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Politics & Issues

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Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

As promised, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is calling lawmakers back to Jefferson City — for the second time — to target organizations and local governments that support abortion rights.

The session begins next Monday. “I'm pro-life, and I believe that we need to defend life and promote a culture of life here in the state of Missouri,” the governor said in his announcement on Facebook.

Dan Buck, the CEO of Big Sports Properties LLC, updates the Chesterfield City Council on his POWERplex project on June 5, 2017. A missed deadline means the complex won't be built in the city.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

A proposed $55 million indoor-outdoor sports complex in the Chesterfield Valley, billed as the largest in North America, won’t move forward because the developer failed to meet a June 1 deadline to secure funds from St. Louis County for water and sewer lines.

St. Louis Public Radio reported last week that the deal for the POWERplex was in jeopardy because Big Sports Properties LLC, run by Dan Buck, had not provided given Chesterfield officials the required documents. Rather than negotiate a new deal, Buck said Monday night that he’ll take the project — and its estimated $6 million in tax money a year — elsewhere.

The intersection of Collinsville and St. Louis avenues in East St. Louis is where a mob of white rioters first gathered before they rampaged through the city, seeking out and killing black residents.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Andrew Theising was sitting behind the steering wheel of his car, pointing out the pathways of city streets that vanished long ago beneath a parking lot in downtown East St. Louis.

“This is where the homes were burned,’’ he said, solemnly. “This is where African-Americans were hung from the streetlights. This was the height of the violence and the bloodshed.’’

David Noble, Kimberly McKinney and Gary Newcomer discussed the state of housing affordability in the region on Monday.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Homeownership is associated with a slew of positive outcomes: better health, higher likelihood of sustained employment, safer communities, self-sufficiency in families and more. And yet, the dream of homeownership is becoming further out of reach for many families in the St. Louis region.

Biddle Housing Opportunities Center. Biddle is partly run by the St. Patrick Center, a homeless service provider. Biddle is not only an emergency shelter, but also provides help for homeless, including finding housing. May 5, 2017
Marie Schwarz | St. Louis Public Radio

David Perry is a tall and muscular-looking guy. He has a construction job. His appearance and circumstances might not reveal it, but Perry is homeless.

For nearly six months he has been on the waiting list for housing at the St. Patrick Center, an organization that works with the city to end homelessness. 

Greitens' Cabinet appointees shown clockwise from top left: Sarah Steelman, Chris Chinn, Anne Precythe, Carol Comer, Joel Walters, Chlora Lindley-Myers, Randall Williams, Charles "Drew" Juden
Credits listed clockwise from top left / Jason Rosenbaum; Dept. of Agriculture; Tim Bommel, House Communications; Office of Gov. Eric Greitens; Linkedin; City of Sikeston

Updated June 6 to correct that the Department of Mental Health's director is appointed by a commission. Original story from Feb. 22, 2017:

With new administrations come new agency directors, and it’s up to the governor to choose those people. Most of  Republican Gov. Eric Greitens’ Cabinet positions have been approved by the Missouri Senate, while three still must be vetted.

Here’s a who’s who behind the major state agencies:

Gregg Keller, June 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 back Gregg Keller for the second time.

Keller is a St. Louis-based, Republican consultant who runs his own firm, Atlas Strategy Group. He’s worked for a number of Missouri’s prominent GOP officials, including former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent.

Supporter Steve Stepanek of St. Louis waves his Confederate flag at the Confederate Statue in Forest Park on June 3, 2017, in St. Louis.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Tensions are high after more than a week of demonstrations and counter protests over whether to remove the Confederate memorial in Forest Park.

A rally at the monument Saturday featured both shouting matches and moments of dialogue.

The event was organized by Peggy Hubbard, a black woman who wants the monument to stay.

Attendees wave the peace sign as Jamie "KP" Dennis performs Sat., June 3, 2017, at the St. Louis rally for National Gun Violence Awareness Day.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis area politicians and organizations rallied against gun violence this weekend, joining a national movement, amid a run of gun-related deaths in the area.  At least seven people have been shot and killed in the city of St. Louis since Thursday.

Activists with Moms Demand Action Against Gun Violence wore orange and held a rally Saturday in Tower Grove Park. Several dozen people attended the event to mark Friday's National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

Public schools and other institutions in Missouri that receive state money likely won’t see any last-minute cuts before the fiscal year ends June 30, budget chief Dan Haug said Friday.

