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Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications

The top budget writer in the Missouri House is pledging to cut more than $8 million from the University of Missouri System next year.

In a statement released Tuesday, House Budget Committee chair Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, says the vast bulk of his proposed cuts, $7.6 million, will target the overall University of Missouri System.

Candidates for offices throughout the state line up to file for the August primary ballot.
Mallory Daily | St. Louis Public Radio intern

Hundreds of Missouri candidates flocked to Jefferson City Tuesday to take part in the longstanding ritual of standing in line — in some cases for hours — to participate in the first day of candidate-filing for the August and November ballots.

All the major candidates for U.S. Senate and governor filed, along with contenders for other statewide offices, Congress and the General Assembly. And to many, the first-day symbolism counts as much as the substance.

Ka'Milla McMiller is an organizer with the Missouri Gay Straight Alliance Network.
Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio

What’s it like to live in fear, every day?  To know you’re a target just by being yourself? To understand that being attractive could kill you?

Ka’Milla McMiller of south St. Louis knows. As a young transgender woman of color, she can’t stop thinking about her safety, especially after what happened last year.

Nicolle Barton became the executive director of the Civilian Oversight Board on Feb. 8, 2016.
Nathan Rubbelke | St. Louis Public Radio

Though members of her family were in law enforcement, Nicolle Barton entered college to be a nurse.

"But I decided to take a criminal justice class, and I fell in love with the aspect of the system, and how it works, and what we could do to change things, improve things, and help people along the process," said Barton, a native of southern Illinois.

provided by the office of Sen. Claire McCaskill

“I very recently learned that I have breast cancer,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., announced in a statement on Monday.

In a note on her Tumblr page, McCaskill, 62, wrote that her prognosis is good and that she expects a full recovery. The cancer was detected during a routine mammogram, and McCaskill said she will be in St. Louis for three weeks to receive treatment.

Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Today, St. Louis Public Radio released its series on homicide in the city of St. Louis after months of preparation. The series takes a look at homicide from the point-of-view of a victim’s family and friends, investigators, first responders and the residents of a neighborhood. While many media portrayals of St. Louis’ homicide rate come as statistics, with little more than a blurb or sound bite attached to them, reporters Durrie Bouscaren and Rachel Lippmann looked at the issue more deeply.

Rep. Mike Cierpiot
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum is on location in Jefferson City to welcome House Majority Leader Mike Cierpiot onto the program.

Cierpiot is the third majority floor leader to be a guest on Politically Speaking. The Lee’s Summit Republican is responsible for bringing bills up for debate, making him one of the more important lawmakers in the Missouri General Assembly.

The Missouri Capitol Building at dusk
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

I usually start off this column with a snappy quote, noteworthy anecdote or a rather tenuous connection to a 50 Cent song.

But after experiencing a very, very, very eventful week in Jefferson City filling in for St. Louis Public Radio’s Marshall Griffin, I thought it might be worthwhile to trot out some loose observations that might have fallen through the cracks:

Naomi Tutu speaks about the reconciliation process she witnessed in South Africa Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016 at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown St. Louis. Her father, Desmond Tutu, was chair of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

The daughter of the man who led South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission says facing harsh truths and recognizing the humanity of those who are different could help heal racial divides in St. Louis.

Naomi Tutu, who now lives in Nashville, Tenn., led a discussion about reconciliation and racial justice Sunday at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown St. Louis.

Muhammad Yaacoub is the owner of Sam’s Meat Market in Ferguson. And he says that business has been slow since he reopened his doors last August.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On a foggy morning in Ferguson, customers trickled in and out of Sam’s Market to pick up soda pop and snacks. This small grocery story reopened last summer after being looted three times and set on fire during the riot over Michael Brown’s shooting death.

Muhammad Yaacoub, the owner of Sam’s Meat Market, says that business has been slow since he reopened last August. And despite promises of economic redevelopment, empty lots and abandoned buildings surround his business on West Florissant Avenue.

