Politics & Issues | St. Louis Public Radio

Politics & Issues

Political news

House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, center, stands with the rest of the House Democratic caucus during the first day of the 2018 legislative session.
Tim Bommel I House Communications

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty to the program.

The Kansas City Democrat has been the leader of Missouri House Democrats since 2017. She’s often the public face for a 46-member caucus that regularly faces an uphill battle to outflank the Republican supermajority on key issues.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill answers questions during a town hall at Harris-Stowe State University. Jan. 27, 2018
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

After holding dozens of town halls in rural and suburban parts of the state, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s first one in St. Louis was a largely cordial affair — with the Democratic senator answering numerous questions on the recent government shutdown.

But she saved her harshest criticism for the GOP governor and legislators that control Missouri’s government.

File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers continue to work on several bills, including one that could result in the first filibuster of the 2018 legislative session.

A bill sponsored by State Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, would ban participation in the federal program formerly known as food stamps, now called SNAP, for heads of households able to work but who choose not to. Food benefits would also be cut off to dependents living with that individual, including children.

Jerry Dunn (left) and Linda McQuary (right) talked about how to spot, treat and prevent sexual abuse.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Last year, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Greater St. Louis at the University of Missouri - St. Louis, interviewed about 700 child victims of sexual abuse. They found that about 90 percent of the perpetrators were someone the child liked, loved or lived with.

With elections looming, tensions continue between the St. Louis County Council and County Executive Stenger
File photo I Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

To some of his critics, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger’s strained relations with many members of the County Council is payback.

During his last years as the 6th District councilman, it wasn’t unusual for Stenger to publicly joust with then-Executive Charlie Dooley at council meetings. Stenger won their 2014 confrontation at the polls.

But now, others see a broader conflict over power and who wields it.  Stenger and the council continue to battle over a variety of issues as this year’s November elections loom. Their feud has gone on for over a year.

A police officer speaks to a woman after an October 2016, shooting.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

After 205 people died from gun violence in St. Louis last year, the city's research universities and hospitals decided to take steps to reduce such deaths. Police data show there have been 10 homicides in St. Louis this year so far. 

The St. Louis Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program, to begin this summer, will employ medical treatment and therapy to reduce deaths and new injuries among gunshot, stabbing and assault victims.

Washington University, Saint Louis University and the University of Missouri-St. Louis will collaborate on the effort. The medical centers involved include, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital and SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s voter-approved contribution limits curbed the amount of money that some candidates could take from a political donor. What it didn’t do is stop a candidate from encouraging big contributors to send money to political action committees that could help their electoral pursuits.

Facebook launched News Feed 11 years ago so users could see friends’ posts without having to visit their profiles. Today, News Feed is the unofficial homepage of the internet with billions of viewers each month.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed how users will experience new changes on Facebook and how media organizations such as St. Louis Public Radio and NPR are dealing with the changes.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri House and Senate leaders are balking at Gov. Eric Greitens’ plan to establish a line of credit to ensure that all state income tax refunds are paid on time.

The $250 million credit line is part of the governor’s proposed state budget for Fiscal Year 2019, which begins July 1. But President Pro-tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, gave a flat-out “no” to that idea while talking with the media Thursday.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson addresses the media on July 14, 2017.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Concerns over whether city resources are equally distributed to people of color and poor residents has prompted a shift to assess St. Louis policies.

Mayor Lyda Krewson has hired Cristina Garmendia to manage the Equity Indicators project to develop a tool that measures equity.

“This project provides an opportunity to develop a common set of goals and measurements to guide institutional decision-making, and empower residents to hold us accountable to the priorities identified by the community in the Forward Through Ferguson report,” Garmendia said in a statement.

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

Legislation opposed by unions is being pushed again by Republican lawmakers in Missouri, and the latest efforts are targeting the state’s prevailing wage.

