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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.

St. Louis City Hall
Richie Diesterheft | Flickr

St. Louis aldermen began working Wednesday morning on the $1.04 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The budget has very few major changes from last year. The city bridges the gap left by the departure of the Rams by shifting some special funds into the general fund, and spending less on things like ward capital projects and demolition.

Zika virus, here shown as a digitally-colorized transmission electron micrograph, can be transmitted by mosquitoes or sexually.
Cynthia Goldsmith | Centers for Disease Control

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., says the Senate is likely to vote by next week on money to be used to fight the Zika virus, the disease spread by mosquitoes and blamed for thousands of debilitating birth defects in South and Central America.

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Blunt denied assertions by some Senate Democrats, and the White House, that he and other Senate Republicans have been dragging their feet when it comes to allocating money to battle the insects and the virus.

Blunt acknowledged that Zika, and the mosquitoes that carry it, are likely to arrive in Missouri this summer.

The Missouri Capitol Building at dusk
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

With only three days to go, a few bigger issues have been moving in the Missouri General Assembly, while everyone waits to see whether the Senate will soon come to a screeching halt.

First, the so-called "sequel" to last year's municipal reform bill is one vote away from being sent to Gov. Jay Nixon.

St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners Democratic Director Eric Fey presents before a committee of the whole meeting of the County Council on how April 5's ballot shortages happened.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

Voters may get a do-over in a couple municipal races after the April 5 election saw major ballot shortages at more than 60 polling places throughout St. Louis County.

The St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners voted Tuesday to instruct its lawyers to ask a court whether those ballot issues justify new elections for the mayor of Berkeley and the 2nd Ward alderman in Sunset Hills.

Jake Hummel
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

JEFFERSON CITY - On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are on location in Jefferson City for the final week of this latest Missouri General Assembly’s session.  On Tuesday afternoon, the pair welcomed back House Minority Leader Jake Hummel to the program -- by stopping by his office.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch speaks at a forum about policing post-Ferguson at Saint Louis University School of Law on Feb. 20, 2015.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

Nearly everyone agrees the grand jury that investigated the August 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown was "unusual."

The jurors started hearing the case before police had finished their investigation. Officer Darren Wilson testified. And after jurors declined to indict Wilson, prosecutor Bob McCulloch made the evidence public.

But is "unusual" shorthand for "failed to do his job as prosecutor?" A group of activists contend yes, and want a special prosecutor to investigate the way McCulloch handled the case.

Activists continue to demonstrate against city attorney Stephanie Karr as a police vehicle idles in front of them near Karr's home on Wesley Avenue Monday evening.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

People calling for the ouster of Ferguson city attorney Stephanie Karr chanted and carried signs in a protest that wound its way from the police department to Karr’s house Monday evening.

It was the very first day on the job for new police chief Delrish Moss. But it wasn't the first time Karr has been the subject of controversy.

Ferguson Police Chief Delrish Moss greets residents, supporters and protesters at the city police department hours after being sworn in as chief.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When Delrish Moss saw the turmoil and chaos unfold in Ferguson, it hit close to home.

Before he was sworn in on Monday as Ferguson’s top law enforcement officer, Moss spent several decades in the Miami Police Department. He said the unrest that followed Michael Brown’s death was reminiscent of what he’s witnessed firsthand in Miami.

StanJourdan | Flickr

For now, it’s all over but the counting. The Missouri Secretary of State’s office will be busy the next few weeks determining whether five initiative-petition proposals collected enough valid signatures to get on the state’s August or November ballot.

Missouri Capitol building
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Barring another sex scandal, the Missouri General Assembly could be facing a low-key final week.

The thinner-than-usual final schedule reflects, in part, legislators' success this year — and last — in passing the state's bloc of budget bills early. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon was required to approve or veto by last Friday the state's planned spending for the fiscal year that begins July 1. He only used his line-item veto on two items on Friday; lawmakers overrode last week his earlier veto of their new school-funding formula.

Marshall Griffin|St. Louis Public Radio

The rest of Missouri's budget for the next fiscal year has been signed into law.

Last week, Gov. Jay Nixon signed the budget bill for the Department of Higher Education into law, and on Thursday he signed into law the budget bill for the departments of Mental Health and Health and Senior Services. On Friday, he sign the remaining budget bills into law.

Aldermen Joe Vaccaro (rear standing) and Shane Cohn (front standing) debate the minimum wage increase on July 20, 2015.
Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio intern | File photo

The introduction of honored guests is a weekly ritual at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

Residents of the city's 28 wards are welcomed to the chambers, and allowed to sit on the floor rather than up in the gallery. But more often than not, most of the honored guests would be considered lobbyists.

A group of younger aldermen wants to make the weekly welcomes take a lot less time by banning lobbyists from the floor of the Board while they are in session — "if for any reason at all, optics," said Alderman Megan-Elliya Green, D-15th Ward.

La'Shieka White talks about the lawsuit involving her son, Edmund Lee, on May 4, 2016. Attorney Joshua Thompson is at left.
Dale Singer | 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 end of the Missouri legislative session, race-based transfers, and what’s going on with Missouri Democrats and Republicans as conventions near and Donald Trump is the de facto GOP nominee.

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