Alderman Megan Green speaks to reporters after Friday's Board of Aldermen meeting. The 15th Ward Democrat alleged that "bribes" were offed by a proponent of a riverfront stadium.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

Updated 3 p.m. Feb. 19 with Green's statement - Alderman Megan-Ellyia Green on Friday apologized to Alderman Sam Moore in an ongoing dispute over allegations of bribery.

"I have come to understand that he felt personally attacked by my comments," Green said. "My only intent was to refer to his testimony from the Dec. 11 Ways and Means meeting. I felt that his personal experience lent credibility to some of the other things I thought were going on."

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

In our weekly "Behind the Headlines" segment, “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh discussed the top news stories that caught St. Louisans’ attention this week, with the people that produced them and influenced them.

Sen. Blunt, wife Abigail, son Charlie 2-19-16
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., is launching his re-election bid by sticking to familiar conservative themes — his belief in fewer federal regulations, his opposition to Obamacare and his pledge to oppose any Supreme Court nominee.

In fact, Blunt told allies gathered Friday morning in an Arnold-area factory that he wouldn’t even vote to confirm his own daughter, a lawyer, should she somehow become the choice of President Barack Obama. 

Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 11 p.m. Feb. 18 with Clinton office opening - Although Missouri is often portrayed as a Republican-leaning state, it’s the two Democratic presidential candidates – Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders –who are the first to open office space in the state for the March 15 presidential primary.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.,  headlined a rally Thursday night officially opening the St. Louis office for presidential contender Hillary Clinton. Most the state’s top Democrats already have endorsed her, including Gov. Jay Nixon.

Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, strongly questioned whether the legislature was taking the right focus with its ethics overhaul.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Since a high-profile sex scandal was partly responsible for torpedoing the end of the 2015 session, some lawmakers have made improving the ethical climate of Jefferson City a priority.

But even though the Missouri House passed a flurry of bills early this session, some Missouri senators think the ethics push so far is missing the mark.

c_ambler | Flickr

Members of public employee unions would have to provide written consent each year to have union fees deducted from paychecks, according to legislation passed by the Missouri House Thursday.

"This is historic," said state Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Charleston and the bill's sponsor. "I think it's great labor reform. ... It makes the union leader provide a service to the worker." Because people would have to affirm the deduction, the legislation has been called the paycheck protection act.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Devin James, the author, business owner and former community engagement/outreach strategist for the city of Ferguson feels he has been mischaracterized for the work he did there following his firing by the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership in September of 2014. He’s trying to rectify the misperceptions in his tell-all memoir, “Inside Ferguson: A Voice for the Voiceless,” which was released last year.

Photos from the cameras would be displayed at the real-time crime center at St. Louis Metropolitan Police headquarters.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio | File Photo

The streets committee of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Thursday approved legislation that would extend St. Louis' fiber optic network and fund the installation of as many as 68 new traffic cameras.

The bill authorizes the city to spend the $3.4 million in federal money and commits $500,000 in matching funds. Laclede Gas and Downtown STL Inc. are contributing private dollars as well.

Renee Whitfield looks up as she releases heart-shaped balloons in memory of her son, Rashad Farmer, who was fatally shot last July.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Headlines quickly surface, but each death creates a void for a family, a system and a community. It’s impossible to quantify the full price that gun violence takes each year, but you can start with the story of just one: 23-year-old Rashad Farmer.

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, speaks at a Wednesday press conference Lesley McSpadden. McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown, wants the legislature to help expand the use of body cameras for law enforcement.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

When then-Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, the policeman wasn’t wearing a body camera. And the uncertainty that followed provided a spark of sorts for programs to help law enforcement get the devices.

But Missouri did not pass legislation last year that would assist local police departments pay for body cameras – and provide guidelines for when footage is released. On Wednesday the issue returned with lawmakers receiving encouragement from Lesley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown.

