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Politics & Issues

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A sign shows support of transgender students at the St. Louis LGBT rally. ( Feb. 25, 2017)
File photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

It appears Missouri’s Republican legislative leaders may be hesitating over whether to allow the so-called “bathroom bill” to move forward in its current form, though the measure’s sponsor says that isn’t the case. 

Senate Bill 98 would require transgender students at K-12 public schools to use restrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities that correspond to their gender at birth. Schools could designate alternate facilities for transgender students, but if those students choose to use other facilities, it would have to be for their gender at birth.

Bruce Arena, head coach of the U.S. Men’s National soccer team, has a beer with the owners of the Amsterdam Tavern after speaking with reporters and fans.  (Feb. 28, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Bruce Arena, the head coach of the U.S. Men’s National soccer team, is bullish about how devoted St. Louis-area residents are to his sport.

 

Arena spent part of Tuesday morning fielding fan questions at the Amsterdam Tavern in St. Louis. He was in town to appear at an event with a team sponsor, as well as visit St. Louis-based Enterprise, which he described as a “potential sponsor” for Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer.

 

 

Nimrod Chapel, the president of the Missouri Chapter for the NAACP (far right), hosted a news conference on Tuesday about workplace discrimination bills on Feb. 28, 2017. Also shown (from left to right): Michael Louis, Jeff Stack and Jeanette Mott Oxford.
Krissy Lane | St. Louis Public Radio

Two weeks after Missouri NAACP President Nimrod Chapel was silenced by a House Republican committee chairman on bills he believes are discriminatory, he stood at the Missouri Capitol to decry the “hyped-up Jim Crow” measures that are “fundamentally flawed.”

A day after after he wasn’t allowed to speak at the Feb. 13 hearing, Chapel said House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, told him the chamber was not at its best and assured Chapel he'd be given the opportunity to share his complete testimony. But no hearing has been scheduled yet.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay signs an increase in the St. Louis minimum wage into law on Aug. 28, 2015.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:50 p.m. Feb. 28 — St. Louis' minimum wage can go up to $11 by 2018, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

Its unanimous opinion ruled that a 2015 ordinance does not conflict with the state’s minimum wage of $7.65 an hour.

Six candidates for St. Louis mayor participate in a forum on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Last Wednesday, on Feb. 22, St. Louis Public Radio, in collaboration with 13 other community and media organizations, hosted a mayoral forum with six candidates who qualified ahead of the March primary. Joining the forum were: Antonio French (D), Lewis Reed (D) Lyda Krewson (D), Jeffrey Boyd (D), Tishaura Jones (D) and Andrew Jones (R).

St. Louis St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed won a landslide victory in the Democratic primary. His lack of real competition may have affected voter turnout throughout the city.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Alderman Lyda Krewson has raised more than $500,000 in just the last month, far more than her Democratic rivals to be the city’s next mayor. But Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed is heading into the final week of campaigning with the most money in the bank.

That’s the two biggest takeaways from the final campaign-finance reports, which were due Monday, for the March 7 primary. 

Handout photo from Washington University

Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is optimistic that the United States can be the 21st century's leader — unless “Washington messes things up." 

Speaking at Washington University on Monday, Romney said the key is for the U.S. to be “not just strong and powerful, but a nation that is good. Because I’m convinced that goodness is essential to greatness.”

Janie Oliphant, left, fixes a LGBT rights flag held by Cody Copp and Samuel Taylor so they can have their picture taken at a rally and march in St. Louis on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017.
File Photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Two of the three people arrested at Saturday's LGBT march in St. Louis were transgender women. And allegations made by one of them have raised questions about how transgender prisoners are treated in St. Louis.

St. Louis Public Radio could not independently confirm claims made by activists on social media that corrections officers threatened to put a transgender woman in a cell with men and deliberately used the wrong pronoun to identify her.

The transgender woman was never in a cell with men, said Maggie Crane, a spokeswoman with Mayor Francis Slay's office. The city houses prisoners based both on sexual identity and where they feel safest, not on biological sex, Crain said.

A crowd waits to enter Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery for a volunteer clean-up event in February 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In the wake of vandalism at a historic Jewish cemetery last week, the St. Louis region showed an outpouring of solidarity that reflects its long-standing interfaith relationships.

But some faith leaders also said they have renewed urgency to build on these existing bridges and further spread their message of tolerance to a region of diverse religions and backgrounds.

Andrew Jones, February 2017
Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Rachel Lippmann welcome St. Louis Republican mayoral candidate Andrew Jones to the show for the first time.

