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Politics & Issues

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Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Identical proposals in the Missouri House and Senate would overhaul Missouri’s tax code and slash more than a billion dollars in state revenue.

In a nutshell, the bill would lower the top state income tax bracket to 4.8 percent, which is lower than the tax cut that passed three years ago capping the top rate at 5.5 percent. The proposal would also completely exempt anyone who makes less than $4,000 a year from paying state income taxes.

Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington, December 2017
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 welcome Sen. Gary Romine to the program for the first time.

The Farmington Republican represents the 3rd Senatorial District, which takes in parts of Jefferson, Ste. Genevieve, St. Francois, Iron, Reynolds and Washington counties. He was re-elected in November to his traditionally competitive seat without Democratic opposition.

Updated at 12:44 a.m. ET

Democrat Doug Jones has won the Alabama Senate special election, a victory that was a stunning upset in a deeply red state that voted overwhelmingly for President Trump. The president, who had backed Republican Roy Moore despite multiple accusations of sexual misconduct and assault, congratulated Jones on Twitter.

County Executive Steve Stenger, second from left, argues with Council chairman Sam Page at an August meeting
File photo I Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council has slashed $31 million dollars from County Executive Steve Stenger's 2018 budget proposal, a move rarely seen in the region’s largest jurisdiction.

Stenger was caught off-guard when he learned of the council’s plans shortly before it convened Tuesday night. Soon after, the seven members voted 6 - 1 to approve Council Chairman Sam Page's substitute budget. 

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch announces on Nov 24, 2014, that the grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson on any of five counts that were presented to it.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Updated Dec. 12 at 4:50 p.m. with comments from Tony Rothert and Bob McCulloch — The Missouri Court of Appeals has become the latest to rule against a grand juror who wants to speak about what it was like to consider charging former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson with a crime in connection with the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

Grand jurors take an oath of secrecy when they are sworn in. The unidentified juror wanted to be able to violate that oath in order to “contribute to the current dialogue around race relations” and to correct what the juror saw as misconduct by St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch. In a unanimous opinion issued Tuesday, the appeals court said no.

Better Business bureau

Scammers are successfully using phone calls, emails and pop-up messages on computer screens to convince American consumers that their computers are infected with phony viruses or malware, warns a new report by the Better Business Bureau.

Scams involving computer technical support aren't new, but they continue to be widespread. Americans forked over more than $21 million to such schemes in the first nine months of this year, according to the FBI.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger take questions after announcing their support for a task force to examine government spending.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Tuesday, Dec. 12: With the Missouri General Assembly slated to convene in a few weeks, the Municipal League of Metro St. Louis is scrambling in case state lawmakers decide to intervene in the region’s long-standing debate over a possible merger of St. Louis and St. Louis County.

The St. Louis County Council voted unanimously Tuesday night in favor of a resolution -- signed by at least 50 area municipalities -- that opposes any sort of  statewide vote on the matter. The St. Louis Board of Aldermen could face a similar request shortly.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens called for the firing of Missouri Veterans Home administrator Rolando Carter, as well as Missouri Veterans Commission executive director Larry Kay.
Jo Mannies I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is calling for the Missouri Veterans Commission – which he has reconfigured with five new members – to meet this week and fire the panel’s executive director and the head of a state veterans home in north St. Louis County.

At a news conference Monday outside the facility, Greitens said he also is ordering an examination of all state veterans homes in the wake of an independent study by a private health care firm that determined a “substandard quality of care’’ at the 300-bed St. Louis Veterans Home in Bellefontaine Neighbors.

Missouri state Treasurer Eric Schmitt
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

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

With his latest appearance, Schmitt becomes the first elected official to be on the show for the fifth time. He was a guest during his tenure as a state senator representing a portion of St. Louis County.

Protesters marched down the Delmar Loop denouncing President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (Dec. 10, 2017)
Marissanne Lewis-Thompson | St. Louis Public Radio

Palestinians and others in St. Louis are dismayed that President Donald Trump is recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. On Sunday, Palestinians and their allies gathered along the Delmar Loop for the "Rise for Jerusalem Rally Against Trump’s Embassy Decision."

