Todd Richardson | St. Louis Public Radio

Todd Richardson

Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, speaks during a 2016 candidate forum for candidates in the 1st Congressional District.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

 

Updated 7:25 p.m. with exclusive comments from Chappelle-Nadal — Maria Chappelle-Nadal won’t lose her seat in the Missouri Senate, the chamber decided Wednesday. But the Democrat is being censured — a move that apparently hasn’t happened before and is little more than a written reprimand.

Gov. Eric Greitens and Lt. Gov. Mike Parson said last month that the University City Democrat should be expelled for posting a Facebook comment in which she wished for President Donald Trump’s assassination. There wasn’t enough support among Senate members for that to happen Wednesday during the otherwise-quiet veto session. Instead, the GOP majority censured her by a 28-2 vote for her now-deleted post.

Part of the new website aimed at providing interns with information to protect them from sexual harassment.
Screenshot | www.mointernnetwork.org

new website is being promoted as a tool to help student interns at the Missouri Capitol deal with harassment. But it will still be up to interns to initiate any accusations of improper behavior.  

The site is called the Intern Resource Network, and it's among the latest changes that backers say should provide more protection to interns.   The creators say they were spurred by issues a couple years ago with interns at the state Capitol, but the website doesn’t make that distinction.  

House Democrats, including Rep. Bruce Franks Jr., raise their hands to speak about the $10-an-hour minimum wage in St. Louis.
File | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Forty-five bills to Gov. Eric Greitens later, the Missouri General Assembly adjourned Friday having dealt with some high-priority items like right to work, banning cities from raising their minimum wage, complying with a federal ID mandate and making it harder to sue for workplace discrimination.

But other sought-after bills fell by the wayside, including one that would have allowed Missouri to shed its status as the last state in the U.S. without a prescription drug monitoring program and another getting rid of lobbyist gifts to officeholders — something Greitens campaigned on.

Gov. Eric Greitens and his wife, Sheena, brought their two children to a polling place before the November general election. Greitens signed an executive order extending paid parental leave for some state employees.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

With Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens issuing an executive order extending parental leave to some state employees, the question naturally arises: What’s next?

While important to the thousands of state employees it affects, the Republican governor’s executive order is not comprehensive. It provides paid time off for people who give birth or adopt a child, but only applies to “executive” state agencies run by gubernatorial appointees. It doesn’t affect or every state employee — or private sector workers .

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.

Missouri lawmakers listen to Gov. Eric Greitens speak earlier this month during his State of the State address.
Tim Bommel I House Communications

If Missourians were near a television screen over the past year, they probably caught wind of how Eric Greitens wanted to overhaul the ethical culture in Jefferson City. His advertisements weren’t exactly a study in subtlety, especially when they showcased his desire to blow up politics as usual by sparking an explosion with a gun.

Tim Bommel I House Communications

(Updated January 18)  Members of the Missouri House have taken a big step toward delivering a right-to-work law to Missouri.

On Wednesday, the House initially passed state Rep. Holly Rehder’s legislation, which would bar unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues. The Sikeston Republican’s bill, which passed 101-58, also paves the way for criminal penalties for anybody that violates the proposal.

Eric Greitens sits alongside his wife, Sheena Greitens, and Attorney General Josh Hawley and his wife, Erin Morrow Hawley.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Jan. 17 with reaction from educators – Tuition at Missouri’s public colleges and universities could go up in the wake of Gov. Eric Greitens’ announcement Monday he’s withholding more than $82 million from Missouri’s current higher education budget.

The spending restrictions, or cuts, include $68 million in core funding from universities and community colleges and more than $14 million from other higher ed programs.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri House has moved fast on the latest effort to ban gifts from lobbyists, and it could send the proposal to the Senate this week.

House members gave first-round approval Thursday to this year's bill, which would ban gifts from lobbyists to elected officials, with a few exceptions such as flower arrangements and speaking fees. It's sponsored again by Rep. Justin Alferman, R-Hermann.

State troopers stand outside the Missouri State Capitol at the start of the ceremony on Jan. 9, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Eric Greitens just became the 56th governor of Missouri. And two of Missouri’s preeminent political podcasts have joined forces to analyze this historic day.

