Politics & Issues

Political news

Rachel Johns, a Democrat from St. Louis, is a candidate for the 76th Missouri House District.
Friends of Rachel Johns for Missouri|Facebook

Updated 4:10 p.m. May 20 with verdict - The day after it heard arguments, the Missouri Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that struck a candidate for a Missouri House seat from the ballot.

Rachel Johns had alleged that the requirement that a candidate be a registered for two years before the election violated equal protection rights, and she said she was exercising her First Amendment right to protest by not registering earlier. A split court decided against her. Her attorney says he will ask for a rehearing and, barring that, will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

In our weekly "Behind the Headlines" segment, St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh discussed the top news stories that caught St. Louisans’ attention this week, with the people who produced them and contributed to them.

This week, we discussed the Missouri Republicans’ convention in Branson that is coming up this weekend and checked in on the Illinois budget crisis.

Joining us:

Robert Cornejo
Jason Rosenbaum | 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. Robert Cornejo to the program.

The St. Peters Republican is serving his second term in the Missouri House. He was a guest on the show about a year ago, after one of the wildest ends to a legislative session in recent history.

Clint Hill served five American presidents as a Secret Service agent from 1958 to 1975. On Thursday's St. Louis on the Air, he shared his story.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Former Secret Service Agent Clint Hill served silently beside Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford. Recently, he broke his silence about what that experience at the forefront of American history was like.

vintage bicycles
Via Wikimedia Commons | Public Domain

If numbers tell the story, bicycle ridership in St. Louis has boomed. A 2014 study from the League of American Bicyclists shows the number of bicycle commuters increased 269.9 percent between 2000 and 2014.

That staggering number isn’t the only sign that St. Louis is making a push to be a bicycle-friendly city. As the area celebrates national Bike to Work Day on Friday, it's time to take a look at improvements that have been made and needs still to be addressed.

A silver number 5 on a grey background.
Flickr | Stephan Mosel

St. Louis continues to lose population, according to current city population estimates for 2015 released by the U.S. Census. Between 2014 and 2015, more than 1,500 residents are estimated to have left the city.

Here are five takeaways from the data released today.

1. Cities in our area are part of the national picture, both positively and negatively.

St. Louis' loss of population was the 7th largest in the country. Detroit and Chicago were No. 1 and No. 2.

St. Louis businessman and financier Rex Sinquefield says he’s disappointed that state lawmakers did not prioritize eliminating Missouri’s state income tax before adjourning the legislative session on Friday.

Sinquefield, who has funded numerous efforts to cut the tax, discussed Missouri’s economy Tuesday in Columbia with members of Show-Me Institute, a conservative think-tank.

St. Louis residents and the Ways and Means Committee listen as budget director Paul Payne outlines the fiscal year 2017 budget on May 18, 2017.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The Ways and Means committee for the St. Louis Board of Aldermen took their work on the 2017 budget on the road Wednesday night, to the New Northside Conference Center in the North Pointe neighborhood.

It's one of the few chances the public has to weigh in during the process of crafting the $1.042 billion spending plan, which goes into effect July 1.

A vintage photo of an elephant walking.
Wikimedia Commons

When Missouri Republicans gather this weekend in Branson for their once-every-four-years convention, the focus won’t be just on presidential delegates.

Much of the attention will center on the party’s core beliefs, and what issues it deems most important, as GOP candidates from Donald Trump on down appeal to the public for votes.

Known as the “party platform,’’ the thick document gets into the nitty-gritty on everything from same-sex marriage – the GOP opposes it – to gun rights, immigration and tax issues.

Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal walks out of the Senate chamber as the Senate adjourns for the session last week in Jefferson City.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Voters in parts of St. Louis County won't get a chance to vote anytime soon on a sales tax increase for St. Louis County Police Department. And St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger is not happy with a Democratic state senator for prompting that outcome.

For the past couple of legislative sessions, Stenger has wanted Missouri lawmakers to authorize a vote for a sales tax increase in unincorporated St. Louis County. The proceeds would go to the St. Louis County Police Department, and could be used for a number of initiatives, including making sure each patrol car contains two police officers.