That’s even with the state’s income collections running slightly behind estimates used to craft the current budget.

Mayor Lyda Krewson addresses reporters on Fri., June 2, 2017, after a violent week in St. Louis left seven dead and 13 injured by gunfire.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Mayor Lyda Krewson said Friday that she’s “beside herself” over a rash of gun violence in St Louis this week that killed seven and injured 13 others, including a 7-year-old girl.

But even as she pledged more money for police officer salaries, Krewson seemed at a loss for how to bring the spiraling violence under control.

Eddie Roth, the director of human services for the City of St. Louis, joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh to discuss the state of services for the homeless in St. Louis.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s “Behind the Headlines” with St. Louis on the Air, we took an in-depth look at a top news story of the week.

This week, host Don Marsh was joined by Eddie Roth, the director of Human Services for the City of St. Louis. We discussed the current state of services for the homeless in St. Louis. 

A rendering of the $55 million POWERplex athletic facility in Chesterfield. Its developer, Dan Buck, touts it as the largest indoor athletic complex in North America.
Big Sports Properties LLC

The developer hoping to build in Chesterfield what’s touted as North America’s largest indoor sports facility wants more time to secure vital financial support from the region’s economic development group.

But the long-in-the-works deal for the $55 million POWERplex project, for which St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is an ambassador, may be in jeopardy, because developer Dan Buck didn’t meet a Thursday deadline for one of four requirements — a commitment from the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership to help pay for water and sewer lines. That’s why, according to documents obtained by St. Louis Public Radio and confirmed by Chesterfield officials, Buck plans to ask for an extension. The City Council will discuss the request Monday.

State Rep. Bruce Franks takes part in a recording of Politically Speaking at Yaquis on Cherokee.
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 shook things up, recording the show with state Rep. Bruce Franks on Wednesday in front of a live audience at Yaquis on Cherokee in St. Louis.

Franks, a St. Louis Democrat, was elected to the Missouri House last year to represent the 78th District, which stretches from Carr Square to Dutchtown in the eastern part of the city.

New data show black drivers in Missouri were 75 percent more likely than whites to be pulled over last year. 

The annual report, which was released Wednesday by the state attorney general's office, shows the disparity rate last year increased from the year before, when blacks were 69 percent more likely than white motorists to be stopped. 

House Republicans talk during the last day of the legislative session.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Mike Meinkoth vividly remembers how term limits were sold to Missourians in 1992: By limiting lawmakers to eight years in the House and eight years in the Senate, proponents contended the General Assembly would become more responsive — and consistently get new members with fresh ideas.

More than 25 years after voters approved the constitutional amendment, Meinkoth wanted to know if those promises were kept. He asked Curious Louis: “It's been 25 years since term limits went into effect for state legislators. Has there been a study to determine the effect of these limits?”

The Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.
File photo | Seth Perlman | Associated Press / Associated Press

The Illinois General Assembly is once again ending its annual legislative session without passing a budget. 

Although Senate Democrats passed both a budget bill and a variety of tax hikes earlier in May to pay for it, House Democrats couldn't agree on what to do. Try to meet Gov. Bruce Rauner’s demands, as the Senate tried and failed to do with the so-called grand bargain? 

Denise Lieberman, with the civil rights group Advancement Project, on Wednesday speaks at a news conference at the Old Courthouse about Missouri's voter ID law. May 31, 2017
Erica Hunzinger | St. Louis Public Radio

A day before Missouri’s new voter ID law takes effect, a coalition of civil rights groups and Democratic politicians warned Wednesday that the law could disenfranchise minority voters and older people.

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, whose office oversees elections, scoffed at the concerns, arguing that “if you’re a registered voter, you’ll be able to vote.”

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated May 31 with oral arguments — A case that could expand legal protections for the state’s LGBTQ community is in the hands of a three-judge panel of Missouri’s Court of Appeals.

Judges Anthony Gabbert, Victor Howard and Cynthia Martin heard arguments Wednesday in the case of a 17-year-old transgender boy from the Kansas City area who wants to be allowed to use the boy’s restroom and lockers rooms at his school. His attorneys argue that the decision by the Blue Springs R-IV district to deny the request violates Missouri’s Human Rights Act.

Peggy Hubbard breaks up a small scuffle between demonstrators over whether a Black Lives Matter sign could be placed in the arm of the soldier on the statue on Tuesday, May 30, 2017.
Jenny Simeone-Cases | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated May 31 with information on aldermanic hearing — St. Louis’ parks committee weighed in Wednesday on the controversy surrounding the memorial to Confederate soldiers in Forest Park.

