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Politics & Issues

Political news

Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications

Missouri’s budget for the next fiscal year has cleared its second major hurdle, but the next one won’t be quite so easy.

 

The House passed all 13 budget bills Thursday, so the full budget for the 2018 fiscal year, which begins July 1, is now in the hands of the Senate. GOP leaders sharply disagree with the lower chamber’s move to fully fund the state’s K-12 school funding formula — putting an extra $45 million toward schools compared to the $3 million increase Gov. Eric Greitens had asked for.

Sonia Kennebeck, the director of the documentary "National Bird," which explores the human impacts of drone warfare.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

In recent years, the debate over drone warfare has reached new prominence but, in early 2013, Malaysian filmmaker Sonia Kennebeck struggled to find any information on the U.S. military’s drone program outside of commentary and conjecture made by American journalists. That didn’t sit well with her.

Firefighters work outside of the Loy-Lange Box Company building on South 3rd Street. (April 3, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 10:25 a.m. April 6 with confirmation of fourth death — The death toll has risen from this week's boiler explosion at a factory in the Soulard neighborhood.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said Clifford Lee, 53, died on Wednesday. Lee was inside the Fautless Linen Company when a piece of the boiler that exploded at the Loy-Lange Box Company crashed through the roof.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Despite all the talk about Missouri’s shaky income numbers, the state’s revenue collections have picked up significantly in recent months, which could help ease legislators’ concerns as they finish fashioning a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

In other words, if trends continue, lawmakers might not have to cut as much as they planned.

Hunter Maret of University City watches Proposition 2 election results at Union Station at a pro-soccer stadium gathering Tuesday night.
Ryan Delaney I St. Louis Public Radio

Once St. Louis voters dashed his hopes of bringing Major League Soccer to the city, Dave Peacock didn’t make much of an attempt to modulate his tone.

 

Rachel Lippmann, Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies discuss the results of the April 4 general municipal elections across the region.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Tuesday, April 4, marked the day of the general municipal elections in the St. Louis region. On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we discussed the outcome of the elections around the area, including the St. Louis mayoral race, police funding in St. Louis County and proposed funding for a soccer stadium in the city. 

A federal judge says he plans to block Missouri’s abortion clinic restrictions in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision last June.

In a “Memorandum to Counsel” on Monday, U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs said he would grant the preliminary injunction requested by Planned Parenthood, but would give the state additional time to avoid “unintended damage” to standard medical regulations.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles speaks to reporters in February 2016 after a City Council vote to amend the Department of Justice consent decree instead of approving it outright.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In an apparent vote of confidence, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles won re-election Tuesday over City Council member Ella Jones.

Knowles, who has been the face of the municipality since Michael Brown’s fatal shooting in 2014 by an officer thrust it and its racial divisions into the international spotlight, barely missed having to face a recall election in 2015. He beat Jones, who would have been the city’s first African-American mayor; unofficial results show the vote was 2,133 to 1,594.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar listens to U.S. Attorney General  Sessions' remarks. (03/31/17)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County will get an estimated $80 million a year for policing and public safety efforts after voters approved Proposition P on Tuesday.

School Illustration
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

School districts across the St. Louis region sought more money from taxpayers in Tuesday’s election. Also, there were three seats up for grabs for the St. Louis Public Schools’ elected school board., though the state still has oversight.

Here’s the breakdown of what passed and what didn’t:

Vacant buildings owned by the Land Reutilization Authority in the 4000 block of Evans Avenue. February 2017.
File Photo | Marie Schwarz | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis won't receive more money to take care of city-owned vacant buildings, and won't sync its election dates with statewide elections.

Proposition NS, which needed two-thirds approval, received 58.57 percent of the vote.

The proposition would have given the city the ability to sell up to $40 million in bonds to go toward stabilizing the more than 3,5000 vacant buildings it owns. That money is equivalent to a one-cent property tax increase per $100 of a property’s assessed value.

St. Louis Metro Police officers use bicycles to push back protesters at an anti-Trump rally in downtown St. Louis in November 2016.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis will keep its Recorder of Deeds office, voters decided Tuesday. That means the city’s police department will have to find another way to help purchase for body cameras.

The measure, which moves the Recorder of Deeds office’s duties to the city assessor, would have needed to pass with 60 percent or more of the vote because it is considered a “county office.” It received 51.58 percent of the vote.

Lauren Rapp, from St. Louis, watches Proposition 2 election results with Bo Thomas. A bid to publicly fund a soccer stadium failed to pass on Tuesday.
Ryan Delaney I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ Major League Soccer hopes likely died Tuesday. City residents voted for sales tax and use tax increases that’ll go toward city services, but turned down Proposition 2, which would have funneled the use tax toward a new stadium.

Lyda Krewson thanks supporters at the Probstein Golf Course Clubhouse in Forest Park on Tuesday night. (April 4, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A woman will take over the St. Louis mayor’s office — a first in the city’s more than 250-year history.

Democrat Lyda Krewson, the 28th Ward alderman since 1997, beat Republican Andrew Jones and four other candidates in Tuesday’s general election.

Maggie Menefee, Sylvia Jackson and Kristin Bulin work to assist victims of domestic violence.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Glen Carbon. Glasgow Village. Ladue. In the past month, three highly-publicized murder-suicides took place around the region, each tied to a history of domestic violence. These incidents made headlines, but they draw attention to pervasive acts of domestic violence that take place in the St. Louis area every day, across socioeconomic and racial lines.

