabinet positions have been approved by the Missouri Senate, while three still must be vetted.

Here’s a who’s who behind the major state agencies:

Gregg Keller, June 2017
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back Gregg Keller for the second time.

Keller is a St. Louis-based, Republican consultant who runs his own firm, Atlas Strategy Group. He’s worked for a number of Missouri’s prominent GOP officials, including former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens signs a bill on Tues., May 30, 2017, banning project labor agreements before workers at Automation Systems, a firm in Earth City.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens appears to be reinforcing his anti-union image, inviting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — who also has built a reputation for taking on unions — to a rally Tuesday, where Greitens signed a bill outlawing a longstanding practice.

The bill bans cities and counties from using project labor agreements, which have been in use in the St. Louis area for decades. PLAs require all subcontractors to pay union wages, and often bar work stoppages over labor disagreements. Already, there are PLA bans on state projects.

Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications

Updated May 25 with the day's actions — The special legislative session called by Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is getting closer to the finish line.

A Missouri Senate committee voted 10-1 Thursday to pass a bill designed to reopen an aluminum smelting plant in southeastern Missouri that was operated by Noranda. They made no additions to the bill, which goes before the full Senate on Friday.

Gov. Eric Greitens speaks in front of the Capitol during a rally in support of the Noranda bill on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
Krissy Lane | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri House expects to send the Senate a bill Wednesday that would reopen a shuttered aluminum plant in the Bootheel region — long known as Noranda — and build a new steel plant next door.

What the Senate will do remains to be seen, considering at least one Republican is using the special session to again harangue fellow GOPer Gov. Eric Greitens for his agenda-pushing nonprofit.

Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O'Fallon, May 2017
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome state Rep. Nick Schroer to the program for the first time.

The O’Fallon Republican represents a portion of St. Charles County in the Missouri House. He was first elected to the 107th  House District in 2016.

Missouri Capitol, May 2017
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 7:45 p.m. May 22  with number of bills filed Monday – On the eve of his first legislative special session, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and his allied nonprofit group are attacking one of the pivotal legislators  needed to win approval of the governor’s favored bill.

The nonprofit group is called A New Missouri and can collect unlimited donations from unidentified donors. It is targeting state Sen. Doug Libla, a Republican whose southeast Missouri district includes the now-closed aluminum smelting plant that Greitens hopes to reopen, along with a possible steel mill.

Libla says he supports the projects. But the senator questions some provisions in the expected special-session bill that he says could reduce state oversight over Ameren, which provides electricity to much of eastern Missouri.

Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Day at the Missouri Capitol, 2013
MoBikeFed | Flickr

On Friday’s “Behind the Headline” with St. Louis on the Air, we took an in-depth look at some of the top news stories of the week.

Sue Spencer surveys what remains of her home on County Road 806 in Perryville. A tornado tore through the area in late February, destroying the home she lived in for three decades.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The sirens started a little before 8 p.m. on the last night of February. Residents of Perry County, in southeastern Missouri,  retreated to their basements — many of them not expecting the incoming tornado with a 14-mile-long and half-mile-wide path. Within an hour, the tornado had killed one man, damaged more than 100 homes and leveled dozens more.  

Three months later, there are signs that rebuilding is underway. Structures now stand where fallen trees, busted up car frames, and mangled bits of homes were scattered before. Perryville’s residents are recovering, hiring contractors, negotiating with insurance companies, and even managing the aftermath of severe flooding in April.

Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City, 2016
Ethan Weston | Flickr

Updated May 19 with Gov. Eric Greitens' plans to campaign for the legislation  — Missouri lawmakers will return to Jefferson City next week to consider legislation aimed at boosting the chances that the Noranda aluminum smelter plant will reopen and that a new steel plant will be built.

Gov. Eric Greitens is holding four rallies Saturday to promote legislation he says will help both southeast Missouri projects. The session will begin at 4 p.m. Monday.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks to reporters after the 2017 adjourned. Greitens didn't have the smoothest relationship with legislators — including Republicans that control both chambers of the Missouri General Assembly.
Carolina Hidalgo

Eric Greitens’ successful campaign to become Missouri’s governor was based on the premise that politicians were ruining the state and that an outsider’s help was needed.

But with the 2017 legislative session in the books, some of the elected officials Greitens decried believe he got in their way and took an unwarranted, heavy-handed approach — despite the fact that the Republican stands to implement policies his party waited generations to complete.

State Senator Rob Schaaf addresses Lt. Gov. Mike Parson on the last day day of the General Assembly's legislative session.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Republicans had a lot to be optimistic about when the General Assembly convened in January. For the first time nearly a decade, the GOP held the reins of power in the executive and legislative branches — giving the party a prime chance to pass longstanding policy initiatives.

