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Historian Anne Walker is surrounded by family photos in the living room of her home in East St. Louis. June 2017
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Residents of East St. Louis will gather on Sunday to remember the victims of the bloody 1917 race riot with a solemn processional to the Eads Bridge.

On July 2-3, 1917, mobs of white people, angered over labor issues, roved through the city, assaulting African-Americans and burning their homes and businesses.

Although the official death toll was 48 — 39 blacks and 9 whites — historians believe more than 100 people died and hundreds were injured, including women and children.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, along with James Clark of Better Family Life (left), announces on Thursday, June 29, 2017, that the department has turned on a gunshot detection tool called ShotSpotter.
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

A network of sensors now dot a 4-square-mile area of north St. Louis County, touted by police as the latest way to crackdown on gun violence.

Gov. Eric Greitens visits Our Lady's Inn, a St. Louis pregnancy center for women experiencing homelessness, on June 8, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

One of the main reasons Gov. Eric Greitens called a second special session was because of a St. Louis anti-discrimination ordinance dealing with women’s reproductive choices. Media outlets, including St. Louis Public Radio, have stated that Republican Sen. Andrew Koenig’s bill would completely overturn that law.

But that’s not the view of Koenig, Greitens’ office or the Democratic sponsor of the city law. They all agree the bill would prevent the law from being enforced against pregnancy resource centers that discourage women from having abortions.

The Illinois Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois.
Jeremy Wilburn | Flickr

Updates with details of planned vote Friday — Illinois' Senate minority leader is calling it quits come Saturday. Republican Sen. Christine Radogno's announcement Thursday came as lawmakers are still trying to nail down an elusive budget deal. 

Meanwhile, House Speaker Michael Madigan said he'll call a $36.5 billion spending plan for a vote Friday while Democrats and Republicans continue to negotiate tangential issues crucial to a state budget deal with Gov. Bruce Rauner. The Chicago Democrat reiterated Thursday that in order to pay for that plan, there would need to be an income-tax hike, though no legislation for that has been filed.

File photo | WUIS Radio

If Illinois legislators fail to send Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner a budget by Friday, he said he'll extend a legislative special session until they "get the job done." 

He issued that statement Wednesday afternoon, the eighth day of the special session. The new fiscal year starts Saturday, and should no agreement come before then, Illinois will enter a third straight year without a spending plan.

St. Louis city police officers attempt to block demonstrators during an anti-Trump rally in downtown St. Louis in November 2016.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Parts of St. Louis would have the highest sales tax in Missouri under the half-cent increase the Board of Aldermen’s budget committee passed Wednesday.

Many committee members reluctantly voted for the increase, which will fund raises for police and firefighters if voters approve the measure this November. Should it pass, St. Louis’ sales tax would be at least 9.7 percent, going up to nearly 12 percent in some special taxing districts.

Wednesday's Legal Roundtable featured a panel of law experts, William Freivogel, Greg Magarian and Mark Smith.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

A lot of news coming out of the U.S. Supreme Court this week. First, a ruling that allows parts of President Donald Trump’s travel ban to go forward. And then, a ruling on case involving a Missouri church, Trinity Lutheran in Columbia, that sought a state grant to put a soft surface on its preschool playground that was denied funding.

The Illinois Capitol in Springfield
Flickr | jglazer75

Illinois lawmakers are looking at a Democrat-pushed budget plan that would raise income taxes and make steep spending cuts as a way to end the budget impasse.

Already, the state has been without a spending plan for two years, and the next fiscal year begins Saturday.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

A Missouri appeals court helped labor groups Tuesday, giving them a backup plan in their attempt to block the new right-to-work law that’ll take effect Aug. 28.

The court ruled that the state must restore the original ballot language for initiative petitions that seek a constitutional amendment to make sure Missouri can’t have any right-to-work laws. Such laws bar unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues or fees.

Colorful photos hang on the walls at HCI Alternatives in Collinsville. The marijuana dispensary is set up like a typical doctor's office.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A small building nestled off Interstate 70 in Collinsville looks like a typical doctor’s office, until you get inside and look up close at the colorful artwork on the walls. They’re portraits of marijuana plants.

At this dispensary, about 12 miles east of the Missouri border, patients and the medical staff have lively conversations about the various medical marijuana products available, from brownies and blueberry-flavored candies to transdermal patches.

