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Politics & Issues

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Lois Wood, former executive director at Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation in East St. Louis
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

For 43 years, Lois Wood helped low income and elderly residents in Illinois receive legal assistance.

The executive director of the nonprofit Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation in East St. Louis retired a few weeks ago.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve had time off in any reasonable amount,” Wood said as she reflected on her long career with St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger (second from left) argues with Councilman Sam Page during a meeting of the St. Louis County Council on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017. Page sponsored a bill halting construction at the site of an ice center.
File photo I Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

All construction work would halt on the St. Louis Blues’ new practice facility under a bill introduced Tuesday by the chairman of the St. Louis County Council.

Area residents have become increasingly vocal over the possible environmental impacts of the four-rink St. Louis Ice Center facility slated to go up at Creve Coeur Lake Park in Maryland Heights. The debate further illustrates the divide among councilmembers and County Executive Steve Stenger.

Patrick Henry Elementary School in St. Louis.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:30 p.m. with ACLU comment — Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft filed a motion Tuesday to dismiss a lawsuit against the state’s new voter ID law.

Logan Jackson | Curators of the University of Missouri

Large agricultural corporations influence all stripes of Missouri politicians, including the Republicans who control the Missouri General Assembly.

A new nonprofit organization is seeking to change that, pushing back against Big Ag’s money and lobbyists. But it’s a tall order, especially when multibillion-dollar companies like Monsanto and Smithfield donate hefty sums to rural Democrats’ and Republicans’ campaigns.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:45 p.m. Aug. 29 with comment from Belleville superintendent — Illinois’ school funding overhaul fight is all but over thanks to Tuesday’s 38-13 Senate vote.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has said he’ll quickly sign the plan, which will increase aid to more than 800 public school districts. Already, schools haven't received two payments from the state due to the delay in instituting the new funding mechanism.

The Illinois state seal
The Illinois state seal / Jeremy Wilburn | Flickr

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has been busy in the last few days, having signed into law bills that restrict cooperation with federal immigration authorities, automatically register eligible voters when they get a license, make it easier for transgender people to change the gender on their birth certificates and re-establish the Illinois Muslim American Advisory Council.

But the Republican also has used his veto powers on college loan protection, limits on what employers can ask job candidates and a workers’ compensation plan. Here's a rundown of the action:

The Missouri Capitol building.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ $10-an-hour minimum wage is a thing of the past. So is a Missouri resident’s ability to sue when he or she thinks age or race was part of the reason for being fired.

That’s because several new laws have taken effect as of Monday.

Michelle Daytona, a transgender U. S. Army veteran, held a transgender flag as hundreds of protesters chanted behind her on July 30. The rally was in response to President Donald Trump’s tweets announcing a ban on transgender troops.
Brit Hanson | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 8:40 a.m. August 26 with information on the president's official memo:

Nearly one month after indicating a change in military protocol with three tweets, President Donald Trump signed an official memo implementing a new policy on "military service for transgender individuals." The memo indicates a reversal of an Obama-era policy implemented in 2016, which allowed active-duty service members who are transgender to serve openly and transition while enlisted. 

After protesting the presence of Westboro Baptist Church members outside Busch Stadium on Cardinals Pride Night, demonstrators lie in the street in honor of Kiwi Herring, a black trans woman who was killed by St. Louis police this week. Aug. 25, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Cardinals held their first Pride Night at Busch Stadium on Friday.

The Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church had promised a protest and delivered a small one. Six church members stood across from the stadium at Clark St. and Broadway Ave. before the game holding up signs.

But the anti-LGBTQ protest was hard to notice behind the sea of counterprotesters standing in front of them.

File photo | WUIS Radio

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a plan Friday to increase the state's minimum wage to $15 over five years. 

Nate Birt | Provided

A team of researchers and service providers in St. Louis County says they've made “substantial progress” toward cutting the number of days people spend in the county jail, but they acknowledge they fell short of their goal.

An illustration of Missouri death-row inmate Marcellus Williams.
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, we went Behind the Headlines to delve into the news that Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens granted a stay of execution for Marcellus Williams.

Eric and Sheena Greitens hold their sons, Joshua and Jacob, while speaking to reporters after casting their ballots the St. Louis Public Library in the Central West End on Tuesday.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5 p.m. Friday with more data from state agencies: At least 580 Missouri state government employees have taken advantage of paid family leave since Gov. Eric Greitens’ executive order in March.

While some state lawmakers are glad the benefit is available, they worry about what it’s costing the state.

School Illustration
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois' legislative leaders have reached a tentative agreement in the state's school funding fight, they said Thursday afternoon, but added that the details are still being worked out. 

The state has missed two payments to public schools since Gov. Bruce Rauner used an amendatory veto on the original school funding plan, which was meant to be more equitable. 

Big Spring State Park
Missouri Division of Tourism | Flickr

Missouri’s recent state park windfall, which came at the end of former Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s tenure, is in jeopardy.

Four of the parks, scattered across the Ozarks, were shuttered or never opened. Republican legislators said there just isn’t the money to maintain the parks and some have suggested selling the land to private developers.

But all of those parks are near active mining operations, raising fears among environmentalists that now-protected land will become a for-profit enterprise.

A crane lifts the top off the Confederate Memorial in Forest Park on Thursday, June 8, 2017. A spokesman for Mayor Lyda Krewson says it will take a while to remove the entire piece.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

A teacher at New City School in St. Louis is using the controversy over Confederate monuments, including the recently-removed Confederate Memorial in Forest Park, to teach fifth graders about diversity, inclusion and conflict resolution.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, we heard from that teacher, Stephanie Teachout Allen, who also serves as director of diversity and inclusion at the school, and David Cunningham, a professor of sociology at Washington University, about how they have hosted these conversations with children and others in their lives.

Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann back to the program.

The Republican has served as St. Charles County’s top office holder since 2007, and is one of the region’s longest-serving officials. Previously, he was a circuit judge, state senator, private-practice attorney and public school teacher.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill makes a point during a town hall meeting on August 23, 2017, in Bowling Green.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

BOWLING GREEN -- U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s August recess town hall tour stopped in northeast Missouri on Wednesday, a historically Democratic stronghold that went heavily for Republican President Donald Trump last November.

It’s part of a rural tour of sorts that McCaskill said is vital for Democrats like her to undertake — especially as she gears up for a potentially tough re-election battle next year.

Crevonda Nance, Herring's sister-in-law, is supported by community activists – including Gina Torres, to the left of her, whose son was killed by police in June. Nance drove to St. Louis from Mississippi after finding out Herring was killed by police.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:24 p.m. — Members of the LGBTQ community, activists and advocates are outraged that police shot and killed a transgender black woman this week.

Frustrated by the shooting — and that police identified Kenneth “Kiwi” Herring as a man — about 40 people gathered outside the building in which Herring was shot Tuesday for a vigil and to express dissatisfaction with a police force they said was disrespectful and too quick to shoot.

Our monthly legal roundtable returns to discuss pressing issues of the law with Bill Freivogel, Rachel Sachs and Mark Smith.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, our monthly Legal Roundtable convened to discuss pressing issues of the law.

An illustration of Missouri death-row inmate Marcellus Williams.
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:15 p.m. with McCulloch statement — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens cited new DNA evidence in postponing Tuesday’s scheduled execution of Marcellus Williams.

Greitens also will appoint a five-member board of inquiry that will include retired Missouri judges. That hasn’t happened since 1997, according to Greitens spokesman Parker Briden.

U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, right, and candidate Bill Haas, center, speak as state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal answers a question.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s Senate leadership made the rare move of stripping Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal of her committee assignments on Tuesday.

It’s because of a Facebook comment she posted and later deleted last week that hoped for President Donald Trump’s assassination. She has resisted numerous calls from Republicans and Democrats, including Gov. Eric Greitens and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, to step down.

DiAnne Mueller, the Chief Executive Officer of the Saint Louis Crisis Nursery.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we discussed the prevention of child abuse in the St. Louis region with DiAnne Mueller, the Chief Executive Officer of the Saint Louis Crisis Nursery

The organization provides emergecy intervention, respite care and family support. The five nurseries and nine outreach centers under the Saint Louis Crisis Nursery umbrella serve more than 6,800 children every year. Over the past 31 years, they’ve served over 110,000 children.

Union members gathered at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Hall on Aug. 8, 2017, to notarize and turn in petitions to force a statewide vote over Missouri’s right-to-work law.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri labor unions were successful in getting enough signatures to all but guarantee the state’s new right-to-work law won’t go into effect a week from now as Gov. Eric Greitens had planned.

But the real battle is just getting started. Come November 2018, voters around the state will determine whether to kill or keep the law, which bars unions and employers from requiring all workers in a bargaining unit to pay dues. Ten percent of Missouri workers are in a union.

Marcellus Williams' execution was postponed in August.
Missouri Department of Corrections

Updated at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 21 with governor's office declining comment — A nonprofit that seeks to overturn wrongful convictions has asked Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens to put Tuesday’s scheduled execution on hold.

The Midwest Innocence Project said new DNA evidence presented last week shows Marcellus Williams didn’t kill former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Felicia Gayle in 1998.

Organizers of the Black Pride Festival set up a tent on Sunday in St. Louis' Grove neighborhood.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

President Donald Trump’s words and actions were at the forefront of people’s minds on Sunday at St. Louis’ Black Pride Rally.

One of the longest-running black LGBTQ community events in the nation, this year’s gathering coincides with a summer in which the president announced on Twitter that transgender people were banned from serving in the military and, more recently, assigned some blame to counterprotesters for violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Donald Trump leaves the stage after a March 2016 speech at the Peabody Opera House.
File photo I Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Missouri residents backed President Donald Trump by overwhelming numbers in last year’s election.

But some of his backers told St. Louis Public Radio that they aren’t completely happy with how he’s reacted to last weekend’s events in Charlottesville, Virginia, where one person was killed and more than a dozen people were injured when a car rammed through a crowd of anti-white supremacist protesters, and two state troopers died when their helicopter crashed.

More than 1,000 union members gathered Friday, Aug. 18, 2017, in the Missouri Capitol.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:25 p.m. with law suspended — With the submission of more than 300,000 signatures Friday, Missouri’s right-to-work law won't go into effect Aug. 28 and its fate likely will be put to voters in 2018.

The law is suspended, Secretary of State spokeswoman Maura Browning told St. Louis Public Radio. The office still needs to verify that at least 100,000 of the signatures are from registered voters — the minimum to force a statewide vote in November 2018.

She said the count will take weeks and that if there isn't enough, the law will be put in place.

Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal walks out of the Senate chamber as the Senate adjourns for the session earlier this year in Jefferson City.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 2:20 p.m. Aug. 18 with lieutenant governor calling for expulsion — Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Parson said Friday the state Senate should expel Maria Chappelle-Nadal due to her Facebook comment in which she hoped President Donald Trump would be assassinated.

An illustration of Missouri death-row inmate Marcellus Williams.
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri will use two of its 34 vials of the sedative pentobarbital on Tuesday when it executes Marcellus Williams, who was convicted in the 1998 killing of Felicia Gayle, a former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter.

The state has enough pentobarbital for 17 executions, Williams’ included, according to a document obtained by St. Louis Public Radio. No one except the state of Missouri knows where the stockpile comes from, despite lawsuits from inmates and media outlets.

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