Four bills that would either scale it back or eliminate it are being considered by a state senate committee. The law requires non-union workers to be paid the same amount of money as union members on public works projects, which include roads, bridges, schools and other public buildings.

(L-R) Peter Joy, William Freivogel and Mark Smith discuss recent issues pertaining to the law.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, our monthly Legal Roundtable panelists discuss recent issues pertaining to the law, including the FBI’s investigation into Gov. Eric Greitens’ sex scandal and blackmail allegations, the lawsuit that seeks to stop the Missouri governor from using a secretive phone app and the death of civil rights lawyer Frankie Freeman.

Joining the discussion was:

Speaker of the House Todd Richardson (L) and Lt. Gov. Mike Parson (R) listen as Chief Justice Zel Fischer delivers his State of the Judiciary address on January 24, 2018.
Tim Bommel | House Communications

Missouri Chief Justice Zel Fischer wants the state’s lawmakers to help him expand the reach of the state’s drug court program.

“Right now, there are 15 counties with no access to any type of treatment court,” Fischer told legislators Wednesday morning in his State of the Judiciary speech. “Individuals addicted to opioids and other substances in these areas are restrained by county lines they cannot see.”

Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City
File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Senate is again considering capping the state’s two biggest tax credit programs, despite their popularity with local leaders in urban and suburban areas.

Two separate bills, SB 590 and SB 591, would place limits of $50 million a year on incentives for both historic preservation and low income housing, which are both currently capped at $140 million. State Senator Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, sponsors both. He touted them Tuesday before the Senate committee on ethics.

Alex Garcia jokes with his 3-year-old daughter, AriannaLee, while sitting with kids before the start of a church service.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Alex Garcia has lived in Poplar Bluff, Missouri for 15 years. In the past, he received permission to remain in the U.S. even though he entered the country without authorization. But in September, Immigration and Customs Enforcement ordered him to report to its St. Louis sub-field office for deportation.

Missouri Supreme Court building
David Shane | Flickr

Can a woman who disagrees that life begins at conception exempt herself from Missouri’s informed consent laws around abortion?

The state Supreme Court is considering that question following oral arguments on Tuesday. But first, they have to consider whether the woman, identified as Mary Doe in court documents, has made a strong enough legal argument to avoid having the case thrown out.

This is a recent photo of the building that once housed Club Imperial.
Robert Vroman

Updated Jan. 23 — A building that was the site of an historic St. Louis music venue will remain standing, at least for the time being.

The St. Louis Preservation Board Monday night unanimously backed a decision to deny a demolition permit for the former Club Imperial.

Building owner Robert Vroman, who bought the building last August in an auction, said he hopes public attention will entice a new buyer with plans to restore the space. The deadline for paying additional taxes is summer 2019, Vroman said. He said that if no one steps forward with a renovation offer by then, he’ll let the property return to the city for another tax auction.

Alex Garcia poses for a portrait at Christ Church United Church of Christ, where he’s taking sanctuary.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When the letter from immigration officials came in the mail in September, Carly Garcia knew her life was about to change.

Panicked, she opened the envelope then called her husband, Alex, and told him to rush home.

In the past, immigration agents had given Alex Garcia temporary permission to live in the United States with Carly and their five children. But now, the letter said, he had two weeks to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office for deportation.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks to reporters after the 2017 adjourned. Greitens didn't have the smoothest relationship with legislators — including Republicans that control both chambers of the Missouri General Assembly.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens unveiled his proposed state budget in his first public appearance in nearly two weeks.

But much of the attention remained on his past extramarital affair. Nearly half the questions asked at Greitens’ budget rollout focused on allegations that he threatened to blackmail his former hairdresser.

Jean Maneke, counsel to the Missouri Press Association, and Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley on Monday discuss changes to the Sunshine Law. 1/22/18
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio


Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley wants the state legislature to adopt a few changes he’s proposing this year to Missouri’s Sunshine Law.

First, he wants to set up a transparency division within his office that would have the authority to enforce the Sunshine Law against state agencies.