Ethics | St. Louis Public Radio

Ethics

File Photo |Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Ethics Commission currently has three members, which is not enough to decide complaints filed against elected officeholders or candidates for public office.

The commission lost half its members last week when their terms expired, and Gov. Eric Greitens has yet to fill them. James Klahr, the commission’s executive director, said it can still carry out some duties.

Legislation passed by the Missouri House last month banning most gifts from lobbyists has been altered by a Senate committee.

The original version would ban all gifts except plants, flowers, and catered events in which all state lawmakers and elected officials are invited. Now, the bill would allow officeholders to accept no more than $40 worth of gifts per day, and would require them to reimburse the lobbyist for anything above $40.

Should the news media have published a story about Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ extramarital affair and his alleged blackmail of a woman?

Shula Neuman is the executive editor for St. Louis Public Radio. Dec. 2017
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

A few weeks ago, our political reporters caught wind of rumors about Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and an extramarital affair. We pursued the issue, but, without reliable sources to verify the rumors, we felt we couldn’t run the story.

Rep. Justin Alferman, R-Hermann, is sponsoring legislation that would implement a photo ID requirement for voting.
File photo I Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome state Rep. Justin Alferman back to the program.

The Hermann Republican represents Missouri's the 61st House District, which takes in portions of Gasconade, Franklin and Osage counties. Alferman is vice chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee, which is in charge of shaping the state’s spending priorities every year.

The Missouri House floor in 2016.
File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Free stuff from lobbyists — anything from free meals to concert and game tickets to trips abroad — are part of the perks of being a lawmaker.

Such gifts, though, have been on the chopping block for a couple of years, with Missouri Republican legislative leaders and now Gov. Eric Greitens looking to ban them. In the face of last year’s failed efforts to ban lobbyist gifts, Greitens took quick action once in office.

Wally Siewert, the director of the center for ethics in public life at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, discussed money and politics on Thursday's "St. Louis on the Air."
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Earlier this month, the spotlight was cast on the brand new nonprofit called A New Missouri Inc. Formed by Gov. Eric Greitens’ campaign treasurer, the group’s focus will be to advocate for the governor’s policy agenda. Its nonprofit status assigned by the IRS means that A New Missouri can take unlimited contributions and it does not have to release information about who gave those contributions.

Missouri lawmakers listen to Gov. Eric Greitens speak earlier this month during his State of the State address.
Tim Bommel I House Communications

If Missourians were near a television screen over the past year, they probably caught wind of how Eric Greitens wanted to overhaul the ethical culture in Jefferson City. His advertisements weren’t exactly a study in subtlety, especially when they showcased his desire to blow up politics as usual by sparking an explosion with a gun.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri House has moved fast on the latest effort to ban gifts from lobbyists, and it could send the proposal to the Senate this week.

House members gave first-round approval Thursday to this year's bill, which would ban gifts from lobbyists to elected officials, with a few exceptions such as flower arrangements and speaking fees. It's sponsored again by Rep. Justin Alferman, R-Hermann.

As Eric Greitens is sworn in today as Missouri’s 56th governor, he’s pledging to support the state’s constitution and to serve the more than 6 million people living in the Show Me state.   

Shortly after Greitens was elected in November, his spokesman, Austin Chambers said,  “… the governor’s priorities for this first session are jobs, ethics reform, public safety and education reform."

St. Louis Public Radio recently asked listeners and readers to share their priorities  for the new governor. In addition to issues Greitens has already raised, some of his new constituents cite discounts and tax breaks for older homeowners.

State Rep. Kip Kendrick
Nathan Lawrence | KBIA | File photo

Democrats in the Missouri House are calling on Gov.-elect Eric Greitens to keep his campaign promise to clean up Jefferson City.

They've pre-filed several bills that range from banning gifts from lobbyists to giving the state ethics commission the authority to prosecute violations. Democrat Kip Kendrick of Columbia said they want to see if the incoming Republican governor is serious about ethics reform.

Officials found guilty of stealing public funds will face tougher penalties under a bill pre-filed in the Missouri Senate.

SB 176 elevates punishment for official misconduct in the first degree from a misdemeanor to a class E felony, which could bring up to a four-year prison term.

File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Aug. 28 means  that most of Missouri's new laws passed earlier this year are now in effect.

They include House Bill 1568, which allows anyone to buy naloxone without a prescription, which can then be administered to someone suffering an overdose from heroin or a prescription opioid.  It was sponsored by Rep. Steve Lynch of Pulaski County.

The full Board of Aldermen is expected to take up the stadium funding plan next Tuesday.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

Do not fear, lobbyists — your place on the floor of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen is safe for the foreseeable future.

The city's rules committee on Wednesday voted down a piece of legislation sponsored by Alderman Megan-Ellyia Green, D-15th Ward, that would have banished lobbyists to the hall, the galleries, or the side rooms at City Hall. Just one committee member, Alderman Christine Ingrassia, D-6th Ward, voted yes.

Sen. David Pearce answers questions from reporters on the last day of the legislative session.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

If there’s one constant about the last week of the Missouri General Assembly’s session, it’s that nobody in the Capitol has to search very hard to find delicious pie.

For several decades, senators have served up rhubarb pies, French silk pies, and even gooseberry pies to hungry legislators and staff. The uncontroversial and widely celebrated “Pie Day” event provides a big boost to proprietors like the Rolling Pin in Glasgow, and a bit of levity within the General Assembly's intense final days.

File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Barring another sex scandal, the Missouri General Assembly could be facing a low-key final week.

The thinner-than-usual final schedule reflects, in part, legislators' success this year — and last — in passing the state's bloc of budget bills early. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon was required to approve or veto by last Friday the state's planned spending for the fiscal year that begins July 1. He only used his line-item veto on two items on Friday; lawmakers overrode last week his earlier veto of their new school-funding formula.

Marshall Griffin|St. Louis Public Radio

The rest of Missouri's budget for the next fiscal year has been signed into law.

Last week, Gov. Jay Nixon signed the budget bill for the Department of Higher Education into law, and on Thursday he signed into law the budget bill for the departments of Mental Health and Health and Senior Services. On Friday, he sign the remaining budget bills into law.

Bob Onder
Marshall Griffin 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 Sen. Bob Onder. The Lake Saint Louis Republican was a guest on the show in 2014 soon after he was elected to his first term in the Missouri Senate.

Onder represents part of St. Charles County. His district includes most of that county’s fast-growing western suburbs, including Wentzville, O’Fallon, Lake Saint Louis and part of St. Peters.

Tim Bommel|Missouri House Communications

The first of several ethics proposals to come out of the Missouri legislature this year has been signed into law.

Gov. Jay Nixon signed House Bill 1983 during a brief ceremony in his state Capitol office. It bars lawmakers and other elected officials from hiring each other as paid political consultants.

File photo | 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 are pleased to welcome state Rep. Justin Alferman to the show for the first time.

The Hermann Republican is serving his first term in the Missouri House. His heavily-GOP seat includes parts of Franklin, Gasconade and Osage counties, and it takes in most of Washington, Mo.

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