Sen. David Pearce answers questions from reporters on the last day of the legislative session.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

If there’s one constant about the last week of the Missouri General Assembly’s session, it’s that nobody in the Capitol has to search very hard to find delicious pie.

For several decades, senators have served up rhubarb pies, French silk pies, and even gooseberry pies to hungry legislators and staff. The uncontroversial and widely celebrated “Pie Day” event provides a big boost to proprietors like the Rolling Pin in Glasgow, and a bit of levity within the General Assembly's intense final days.

Attorney Jessica Liss discusses the debate of restroom use by transgender students on Tuesday's St. Louis on the Air.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, attorney Jessica Liss, a managing shareholder at the St. Louis office of Jackson Lewis, joined the program to discuss the Obama administration’s recent guidance regarding restroom use by transgender students in public schools.

McCulloch and Belmar announce on 3/15/15 the arrest of suspect Jeffrey Williams in shooting of police
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

A young man accused of shooting and wounding two police officers outside the Ferguson Police Department in March 2015 will take his case to trial.

Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed signs legislation creating a civilian oversight board for St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

Updated 9:35 a.m. May 17 with news of first complaint - The Civilian Oversight Board has cleared another major hurdle. On May 9, staff began accepting complaints against St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department officers.

"We're very excited," said Executive Director Nicolle Barton. "We have had a few phone calls already, so we've contacted every one of the individuals and gave them specific instructions on what to do. We're looking for a few people to start coming in."

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Several Vietnam veterans told an Illinois task force on Monday that the Veterans Administration should be doing a better job of treating depression and post-traumatic stress.

The Illinois Task Force on Veterans’ Suicides is holding hearings throughout the state to investigate ways to prevent suicide among Illinois veterans. Nationally, 22 veterans kill themselves every day.

Harris County Sheriff's Office | Provided

Updated at 12:20 p.m. Tuesday with comments from police chief Sam Dotson. — A former St. Louis Metropolitan Police officer is facing first-degree murder charges for fatally shooting a man after a car chase in 2011.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The 2016 Missouri legislative session is officially closed. What happened? What didn’t happen? What might change during the September veto session? On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, we discussed it all.

Margaux Harris, 7, granddaughter of Rep. Mike Lair, throws papers in the air shortly after members of the House did the same to mark the end of the legislative session.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For the most part, the dwindling moments of the 2016 session of the Missouri General Assembly were familiar: Paper got tossed. Press conferences transpired. And lawmakers get to spend the next few months far away from Jefferson City (with the exception, of course, of the legislators that represent that town).

But the last week of session did provide some notable insights and surprises: From the passage of a wide-ranging gun bill to the somewhat surprising resignation of a state senator, there was plenty of news to keep bespectacled reporters busy.

MCU's Dietra Wise Baker talks during a workshop on the problems in the juvenile justice system in Missouri on Saturday, May 14, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Metropolitan Congregations United is calling for police, school and juvenile court reform in St. Louis to reduce the disproportionate number of black children suspended from school and placed in juvenile detention. 

The social justice advocacy group held workshops Saturday as part of a campaign to break what’s called the “school-to-prison pipeline.”

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

With Missouri legislators heading home, the focus in Jefferson City now shifts to Gov. Jay Nixon – who will decide what to sign and what to veto among close to 140 bills now sitting on his desk.

And despite what the governor called “stark differences’’ of opinion, Nixon sounded more conciliatory in his post-session address than he has in recent years. The governor’s implied message Friday was that, from his perspective, this 4 and ½-month session could have been worse.

After Sen. Jamilah Nasheed of St. Louis started to filibuster, Sen. Bob Dixon withdrew his crime bill.
Jason Rosenbaum | St Louis Public Radio

Updated with final House action - The Missouri House has sent to Gov. Jay Nixon a broad version of what’s called a Stand Your Ground law, that would allow a law-abiding person to use deadly force in any public place, even if they are not under immediate threat of harm.

The bill also expands concealed-carry rights.

The House's final 114- 36 vote was comfortably above the 109 votes needed to overturn a possible Nixon veto. The Senate's 24-8 vote, taken earlier Friday,  had two supportive votes more than needed to override the governor.