Jones is a utility executive and one of three GOP candidates vying to succeed St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. Andrew Karandzieff appeared on the podcast last week, while efforts to reach Jim Osher to appear on the show were not successful.

Missouri's chief public defender, Michael Barrett (right), appears before the House Budget Committee on Monday, Feb. 27, 2071.
File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

The head of Missouri's Office of the State Public Defender has been seeking more money for years, to no avail. Now, he says it's crucial: Outposts around the state may have to close, including the division that handles death penalty cases.

For the coming fiscal year, Michael Barrett asked for $67 million — a $27 million increase over the current state allocation of $41 million. But Gov. Eric Greitens’ proposed budget only allots $40 million for next year, a million less.

Six candidates for St. Louis mayor participate in a forum on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Last Wednesday, on Feb. 22, St. Louis Public Radio, in collaboration with 13 other community and media organizations, hosted a mayoral forum with six candidates who qualified ahead of the March primary. Joining the forum were: Antonio French (D),  Lyda Krewson (D), Jeffrey Boyd (D), Tishaura Jones (D), Andrew Jones (R), and Lewis Reed (D).

Tishaura Jones 2017
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum, Jo Mannies and Rachel Lippmann welcome back St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones to the show.

Jones is one of seven Democratic candidates running to succeed St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. All seven contenders in the March 7 primary have now taped an episode of the podcast.

Jones, the daughter of former St. Louis Comptroller Virvus Jones, made her first bid for public office in 2008, when she successfully ran for a state House seat  slice of eastern St. Louis.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s been a violent couple of years in the city of St. Louis, one measure being the 188 homicides in 2015 and 2016.

A decrease in property crime drove the overall crime number down between 2015 and 2016, but violent crime was up more than four percent in 2016 compared to 2015.

All of the Democratic candidates for mayor know addressing crime will be a top priority if they’re elected. Most of them have very similar plans. Not all of them have faith in current Police Chief Sam Dotson to implement those plans.

LGBT rights activists at a St. Louis march on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated, 2:15 p.m. Feb. 27 — Three people were arrested toward the end of  Saturday’s LGBTQ rally in downtown St. Louis, according to the city police department and event organizer Keith Rose.

Two of them, 21-year-old Edward Pingleton and 19-year-old Aideen O'Brien, face misdemeanor charges. O'Brien is accused of jumping on the back of an officer who was trying to arrest another protester, and Pingleton allegedly attempted to punch an officer. Neither had attorneys listed in court records. They're next due in court April 5th.

A third person was arrested, issued city summonses for "Interfering with a Police Officer" and "Resisting Arrest" and released.

Video allegedly showing the arrests were posted on a couple of social media sites. They show the crowd walking toward and chanting at officers on bicycles. At least one person ends up on the ground and is restrained by officers as people in the crowd pull on her. The crowd soon begins chanting “Who do you serve, who do you protect.” The video that had been on Facebook was no longer posted Sunday morning.

Gov. Eric Greitens speaks at Lincoln Days in Springfield, Missouri, on Feb. 25, 2017.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Missouri’s top Republican leaders, who now control most of state government, said this weekend that it’s time to move past applauding the November victories. Rather, they exhorted supporters at their annual Lincoln Days festivities, it’s time for action.

 

“We won the election. Now, we have to win the agenda,’’ state Republican Party chairman Todd Graves told St. Louis Public Radio on Saturday. “It doesn’t do any good to be elected if we don’t implement the agenda.”

Gov. Eric Greitens signs a bill. (20170
Courtesy of Office of Gov. Eric Greitens

Updated March 31, 2017 – Stiffer penalties are now in place for anyone who misuses dicamba and other herbicides in Missouri.

Governor Eric Greitens signed House Bill 662 into law Thursday, but also held an official signing ceremony Friday at the University of Missouri’s Fisher Delta Center in Portageville, which conducts agricultural research in the Bootheel region.

A crowd waits to enter Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery for a volunteer clean-up event in February 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s "Behind the Headlines" on St. Louis on the Air, we took an in-depth look at one of the top news stories of the week. This week, we continued the conversation about the vandalism at one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the region, the Chesed Shel Emeth cemetery.

Joining the program were three people, all of whom have loved ones buried in that cemetery. They shared their personal reflections on the week's events.