Right after Greitens took the oath of office, Brian Ellison of Statehouse Blend Missouri and Jason Rosenbaum of Politically Speaking interviewed the leaders of the Missouri House. First, the two podcasters interviewed House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City, and state Rep. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia.

File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

A cold arctic blast greeted lawmakers, lobbyists and reporters who filtered into the state Capitol Wednesday for the start of Missouri's 2017 legislative session.

But it didn't take long for things to heat up, at least on the House side of the building.

The Missouri Capitol Building in Jefferson City, Mo. Legislative action here on Thursday by Sen. Jason Crowell would refer the "right-to-work" issue to voters next year.
File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Not since Matt Blunt was governor of Missouri nearly a decade ago did the Republican Party control both the executive branch and both houses of the legislature. Even then, there were enough Democrats in both the House and Senate to block any veto override attempts, rare as they were then.

That will differ once Eric Greitens takes the oath of office and has the benefit of veto-proof GOP majorities in both chambers.

House Speaker Todd Richardson and Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard spent time talking in the Senate chamber on Wednesday.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | File photos

House Speaker Todd Richardson joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum for the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast.

In his third appearance on the show, Richardson – a Republican from Poplar Bluff – lays out his key objectives for the coming legislative session. For the first time in eight years, the GOP will control the legislative and executive branches of Missouri state government.

Gov.-elect Eric Greitens shakes hands with Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, last week.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the Thursday after his resounding victory in the Missouri governor’s race, Eric Greitens spent the morning at the Missouri Capitol meeting with Gov. Jay Nixon and huddling up with the Senate Republican supermajority. Greitens ended up shaking lots of hands of fellow Republicans who could help make his campaign agenda into the laws of the land. 

When he stepped into the Capitol hallways, Greitens could hardly contain his enthusiasm about the months ahead.

Missouri Speaker of the House Todd Richardson listens to representatives speak on the last day of the legislative session.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Next Tuesday’s election could showcase whether the House Republican supermajority is wave-proof.

After the House GOP shot way past the 109-member supermajority threshold in 2014, Missouri Republicans may be in their strongest legislative position ever in the General Assembly’s lower chamber. And since Republicans represent some Democratic-leaning seats, it stands to reason that the party will face a challenge this year to retain the status quo – especially if GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump underperforms in the Show Me State.

Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Jason Kander speaks at a labor rally in St. Charles earlier this fall. Kander is squaring off against U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt this November.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s a dreary, rainy day in Troy, Missouri, and Jason Kander is about to meet a small group of veterans at the Roasted Bean Coffee Shop. In a weird, parallel universe, the 35-year-old Democrat would be stumping for his second term as secretary of state. But Kander’s aiming higher and is focusing his time and energy on trying to unseat U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt.

Few national pundits believed Kander’s gambit would be worthwhile. They looked at presidential results and polls, and concluded (wrongly) Missouri was just too Republican for a Democrat to prevail. But Kander never bought into that type of assumptive prognostication. And now, Kander is within striking distance of being a building block for his party’s return to power in the U.S. Senate.

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander at state Democrats' annual Truman Dinner. Campaign aide Chris Hayden is to his right.
File photo by Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In the humble opinions of national pundits that monitor congressional races, Jason Kander pretty much came out nowhere to get on their national radar.

The Washington Post, Roll Call and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball recently declared that Missouri’s U.S. Senate race was a “toss-up.” And these prognosticators, in general, are very surprised that Kander made the race close. For instance: When Roll Call ranked Kander as the best Senate challenger of the 2016 cycle, the publication called the development “remarkable” for a race “that most analysts considered a second-tier contest when the summer began.”

Gov. Jay Nixon made expanding Medicaid a top priority when he first ran for governor. While he made some small steps, he was largely unsuccessful in achieving that goal.
File photo by Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

After Gov. Jay Nixon placed his signature on legislation that could expand Medicaid for Missourians who are disabled or elderly, I couldn’t help but think back to when the Democratic official visited Bob Pund’s apartment.

