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Politics & Issues

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

Missouri is doing a poor job of tracking the economic impact of tax breaks, according to an audit released on Wednesday.

Missouri state Auditor Nicole Galloway said state government has no idea if incentives, exemptions, and newer tax laws changes are working as intended. She said the state isn’t accurately measuring how much revenue it’s losing.

David French
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome the National Review’s David French to the program.

French was in St. Louis on Wednesday for a Washington University lecture about free speech on college campuses. It’s a topic that’s become more pronounced in recent months, especially after Donald Trump’s election as president.

Senator Roy Blunt speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC in 2011.
File photo I Gage Skidmore | Flickr

Speaking  to a group of local health care professionals, Missouri U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt couldn’t resist deploying his renowned dry wit when he was asked about President Donald Trump’s social media feud with powerful Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker.

Blunt quipped: “Did I mention it’s Mental Health Day?”

But while touching off laughter, Blunt said Tuesday that his fellow Republicans’ pointed exchanges could have serious consequences on some major policy issues.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens sits  for an interview with St. Louis Public Radio in downtown St. Louis on July 17, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens said Tuesday he’s willing to consider proposals to require outside law enforcement agencies to investigate police-involved killings.

It’s a proposal that’s gaining more attention amid protests over Jason Stockley’s acquittal of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

St. Louis Alderwoman Sharon Tyus answers questions from fellow public safety committee members on Oct. 10, 2017.
Chelsea Hoye | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

A St. Louis Board of Aldermen committee has taken the first step to hear testimony from interim Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole.

Members of the board’s public safety committee on Tuesday approved a resolution sponsored by Alderwoman Sharon Tyus, D-1st Ward. Tyus wants to question O’Toole about police department practices in response to protesters. The move comes after protests over former St. Louis Police officer Jason Stockley’s acquittal of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

Just two weeks before new regulations on Missouri abortion providers would take effect, the state’s Planned Parenthood affiliates are challenging the provisions in state court.

Money from St. Louis County helped build a community center and garden in the Castle Point neighborhood. The county has received a $1 million federal grant to do more community outreach like this.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County has received $1 million from the U.S. Department of Justice to get the Castle Point community in north county more involved in fighting crime.

Parts of unincorporated north St. Louis County have struggled for years with high crime rates. St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger said the grant would help reverse that trend.

Ledy Van Kavage, a senior legislative attorney, with the Best Friends Animal Society.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

A new slate of laws meant to protect animals will go into effect in Illinois come Jan. 1. The number of laws passed in the recent legislative session has skyrocketed the state to be considered the first-ranked in the nation in terms of animal welfare, by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Missouri, on the other hand, is ranked 36th. 

Josh Hawley takes part in a debate.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley will run for the United States Senate next year, ending months of speculation and intrigue about whether the 37-year-old would take on another high-profile statewide race.

It’s a move that could put Hawley on a collision course with U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, provided that he can get past his current crowd of opponents in the Republican primary.

Courtesy of Better Together

Discussions to merge the St. Louis city and county governments are underway by city residents.

About 100 people came out to a town hall meeting Monday night to express their support and concerns for a consolidation.

The nonprofit organization Better Together has organized a series of community discussions to encourage area residents to share their perspectives.

Marius Johnson-Malone is deputy director of community-based studies for the organization. He said he was encouraged by the crowd’s discussion.

House Republicans talk during the last day of the legislative session. May 17, 2017
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers still don’t have an agreement on how to restore in-home health care services for more than 8,000 low-income residents.

Gov. Eric Greitens vetoed a bill that would have maintained in-home care funding by using unspent dollars from numerous state boards and commissions. In vetoing the measure, he called it a “last-minute budget gimmick.”

Cunningham, Storch win key legislative contests

Oct 8, 2017

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 5, 2008 - State Rep. Jane Cunningham beat Gina Loudon for the Republican nomination for state senate in the 7th district - the seat held by Loudon's husband John. The margin was 46 percent to 38 percent.  Neal St. Onge finished third.

A gun show in Houston, Texas, in 2007.
M Glasgow | Flickr

It’s been almost a week since a gunman killed 58 people and injured hundreds more in Las Vegas. The shooter used a device called a bump stock to modify his gun so that it could function as a machine gun. Politicians have unified around one thing: further regulations around the bump stock. But dealers at a gun show in St. Charles this weekend said the demand for the bump stock was up.

Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed how protests over the Stockley verdict have evolved.

Earlier this week, St. Louis police arrested 143 demonstrators after Interstate 64 was blocked for a time.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol has put out a call for trooper applicants, while it acknowledges it has struggled to attract minority recruits. The agency's 99th recruit class graduated in December.
File photo I Courtesy Missouri Department of Public Safety I Flickr

The Missouri State Highway Patrol remains a predominantly white and male law enforcement agency. And efforts to change that reality haven’t made much headway over the last few years.

According to the most recent numbers, 94 percent of Missouri Highway Patrol troopers that are on the road are white. The percentage of minority troopers peaked in 1989 at 10 percent, but is now at 5.71 percent, with 2.6 percent being African-American.

And the Missouri Highway Patrol also lacks gender diversity: 5 percent of its officers on the road are women.  

Rep. Justin Alferman, R-Hermann, is sponsoring legislation that would implement a photo ID requirement for voting.
File photo I Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome state Rep. Justin Alferman back to the program.

The Hermann Republican represents Missouri's the 61st House District, which takes in portions of Gasconade, Franklin and Osage counties. Alferman is vice chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee, which is in charge of shaping the state’s spending priorities every year.

