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Politics & Issues

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Mo. Dept. of Natural Resources

Jay Nixon received a nice parting gift from the Department of Natural Resources a few days before stepping down as governor: a new state park that bears his name.

But Jay Nixon State Park may soon have a new name if Republican lawmakers have their way.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Outgoing St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay will return to his legal roots once he leaves office this spring. He's joining the law firm Spencer Fane, which is opening a St. Louis office.

The stable of lawyers at Spencer Fane already include influential Democratic activist Jane Dueker, who represents a number of major corporate clients, and St. Louis Alderman Jack Coatar, whose district includes downtown.

KT Klng | Flickr

Of the hundreds of education bills Missouri lawmakers have filed this session, charter school expansion has the best chance of passing.

Not only is Republican Gov. Eric Greitens an enthusiastic backer of school choice, but charter school advocates say the desire for alternatives to traditional public schools is broadening.

Ethical Society of Police president Sgt. Heather Taylor speaks to a forum on disparities in the St. Louis police and fire departments on July 7, 2016. Her organization has called on chief Sam Dotson to resign.
File photo | Wiley Price | St. Louis American

The organization that represents St. Louis' minority police officers plans to use a new whistleblower law to push for changes in the way officers are promoted, transferred and disciplined.

The law, which Mayor Francis Slay intends to sign before leaving office, allows city employees to report "Improper Governmental Activities" by other city employees to a variety of city agencies.

Missouri corrections officials are not required to disclose the identities of the pharmacists who supply the state’s lethal execution drugs, an appeals court ruled Tuesday.

Reversing a lower court judge who had ordered the Department of Corrections to reveal their names, the Missouri Court of Appeals found that the DOC did not violate the state’s Sunshine Law by refusing to provide them.

Brian Stover's front yard is directly across U.S. 51 from the Patoka Tank Farm.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Brian Stover raises chickens at his house in rural Marion County, Illinois, just across the road from the Patoka Tank Farm where the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline ends — about 75 miles east of St. Louis.

Marshall Griffin|St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri House is considering a bill that would make it harder to prove discrimination when someone is fired from work.

Under the measure, an employee would have to prove his or her race or gender was the main factor for dismissal. That’s a shift from the current law, which says an employee only has to prove race or gender contributed to his or her dismissal.

Sen. Ryan Silvey in February 2017
Marshall Griffin 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 state Sen. Ryan Silvey back to the program.

File photo I Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Several St. Louis mayoral candidates scrambled Monday after they discovered tens of thousands of donations from corporations and unions are barred under the new campaign finance law that Missouri voters approved in November.

Grace Jo, now an American citizen, defected from North Korea at age six. She's now the vice president of NKinUSA, which advocates for human rights for North Koreans.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

As a little girl in North Korea, Grace Jo lived through one of the worst famines in North Korean history. While the official death toll from the notoriously most restrictive authoritarian country in the world is unknown, it is estimated that from 1994 to 1998, anywhere between 600,000 and 2.5 million people died of hunger.

Future plans for highway crossing over 364 and 94 in St. Charles. Plans to be finished in spring 2018.
provided / Great Rivers Greenway

Pedestrians and bikers will eventually be able to cross over two busy highways in St. Charles. A project is planned to construct two new pedestrian bridges over highways 364 and 94. 

Illustrations by Zack Stovall
Illustrations by Zack Stovall

Gov. Eric Greitens is a few weeks away from putting his stamp on the Missouri Supreme Court — sort of.

The Show Me State employs what’s known as the Non-Partisan Court Plan, a process that places constraints a governor’s ability to appoint judges.  

St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed presides over Friday's session of the Board of Aldermen.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis aldermen gave their stamp of approval Friday for two major public investments in sports-related facilities.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Louis-area Democrat is taking another crack at rolling back taxes on feminine hygiene products.

Rep. Gina Mitten sponsored a similar bill last session, but it wasn’t given a public hearing.

House Bill 41 would reduce the state sales and use tax for feminine products like tampons and sanitary pads to that of the retail tax rate of food. 

Brad Kafka is vice chair of Polsinelli’s national Labor and Employment practice group and leads the firm’s St. Louis Labor and Employment practice group.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Earlier this week, Gov. Eric Greitens signed right-to-work legislation into law in Missouri. He signed Senate Bill 19, which bars unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues, and goes into effect on Aug. 28.

Former Secretary of State Jason Kander stands outside a St. Louis polling place on Election Day in 2016.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Often when a candidate loses a high-profile race, he or she prefers to lay low for a while. That’s not the case for former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander.

It’s been three months since he narrowly lost his bid to oust Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt.  Since then, Kander has attracted— and seemingly sought —more national attention than he had during the campaign.

But in an interview with St. Louis Public Radio, the 35-year-old Democrat downplayed the significance. 

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

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley says he has rented an apartment in Jefferson City, to end accusations from Democrats that he has been violating state law by commuting from his home in Columbia.

At issue is a phrase in state law that requires the Missouri attorney general to reside “at the seat of government.”

