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Politics & Issues

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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

Updated at 5:45 p.m. with Greitens' office comment Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has set up a task force that’s meant to examine which of the state’s hundreds of boards and commissions are necessary and which ones are not.

Last week, ProPublica and Consumer Reports released a first-of-its-kind analysis of car insurance premiums in California, Illinois, Texas & Missouri showing some minority neighborhoods pay higher auto insurance premiums than white areas with similar risk.
Gateway Streets | Flickr

Last week, ProPublica and Consumer Reports released a first-of-its-kind analysis of car insurance premiums and payouts in California, Illinois, Texas and Missouri. Following a nearly year and a half investigation into premiums in those states, ProPublica found that residents of minority neighborhoods, on the whole, had to pay more for their car insurance premiums compared with white areas with similar “riskiness.”

Jack Speer, a newscaster with NPR, joined "St. Louis on the Air" host Don Marsh on Tuesday.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, NPR Newscaster Jack Speer joined host Don Marsh to discuss his career, reporting from Washington D.C. post-election and how things are going at NPR.

Speer, who prior to joining the newscast unit in 2007 worked for NPR’s business desk since 1998, has covered the nation’s top business and economic news.

Dozens of cannabis clones grow under high-intensity lights at BeLeaf's growing and processing facility in Earth City, Missouri.
File photo | Joseph Leahy | St. Louis Public Radio

For the third year in a row, the Missouri House passed a bill that would legalize the growing and production of hemp for purposes like soap and rope. But its fate is likely to be the same as before: A slow death in the Senate due to the short time left in the 2017 session and the bill’s low priority for Republicans running the chamber.

The Missouri Farm Bureau also strongly opposes House Bill 170, and sent individual letters to every member of the House before Monday night’s 126-26 vote.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth I St. Louis Public Radio
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth I St. Louis Public Radio

In a region as fragmented as St. Louis, there’s one commonality uniting scores of towns and cities: high sales taxes.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated April 11 with accusations from Black Caucus over the bill sponsor — The Missouri General Assembly's Black Caucus is attacking a bill that makes it harder for fired workers to prove discrimination, citing a racial discrimination lawsuit that's pending against the measure's Senate sponsor.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, photographed on April 4, 2017 in St. Louis Public Radio's studios, one week before leaving office as St. Louis' longest-serving mayor.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh was joined by St. Louis’ longest-serving mayor, Francis G. Slay. This interview happened during Slay’s last week in office, after his 16-year tenure at the helm of the city.

Gina Walsh, April 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 Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome back Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh.

 

The Bellefontaine Neighbors Democrat is the leader of Senate Democratic Caucus, which has shrunk in recent years to nine members after Republicans took over scores of seats in outstate Missouri. Even though Republicans outnumber Democrats in the Senate, the minority party can still use the filibuster to block or force changes to legislation.

 

File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Four regional airports in Missouri and three in Illinois could find their operations at risk if the Congress approves President Donald Trump’s plan to end the federal subsidies they’ve received for decades.

But Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt is taking on Trump. “While a president has the right to propose cuts in spending, the Constitution gives Congress the power to actually set spending,” he said at a hearing he chaired Thursday in Washington.

Lyda Krewson dances with relatives, supporters and campaign staff after delivering her acceptance speech.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The demise of a publicly funded soccer stadium could mean the St. Louis Police Department sees more taxpayer money.

 

When voters approved a half-cent sales tax Tuesday for things like light rail expansion and neighborhood development programs, it automatically raised the use tax that businesses pay on out-of-state purchases.

File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A freshman Democratic lawmaker from St. Louis has his first major victory: persuading the Republican-controlled Missouri House to restore funding for a jobs program that Gov. Eric Greitens wants to cut entirely.

 

The amendment sponsored by Bruce Franks would put $6 million toward the state’s youth summer jobs program in St. Louis and Kansas City.

Moments after recieving the keys to his new apartment, Nicholas Palazzolo checks out the living room and balcony.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Nicholas Palazzolo has been living in his truck since late November last year. At age 73, spending the coldest months of the year in a vehicle isn’t easy — but Palazzolo keeps his situation in perspective.

“I had it easy by comparison,” said Palazzolo. “There are others that are going through some pretty horrific times for an infinite variety of reasons.”

Stephanie Lecci, Rachel Lippmann and Brit Hanson were all driving forces behind St. Louis Public Radio's limited-run podcast "Millennium Mayor."
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Come April 18, 2017, Mayor Francis G. Slay will end his tenure as St. Louis’ longest-serving mayor. To mark the occasion, St. Louis Public Radio reporters, producers and editors have been working on a special project for the past four months that provides insights into Slay’s 16-year tenure through the lens of seven critical days in office.

The full podcast and website officially drop on Monday, April 10. The place to subscribe, find podcast episodes and more is available here.

(L to R) Rachel Lippmann, Sabine Adler and Linda Lockhart
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Last year, St. Louis Public Radio reporter Rachel Lippmann participated in a fellowship, the RTNDF/RIAS German-American Journalism Exchange, to learn about European governments, the refugee crisis and how European journalists function. Recently, a German journalist came to St. Louis as part of the exchange program in return: Sabine Adler, a reporter for Deutschlandradio in Berlin.

File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

Democrats and Republicans who make up the St. Louis area’s congressional delegation say they support President Donald Trump’s decision to use missiles against a Syrian airbase after this week’s chemical weapons attack that killed dozens.