The Rev. Starsky Wilson former co-chair of the Ferguson Commission
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

After the demonstrations that followed a Ferguson police officer’s fatal shooting of Michael Brown in 2014, the 16-member Ferguson Commission came up with a list of recommendations to address policing and the region’s disparities in jobs, education and policing. But many African-Americans say elected leaders have yet to adopt those proposals —and that has helped fuel a new wave of protests.

In the three weeks that followed a judge’s decision to acquit former St. Louis officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith, people have again taken to the streets. The Rev. Starsky Wilson and others say the latest protests — including Tuesday night’s shutdown of Interstate 64 — are acts of social disruption aimed at compelling regional leaders to act.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s new campaign donation restrictions have given new status to St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger.  He now is collecting more large contributions than any other political candidate in the state.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger (second from left) argues with Councilman Sam Page during a meeting of the St. Louis County Council on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017. Page sponsored a bill halting construction at the site of an ice center.
File photo I Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council is preparing to go to court to determine if it has the power to hire county employees over the objection of County Executive Steve Stenger.

But first, a judge will have to decide who pays the council’s lawyers.

Police arrested dozens of people on Oct. 3, 2017, after they blocked part of Interstate 64.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Oct. 4 at 9:55 a.m. with the number of arrests — The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department arrested 143 people protesting Jason Stockley’s acquittal  Tuesday night after they blocked a section of Interstate 64 in St. Louis.

It’s the latest demonstration after a judge found Stockley not guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, on Sept. 15. Demonstrators aredemanding police officers stop killing black people throughout St. Louis.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner speaks before the Board of Aldermen's Public Safety Committee on Oct. 3, 2017.
Rachel Lippmann I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner contends the current system of investigating a police officer who kills someone is “broken,” prompting her to ask for more than $1 million for her department to handle the cases from start to finish.

Gardner brought her proposal to the public safety committee of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Tuesday. Some committee members expressed support for the idea.

Updated at 6:55 a.m. ET Tuesday

Less than 24 hours after the massacre at an open-air country music concert in Las Vegas, authorities are still piecing together what shooter Stephen Paddock did in preparation for his deadly shooting rampage that left 59 people dead and 527 others injured.

There is still a lot they don't know about what motivated Paddock, described by officials as a "lone wolf," to launch the most deadly mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart
File photo I Chris McDaniel I St. Louis Public Radio

Jeff Roorda, the business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association, is running to become the next county executive of Jefferson County.

It’s the latest electoral pursuit for Roorda, a former Democratic state representative who has attracted local and national attention, and controversy, for his law enforcement advocacy after several police-involved killings in the St. Louis area.

Heather Highland, Nicolle Barton and Aaron Banks, members of St. Louis' Civilian Oversight Board.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we heard about the plans for the next steps of the Civilian Oversight Board, whose function it is to investigate complaints made against the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

A two-year-old organization, the group is trying to determine ways to be more effective in investigating claims and improving police-community relations in St. Louis.

Dr. Keon Gilbert, assistant professor of behavioral science and health education at the College for Public Health and Social Justice at SLU.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Saint Louis University professor Keon Gilbert joined host Don Marsh to discuss his research on the police shootings of black men.

Gilbert is an assistant professor of behavioral science and health education at the College for Public Health and Social Justice at SLU.

Protester Nicole Greer helps Penrose resident Antoine Jones register to vote Oct. 1, 2017 in St. Louis.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

After more than two weeks of protesting the Jason Stockley verdict in the streets, in malls and in business districts, protest organizers implemented a different tactic Sunday. They’re encouraging political engagement as well.

Demonstrators gathered at Wohl Community Center in north St. Louis Sunday afternoon to register voters.

State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. told a crowd of a few hundred people that the protests won’t end, but it’s time to put a new tool in place.

Demonstrators march through the St. Louis Galleria on Saturday evening as they continue protests against the acquittal of Jason Stockley and police violence against black people. Sept. 30, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A week after St. Louis County police arrested 22 people following a peaceful demonstration at the Galleria mall, protesters returned to the shopping center in a short and tightly executed display of resistance they vowed to continue.

Dozens of protesters went to the mall at about 6 p.m. to let police, business leaders and others know that they would not be deterred in their fight to end police violence against black people. They gained a diverse group of followers inside the mall before heading to the intersection of Brentwood Boulevard and Galleria Parkway.

“If people are a little uncomfortable, cool. If people are stuck in traffic, cool. If they’re mad because they can’t buy something, cool,” Democratic state Rep. Bruce Franks said. “We’re going to keep affecting the economy. We’re going to keep disrupting.”

Rasheen Aldridge, activist and democratic committeeman for the 5th Ward, wipes his eyes after police officers sprayed chemicals at protesters near Busch Stadium. Sept. 29, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A three-hour protest late Friday in downtown St. Louis ended in a tense confrontation between police and demonstrators.

People in the crowd of protesters said police used chemical agents on some protesters and shot one person with a Taser. Police confirmed they made at least two arrests.

The turmoil followed a night of peaceful demonstrations that took protesters from Kiener Plaza to Busch Stadium, where they chanted at police behind barricades. The protesters demanded that police stop using deadly force on black people.

Protesters and small business owners march to City Hall to attend a Board of Alderman meeting a hold a press conference on Sept. 29, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Alderman Joe Vaccaro on Friday asked his Board of Aldermen colleagues to honor the city’s police officers, one week after they did the same for a black man killed by a white former police officer in 2011.

Vaccaro, D-23rd Ward, introduced a resolution that thanks the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department for working long hours to protect citizens and businesses during two weeks of protests since the Sept. 15 acquittal of Jason Stockley.

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