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Politics & Issues

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Starting June 1, Missouri residents who want to vote will need to show a photo ID or do one of two other things — sign a statement and show approved types of documents (for registered voters only) or vote a provisional ballot. 

Missouri isn't the first state to enact voter ID law like this — several states, including North Carolina and Texas, have it, too. But such laws haven't been without controversy.

What questions do you have about the new photo ID law? Ask Curious Louis and a St. Louis Public Radio reporter may follow up on your question. 

Lezley McSpadden addressed the ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans on July 2, 2016. She will receive her high school diploma from Jennings High School on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Lawrence Bryant | St. Louis American

Lezley McSpadden, the mother of the late Michael Brown Jr., will receive her high school diploma from Jennings High School on Friday, as part of the school’s 100th commencement.

McSpadden, 37, worked with Jennings School District Superintendent Art McCoy Jr. to start the Adult Education Program through which she earned her diploma as its first graduate.

“When I first met with Lezley, I wanted to help with her foundation,” McCoy told The American.

Gov. Eric Greitens speaks in front of the Capitol during a rally in support of the Noranda bill on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
File photo | Krissy Lane | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri House expects to send the Senate a bill Wednesday that would reopen a shuttered aluminum plant in the Bootheel region — long known as Noranda — and build a new steel plant next door.

What the Senate will do remains to be seen, considering at least one Republican is using the special session to again harangue fellow GOPer Gov. Eric Greitens for his agenda-pushing nonprofit.

These nine legislators scored an A and are listed from left to right from the top: Rep. Justin Hill, Rep. Dean Plocher, Rep. Clem Smith, Rep. Randy Pietzman, Rep. Karla May, Rep. Nick Schoer, Rep. Kirk Mathews, Sen. Dave Schatz, Rep. Chrissy Sommer.
Facebook, Missouri House Communications, Office of Missouri Senate

As students across Missouri receive their final report cards, the age-old measurement of progress and success, St. Louis Public Radio decided to hand them out for Missouri legislators, too.

We’ve graded lawmakers A-F for the 2017 regular session by using a complicated formula that took into account their time in office, the number of bills sponsored and co-sponsored and how far those went, as well as committee or subcommittee chairman positions. In a twist, the lawmakers were asked to grade themselves as well, though not everyone did.

Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard told St. Louis Public Radio that St. Louis' governmental structure is woefully inefficient.
Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard hinted that next year’s legislative session could “shake up” the St. Louis region, especially if lawmakers back plans to combine St. Louis and St. Louis County or merge county municipalities.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Joplin Republican’s proclamation to St. Louis Public Radio elicited a mixed response. Some are willing to have the legislature help pare down the region’s cities, police departments and fire districts. Others, like Vinita Park Mayor James McGee, are not happy at the prospect of the state making wholesale changes to St. Louis’ governance, as opposed to St. Louis area residents.

Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O'Fallon, May 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 state Rep. Nick Schroer to the program for the first time.

The O’Fallon Republican represents a portion of St. Charles County in the Missouri House. He was first elected to the 107th  House District in 2016.

Missouri Capitol, May 2017
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 7:45 p.m. May 22  with number of bills filed Monday – On the eve of his first legislative special session, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and his allied nonprofit group are attacking one of the pivotal legislators  needed to win approval of the governor’s favored bill.

The nonprofit group is called A New Missouri and can collect unlimited donations from unidentified donors. It is targeting state Sen. Doug Libla, a Republican whose southeast Missouri district includes the now-closed aluminum smelting plant that Greitens hopes to reopen, along with a possible steel mill.

Libla says he supports the projects. But the senator questions some provisions in the expected special-session bill that he says could reduce state oversight over Ameren, which provides electricity to much of eastern Missouri.

Alex Ihnen, Future Great City.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Alex Ihnen, the creator of the popular development, transportation and design website nextSTL.com, will soon move to Cincinnati with his family as his wife begins a residency in pediatric neurology.

Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Day at the Missouri Capitol, 2013
MoBikeFed | Flickr

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

Cool Valley Mayor Viola Murphy stands near a grassy path near South Florissant Road. She says a new state law limiting traffic fine revenue will make it harder for her city to pay for new sidewalks.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A top Democratic backer of the effort to limit fines and fees in St. Louis County believes Missouri lawmakers will have to play a role in forcing cities to change.

The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out parts of a 2015 law that capped the amount of money cities could make from fines and fees and required them to meet minimum standards like having an accredited police department. 