 

Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri told St. Louis radio station KTRS that the action shows “the president listens … learns” and is “willing to look at new circumstances in a new way.” Missouri U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner chided the Obama administration on Friday for allowing the Syrian crisis to become “the largest war in this century,” adding, “the United States can no longer sit idly by.”

File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Due mostly to unexpected Medicaid expenses, the Missouri Senate is adding an extra $241 million to the state budget that runs through the end of June.

House Bill 14 contains $10.6 million more to replace Missouri Department of Transportation vehicles and make repairs to weigh stations along major highways. There’s also an extra $5 million for construction and repairs to publicly owned airports. MoDOT officials didn’t immediately return requests seeking details on how many vehicles and which airports.

Four St. Louis police officers were charged Thursday after an internal affairs investigation accused them of forging documents to collect thousands of dollars in overtime pay for work they did not perform.

Officers Brian Jost, Michael Langsdorf and Emin Talic face felony stealing and forgery charges, according to a release by the police department.  Officer Daniel O'Brien is charged with felony forgery and misdemeanor stealing.

John Collins-Muhammad, April 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 and Jo Mannies welcome Alderman-elect John Collins-Muhammad for the first time.

 

Collins-Muhammad will soon represent the city’s 21st Ward, which takes in parts of the north St. Louis neighborhoods of College Hill, Kingsway East, North Riverfront, O’Fallon and Penrose. After Alderman Antonio French vacated his seat to run for mayor, Collins-Muhammad won a three-way Democratic primary, and then won easily in the general election.

MetroLink train at station
File photo | Chris McDaniel | St. Louis Public Radio

Officials are considering "all options" to make the MetroLink system safer after the second fatal shooting on the light rail system in two months, the head of St. Louis' public transit agency said Thursday.

Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications

Missouri’s budget for the next fiscal year has cleared its second major hurdle, but the next one won’t be quite so easy.

 

The House passed all 13 budget bills Thursday, so the full budget for the 2018 fiscal year, which begins July 1, is now in the hands of the Senate. GOP leaders sharply disagree with the lower chamber’s move to fully fund the state’s K-12 school funding formula — putting an extra $45 million toward schools compared to the $3 million increase Gov. Eric Greitens had asked for.

Sonia Kennebeck, the director of the documentary "National Bird," which explores the human impacts of drone warfare.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

In recent years, the debate over drone warfare has reached new prominence but, in early 2013, Malaysian filmmaker Sonia Kennebeck struggled to find any information on the U.S. military’s drone program outside of commentary and conjecture made by American journalists. That didn’t sit well with her.

Firefighters work outside of the Loy-Lange Box Company building on South 3rd Street. (April 3, 2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 10:25 a.m. April 6 with confirmation of fourth death — The death toll has risen from this week's boiler explosion at a factory in the Soulard neighborhood.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said Clifford Lee, 53, died on Wednesday. Lee was inside the Faultless Linen Company when a piece of the boiler that exploded at the Loy-Lange Box Company crashed through the roof.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Despite all the talk about Missouri’s shaky income numbers, the state’s revenue collections have picked up significantly in recent months, which could help ease legislators’ concerns as they finish fashioning a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

In other words, if trends continue, lawmakers might not have to cut as much as they planned.

Hunter Maret of University City watches Proposition 2 election results at Union Station at a pro-soccer stadium gathering Tuesday night.
Ryan Delaney I St. Louis Public Radio

Once St. Louis voters dashed his hopes of bringing Major League Soccer to the city, Dave Peacock didn’t make much of an attempt to modulate his tone.

 

Rachel Lippmann, Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies discuss the results of the April 4 general municipal elections across the region.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Tuesday, April 4, marked the day of the general municipal elections in the St. Louis region. On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we discussed the outcome of the elections around the area, including the St. Louis mayoral race, police funding in St. Louis County and proposed funding for a soccer stadium in the city. 

A federal judge says he plans to block Missouri’s abortion clinic restrictions in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision last June.

In a “Memorandum to Counsel” on Monday, U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs said he would grant the preliminary injunction requested by Planned Parenthood, but would give the state additional time to avoid “unintended damage” to standard medical regulations.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles speaks to reporters in February 2016 after a City Council vote to amend the Department of Justice consent decree instead of approving it outright.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In an apparent vote of confidence, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles won re-election Tuesday over City Council member Ella Jones.

Knowles, who has been the face of the municipality since Michael Brown’s fatal shooting in 2014 by an officer thrust it and its racial divisions into the international spotlight, barely missed having to face a recall election in 2015. He beat Jones, who would have been the city’s first African-American mayor; unofficial results show the vote was 2,133 to 1,594.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar listens to U.S. Attorney General  Sessions' remarks. (03/31/17)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County will get an estimated $80 million a year for policing and public safety efforts after voters approved Proposition P on Tuesday.

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

School districts across the St. Louis region sought more money from taxpayers in Tuesday’s election. Also, there were three seats up for grabs for the St. Louis Public Schools’ elected school board., though the state still has oversight.

Here’s the breakdown of what passed and what didn’t:

Vacant buildings owned by the Land Reutilization Authority in the 4000 block of Evans Avenue. February 2017.
File Photo | Marie Schwarz | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis won't receive more money to take care of city-owned vacant buildings, and won't sync its election dates with statewide elections.

Proposition NS, which needed two-thirds approval, received 58.57 percent of the vote.

The proposition would have given the city the ability to sell up to $40 million in bonds to go toward stabilizing the more than 3,5000 vacant buildings it owns. That money is equivalent to a one-cent property tax increase per $100 of a property’s assessed value.

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