That optimism turned out to be warranted, especially when it came to overhauling the state’s labor and legal climate. But the process was anything but smooth. 

Rici Hoffarth / St. Louis Public Radio

There’s still plenty of unfinished business as the final week of the legislative session kicks off Monday.

Gov. Eric Greitens is still waiting for his fellow Republicans in the House and Senate to send him bills to ban gifts from lobbyists, create state-funded scholarships that some students could use to attend private schools and allow the Department of Revenue to issue driver’s licenses that comply with federal Real ID standards.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is congratulated by legislators after delivering his first State of the State speech to the Missouri Legislature in the State Capitol in Jefferson City.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Gov. Eric Greitens, who has called for ethics reforms, faces a fine from the Missouri Ethics Commission for failing to report that his gubernatorial campaign received a donor list from a charity he founded.

Republican Sen. Rob Schaaf, of St. Joseph, sponsored the Senate drug monitoring bill.
Courtesy of Harrison Sweazea, Missouri Senate Communications

Rob Schaaf rose Monday to speak on the Missouri Senate floor, capping what seemed to be a tough few days. One of his fellow GOP senators had highlighted how the 60-year-old from St. Joseph rented a room from a well-known lobbyist. And the nonprofit linked to Gov. Eric Greitens was making personal attacks on Schaaf’s political decision integrity — and giving out his cellphone number.

 

But Schaaf made it abundantly clear he wasn’t slinking away, issuing a blunt message to the Republican governor.

Gov. Eric Greitens signs legislation aimed at expanding Uber and Lyft throughout Missouri.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

It’ll be easier to use ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft throughout Missouri, especially airports, under the bill signed Monday by Gov. Eric Greitens.

Gov. Eric Greitens speaks during his first State of the State address in Jefferson City.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 4:15 p.m. with Kansas City Star receiving comment from Chambers — Missouri state Sen. Rob Schaaf has his hands in a lot of important legislation this session, yet he’s still made time to criticize Republican Gov. Eric Greitens over his new nonprofit.

A New Missouri Inc., which isn’t beholden to campaign finance laws and doesn’t have to disclose its donors, is fighting back, publishing a digital ad this week that says the St. Joseph Republican is “siding with liberals” and “playing personal political games.”

Gov. Eric Greitens and his wife, Sheena, brought their two children to a polling place before the November general election. Greitens signed an executive order extending paid parental leave for some state employees.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 2:05 p.m. April 18 with state attorney general's office recusing itself — A U.S. Supreme Court case over who qualifies for state grant money in Missouri should move forward, lawyers for the state and a Columbia, Missouri, church said Tuesday.  Their letters to the high court came despite Gov. Eric Greitens reversing a rule last week that prevented religious organizations from receiving grant money from the Department of Natural Resources. Also Tuesday, the state attorney general's office recused itself from the case, for which oral arguments are scheduled to start Wednesday.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens delivers his first State of the State address last week in Jefferson City.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:45 p.m. with Greitens' office comment Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has set up a task force that’s meant to examine which of the state’s hundreds of boards and commissions are necessary and which ones are not.

Gina Walsh, April 2017
Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome back Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh.

 

The Bellefontaine Neighbors Democrat is the leader of Senate Democratic Caucus, which has shrunk in recent years to nine members after Republicans took over scores of seats in outstate Missouri. Even though Republicans outnumber Democrats in the Senate, the minority party can still use the filibuster to block or force changes to legislation.

 

Gov. Eric Greitens greets guests at this residence after being sworn in on Jan. 9, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is the state’s first chief executive to set up nonprofit groups that can raise unlimited amounts of money from unknown donors.

The governor’s chief advisor, Austin Chambers, says there’s nothing unusual about it — and he’s right. Governors in Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts and Georgia, as well as New York Mayor Bill DiBlasio, are among the politicians who have set up similar nonprofit organizations, or have allies who have set them up.

A hand distributing cash with a dialogue box.
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers are getting out ahead of the constitutionally mandated deadline to have the state budget to Gov. Eric Greitens’ desk. The first step — a House committee passing all 13 bills making up the $27.6 billion budget that starts July 1 — was completed Tuesday night.

Even though Republican leaders' priorities match up with Greitens’ for the most part, it’s a long process and there’s sure to be debate over K-12 school funding. The House budget committee is seeking a $45 million increase, far more than the $3 million Greitens asked for.

Gov. Eric Greitens signs into law a bill requiring stricter standards for expert witnesses in Missouri on March 28, 2017.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 4:40 p.m. April 12 to correct headline — The latest bill to receive Gov. Eric Greitens’ signature is another priority for Republicans: tightening rules on who can be called as an expert witness.

He signed House Bill 153 into law Tuesday, a month and a half after he used his State of the State address to call Missouri and St. Louis in particular, a “judicial hellhole.”

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