Mayor Francis Slay signs legislation that will ask voters to approve a sales tax increase to fund a Major League Soccer stadium and a north-south MetroLink line. (Feb. 3, 2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

If there’s one issue that’s provoked more fiery passions among St. Louis politicians, it’s using their constituents’ dollars to fund sports stadiums.

From the unsuccessful venture to keep Rams football in St. Louis to a pending proposal to nab a Major League Soccer team, there’s little question that opponents and proponents of the funding method have strong opinions — including the Democratic candidates seeking to become St. Louis’ next mayor.

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

There will be at least five new faces when the St. Louis Board of Aldermen returns in April — the largest freshman class since 1991. And depending on the results of the March primaries, as many as six others could join them.

That much turnover could change the way the Board works and the policies it passes.

Gov. Eric Greitens accepts a gift from an attendee at a cleanup event at Chesed Shel Emeth on Feb. 22, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is one of the more prominent Jewish political leaders in America today. For him, his response to this week’s vandalism at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City  goes hand-in-hand with his “go to the front lines” philosophy.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens delivers his first State of the State address last week in Jefferson City.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

While Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is still seeking to cut funding to a Medicaid program and K-12 school transportation, the size of those proposed cuts are smaller, thanks to an extra $52 million.

Karen Aroesty, Lynne Wittels and Andrew Rehfeld joined St. Louis on the Air on Thursday to discuss the recent spate of threats against the Jewish community in St. Louis.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

While the more than 150 headstones that were toppled and damaged at one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis have all now been righted, waiting only to be resealed, the damage still felt in St. Louis’ Jewish community is palpable. This weekend’s actions have compounded the emotional damage from a recurring spate of national and local threats made against the Jewish community, including a January bomb threat to St. Louis’ own Jewish Community Center.

A Missouri House subcommittee is investigating claims of harassment and retaliation at the state Department of Corrections. Photo taken in mid-February 2017.
File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

A longtime Missouri Department of Corrections employee says the agency is rampant with nepotism and fraternization.

Travis Case, who works at the northeast Missouri correctional facility at Bowling Green, testified Thursday in front of the Missouri House subcommittee on Corrections, Workforce Environment and Conduct. That panel is investigating allegations of harassment and retaliation against department employees by supervisors and coworkers.

Andy Karandzieff in 2017
Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Rachel Lippmann welcome mayoral candidate Andy Karandzieff to the program.

Karandzieff is the owner of Crown Candy Kitchen, a culinary institution on St. Louis’ north side. He’s running as a Republican, though he freely admits his candidacy is more a publicity stunt.

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Project 404 / Creative Commons

Updated at 2:15 p.m. Feb. 23 — The debate over which bathrooms transgender students can use has come to Missouri.

A Missouri Senate committee heard testimony Tuesday on Senate Bill 98, which would require students at K-12 public schools throughout the state to use restrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities that correspond to their "biological sex."

Bill Haas, January 2017
David Kovaluk I St. Louis Public Radio

On this edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum, Jo Mannies and Rachel Lippmann welcome St. Louis School Board member Bill Haas to the program.

Haas is one of seven Democratic candidates running to become the next St. Louis mayor. Each of the Democratic candidates have been interviewed on the podcast ahead of the March 7 primary election.

Marshall Griffin|St. Louis Public Radio

With Missouri facing slower income growth, Gov. Eric Greitens isn’t sparing the state’s Department of Agriculture from proposed budget cuts. 

The agency will receive about $14 million dollars less in the coming fiscal year, which new agriculture director Chris Chinn says is more like "belt tightening." But she made it clear that farmers and ranchers will receive the same level of services they currently see.

Vice President Mike Pence points into the audience after delivering remarks at Fabick Cat in Fenton, Missouri.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Vice President Mike Pence was nostalgic Wednesday, citing his teenage years working at his family’s gas station to make his point that he, like President Donald Trump, understands business.

 

“I’ll make you a promise. President Trump is the best friend that small businesses will ever have,” Pence told several hundred Republican supporters in Fenton at Fabick Cat, a family-owned business that specializes in construction equipment.

 

Six candidates for St. Louis mayor participate in a forum on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Portions of this article first appeared in the St. Louis American. This story has been updated and now includes audio.

This April, St. Louis will elect a new mayor for the first time in 16 years. St. Louis Public Radio, along with 13 other community and media organizations, hosted a mayoral forum Wednesday that focused on how to create a more racially equitable city.

The Forward Through Ferguson report served as a guide for crafting the questions, which gave candidates a chance to hold forth on a wide range of topics, from policing to affordable housing and inclusivity.

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