Members from the Missouri chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations were also unhappy about the president's announcement last week of his intention to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The interior of the Scottrade Center on Jan. 2, 2017.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Dec. 11 at 9:30 a.m. with a copy of the agreement — A St. Louis alderwoman and two other city residents have dropped a lawsuit challenging the use of public money to make upgrades to the Scottrade Center.

A circuit court judge was scheduled to hear arguments in the case on Monday. The agreement removes one of the last legal barriers to a plan passed in February that requires the city to sell about $100 million in bonds to finance improvements such as a new scoreboard and ice-making equipment.

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

A pre-filed bill in the Missouri House would eliminate a state law requiring the attorney general to live in Jefferson City.

Current law requires the attorney general to live “at the seat of government,” which is in Jefferson City. The measure sponsored by Rep. Lindell Shumake, R-Hannibal, would simply strike those words from state law.

Alderwoman Megan Green (left) and Sarah Durrett (right) talk about local efforts to prevent sexual harassment and assult.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

With the recent wave of sexual misconduct allegations sweeping the nation, we went Behind the Headlines to discuss the sexual harassment and assault on Friday’s St. Louis on the Air.

Host Don Marsh led a discussion about local efforts to change the culture surrounding sexual harassment and document cases of sexual misconduct in St. Louis. Joining him for the discussion were St. Louis Alderwoman Megan Green and Sarah Durrett, founder of Combat Sexual Harassment.

The Metro Trans Umbrella Group telethon will take place Saturday at noon through Sunday at noon.
Provided

Sayer Johnson grew up watching the annual Jerry Lewis telethon for kids with muscular dystrophy.

In recent years, he's wondered if advocates for transgender people could raise money in a similar manner?

That will happen at noon on Saturday, when the Metro Trans Umbrella Group begins a 24-hour telethon. Viewers can watch it on Facebook and YouTube.

Faizan Syed (left) and Jim Hacking (right) discuss Trump's latest travel ban.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed enforcement of the latest version of President Trump's restriction on travel to the U.S. from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, with fewer restrictions on visitors from Sudan. New limits and restrictions were added on visitors and immigrants from Chad, North Korea and Venezuela.

OliBac | Flickr

The city of St. Louis is making additional beds available Thursday night for people who are homeless.

Temperatures were expected to drop into the teens overnight. The city is relying on a network of churches and other nonprofit groups this year to provide people who might not ordinarily seek shelter with a place to stay. Unlike previous years, it will not use the gym at the 12th and Park Recreation Center near the Soulard neighborhood.

The United Soybean Board | Flickr

Governor Eric Greitens is taking his smaller-government message to Missouri’s agriculture industry, ahead of the 2018 legislative session that begins next month.

The first-year Republican governor told Missouri Farm Bureau members at their annual gathering this week that his administration is poised to roll back “tens of thousands” of regulations that affect farmers, ranchers, and agribusiness.

This story was updated at 1:00 p.m.

Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri, has joined with a chorus of colleagues—including the majority of women in the Senate—in calling on their fellow Democrat, Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, to resign following multiple allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct.

State Rep. Gina Mitten, D-Richmond Heights
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest episode of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back state Rep. Gina Mitten to the program.

A Democrat, Mitten is a lawyer and resides in Richmond Heights. Before she was elected to the General Assembly in 2012, she spent eight years on the Richmond Heights City Council. Mitten serves as the assistant minority leader, making her the second highest-ranking Democrat in the Missouri House.

St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams and Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven speak with each other after the State Board of Education granted St. Louis Public Schools full accreditation.
File photo I Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

One of Gov. Eric Greitens’ five appointees to the Missouri Board of Education says disappointing reading, math and social studies scores convinced him that Margie Vandeven needed to be dismissed as the state’s education commissioner.

Amid a bipartisan backlash, Eddy Justice is rejecting the idea that he’s a “puppet” of the governor — or that the move to oust Vandeven “politicized” the board’s proceedings.

File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Court of Appeals has ruled that the electric car maker Tesla can be granted a license to sell cars in the state.

A three-judge panel ruled Tuesday that the association representing Missouri car dealers did not have the right to sue Tesla, and dismissed the case. The ruling means Tesla can apply to renew licenses for its two Missouri stores, and potentially expand across the state.

provided by the CDC

Missouri and 12 other states are continuing their legal fight against California over a state law there that plaintiffs say is inflating the price of eggs.

