Michael Butler

Bruce Franks Jr. poses with a cape given to him by a supporter.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Bruce Franks looked a political machine straight in the eye. He didn’t back down. He didn’t give up. And last Friday, he won.

Big.

Franks’ landslide victory over state Rep. Penny Hubbard could resonate far beyond last Friday’s unusual special election. In beating Hubbard, a three-term representative, by more than 50 percentage points, Franks sent a thunderbolt of sorts through the St. Louis political community.

78th District Democratic candidate Bruce Franks goes door-to-door earlier this week in support of his bid against state Rep. Penny Hubbard.
Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

Inside a cavernous office space on Cherokee Street in south St. Louis, Bruce Franks’ die-hard supporters are prepping to go door-to-door for a candidate that’s captured the attention of St. Louis’ political community.

These volunteers are getting pointers on how to hand out door-hangers and convince 78th District residents that Franks is the one to represent them in the Missouri House over incumbent state Rep. Penny Hubbard.

On the surface, the stakes seem low: The winner, assuming they can defeat Republican Erik Shelquist in November, gets a seat in a Missouri House that Republicans dominate.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signs an executive order  "banning the box" on state job applications at the office of the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

When Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon “banned the box” for potential state employees, the Show Me State joined a nationwide trend aimed at helping ex-offenders move back into the workforce.

His executive order would remove application questions about criminal history for most state jobs.

There are exceptions for positions where a criminal conviction is disqualifying, such as a bank examiner. “Ban the box” doesn’t necessarily mean that a person’s criminal history won’t come up in the hiring process — it just wouldn’t be placed on a job application.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon accepts a copy of the Ferguson Commission's recomendations from co-chairs Rich McClure (L) and Rev. Starsky Wilson during a press conference in Florissant.
Bill Greenblatt I UPI

In the turbulent days before a grand jury decided not to indict a former Ferguson police officer that shot and killed Michael Brown, Gov. Jay Nixon was asked why he needed a commission to figure out what ails the St. Louis region. His answer then was personal. His reaction to the actual report issued by the Ferguson Commission is for the entire state.

Lawmakers in Texas approved a bill providing money and setting guidelines for police body cameras.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

At first blush, Texas state Sen. Royce West didn’t seem to have the most hospitable environment to pass legislation providing body camera grants to local law enforcement agencies.

After all, the Texas legislature isn’t brimming with Democrats like West these days. And in contrast to Missouri’s divided government, GOP officials occupy every single statewide office throughout the Lone Star State.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

The Missouri House has passed a supplemental budget for the current fiscal year.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri Legislature is considering a proposal to provide state funds for neighborhood watch programs in high crime areas around the state.

Rep. Michael Butler, D-St. Louis, sponsored the bill, which would create a state fund to match money for neighborhood watch programs in high crime areas around the state.

(Flickr Creative Commons User Andres Rueda)

The opportunity was too good to pass up. 

When Boeing decided to move production of its 777X passenger plane out of Seattle, states across the country were eager to offer their services. Missouri's political and business leaders were no exception.  They simply couldn't miss out on the chance to cement thousands of high-paying jobs for decades to come.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

The fully-merged Politically Speaking crew welcomes Rep. Michael Butler, D-St. Louis, to the podcast.