Passage makes Missouri the first state to pass such a law in years. Backers say the Stand Your Ground provision is needed for protection. Opponents contended the measure would legalize murder.

Ferguson Police Chief Delrish Moss speaks with high school students working on a video project.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In our weekly "Behind the Headlines" segment, St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh discussed the top news stories that caught St. Louisans’ attention this week, with the people who produced them and contributed to them.

This week, we discussed the breaking news of Missouri Senate Minority Leader Joe Keaveny's plans to leave his post early to become an administrative law judge, the end of the Missouri legislative session, Ferguson’s new police chief, and a potential investigation into St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch’s handling of the Darren Wilson grand jury.

Sen. Joe Keaveny receives a hug while walking out of the Senate chamber on Friday. Keaveny announced he will resign from the senate to become an administrative law judge.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Senate Minority Leader Joe Keaveny plans to leave his post early to become an administrative law judge.

The St. Louis Democrat’s decision could set off an intense political competition to represent part of St. Louis in the Missouri Senate.

Before the Missouri Senate convened today, Keaveny told St. Louis Public Radio that Gov. Jay Nixon’s office had approached him about becoming an administrative law judge. He said once paperwork and background checks go through, he’ll resign his seat.

St. Louis Public Radio file photo

Updated at 2:20 a.m. with override failure - A photo ID proposal will definitely be on the ballot, and it will be up to Gov. Jay Nixon to decide if more cold beer is on the way.

But the surprising news actually came early Friday morning: The Senate failed to override Nixon's veto of the paycheck protection or — depending on your position on the measure — the deception bill.

Rep. Robert Cornejo, R-St. Peters, sponsored the municipal governance overhaul in the House.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers have approved, and sent to the governor, an expansion of last year’s municipal overhaul, a bill that also includes a measure making it easier for cities to disincorporate.

This year’s bill would curb ordinance violations, such as tall weeds or housing code problems. It would also reduce the maximum traffic fine to $225. It would also create a sliding scale for non-traffic fines.

A Narcan kit like this would be available at Missouri pharmacies Rep. Lynch's bill is signed into law.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Missourians working to reduce the impact of the opioid crisis are close to scoring one victory this legislative session: a measure expanding access to the opioid overdose antidote is on its way to the governor’s desk.

But with one day left in the session, another tool many consider vital in the fight against opioids appears out of reach. Missouri is likely to remain the only state in the nation without a prescription drug monitoring database.

This 20 year old is serving the longest sentence from the Ferguson protests

May 12, 2016
Ferguson activist Josh Williams, 20, is incarcerated in the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, Missouri, which also holds inmates awaiting execution.
Courtesy of the St. Louis American

“Inmate, where is your name badge?” hollers a guard at Williams, as he enters the prison’s visitor center with a smile on his face. Instead of the neon-green sunglasses and American flag bandana he wore as he protested in and around Ferguson during the protests, he’s wearing a gray scrub suit with white tennis shoes. The 6-foot Williams towers over the guards and other prisoners in the room, as an officer gives him another nametag.

Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Missouri voters will likely decide later this year whether to amend the state’s Constitution so that the General Assembly can require that all voters show a government-issued photo ID before casting a ballot.

The state House is expected to take final action today on the ballot proposal, called SJR53, after the Senate passed it late Wednesday by a vote of 24-8.  House approval is expected.

Gov. Jay Nixon has no voice in the proposed constitutional amendment, other than deciding whether it goes on the August or November statewide ballot.

Sen. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, was a major supporter of changing St. Louis County's sales tax distribution system.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Senate has approved a change to St. Louis County’s complicated and controversial system for distributing a 1-cent sales tax.

Now, it’s up to the Missouri House whether to support or reject the idea.  And then Gov. Jay Nixon will decide whether to agree.

Missouri Dept. of Corrections

Updated 11:15 p.m. - Missouri has carried out its first execution of the year.

Earl Forrest was put to death by lethal injection at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre. The execution began at 7:10 p.m., and he was pronounced dead at 7:18 p.m., according to a brief statement from the Missouri Department of Corrections.

Pages