Metrolink 2014
Paul Sableman | Flickr

The three counties that fund MetroLink signed an agreement Thursday they say will help keep the train system safe.

The deal among the city of St. Louis, and St. Louis and St. Clair counties, would eventually put all law enforcement officers assigned to patrol MetroLink under the command of one person. Eventually, those police and sheriffs' deputies also would get the authority to work anywhere on the system, a process known as cross deputization.

Renovations have given Kiener Plaza a more open and greener look. May 2017
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louisans will get their first peek at Kiener Plaza’s lush new gardens, splash pad and colorful playground when the downtown park reopens at noon Friday.

The bronze statue of The Runner is back and selfie-ready, with a new fountain and LED lighting that can change colors to mark holidays and special events, like Cardinals-playoff red and Stanley Cup-blue.

Sen. Claire McCaskill in May 2017
Provided | Office of Senator Claire McCaskill

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill said Thursday she thinks it’s important for Congress to “repair, not repeal” the federal Affordable Care Act, which she says is under threat by the Trump administration’s hints that it won’t continue to pay subsidies to participating insurance companies.

About 40 counties in Missouri have only one insurer participating in the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace.

Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City, 2016
Ethan Weston | Flickr

Updated May 19 with Gov. Eric Greitens' plans to campaign for the legislation  — Missouri lawmakers will return to Jefferson City next week to consider legislation aimed at boosting the chances that the Noranda aluminum smelter plant will reopen and that a new steel plant will be built.

Gov. Eric Greitens is holding four rallies Saturday to promote legislation he says will help both southeast Missouri projects. The session will begin at 4 p.m. Monday.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks to reporters after the 2017 adjourned. Greitens didn't have the smoothest relationship with legislators — including Republicans that control both chambers of the Missouri General Assembly.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Eric Greitens’ successful campaign to become Missouri’s governor was based on the premise that politicians were ruining the state and that an outsider’s help was needed.

But with the 2017 legislative session in the books, some of the elected officials Greitens decried believe he got in their way and took an unwarranted, heavy-handed approach — despite the fact that the Republican stands to implement policies his party waited generations to complete.

Tameka Stigers, left, and Ivy Perry, right, braid LaQuinn Laws hair in June 2015 in St. Louis.
Provided | Institute for Justice

This spring a few Missouri state lawmakers fought and failed to pass a proposal that would have stripped the requirement for hair braiders to obtain a cosmetology license.

Under current law, those who want to pursue hair braiding as a profession must attend 1,500 hours of cosmetology classes and spend at least $12,000.

Members of the Missouri State Senate work through the final day of the General Assembly's legislative sessions.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s workers will bear the brunt of sweeping policy changes that were approved during the 2017 session.

With Republicans firmly in control of the governor’s office and both chambers of the legislature, they took the opportunity to back long-awaited policy proposals, including making it harder for employees to sue for discrimination and blunting the power of labor unions.

The Vietnam War memorial in Wentzville has been expanded and now includes lighting and landscaping. May 2017
Provided by city of Wentzville

The city of Wentzville will cut the ribbon on an updated memorial to Vietnam War veterans at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The city recently expanded the memorial site and added landscaping, lights, and a ramp, so disabled veterans can visit. The memorial is at 209 W. Pearce Blvd., next to the fire department.

Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, thet director of the St. Louis Lambert International Airport discussed privatization, REAL ID, growth at the airport and more on Tuesday's "St. Louis on the Air."
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

During peak air travel season this summer, St. Louis Lambert International Airport will see about 260 flights per day, with about 71 total non-stop flights. This June, Terminal 2’s E Concourse will expand by four more gates to accommodate Southwest Airlines travel. 

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Lambert International Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge joined host Don Marsh to discuss recent growth at the airport, REAL ID compliance, the recent spate of airline controversy and talks about privatizing the airport. 

File photo | Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Supreme Court capped the amount of money cities can take in from traffic fines and fees at 20 percent statewide in a ruling issued Tuesday.  It also throws out parts of a law that was the Missouri legislature's main attempt to deal with the aftermath of Michael Brown's 2014 death in Ferguson.

Investigations following Brown's shooting by a police officer revealed the extent to which small cities in St. Louis County relied on their municipal courts to fund city services, with the burden falling heavily on poor defendants of color.

Republican state Reps. Jay Barnes, center, and Justin Alferman converse with Rep. Shawn Rhoads during the last day of the Missouri General Assembly's legislative session.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

It may have seemed like a mad-dash finish for Missouri’s Republican-majority legislative body, pushing dozens of bills to Gov. Eric Greitens’ desk before the end of the 2017 regular session.

