Politics & Issues

Politics & Issues
5:14 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Why The General Assembly Is Battling Over Right To Work

Monday's right-to-work hearing attracted a packed house
Credit Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

The first full week of the Missouri’s General Assembly is officially underway, and already the focus has shifted away from the expected topics – tax cuts and Medicaid expansion – and landed smack dab in the midst of a potentially bruising battle over labor rights.

The fight offers the potential of overshadowing other legislative issues for weeks, if not months.

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Not Robin Hood
4:00 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Commentary: Cursing Toddler And Chris Christie Stories Show Harm Done By Thugs

Robin Hood statue in Nottingham, England
Credit Wikipedia

In America, we celebrate our thugs. They’re entrenched in the popular culture as familiar threads in the social fabric —collectively speaking, an integral part of who we are. After all, who didn’t like Tony Soprano?

Because they exist in the shared imagination as mythical figures, it really doesn’t matter that much whether the thugs are real or fictional. Al Capone and Don Corleone are equally well remembered.

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Medicaid Fraud
5:23 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Mo. Medicaid Fraud Unit Recovers $47 Million In 2013

An extreme closeup of U.S. currency.
(via Flickr/kevindooley)

The state of Missouri recovered more than $47 million in fraudulent claims made by Medicaid providers in 2013.

That's about an average year for Attorney General Chris Koster's Medicaid Fraud Unit. The office has recovered as much as $100 million, and as little as $20 million, in a year.

Koster, a Democrat, says those wide variations are triggered by how much money Missouri receives from national settlements. But even though more national settlements means more money for the state's coffers, he says the fraud that concerns him the most is conducted by the smaller providers.

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DESE
4:39 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Nicastro: Normandy Schools Headed For Bankruptcy; Lawmaker Calls For Her Resignation During Hearing

DESE Commissioner Chris Nicastro appears before the Mo. House Budget Committee on Jan. 15, 2014.
Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Time is running out for Normandy schools in north St. Louis County to win extra funding from Missouri lawmakers this school year.

Normandy and Riverview Gardens have experienced an exodus this school year due to the student transfer law.  Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro told the House Budget Committee Wednesday that she expects the Normandy School District will be bankrupt by the end of the year.

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Politics & Issues
2:03 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Backers Consider Petitions To Legalize Marijuana In Missouri

Credit (via Flickr/peter.a photography)

Updated 3:40 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15

Advocates for partly legalizing the growing and use of marijuana in Missouri have gotten the go-ahead to circulate 13 different initiative petitions in the state.

But that doesn’t mean any of the proposals will be on this fall’s ballot.

On Wednesday, the Missouri secretary of state's office said it had approved all 13 initiatives for circulation. Nearly 158,000 signatures from registered voters will be needed to put any of the proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot.

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Politics & Issues
12:51 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Stenger Outraises Dooley As Koster Continues To Rake It In

Steve Stenger at last fall's kickoff
Credit Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

Updated 11:50 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15

The latest campaign-donation numbers are adding more intrigue to St. Louis area’s marquee contest this year between St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and County Councilman Steve Stenger.

Stenger outraised fellow Democrat Dooley during the last quarter of 2013 -- $245,032 to $115,414. Their latest campaign reports, filed Wednesday, also show Stenger with more in the bank: $638,158 to $458,154.

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Ethics
10:17 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Kander Announces Sweeping Ethics Proposal, Would Restore Campaign Contribution Limits

Mo. Sec. of State Jason Kander, D, unveils his ethics proposal to reporters at the Mo. Capitol.
Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander unveiled on Tuesday a wide-ranging ethics proposal he wants lawmakers to take up and pass this year.  It includes:

  • restoring campaign contribution limits,
  • banning gifts from lobbyists to all state elected officials,
  • requiring a three-year waiting period before ex-lawmakers can work as lobbyists. 

Kander, a Democrat, says if adopted, Missouri can go from having the worst ethics system in the country to the best.

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On the Trail
5:13 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Sinquefield Still Reigns Supreme Among State's Biggest Individual Donors

Rex Sinquefield
Credit File photo

When it comes to campaign financing, one name stands out: Rex Sinquefield. 

In 2013, an off year politically, the retired financier gave millions in campaign contributions — primarily to ballot initiatives and political action committees. Most of Sinquefield's money went toward an ultimately unsuccessful campaign to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of tax cut legislation. Sinquefield also gave hundreds of thousands of dollars for ballot initiatives, including one to curtail teacher tenure.

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Judicial Hellholes
5:00 am
Wed January 15, 2014

It's Called A "Hellhole." But Madison County Defense Attorneys Say Better The Devil You Know

The American Tort Reform Association calls the Madison County Courthouse in Edwardsville, Ill., the entrance to judicial hell. But those who work in the system aren't so sure.
Credit (Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon)

Every year, the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) releases its annual list of so-called “judicial hellholes," a term it uses to refer to civil courts that ATRA believes are consistently unfair to corporate defendants.

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Politically Speaking
4:06 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Politically Speaking: 'Right To Work,' Rep. Barnes And Medicaid

Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon.

On this week’s podcast, Jason and Jo discuss the roadblocks to getting “right to work” on the ballot and why upcoming campaign finance reports matter. For the rest of the show, the Politically Speaking crew talks with Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City.

During the show, Barnes described his proposal to expand Medicaid – which some see as an alternative to the straight-up Medicaid expansion that Gov. Jay Nixon supports. Barnes also discussed his efforts to find out more about Missouri’s unsuccessful bid to lure Boeing’s 777X to Missouri.

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