The first in a series of hearings on a bill sponsored by Alderwoman Sharon Tyus, D-1st Ward, came the day after those for and against keeping the monument in its current location held simultaneous protests.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens signs a bill on Tues., May 30, 2017, banning project labor agreements before workers at Automation Systems, a firm in Earth City.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens appears to be reinforcing his anti-union image, inviting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — who also has built a reputation for taking on unions — to a rally Tuesday, where Greitens signed a bill outlawing a longstanding practice.

The bill bans cities and counties from using project labor agreements, which have been in use in the St. Louis area for decades. PLAs require all subcontractors to pay union wages, and often bar work stoppages over labor disagreements. Already, there are PLA bans on state projects.

St. Louis officials signed a lease for a temporary homeless shelter to be put at this building, at 23rd and Pine.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis is poised to meet a Monday deadline to move homeless men from a temporary emergency shelter in a city warehouse.

Mayor Lyda Krewson, comptroller Darlene Green and Board of Aldermen president Lewis Reed signed a 10-month lease on Tuesday for a space at 23rd and Pine streets, west of downtown. The lease starts Thursday, about a week before hundreds of local government officials, social service providers and community and business leaders will meet to seek a more regional approach to reducing homelessness.

File photo | Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Supreme Court said Tuesday that it won’t hear a group of lawsuits that aims to force the state Department of Corrections to release the name of the pharmacists who supply the state’s lone execution drug, the sedative pentobarbital.

The case declined by the high court was an appeal of a Feb. 14 ruling by the Missouri Court of Appeals.

St. Louis on the Air's Legal Roundtable returned on Tuesday with Bill Freivogel, Rachel Sachs and Mark Smith.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Legal Roundtable panel returned to discuss pressing issues of the law. They discussed a number of topics, starting with national issues of government leaks, the Supreme Court, and President Trump's executive orders on immigration.

Joining the discussion:

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated May 30 with news of appeal — Missouri's attorney general will appeal a federal court ruling that struck down parts of the state's limits on campaign finance.

In a statement released Tuesday, Republican Josh Hawley said it was his duty as attorney general to defend the laws and constitution of Missouri. A federal judge earlier this month kept in place donation limits, but threw out a ban on certain committee-to-committee transfers.

Seventy percent of voters approved the amendment in November.

A volunteer with Coalition for Life St. Louis, an anti-abortion group, waves as a car exits the Planned Parenthood parking lot on Forest Park Avenue. Volunteers hand out anti-abortion pamphlets to passers-by.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For proof of Missouri’s prominent place in the national abortion debate, one only needs to look at the two developments energizing abortion rights and anti-abortion activists.

Due to a recent federal court ruling, Missouri, which only has one abortion clinic at the moment, likely will see several others open in the coming months — a rarity in the U.S. And St. Louis will be engaged in a legal battle over a new ordinance that bars employers and landlords from discriminating against women who obtain abortions.

Black Lives Matter posters were placed on the Confederate monument in Forest Park on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The question of whether a Confederate monument in Forest Park should be removed was explored on our weekly Behind the Headlines segment amid the controversy surrounding it.

Some people want it removed, including St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and Treasurer Tishaura Jones, who launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for its removal.

Tracy McCreery, May 2017
Carolina Hidalgo 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 back state Rep. Tracy McCreery.

The Olivette Democrat has represented the 88th District since the beginning of 2015. Her district includes portions of Creve Coeur, Olivette and Ladue.

Gov. Eric Greitens leads people who attended a rally during the special session into the Capitol on Tues., May 23, 2017.
Krissy Lane | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ first special session was a success.

On Friday, the Senate passed a bill 24-5 designed to reopen an aluminum smelting plant once operated by Noranda, as well as to build a new steel plant nearby. The bill will take effect the moment the Republican governor signs it.

Councilman Mark Harder's (left) bill aimed at replacing two bridges in western St. Louis County sparked a war of words between councilmembers and County Executive Steve Stenger.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger always was going to have a hard time getting along with most of the St. Louis County Council. After all, the county voters filled the majority of those seven seats with people who have longstanding disagreements with the Democrat.  

That expected acrimony has come to pass in the form of a dispute over replacing bridges, prompting some council members to question Stenger’s ability to effectively communicate with them.

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