Politics & Issues

Political news

Jason Rosenbaum|St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis businessman John Brunner is celebrating New Year’s Eve by donating more than $3.6 million to his own Republican campaign for governor.

Brunner’s contribution, split among two checks this week, represents the largest Missouri donation so far, self-funded or not, to a single 2016 candidate. But he has spent more of his own money before.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

As Interstates 55 and 44 remain closed, area residents need alternate routes. Missouri drivers should check www.modot.org, and Illinois drivers should go to www.idot.illinois.gov/home/Comm/emergency-road-closures.

Volunteer opportunities are being coordinated through STLVolunteer.org

Check the Army Corps of Engineers website for river levels.

Gov. Jay Nixon
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

As he heads into his final year in office and his last legislative session, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon prefers to focus on the positive.

That means highlighting the state’s balanced budgets and drop in unemployment, and downplaying his political battles with the Republican-controlled General Assembly or the criticisms lobbed his way during the unrest ignited by the Ferguson police shooting in August 2014.

ID checks might be more difficult for residents of Missouri, Illinois and two other states.
Department of Homeland Security

Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder may have put U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., in a difficult position with his harsh comments about a law Blunt originally co-sponsored when he served in the U.S. House.

The law establishes federal standards for issuing driver’s licenses. Residents of a few states, including Missouri and Illinois, whose licenses don’t comply could be denied access to federal facilities or commercial airplanes. Passports will work if federal agencies say those licenses are no longer acceptable government issued identification.

The historic Opera House of Pacific sits among dozens of other homes and business on the south side of the city flooded by the Meramec River. Longtime residents say this is the worst flooding they’ve ever seen.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 9:57 a.m.  - More than a dozen people have died as a result of historic flooding throughout Missouri. And the state isn’t out of the woods just yet.

In a briefing with local officials in Franklin County, Gov. Jay Nixon said that 14 people have died as a result of flooding. Most of the deaths occurred after people tried to drive through floodwater.

“If we could say anything over and over and over – it’s don’t drive into water,” Nixon said.

Brenda Talent
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On this week’s edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome the Show-Me Institute’s Brenda Talent to the program for the first time.

Talent is the CEO of the Show-Me Institute, which for roughly 10 years has served as the state’s premier “free market” think tank. A co-founder of the Show-Me Institute is retired financier Rex Sinquefield, one of Missouri’s largest political donors over the past decade.

The University of Missouri-Columbia is under the national microscope after a series of racially-charged incidents on campus.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio file photo

From Ferguson to Syria: Though separated by more than 6,000 miles, these places were the setting for events that many St. Louisans recalled as they reflected on the news of 2015.

Ferguson, a mid-size city in north St. Louis County, was the first thought of many people who responded to a call for suggestions put out by St. Louis Public Radio’s Public Insight Network. A year and a half since the shooting death of a young man named Michael Brown by a police officer named Darren Wilson, many area residents consider that case, and its aftermath, the top news story of the year.

Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District Grand Glaize facility
Screenshot | Google Maps

Updated on Wednesday, Dec. 30 at 1:30 p.m. with information on more evacuations and road closures.

Gov. Jay Nixon activated the Missouri National Guard on Tuesday to help rain-weary communities deal with near-record flooding.

Nixon said in a statement that the guard would provide security in evacuated areas and direct traffic around closed roads. Forty roads remain closed due to flooding in the Missouri part of the St. Louis region, out of 225 statewide.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
Senator Blunt | Flickr

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., says boosting investments in health care research now will be good for Missouri.

The $1.1 trillion federal spending plan approved earlier this month includes about a 7 percent increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health. Blunt chairs the Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversees NIH. He says the increase will raise NIH funding to $32 billion for next year.

Protesters outside St. Louis County headquarters on Feb. 2, 2015 call for reforms of the municipal court system.
File photo by Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Following the police shooting death of Michael Brown in August 2014, there was a flurry of activity surrounding police and municipal court reform, as a well as public safety. Those efforts spilled over into 2015, which saw some changes come to St. Louis and St. Louis County.