Stephen Webber, June 2017
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Webber joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies for a candid episode of the Politically Speaking podcast.

Webber is a former state representative from Columbia who was elected last year as party chairman. He took on that role after narrowly losing a state Senate race to Republican Caleb Rowden.

Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Missouri
Ryan Famuliner | KBIA

Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision involving a Missouri church ultimately could make it easier for religious institutions to seek out state money for non-religious needs.

The justices ruled 7-2 in favor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, which had sought a state grant to put a soft surface on its preschool playground, but was denied funding. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote it is “odious to our Constitution” to exclude the church from the grant program.

House Speaker Michael Madigan speaks with reporters on Sunday, June 25, 2017, after the first meeting of Illinois' four legislative leaders in six months.
Brian Mackey | NPR Illinois

As Illinois closes in on a second full year without a budget, the top leaders of the General Assembly met Sunday for the first time this year. There are some signs of progress.

A crew removes a bronze sculpture from the Confederate Memorial Monday afternoon. (June 26, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 4:30 p.m. with comment from Louis Gerteis  — The Confederate Memorial will be removed from St. Louis' Forest Park this week, likely by Wednesday.

The Missouri Civil War Museum and the city of St. Louis settled a lawsuit last week over who owns the memorial, though the action wasn’t announced until Monday morning. The museum will cover the cost of removing and storing the statue, as well as finding an appropriate place to display it — but it can’t be in St. Louis or St. Louis County.

Downtown St. Louis,  looking east
File photo | Brent Jones | St. Louis Beacon

After the difficult process this year of piecing together Missouri’s budget, lawmakers believe they’ve found a way to get more money for vital state services: Cutting tax credits.

But a report from state Auditor Nicole Galloway’s office shows that even with big changes to popular incentives, it could be years before the state saves a significant amount of money.

Missouri Department of Transportation St. Charles County camera

Crumbling roads and old bridges have long been something lawmakers say they should work on.

Now, a task force created to study Missouri's transportation system will begin holding public meetings this week.

Volunteers clear brush from a community garden in the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood June 24, 2017.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

At a community garden half a mile north of Powell Hall, Marcia Martin spent Saturday dragging branch trimmings into piles to clear out the greenery that had overrun the garden. Martin and her husband were joined by about a dozen other volunteers working on the lot at the corner of Montgomery and Coleman in the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood.

“When we started on this project you couldn’t see the grass,” said Martin, 60, of St. Louis. “There were four of us down here working, and then all of these other people showed up. It was just amazing.”

Missouri union members at an anti-right to work rally in St. Charles on Oct. 4, 2016.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 11:15 a.m. June 26 with comment from Ashcroft — Missouri’s top labor group says the union effort to go to the ballot box next year to block “right to work’’ remains on course, despite a judge’s ruling Thursday that changes the ballot language.

The state AFL-CIO already has collected “tens of thousands of signatures,’’ said spokeswoman Laura Swinford. But those signatures were on petitions that contained the original summary ballot language that had been approved by Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft.

Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City, 2016
Ethan Weston | Flickr

On Friday’s “Behind the Headlines," we took a look at a top news story from the week.

This week, host Don Marsh was joined by St. Louis Public Radio reporter Jo Mannies to discuss Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens's interactions with the Missouri legislature and the recent special sessions.

U.S. Department of Justice attorney Jude Volek, center, listens to activists in the Ferguson community June 22, 2017 after an update on the progress Ferguson is making on mandated changes to its police and courts.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

For the first time since it was adopted, Ferguson residents and activists got a chance Thursday to give their take on how the city is doing at making federally mandated changes to its municipal court and police department.

Everyone who spoke appreciated the opportunity to weigh in, but the reviews given to U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry were decidedly mixed. 

Gov. Eric Greitens signs the Foster Care Bill of Rights into law. (June 22, 2017)
Marshall Griffin|St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Eric Greitens on Thursday signed into law a bill designed to improve the safety and quality of life of children in Missouri's foster care system.

 

At the heart of the measure is the Foster Care Bill of Rights, which begins by stating the “best interests of the child shall be the first priority of the children’s division” of the Department of Social Services.

