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Politics & Issues

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A rendering of the proposed St. Louis soccer stadium.
HOK

Updated at 9:30 p.m. with additional comments from SC STL. —They say nothing is ever truly dead in politics, and the proposed public funding for a professional soccer stadium near Union Station is proving that adage.

Just last week, Alderman Christine Ingrassia, D-6th Ward, announced that she would not ask the Board of Aldermen to consider her bill directing extra use tax revenue to the stadium. The use tax will go up automatically if voters approve a separate measure boosting the city's sales tax by a half percent.

But on Wednesday morning, the stadium funding bill showed up on the agenda of the Ways and Means committee.

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
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we heard reaction to what Gov. Eric Greitens said in his first State of the State address.

Joining host Don Marsh were St. Louis Public Radio reporters Jason Rosenbaum and Marshall Griffin, as well as Dave Robertson, chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated with Wednesday's Senate hearing) Heartened by the November election, Missouri’s abortion opponents are considering a raft of bills – some old, some new – to expand the state’s restrictions on abortion-related matters and their enforcement.

The measures could heighten Missouri’s longstanding status as a key battleground when it comes to abortion rights.  A state Senate committee examined four of them Wednesday.

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

Gov. Eric Greitens used his first State of the State address to offer up a fairly conservative policy agenda, a slate of proposals that will likely find favor with Republicans who dominate the Missouri General Assembly.

Todd Graves, the new chairman of the Missouri Republican Party
(Photo Provided by Todd Graves)

It’s been well documented that Missouri Republicans are in control of state politics.

The Missouri Republican Party has large majorities in the bicameral state legislature, hold all but one of the statewide offices, and are riding a wave of conservative sentiment that swept Donald Trump to the presidency on the national stage.

Alderman Donna Baringer D-16th Ward (center) receives a resolution from her colleagues on Dec. 16, 2016, her last day at the Board of Aldermen.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum welcomes state Rep. Donna Baringer to the program.

Baringer was recently elected to a Missouri House seat that takes in most of southwest St. Louis. She spent nearly 14 years as the alderman for the 16th Ward, which coincidentally is the place where Rosenbaum calls home.

Eric Greitens sits alongside his wife, Sheena Greitens, and Attorney General Josh Hawley and his wife, Erin Morrow Hawley.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Jan. 17 with reaction from educators – Tuition at Missouri’s public colleges and universities could go up in the wake of Gov. Eric Greitens’ announcement Monday he’s withholding more than $82 million from Missouri’s current higher education budget.

The spending restrictions, or cuts, include $68 million in core funding from universities and community colleges and more than $14 million from other higher ed programs.

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.

A committee hearing on right to work brought proponents and opponents flocking to the Capitol.
Tim Bommel I House Communications

When it comes to “right to work,” there’s widespread disagreement about the policy’s potential effects on Missouri’s economy. But there’s no question that Missouri’s unions are about to experience seismic change.

Right to work is a form of shorthand that proponents use to describe laws that bar employers and unions from requiring workers to pay dues as a condition of employment. Missouri lawmakers are expected to pass right to work legislation shortly, which Gov. Eric Greitens plans to sign.

In July 2016, black organizers with the St. Louis Action council hosted a protest against police brutality and systemic inequality in the region and across the nation. This Saturday, the Women's March on St. Louis will walk through the same streets.
File Photo | Jenny Simeone | St. Louis Public Radio

This weekend, hundreds of thousands plan to gather for the Women's March on Washington. Expected to be one of the largest demonstrations in American history, the march aims to send President-elect Donald Trump a message on his first day in office: women will not be ignored or disrespected.

More than 3,000 people who can't make it to the national march Saturday plan to join a local march through the streets of downtown St. Louis. While this local march is in solidarity with the national effort, for some participants, it's been hard to find solidarity. 

In the weeks leading up to St. Louis' march, white organizers have fielded complaints that they’ve marginalized women of color and transgender women. Although the march aims to unite all women in a fight for their rights under a Trump presidency, many critics have vowed not to participate in an event they say is exclusionary.