But St. Louis Public Radio veteran political reporter Jo Mannies, who has covered Missouri politics for 40 years, said the end of the session wasn’t that unusual, when compared to previous ones — with a few notable exceptions. Among those exceptions was the lack of debate on issues that are generally popular with social conservatives, including gun rights and abortion restrictions.

Members of the Missouri House of Representatives throw paper in the air to mark the end of the legislative session in Jefferson City.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When the Missouri legislature convened on Jan. 4, it was anticipated that with a Republican governor and GOP majorities in both houses, a record number of bills might become law. But as it drew to a close, one Republican senator said the session may be groundbreaking in terms of its lack of productivity.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, we spoke with St. Louis Public Radio reporters Marshall Griffin, Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum about what did and didn’t pass.

"There are a lot of growing pains here," Griffin said. 

Samantha Jenkins was incarcerated for 67 days, unable to afford her own bail. In that time she lost both her jobs and housing.
Provided | ArchCity Defenders

Updated May 15 with ongoing fundraising — The creators of #BlackMamaBailoutSTL — Arch City Defenders, the St. Louis Action Council, and Decarcerate St. Louis — want to continue helping the women they bailed out long past Mother's Day.

State Senator Rob Schaaf addresses Lt. Gov. Mike Parson on the last day day of the General Assembly's legislative session.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Republicans had a lot to be optimistic about when the General Assembly convened in January. For the first time nearly a decade, the GOP held the reins of power in the executive and legislative branches — giving the party a prime chance to pass longstanding policy initiatives.

That optimism turned out to be warranted, especially when it came to overhauling the state’s labor and legal climate. But the process was anything but smooth. 

Amy Johnson and Dahlia Goldstein-Larocco, 7, do a yoga pose known as the bridge during the grand reopening of the Kingshighway Bridge May 13, 2017.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

One of the main routes connecting north and south St. Louis is open to traffic after two years of construction.

The Kingshighway Bridge just south of Interstate 44 closed in July 2015 so the 75-year-old structure could be rebuilt.

Commuters, residents and business owners celebrated the grand reopening Saturday by streaming across the bridge on foot, bicycle and golf cart before it opened to cars.

St. Louis Public Radio journalists Erica Hunzinger (L) and Rachel Lippmann (R) joined us for Behind the Headlines.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

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

We checked in on the Missouri legislature’s last day of their 2017 session. We also heard about MetroLink’s promised security upgrades after a string of violent incidents this winter and spring.

House Democrats, including Rep. Bruce Franks Jr., raise their hands to speak about the $10-an-hour minimum wage in St. Louis.
File | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Forty-five bills to Gov. Eric Greitens later, the Missouri General Assembly adjourned Friday having dealt with some high-priority items like right to work, banning cities from raising their minimum wage, complying with a federal ID mandate and making it harder to sue for workplace discrimination.

But other sought-after bills fell by the wayside, including one that would have allowed Missouri to shed its status as the last state in the U.S. without a prescription drug monitoring program and another getting rid of lobbyist gifts to officeholders — something Greitens campaigned on.

Officials are considering the addition of turnstiles to the MetroLink system.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Two homicides on or near MetroLink trains less than a month apart this year put crime on the transit system back in the spotlight, to the point that officials set aside $20 million for public safety and changed how the system that spans the Metro East and the St. Louis area is policed.

Those efforts and talk of adding turnstiles will mean nothing, however, if the people who ride the rails and buses don’t feel safe. Plus, closing off the system by adding turnstiles will take millions of dollars and several years.

Rebeccah Bennett and Zack Boyers joined St. Louis on the Air tomorrow to discsuss what Forward Through Ferguson is working on.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

“We live in the same world, but don’t share the same reality. Realities are as unique as fingerprints.”

So says Rebeccah Bennett, one of two new co-chairs of Forward Through Ferguson.

Forward Through Ferguson is the organization that grew out of the Ferguson Commission, which was created by former Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon in response to events that unfolded in Ferguson following the police shooting death of Michael Brown in August of 2014.

Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Day at the Missouri Capitol, 2013
MoBikeFed | Flickr

Missouri lawmakers solved the puzzle over federally mandated IDs on Thursday night, sending Republican Gov. Eric Greitens a bill that would ease travelers’ and military members’ worries come January.

It was one of several pieces of legislation that reached the finish line ahead of the 6 p.m. Friday deadline for the 2017 session. Here’s a look at Thursday’s action:

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