Painkiller
Tom Walker | Flickr | http://bit.ly/22McgqC

Last year set a record for the number of drug overdose deaths in the St. Louis region, most of them opioid-related. Gun violence has also long been a problem in St. Louis. Although there’s no evidence to prove the rise in the prevalence of both issues is related, the solution to them is interconnected, advocates say.

St. Louis County officers join Clayton police in Februrary at a protest outside of Sen. Roy Blunt's office in downtown Clayton.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Officers with the St. Louis County Police Department will see, on average, a 30 percent pay raise on Jan. 1, 2018,  thanks to revenue from a new sales tax that voters approved in April.

The news, announced Thursday by St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, puts even more pressure on officials in the city of St. Louis to find money for their own police pay raises.

Sens. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, and Bob Onder, R-Lake Saint Louis, talk with St. Louis Public Radio's Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies at Picasso's coffeehouse in St. Charles. June 21, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Radio’s Politically Speaking podcast team of Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies were on the road again Wednesday, this time to Picasso’s coffeehouse in the historic downtown of St. Charles. The two welcomed state Sens. Bob Onder and Bill Eigel, Republicans who represent much of St. Charles County.

Onder, of Lake St. Louis, and Eigel, of Weldon Spring, focused on a variety issues and fielded a number of tough questions from the audience. Each praised Gov. Eric Greitens for calling a special legislative session, now underway, to deal with the abortion issue. Both are outspoken opponents of abortion.

A statue of former U.S. House Speaker Champ Clark stands before the Pike County Courthouse. Democrats like Clark controlled most of northeast Missouri's offices for decades. Now, the GOP rules the roost.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

BOWLING GREEN, Mo. — For decades, as other parts of rural Missouri turned red, voters in northeast Missouri sent Democrats to Jefferson City and backed Democratic statewide candidates.

That changed starting in 2010, though Republicans and Democrats said the most marked shift was in November 2016, as then-candidate Donald Trump touched a nerve with residents who’d seen jobs leave and economic fortunes sour. 

Today is the first day of summer and that means it’s the start of the busy season for Lise Bernstein. As the president of Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice, Bernstein is working her organization’s campaign to distribute free gun locks all summer.

Since the Lock It For Love program began in the spring of 2015, more than 1,800 gun locks have been handed out across St. Louis and St. Louis County. Organizers try to pass out gun locks in St. Louis zip codes where the risk for youth violence is high. That’s according the St. Louis Regional Youth Violence Prevention Task Force Community Plan,  which was released in 2013.

James T. Hodgkinson appears in a St. Clair County Sheriff's Department booking photo on Dec. 31, 1992.
St. Clair County Sheriff's Department

James Hodgkinson, the Belleville, Illinois, man who shot and wounded a Republican congressman and four others June 14 at a Congressional baseball practice acted alone, investigators said Wednesday.

"The FBI is investigating this shooting as an assault on a member of Congress, and an assault on a federal officer," said Andrew Vale, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington field office. "We also assessed that there is no nexus to terrorism." In this context, terrorism means international groups like ISIS or Al Qaeda.

The final tally of the house vote during special session on June 20, 2017.
Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications

A much larger abortion bill is on its way back to the Missouri Senate, after the House loaded it up with more regulations Tuesday.

It’s the exact opposite approach the upper chamber took last week, which removed several items as a means of keeping Democrats from blocking it via filibuster. The bill passed 110-38 along party lines after four hours of debate.

Michael Brown Sr. stands at the back of the Ferguson Community Center's event space during the public comment portion of a 2016 Ferguson city council meeting.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The city of Ferguson has settled a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of Michael Brown.

Federal district Judge Richard Webber accepted the settlement on Tuesday. The amount that Michael Brown Sr., and Lezley McSpadden will receive from the city, former police chief Tom Jackson, and former police officer Darren Wilson will remain confidential.

Philando Castile's sister, Allysza Castile, speaks outside the Ramsey County Courthouse in St. Paul, Minn. after a not guilty verdict was delivered in the trial of Officer Jeronimo Yanez on June 16, 2017.
Lorie Shaull | Flickr

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis American.

Philando Castile’s family in St. Louis was watching on June 16 as a Minnesota jury acquitted the police officer who fatally shot Castile, a 32-year-old black man, during a traffic stop last year in suburb of St. Paul, Minn.

“Everyone’s heart fell to the ground,” said Stacy Castile, Philando Castile's uncle who lives in St. Louis. “We just lost him all over again.”

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