New Life Evangelistic Center doesn't like to be held to a set capacity for shelter. Administrators say they don't want to turn anyone away.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Jan. 13 with results of appeal — A city board is ordering a downtown homeless shelter to close by April 1. 

On Thursday, St. Louis' Board of Building Appeals denied New Life Evangelistic Center's appeal of a cease and desist notice issued in early November. The center has been operating without an occupancy permit since May 2015.

Farai Chideya, an award-winning journalist and former host of NPR's News & Notes, joins St. Louis on the Air on Friday.
Farai Chideya

Farai Chideya, former host of NPR’s News & Notes, is an award-winning journalist who has worked for CNN, ABC, and most recently FiveThirtyEight. She’s covered every election since 1996 and written several books, including “The Episodic Career: How to Thrive at Work in the Age of Disruption.”

A flier on Rep. Nick Marshall's Capitol office door offering to let constituents borrow his firearm while visiting. (Jan. 13, 2017)
Marshall Griffin / St. Louis Public Radio

A Kansas City-area lawmaker is offering to allow some visitors to the Missouri Capitol to borrow a gun while inside the building.

Martin Luther King Jr. statue in St. Louis' Fountain Park (Jan. 11, 2017)
Linda Lockhart | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Jan. 13 at 1:11 p.m: Some events have been canceled or postponed, due to the weather. Check with specific groups for more information. — Martin Luther King Jr. was born at noon on Jan. 15, 1929, at his family’s home in Atlanta. He was the first son and second child born to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King.

Under his leadership, — from December 1955, until he was assassinated on April 4, 1968 — African-Americans achieved significant progress toward racial equality.

St. Charles County executive Steve Ehlmann, Mayor Francis Slay, and St. Clair County executive Mark Kern (right) at the State of the Region breakfast on January 12, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The top elected officials from the city of St. Louis and St. Louis, St. Charles and St. Clair counties gathered in one of the city's poshest hotels Thursday to give business and government leaders their take on where the metro area stands on a variety of development issues.

Like everyone, the region is facing a lot of change. There are new faces in Jefferson City and Washington, D.C., and soon there will be a new face in St. Louis' City Hall. This event was the last State of the Region event for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, who is not running for a fifth term. 

a rolling dollar bill
dleafy | sxc.hu

Missouri’s budget problems could be getting worse, just as the state is grappling with phasing in a tax-cut package approved several years ago.

New Gov. Eric Greitens and legislative leaders announced that they’ve reached a consensus on how much more money the state government is expected to collect during the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Members of the public and the city's Ways and Means committee listen as Nahuel Fefer, an economic policy assistant to Mayor Francis Slay, answers questions about a proposed sales tax increase on January 11, 2017
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The committee that handles budget issues for the city of St. Louis went to Cherokee Street Wednesday night to hear from members of the public about a proposed half-cent increase in the sales tax to fund economic development. 

Aldermen want to put the measure before voters in April. If approved, the tax would generate an additional $20 million a year.

The two dozen speakers were generally supportive of using some of the sales tax revenue to fund a partial north-south expansion of MetroLink. It's what else is, and isn't, in the bill that caused concern.

The Delta Queen is in dry dock in Houma, La.
Photo provided by Delta Queen Steamboat Company

Legislation that would enable the owners of the Delta Queen to return the historic steamboat to cruise service on the Mississippi River has been reintroduced by Missouri’s U.S. senators.

Beth Prusaczyk, Helen Petty and Kim Gamel discusses their reasons for joining Women's Marches on Jan. 21, 2017.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Hundreds of St. Louis women are planning to either travel to Washington D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington or attend a similar “sister march” planned in St. Louis for the same day, January 21, the day after President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration. There are 270 marches around the country — and globe, for that matter — planned in tandem with the march in Washington.

Vinita Park Mayor James McGee speaks against proposed standards for polcie departments in St. Louis County in December 2015.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals has ruled that the St. Louis County Council overstepped its boundaries when it tried to impose certain minimum standards on the 50 or so municipal police departments in the county's borders.

File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Eric Greitens, Missouri's new governor, has issued his second executive order in 24 hours. The latest one bars any new government regulations without approval of his office. It also calls for a mandatory review of all existing state regulations.