Nixon was a mere attorney general when he ventured into Pund’s residence back in 2007. Pund is paralyzed from the shoulders down and had been critical of major cuts made to Medicaid in 2005. As Nixon sat in Pund’s living room, the aspiring governor vowed to make reversing those reductions a priority of his eventual administration – even if he was faced with a Republican-controlled legislature.

Sen. David Pearce answers questions from reporters on the last day of the legislative session.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

If there’s one constant about the last week of the Missouri General Assembly’s session, it’s that nobody in the Capitol has to search very hard to find delicious pie.

For several decades, senators have served up rhubarb pies, French silk pies, and even gooseberry pies to hungry legislators and staff. The uncontroversial and widely celebrated “Pie Day” event provides a big boost to proprietors like the Rolling Pin in Glasgow, and a bit of levity within the General Assembly's intense final days.

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.

People mill in the hallway leading to the Missouri Senate chamber.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

At the tail end of a recent episode of the Politically Speaking podcast, state Sen. Jill Schupp was asked a fairly straightforward question: Had her colleagues learned anything from the resignations of John Diehl and Paul LeVota, two lawmakers who stepped down last year amid accusations of inappropriate behavior toward female interns?

The Creve Coeur Democrat provided a pessimistic response:

Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, strongly questioned whether the legislature was taking the right focus with its ethics overhaul.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Since a high-profile sex scandal was partly responsible for torpedoing the end of the 2015 session, some lawmakers have made improving the ethical climate of Jefferson City a priority.

But even though the Missouri House passed a flurry of bills early this session, some Missouri senators think the ethics push so far is missing the mark.

Rep. Don Gosen, R-Ballwin, resigned suddenly from the Missouri House on Wednesday.
Tim Bommel I House Communications

A GOP state representative from Ballwin has resigned suddenly for unspecified personal reasons.

It’s the latest reverberation for a legislature still reeling from scandals that led to two resignations last session.

(via Missouri Department of Transportation)

Gov. Jay Nixon and House and Senate leaders are squabbling over how to approach Missouri's transportation needs.

Nixon, a Democrat, and some Republican lawmakers want to raise the state's fuel tax to help fund roads and bridges, but GOP leaders oppose tax hikes and want to shift state funding to transportation from other programs, including welfare.

Construction on I-70
Missouri Department of Transportation

Even though transportation experts have been sounding the alarm for years, lawmakers and voters haven’t come to a definitive solution to get money funds for the state's roads and bridges. A bid to raise the state’s sales tax foundered badly in 2014, while initiatives to institute tollways have gone nowhere.

St. Louis Public Radio file art

Missouri lawmakers are back in Jefferson City as they prepare to kick off the 2016 legislative session at noon today.

In addition to passing the state budget, they're expected to tackle several other issues, including ethics reform and Gov. Jay Nixon's push to build a new NFL stadium for the Rams.

Richardson hugs his father, Mark Richardson, right after he was elected as speaker of the  Missouri House.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

House Speaker Todd Richardson’s legislative career is full of defied expectations.

Before he was elected to House leadership, Richardson helped bring substantial changes to Missouri’s embattled Second Injury Fund – an issue that bedeviled lawmakers for years. And after the misdeeds of his predecessor, the Poplar Bluff Republican rose to the speakership much earlier than anybody expected.

Bill Greenblatt | UPI | File Photo

After months of speculation, intrigue and public policy contortions, the St. Louis Rams have officially filed to move to the Los Angeles area.

From center: Sens. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, waits for a presser to start with Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

After St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay threw his support behind raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, state Sen. Kurt Schaefer issued a stern warning.

The Columbia Republican penned a letter to his colleagues that if St. Louis (and Kansas City) enacted minimum wage hikes, lawmakers should eliminate the cities’ earnings taxes. That’s the 1 percent income tax on anybody who lives, works or owns a business in either city.

stacks of money
sxc.hu

Since taking office in 2009, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has regularly called for stricter ethics laws for public officials – and a return of the state’s campaign-donation limits, which were repealed in 2008.

For the most part, Republican legislative leaders have supported the general idea of limiting lobbyists’ gifts or curbing the legislator-to-lobbyist revolving door. But neither the governor nor lawmakers have put much political muscle behind their proposals.

The coming legislative session – Nixon’s last before leaving office -- may be different.

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