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Of the $8.4 billion in federal money Missouri saw last fiscal year, a small portion of that was spent in a questionable fashion, Auditor Nicole Galloway said Tuesday.

Her audit focused mostly on oversights concerning Medicaid and child care programs through the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Social Services.

Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 6:55 p.m. with more details — In an unexpected move, state Sen. Rob Schaaf said Tuesday night that he now backs the House version of a prescription drug monitoring program, putting Missouri on track to become the last state in the nation to establish such a program.

The Republican from St. Joseph, who had opposed the House bill due to privacy concerns, said at a news conference that he changed his mind due to overwhelming support from medical professionals and from Gov. Eric Greitens. 

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks to law enforcement officials. (03/31/17)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 2 p.m. with NAACP comment — Ferguson officials say they have not been notified by federal authorities about a potential review of the city's agreement with the Justice Department involving local police and municipal court reforms.

On Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered all consent decrees to be reviewed, including agreements in Ferguson, Baltimore and Chicago.

Voters cast electronic ballots at Central Baptist Church in St. Louis on Nov. 8, 2016.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s Election Day in the St. Louis region, where voters will decide on a number of high-stakes issues.

Polls are open in Missouri and Illinois from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Election officials in St. Louis and St. Louis County said no problems had been reported at polling stations by midday, and that turnout was light.

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

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is the state’s first chief executive to set up nonprofit groups that can raise unlimited amounts of money from unknown donors.

The governor’s chief advisor, Austin Chambers, says there’s nothing unusual about it — and he’s right. Governors in Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts and Georgia, as well as New York Mayor Bill DiBlasio, are among the politicians who have set up similar nonprofit organizations, or have allies who have set them up.

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

The U.S. Senate approved Monday a bill sponsored by U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill that would let the historic Delta Queen riverboat operate once again on the Mississippi River.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley signs documents proposing new rules to prosecute human traffickers, on April 3, 2017.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley wants to get tough on human trafficking, which long has been a problem in the state. To do so, he proposed rules Monday that could make it easier to charge human traffickers with a crime.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, joined St. Louis on the Air on Monday.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Monday, St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh was joined by Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League.

Greenblatt discussed the ADL's role in 2017, considering the apparent uptick in bigotry and hate crimes as well as the rising tide of  populism internationally.

"We saw, and it kicked up during the presidential campaign, anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry moving from the margins to the mainstream," Greenblatt said.

A group of men put out mayoral campaign signs outside the New Life Evangelistic Center a day before the downtown St. Louis shelter at 1411 Locust St. is slated to close on April 2, 2017.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated April 1 after rally — The founder of New Life Evangelistic Center spent the final hours before his downtown St. Louis shelter closes leading rallies.

The Rev. Larry Rice is running for mayor of St. Louis and hopes that he can re-open his shelter if he wins Tuesday.

The city has been fighting to close New Life for years, saying it’s a detriment to the neighborhood.

File Photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A bill intended to quash St. Louis' minimum wage increase looked to be on the fast track this session, but is now on hold in the Missouri Senate as Republicans mull an overture to Democrats to avoid a filibuster.

 

Senate Democrats have been threatening to block House Bill 1194/1193, which, as currently written, would bar cities and counties from raising the minimum wage higher than the state's $7.65 an hour rate.

They say the measure would deny cities and counties the freedom to decide how much their citizens should be paid.

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
File photo

After weeks of mulling it over, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill announced Friday that she'll oppose Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Missouri Democrat called it “a really difficult decision.” Her announcement comes ahead of next week's expected vote. Gorsuch needs 60 votes, which means at least eight Democrats must support him.

Johnathan McFarland, the Green Party candidate for St. Louis mayor, joined St. Louis on the Air on Friday, March 31.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, Johnathan McFarland, the Green Party candidate for mayor of St. Louis, joined host Don Marsh to discuss his platform ahead of the general municipal election on April 4.

McFarland, a community organizer, has previously tried to get elected to the U.S. Senate and the 6th Ward aldermanic seat.

Robb Cunningham, the Libertarian candidate for mayor of St. Louis, joined St. Louis on the Air on Friday, March 31.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, Robb Cunningham, the Libertarian candidate for mayor of St. Louis, joined host Don Marsh to discuss his platform ahead of the general municipal election on April 4.

Cunningham makes his living as a saxophonist and considers himself a "rock n' roll Libertarian."

We spoke with Republican candidate Andrew Jones on March 27 and with Democratic candidate Lyda Krewson on March 22. In addition to our conversation with Cunningham on Friday, we’ll also hear from the Green candidate for mayor and two independent candidates for mayor.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks to law enforcement officials Friday morning at the Thomas Eagleton U.S. Courthouse in downtown St. Louis. (March 31, 2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Pledging money, research and expertise for local law enforcement, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions brought a face to the Trump administration’s pro-police message during a speech Friday in St. Louis.

He also made general mention of the 2014 unrest in Ferguson after Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white officer, and the tensions between police and African-Americans.

Larry Rice, an independent candidate for Mayor of St. Louis, joined St. Louis on the Air on Friday.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, Larry Rice, an independent candidate for mayor of St. Louis, joined host Don Marsh to discuss his platform ahead of the general municipal election on April 4.

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