Rep. Don Gosen, R-Ballwin, resigned suddenly from the Missouri House on Wednesday.
Tim Bommel I House Communications

A GOP state representative from Ballwin has resigned suddenly for unspecified personal reasons.

It’s the latest reverberation for a legislature still reeling from scandals that led to two resignations last session.

Locally-based security researcher Charlie Miller is internationally-known for his hacking capabilities.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Feb. 17, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. with quotes about encryption, Apple news – Yesterday, a federal court ordered Apple to unlock the iPhone of one of the people involved in the San Bernadino shooting as a means to obtain evidence against the suspected shooter. Apple is refusing to unlock the phone, as CEO Tim Cook reaffirmed in a letter addressing the security of its customers.

Editorial Room of the Westliche Post newspaper. Carl Schurz is seated lower left next to the table, c. 1868.
Missouri History Museum

Why would anyone invite thousands of 19th-century German immigrants to join us in the middle of February, the month dedicated to American black history?

Isn’t the idea of formalizing a black history month a way to shift emphasis away from Americans of European descent, the better to shine the light of achievement on African Americans’ stories? 

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill says a drug registry would save lives.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill is renewing her call for Missouri legislators to pass a bill monitoring the sales of prescription drugs. Missouri is the only state that has no such database in place.

McCaskill, a Democrat, contends that failure to pass such a law has contributed to Missouri’s epidemic of people abusing opioid prescription drugs and heroin. She blamed Missouri’s lack of monitoring on “a few legislators who believe this system would violate people’s privacy.”

Ashland Elementary School Principal, Lisa Brown, helps students work through a classroom assignment using iPads.
Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Board of Education is extending the governance period for the St. Louis Public School District’s Special Administrative Board for three more years. But it also asked its staff to present a transition plan at the April meeting.

“A review of the district performance shows steady increase in student performance on the MAP (test) since 2006," said Margie Vandeven, Missouri commissioner of education. "Although, there is still a long way to go as a whole for the students of this district."

Sen. David Pearce presents his bill capping campaign contributions Tuesday during the Senate Rules Committee.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers have spent the first part of the session angling to overhaul the state’s ethics regulations. But for at least one Republican lawmaker, one issue has been absent from the discussion: capping campaign contributions.

Proposition B asks to voters to allow their local city or county to continue collecting sales tax on cars bought out of state
File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

Voter registration deadlines are approaching for area residents hoping to cast a ballot in their presidential primaries. Official registration closes on today in Illinois, and on Wednesday in Missouri.

Both states hold their presidential primary on March 15, and Illinois will hold its general primary election that same day. (Missouri's general primary election is in August.)

The Edward Jones Dome
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

A House appropriations subcommittee stripped out the $12 million state appropriation that primarily pays off the Edward Jones Dome’s debt.

And while the legislative budget process is far from over, it does place half of the facility’s yearly debt payments into jeopardy.

Wikimedia Commons

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death raises many issues. Among them are the possibility of 4-4 decisions until the vacancy is filled and the likelihood of President Obama’s appointment of a successor to get Senate confirmation.

On Monday’s monthly Legal Roundtable a panel of legal experts joined “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh to discuss this and other issues.

The guests were:

GOP gubernatorial hopeful Eric Greitens is responding to a YouTube video questioning his military service.
Screen capture | YouTube

Updated Monday, Feb. 15, 6:35 p.m. Includes John Brunner's reply to Eric Greitens' blasts — Almost a year after Republican gubernatorial hopeful Tom Schweich killed himself because of an alleged “whispering campaign,’’ the Missouri GOP is again roiled by similar controversies.

And Eric Greitens, a GOP candidate for governor, is accusing his rivals — most notably, businessman John Brunner — of possibly being behind an attack video, released last week on YouTube, that accuses Greitens of embellishing his military career as a Navy SEAL.

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