Mayor Francis Slay signs legislation that will ask voters to approve a sales tax increase to fund a Major League Soccer stadium and a north-south MetroLink line. (Feb. 3, 2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis voters officially will get a say on whether to spend public money on a professional soccer stadium and expanding MetroLink.

Because aldermen missed a January deadline to put the measures on the April ballot, they needed an assist from St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Michael Mullen on Thursday. Mullen issued a ruling that effectively placed the two items on the April ballot.

Republicans in the Missouri House are moving on to other labor union regulations a week after the right-to-work legislation passed.

Under the measure that was approved 95-60 on Thursday and sent to the Senate, state employees would have to agree to have their union dues withheld from paychecks. The bill also would prevent those dues from being spent on political endorsements and other things without an employee’s consent.

Marshall Griffin|St. Louis Public Radio

The new director of the Missouri Department of Corrections is promising "a new day," "a new direction" and "a new culture" for an agency that’s been plagued by allegations of harassment and retaliation.

Anne Precythe is the former Corrections director for North Carolina, and was tabbed by Governor Eric Greitens to replace George Lombardi. Precythe's appointment was confirmed Thursday by the State Senate.

The Ferguson Police Department's new D.A.R.E vehicle, a surplus humvee, which residents have said is insensitive to use.
Ferguson Police Department

The Ferguson Police Department’s new D.A.R.E. vehicle, a Humvee, bears the usual markings of the national drug-prevention program with recognizable red letters and its lion mascot.

However, the mascot’s name — Daren the Lion — has grabbed the attention of some residents and parents in the north county municipality. They believe it’s insensitive because it's too similar to Darren Wilson, the former Ferguson officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in August 2014. That shooting touched off weeks of at-times violent demonstrations to which law enforcement brought military-style vehicles.

The rain started at the very end of 2016.

By Jan. 1, the rivers were just cresting, overflowing the banks of the Mississippi, Missouri and Meramec Rivers. The floods caused more than 20 deaths, forced hundreds of people from their homes and closed major interstate highways.  President Barack Obama declared the region a state of emergency which provided funds to help the thousands of people impacted by the floods.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright speaks to students about Middle East policy approaches at Nerinx Hall High School in Webster Groves.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Ask most Americans what they think of the Middle East, says former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and their assessment can be boiled down to two words:

“A mess.”

But Albright, who served under President Bill Clinton, says the Trump administration’s travel ban has just made things worse.

Addressing Nerinx Hall high school students on Wednesday, Albright called the ban “one of the worst things I’ve seen’’ during her years as a diplomat.

The Moms Demand Action group poses for a photo on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, at the Missouri Capitol.
Krissy Lane | St. Louis Public Radio

More than 200 volunteers from the national Moms Demand Action organization protested two new gun-concealment legislation at the state Capitol on Wednesday.

The measures would allow students and teachers in K-12 public schools and university campuses to carry concealed handguns. 

Becky Morgan, the head of the Missouri chapter, said they have support from university presidents, law enforcement leaders and leaders of college campuses.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger (center) speaks at the Proposition P campaign kickoff on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017.
Erica Hunzinger | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County voters are being tasked with another request for public funding, this time a half-cent sales tax increase for policing efforts in the April election.

Officials say they’re certain that the measure, which is estimated to bring in $80 million a year, is vital for public safety both in the county and in municipalities. But some communities aren’t sure they’ll benefit much. 

A crowd packs Luther Ely Smith Square after the St. Louis Women's March, Jan.21, 2017.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Organizers of last month's Women’s March on St. Louis are encouraging its thousands of participants to channel their energy into activism.

They hope to keep the momentum going through community meetings planned for March that will include strategy sessions on education, criminal justice, access to reproductive health care and other issues. The topics will be chosen from threads on a Facebook page for the marchers called DefendHERS. It shares its name with the non-partisan organization started by the women behind the march.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens delivers his first State of the State address last week in Jefferson City.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has reversed about 60 interim appointments that ex-Gov. Jay Nixon made to numerous state boards and commissions.

Officials say the about-face is pretty much business as usual and not terribly disruptive.

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

A majority of Missouri residents said they wanted voters to have to show a photo ID at the polls, and lawmakers obliged.

Now, state officials must figure out how to pay for the law, which goes into effect June 1.

Logo for 2017 St. Louis election coverage
Graphic by David Kovaluk / St. Louis Public Radio

Most of the candidates vying to become St. Louis' first new mayor in 16 years are focusing on the city’s problems more than its successes.

Their forums frequently discuss the 253-year-old city's long-lasting crime and race issues, or how best to improve the city’s neighborhoods and bolster downtown. 

Gov. Eric Greitens signs legislation making Missouri the 28th right-to-work state at a ceremony Monday in Springfield. (Feb. 6, 2016)
Scott Harvey | KSMU

Gov. Eric Greitens took a road trip Monday in celebration of making Missouri the nation's 28th right-to-work state.

The Republican signed Senate Bill 19, which bars unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues, at three ceremonies. The first one was in Springfield at an abandoned warehouse before a small crowd of supporters.

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