Politics & Issues | St. Louis Public Radio

Politics & Issues

Political news

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.

Alderman Terry Kennedy listens as colleagues ask questions following a 19-7-1 vote to pass the stadium financing bill on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Alderman Terry Kennedy, known for his oratorical abilities, didn’t make intricate speeches or engage in tough questioning as his peers on the Ways and Means Committee repeatedly discussed proposed ballot issues to help fund a Major League Soccer stadium and fix up the Scottrade Center. 

But before aldermen sent a roughly $60 million plan laying out St. Louis’ financial responsibility for the proposed soccer stadium, the 18th Ward Democrat changed his approach, saying they had the wrong priorities and there needed to be “a paradigm shift.”

Mayor Francis Slay and Alderman Christine Ingrassia speak to reporters about two measures likely to appear on the April ballot.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Mayor Francis Slay has signed legislation that could lead to funding for both MetroLink expansion and a stadium for Major League Soccer.

One bill signed by the mayor on Friday asks voters to approve a half-cent sales tax increase, which is intended to partially fund a north-south MetroLink line, as well as neighborhood and workforce development initiatives. The second measure, also signed on Friday, asks voters if revenue from the resulting increase in the use tax should be directed to the new stadium just west of Union Station.

Jo Mannies, St. Louis Public Radio's political reporter, joined Behind the Headlines on Friday.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

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

On this week’s program, St. Louis Public Radio political reporter Jo Mannies joined the program to discuss Gov. Eric Greitens’ just-released, proposed Missouri budget. The total proposed state budget is $27.6 billion.

Listen to the discussion here:

Bac Le, 70, picks up his grandson after studying for his citizenship test with a tutor from Bilingual International Assistant Services. Le moved to St. Louis from Vietnam to be near his children.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Between learning U.S. civics and history to acing all four parts of the naturalization exam — passing the U.S. citizenship test is no walk in the park. For older immigrants who don’t speak English, the learning curve can be even steeper.

“Think about your own grandmother,” said Jason Baker, executive director with Bilingual International Assistant Services. “Imagine her trying to learn a completely foreign language at an advanced age. And then in that foreign language learn about the Federalist Papers and be able to produce it on command. Some grandmothers will be able to do it. Others will not. Mine certainly couldn’t.”

Faizan Syed, Jessica Mayo and Anna Crosslin joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss the local impact of President Trump's executive orders on immigration.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Last week, President Donald Trump signed a series of executive orders that sent the lives of many into chaos — in St. Louis and across the world.

Alderman Lyda Krewson, D-28th Ward, is sponsoring a big overhaul of the city's business regulations.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 2:40 p.m. Thursday with comments from Lewis Reed — Departing Mayor Francis Slay has endorsed Alderman Lyda Krewson as his successor in office.

Slay, whose term ends in mid-April,  announced his endorsement of Krewson, D-28th Ward, in a YouTube video posted Thursday.

Members of labor unions watch speakers at a rally last year in St. Charles.
Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

In a purely technical sense, a right-to-work bill was sent Thursday to Gov. Eric Gretiens' desk after it passed through Missouri General Assembly.

But in reality, the seemingly endless fight to bar unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues ended last November at the Chase Park Plaza. That's when Democrat Chris Koster congratulated Greitens on his victory in the governor’s race. At that point, the measure essentially became a done deal.

a rolling dollar bill
dleafy | sxc.hu

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens' first state budget targets higher education for more cuts — $160 million less than the current spending plan. 

In effect, the Republican is continuing such cuts that he made shortly after taking office last month.

Greitens' general revenue budget, which funds most state services, calls for spending about $345 million more than in the current fiscal year.  But acting state budget director Dan Haug said  Thursday that a number of state departments will see a total of about $600 million less than what they currently receive.

A representative from HOK shows renderings of a proposed soccer stadium. (Feb. 2, 2017)
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

An aldermanic committee backed a financial plan spelling out how St. Louis would help pay for a professional soccer stadium – if it comes to fruition.

The Board of Aldermen’s Ways and Means Committee approved the financial plan on Wednesday evening. Many of the details have already been publicly laid out: If two ballot initiatives are placed on a ballot by a judge and pass, about $50 million in a use tax increase could go toward the stadium. The city would also contribute up to $10 million from 50 percent of the sales tax revenues generated in the project site.

The Jamestown Mall Dillards in December 2016.
Mike Kalasnik | Flickr

An effort to redevelop the shuttered Jamestown Mall is headed back to the drawing board.

The north St. Louis County mall has been closed for several years. A first step toward redeveloping the structure is classifying the mall as blighted, which allows the county to use eminent domain. But Councilwoman Rochelle Walton Gray and St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger have disagreed on who should oversee the effort.  

A rendering of the proposed St. Louis soccer stadium.
HOK

St. Louis is officially in the mix for a Major League Soccer franchise.

Whether professional soccer actually comes to the Gateway City is by no means a certainty.

Teenagers and chaperones with the Archdiocese of St. Louis look out on the crowd marching against abortion January 27, 2017.
Provided | Archdiocese of St. Louis

Some 2,000 St. Louisans boarded busses to attend the March for Life in Washington D.C. last Friday. The anti-abortion march marked its 44th year this year. It was originally created in protest of the United States Supreme Court’s decision legalizing abortion in Roe v. Wade.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we heard from two local participants in the national march. Reagan Barklage is the western regional director of the Students for Life of America.