Greitens said in Tuesday’s announcement, "Burdensome regulations hurt businesses and they hurt working families across the state of Missouri. Today, I'm signing an executive order that immediately freezes all regulations. We came here to cut government and help people."

Mayor Francis Slay and Police Chief Sam Dotson at a press conference on January 15, 2015, discussing six homicides in 13 hours.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

St. Louis' homicide level remained unchanged in 2016 compared with the previous year — 188. At the same time, aggravated assaults and other violent crimes were up and property crime was down, according to the latest crime statistics.

St. Louis' mayor and police chief on Tuesday touted an overall crime reduction of 4.1 percent, or 1,072 fewer incidents, in the last year. Compared to the peak crime year of 1993 when the city experienced 173 crimes per 1,000 people, last year saw 79 crimes per 1,000 residents.

A rendering of the proposed St. Louis soccer stadium.
Courtesy of HOK

Public financing for a soccer stadium near Union Station in downtown St. Louis is unlikely to appear on the April ballot.

Alderman Christine Ingrassia, D-6th Ward, confirmed Tuesday that she will not move forward legislation that would have asked voters to chip in $80 million in tax revenue for the stadium. The money would have come from an increase in the use tax that would be triggered by a separate measure.

State troopers stand outside the Missouri State Capitol at the start of the ceremony on Jan. 9, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Eric Greitens just became the 56th governor of Missouri. And two of Missouri’s preeminent political podcasts have joined forces to analyze this historic day.

Right after Greitens took the oath of office, Brian Ellison of Statehouse Blend Missouri and Jason Rosenbaum of Politically Speaking interviewed the leaders of the Missouri House. First, the two podcasters interviewed House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City, and state Rep. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia.

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

If you spent enough time around Eric Greitens during his successful bid for governor, you probably heard the former Navy SEAL say, “If you want different, do different.”

That was one of the many slogans that echoed throughout Missouri over the last few months. And it’s fair to say that the Republican chief executive is going to bring some stylistic and policy changes to Missouri’s highest office. His first variation may have been at his own inauguration, when he scrapped the traditional parade to turn the spotlight instead on the state’s veterans, teachers and first responders. 

Gov. Eric Greitens speaks to the crowd after taking the oath of office outside the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City on Jan. 9, 2017.
File photo by Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When Eric Greitens took the oath of office as Missouri’s new governor today, he ushered in an era of complete Republican control of the state’s legislative and executive branches. It’s an opportunity that many members of the GOP are relishing – even though some warn that the party risks taking all the blame if it can’t govern to Missourians’ liking.

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.

Missouri Gov-elect Eric Greitens offers a thumbs-up to supporters at his final 'thank you' rally, held in Maryland Heights Jan 7, 2017
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

As Missouri Governor-elect Eric Greitens prepares to be sworn in Monday, he’s completing a week filled with thanking the folks who helped get him there.

“I will always remember that I am standing here because of you,’’ Greitens said Saturday as he addressed supporters gathered in a Maryland Heights warehouse for his last official rally before taking office.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner takes the oath of office at the Old Courthouse on January 6, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In the rotunda of the courthouse where Dred and Harriet Scott sued for their freedom, the first African-American circuit attorney for the city of St. Louis took the oath of office Friday night.

"I'm humbled and honored that you have entrusted me with this responsibility of this very essential office," Kim Gardner told the crowd of more than a hundred at the Old Courthouse in downtown Friday night. "As a community we have a lot of challenges and opportunities to address the criminal justice system. The team at the circuit attorney’s office and I are ready and eager to take on this work for the community."

city hall with flowers
File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

Filing for the March 7 primary is over, and we've got a pretty good idea about who wants to be an officeholder in the city of St. Louis.

The seats for mayor, comptroller and odd-numbered wards are up this cycle. There will also be a special election in the 16th Ward to fill the unexpired term of Donna Baringer, who was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in November.

This list may change. Independent candidates have until Feb. 13 to file for office, and primary candidates have until Jan. 26 to can drop out. With those caveats, here's the field.

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