This week, St. Louis Public Radio reporters Chris McDaniel, Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies use the Politically Speaking podcast have decided to look into their crystal balls to discuss what’s ahead for Missouri politics in 2015.
It’s a time of transition for both the Missouri General Assembly and St. Louis County government. The legislature comes back into session on Wednesday with some new members, and an even stronger Republican majority, while a new county executive has taken over in the state’s largest county.
Legal questions surrounding Michael Brown’s death and events in Ferguson again dominated the conversation among our legal roundtable.
Justice Department Investigations
The Justice Department has three roles in Ferguson, said William Freivogel, director of the school of journalism at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. First: A criminal investigation, independent of the state’s investigation.
As of Thursday, all Missouri state laws will be revised to remove references to “mentally retarded’’ and “mental retardation.’’ In their place will be the phrases “intellectually disabled’’ and “intellectual disability.”
Owners of surface mines will have to notify more property owners before starting operations. Insurers must cover oral anti-cancer medications if they cover intravenous ones. Casinos can offer lines of credit to gamblers.
And breastfeeding mothers can be excused from jury duty.
The Missouri Senate had seven new members after the smoke cleared from the 2006 election cycle. Only two served for the maximum time allowed under term limits – Senate Minority Leader Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, and state Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah.
The two lawmakers are at the opposite ends of the political spectrum. Justus entered the General Assembly as a combative fighter who fought tooth-and-nail against the Republican majority. Lager, who was arguably more conservative than his Republican counterparts, seemed on a course for higher office.
Barring last-minute resurrections before 6 p.m. Friday, several hot issues before the Missouri General Assembly this session are stone cold and legislatively buried.
After several days of vigorous debates and votes this week, leaders of the state House and Senate have had to make tough choices on which issues they have time to handle before adjournment -- and which ones they must jettison until next year.
The final days of the Missouri General Assembly's session can produce triumph, frustration, anger and befuddlement -- all in the span of an hour or two.
All of these disparate emotions take place in the living, breathing Missouri Capitol. And while describing that "last few days of session" essence can be difficult, it can perhaps be portrayed in a series of photographs.
St. Louis Public Radio reporter Jason Rosenbaum spent a couple of days in Jefferson City this week. He found time in his jam-packed schedule to take some pictures.
Differences between the Missouri House and Senate may once again kill an effort to nullify federal gun laws.
The Missouri House voted Tuesday evening by a veto-proof margin, 109-42, to approve a conference committee’s proposed final version of the bill, officially known as the “Second Amendment Preservation Act.”
But the chief Senate sponsor, state Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, declined to sign the panel’s compromise and told reporters that he may not bring up the version for a final Senate vote before this session ends on Friday. The result would be to kill the bill.
The Missouri House passed legislation on Thursday curtailing two of the state’s largest tax credit programs.
State Rep. Anne Zerr’s bill would reduce the historic preservation tax credit’s cap to $90 million from $140 million. That program helps refurbish older buildings and has been used extensively throughout St. Louis.
The bill would also gradually reduce the cap on the tax credit for low-income housing to $110 million from $140 million. That credit provides an incentive for developers to build housing for the working poor, elderly and disabled.
Aldermen Antonio French is seeking to videotape or transcribe various meetings of city of St. Louis boards and committees. That would include Board of Aldermen committees, like the one pictured in this photo.
Credit (Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio) / St. Louis Public Radio)
Alderman Antonio French is sponsoring legislation to require videotaping or transcribing various meetings and hearings in city government. French is one of several people seeking to use the web to make government more transparent to the public.
St. Louis Alderman Antonio French knows something about putting a camera in the face of government.