A rendering of the proposed St. Louis soccer stadium.
HOK

It looks increasingly likely that St. Louis voters will see two tax-related measures on the April ballot.

In a rare Monday meeting, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen gave initial approval to a proposed half-cent increase in the sales tax. The second measure would direct the resulting increase in the use tax to a proposed Major League Soccer stadium near Union Station.

Anna Crosslin is joined by St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay to talk about the importance of immigrants in the region. Jan 30, 2017
Erica Hunzinger | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis leaders are decrying the Trump administration’s executive order that bars refugees from coming to the United States for 120 days. The order also prevents those from seven Muslim-majority countries – Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia – from entering the U.S. for 90 days.

Mo. Dept. of Corrections

Updated Jan. 31, 9:34 p.m. - The state of Missouri has carried out its first execution since May of 2016.

According to a statement from the Department of Corrections, Mark Christeson's lethal injection began at 6:57 p.m., and he was pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m.

SC STL's Dave Peacock speaks at Thursday's Ways and Means Committee hearing.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

There are lots and lots of steps needed in order to make a proposed professional soccer stadium in St. Louis a reality. But in addition to passing two separate ballot initiatives and obtaining one of four Major League Soccer expansion slots, city aldermen added a new contingency: Getting the state involved in the project.

President Trump's executive order on immigration late Friday ignited nationwide protests — and a slew of legal challenges.

At least four federal judges across the country have blocked part of the order and temporarily ensured refugees and travelers who reached U.S. soil would not be deported.

Here's an explanation of what happened so far and what could come next.

Missouri lawmakers listen to Gov. Eric Greitens speak earlier this month during his State of the State address.
Tim Bommel I House Communications

If Missourians were near a television screen over the past year, they probably caught wind of how Eric Greitens wanted to overhaul the ethical culture in Jefferson City. His advertisements weren’t exactly a study in subtlety, especially when they showcased his desire to blow up politics as usual by sparking an explosion with a gun.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

It wasn't that long ago that Republican leaders in the Missouri House and Senate were deeply divided and nearly at each other's throats over tax credits.

In 2011, an entire special legislative session was devoted to approving a wide-ranging tax credit bill that centered around incentives designed to transform Lambert-St. Louis International Airport into an international cargo hub. But differing opinions over the role of tax breaks and concerns that they were getting out of hand sabotaged the special session, and there have been no major attempts since then to give the system a makeover.

Enter Gov. Eric Greitens in 2017.

Protesters gathered outside the Terminal 1 departure area at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport on Jan. 29, 2017.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated to include information about Sunday's protest and official responses at 7:50 p.m.

St. Louisans gathered throughout the region over the weekend to protest President Donald J. Trump's executive order barring citizens of seven mostly Muslim countries from entering the United States.

Updated at 5:40 a.m. ET Sunday

Federal Judge Ann Donnelly in Brooklyn, N.Y. granted a request by the American Civil Liberties Union and issued a stay late Saturday on the deportations of valid visa holders after they have landed at a U.S. airport. The ruling by Donnelly temporarily blocks President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration signed Friday.

According to NPR's Hansi Lo Wang:

Teenagers and chaperones with the Archdiocese of St. Louis look out on the crowd marching against abortion January 27, 2017.
Provided | Archdiocese of St. Louis

In what what was one of The Archdiocese of St. Louis' largest groups yet, about 2,100 local teenagers and chaperones attended Friday’s anti-abortion march in Washington, D.C. 

Snow prevented the group from traveling to the March for Life last year; the annual event is scheduled near the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973.

The Trump administration's very public conflicts with government agencies continues on Twitter during the first week of Donald Trump's presidency.

This time around, in response to a gag order barring public-facing communications by several departments, Twitter users are creating spoof accounts and getting embroiled in the dissemination of facts. Here in St. Louis, a spoof Gateway Arch account popped up on Wednesday.

St. Louis Public Radio's social media and engagement producer breaks down how to determine whether or not an account is verified — plus a few more Twitter related questions. 

What builds your trust in the news media? On Friday's Behind the Headlines, we'll discuss with local newsmakers and a researcher who studies media trust.
Flickr |NS Newsflash

American trust in the media is falling to new lows, unaided by President Donald Trump’s outspoken negative views of the press and news organizations. But in a time where “fake news” and “alternative facts” swirl about us like smoke from a fire, the need for journalists fact-checking and combing through truths and lies is more important than ever.

Illustration by Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis mayoral candidate Lyda Krewson appears to be heading into the final stretch of the primary contest with a huge financial edge over her Democratic rivals.

Krewson’s latest report, filed Thursday, shows the 28th Ward alderman with $576,199.41 in the bank.  She began running TV ads on Wednesday. A spokesman says she will be running the ads until the March 7 primary. About a quarter of Krewson's money was raised during the last three weeks.

Alderman Scott Ogilvie provided a pivotal vote to move a soccer stadium ballot item out of an aldermanic committee.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Ballot items aimed at expanding MetroLink and building a professional soccer stadium passed out of a Board of Aldermen committee on Thursday. But the stadium measure required some downright harrowing procedural maneuvers to stay alive.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Jan. 26 with Senate approval of right-to-work bill - The Missouri Senate has approved a bill to make Missouri a "right-to-work state,'' but a fight could still loom with the House over what union contracts would be affected.

The Illinois State Capitol in Springfield on May 31, 2016.
Seth Perlman / Associated Press

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his State of the State address Wednesday and said he was optimistic about Illinois’ future despite the historic budget impasse that has dragged on for more than a year. 

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