On Tuesday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” we discussed the year’s biggest public safety, courts and police news with St. Louis Public Radio reporter Rachel Lippmann, who has been covering these issues for several years.

The only law enforcement agency licensed by the FAA in Missouri or Illinois to operate drones uses two UASs units.
Provided by Illinois State Police

The Illinois State Police drones have flown nearly 50 missions since May, and the department says they are fulfilling the goal of making police work more efficient.

The state police was the first law enforcement agency in Illinois to get permission to use unmanned aerial surveillance vehicles. They’ve mostly been deployed at accident scenes, for a total of 48 hours of flight time.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Not all of the news that you see and hear featured on St. Louis Public Radio comes from the St. Louis region itself—some of it comes from our reporters located in Jefferson City and Washington D.C. That would be Marshall Griffin and Jim Howard, respectively.

On Monday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” the two discussed the year’s biggest news from our nation’s capital and the capital of Missouri. 

Here’s some of what they discussed:

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Typically when December ends, journalists tend to become reflective about the highlights and lowlights of the past year. This reporter is no exception, as the scandal, tragedy, transition, conflict and hilarity of the past 12 months gave everybody who covers Missouri politics a lot to think about.

So yes, this is an article rounding up all of the big moments from the past year. But renowned financier Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson inspired me to take this retrospective in a different direction.

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost of Illinois' 12th congressional district talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Feb. 19, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

Shortly after arriving on Capitol Hill last year, Illinois Congressman Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, told a story about how he and his new colleagues were told that for the first few weeks they might be asking themselves the question, "How did I get here?” At the time, he also said, they were told that after a few weeks the question they’d be asking themselves would likely change slightly, to “How did they get here?”

Mike Brownlee, 32, of Kirkwood, (right) fills out a survey about the municipal court system outside Sunset Hills City Hall. Researchers from Saint Louis University are studying courts in St. Louis County in hopes of addressing inequalities.
Kameel Stanley / St. Louis Public Radio

In the past year, politicians, government officials and community advocates have been in a tug-of-war over the future of municipal court operations here.

Many say consolidation is the answer. Others worry about unintended consequences to smaller municipalities whose budgets rely heavily on revenue from court fines.

Here’s something that’s not talked about as much:

What do the people who actually get caught up in these systems think?

 

Runners pass the Confederate Monument in Forest Park.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Mayor Francis Slay wants a memorial to Confederate war dead out of Forest Park — a move that means the 101-year-old granite statue will likely head to storage.

Nick Varvel / Flickr

The Missouri Department of Conservation would have to pay up if two new legislative proposals become law.

One pre-filed bill would require the department to pay for any property damage caused by "wild otters, elk, or bear."

Rep. Lacy Clay, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver
Provided by the office of Rep. Clay

Rep. Lacy Clay, D- University City, says he hopes 2016 will see more progress in Congress on legislation that grew out of the shooting death of Michael Brown. 

 

2015 began with the events of Ferguson fresh in the minds of lawmakers on Capitol Hill.  Many, including Clay, introduced bills to address everything from police access to - and use of - surplus military-type equipment, calls for more body cameras and increased training for law enforcement officers.

 

Lt. Governor Peter Kinder
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who’s among a crowd of Republicans running for governor next year, joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum for the latest Politically Speaking podcast.

It's Kinder's second appearance on the show.

A native of Cape Girardeau, Kinder has been a major player in state politics for more than two decades, beginning with his 1992 election to a state Senate seat. He briefly considered a bid for state auditor in 1998.

(via Flickr/kcds)

Legislation being proposed in Missouri would establish a sales tax holiday for new gun purchases.

The pre-filed bill is sponsored by Rep. Jered Taylor, R-Nixa.  He has not yet responded to requests by St. Louis Public Radio for an interview, but he issued a brief written statement on Monday.

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