California law requires any eggs sold there to come from chickens whose cages are large enough for them to stretch out and move around. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican, is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene.

The interior of the Scottrade Center on Jan. 2, 2017.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:10 p.m. Dec. 4 with comment from Green — St. Louis comptroller Darlene Green has decided to follow a judge’s order to issue $100 million in bonds to upgrade the Scottrade Center.

Green said in a statement that she has complied with the court ruling, and signed the required documents. But a spokesman said the bonds had not yet been issued, and Green may still appeal the ruling. Also on Monday, her attorney filed documents asking the judge to change the ruling.

Sarah Durrett - Combat Sexual Harassment
Kae M. Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

When Sarah Durrett’s car broke down in 2013, she started walking and taking public transportation for daily tasks in St. Louis — and was surprised to find herself experiencing regular sexual harassment for the first time in her life.

Some men followed her home, and others whispered lewd comments. One man tried to grab her feet and kiss them. Durrett worried that even an off-kilter look could escalate to something scarier. “You don’t really know what to expect,” she said. “You just become afraid.”

So Durrett began considering ways to challenge sexual harassment in St. Louis. After living elsewhere for a few years, she moved back to St. Louis in 2017 and decided to forgo her car, only to once again experience harassment. That’s when she focused on her ideas to start Combat Sexual Harassment, a network to help women and men who have had similar experiences.

An illustration of a group of four people sitting around a table.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen last week took a big step toward adopting one of the recommendations in the Ferguson Commission report.

By approving the Office of Community Mediation on a 26-0 vote, the city is embracing the idea that with a little help, communities can handle some disputes on their own, rather than relying on the police or the judicial system.

U.S. President Donald J. Trump delivers his remarks to a crowd of invited guests in St. Charles, Missouri on November 29, 2017.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, we went Behind the Headlines on the presidential visit of Donald Trump to St. Charles this week. Joining the program for the discussion was Jo Mannies, political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio. She’s covered numerous presidential visits to the St. Louis area, dating back to Jimmy Carter.

Mannies noted key moments that happened during Trump’s visit and how attendees reacted to the presence of the press. She also shared a memorable experience when she covered President Bill Clinton.

Listen to the full discussion:

 

U.S. President Donald J. Trump delivers his remarks to a crowd of invited guests in St. Charles, Missouri on November 29, 2017.
Brit Hanson | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, we went Behind the Headlines on the visit of President Donald Trump to St. Charles this week. While presidential visits are a source of pride for a community, they can also be disruptive.

Lt. Chad Fisk with the St. Charles Police Department joined host Don Marsh to give insight on how the department prepared for the visit.

Fisk said the department worked with other local and state law enforcement agencies to develop strategies to deal with demonstrators and ensure a safe outcome for the event. 

Provided | Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Missouri’s education commissioner could soon be out of the job after a State Board of Education member resigned — and a judge refused to reinstall a Joplin pastor to his slot.

Claudia Oñate Greim resigned from the state board on Thursday night, less than a day before members are slated to meet. Greim was the only person who Gov. Eric Greitens appointed who voted earlier this month against firing Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven.

PROMO representatives Steph Perkins (left)  and Katie Stuckenschneider (right)  talk about visability of transgender and non-binary people in the media.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

According to a study by the Williams Institute, more than 1.4 million people in the United States now identify as non-binary and are gender fluid. But quite often, transgender people are misidentified in news stories and police reports.

U.S. President Donald J. Trump delivers his remarks to a crowd of invited guests in St. Charles, Missouri on November 29, 2017.
Kae Petrin I St. Louis Public Radio

President Donald Trump made grand promises Wednesday that a pending federal tax overhaul will bring jobs back to "Main Street America'' by revamping a "dysfunctional'' tax system and providing tax cuts for working families.

He told a packed audience at the St. Charles Convention Center that only Democrats like Missouri's U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill stood in the way of a more prosperous future.  The president portrayed McCaskill, a former prosecutor, as a tax-cut opponent who is "weak on crime,  weak on the border, weak on the military."

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