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Top Stories

Editor's picks for the top news stories of the day.

These nine legislators scored an A and are listed from left to right from the top: Rep. Justin Hill, Rep. Dean Plocher, Rep. Clem Smith, Rep. Randy Pietzman, Rep. Karla May, Rep. Nick Schoer, Rep. Kirk Mathews, Sen. Dave Schatz, Rep. Chrissy Sommer.
Provided, Facebook, Missouri House Communications, Office of Missouri Senate

As students across Missouri receive their final report cards, the age-old measurement of progress and success, St. Louis Public Radio decided to hand them out for Missouri legislators, too.

We’ve graded lawmakers A-F for the 2017 regular session by using a complicated formula that took into account their time in office, the number of bills sponsored and co-sponsored and how far those went, as well as committee or subcommittee chairman positions. In a twist, the lawmakers were asked to grade themselves as well, though not everyone did.

Courtesy of Scott Air Force Base

Back in 1917, it was known as Scott Field.

The U.S. had just entered World War I, and the War Department leased 624 acres near Belleville, Illinois, to help train pilots to send to Europe. The field was named after Cpl. Frank Scott, the first enlisted service member to be killed in an aviation crash. 

Today, Scott Air Force Base covers more than 3,500 acres and employs 13,000 military and civilian service members. It’s also home to more than 30 mission partners, including the U.S. Transportation Command, Air Mobility Command and the 18th Air Force.

Scott Leahy speaks in favor of the Best Choice sex ed curriculum during a meeting of the St. Charles Board of Education on Monday, May 22, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Charles Board of Education voted Monday night to keep a sex education curriculum tied to an anti-abortion group, breaking with recent decisions by a few other St. Louis-area public school districts. 

An illustration of pollution, 2017
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency awarded St. Louis Community College a $200,000 grant last week to support a job training program focused on cleaning up contaminated waste sites.

About 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites exist across the country. Remediation of such sites requires special expertise on handling different types of waste, such as PCBs and lead. Training workers can help empower communities that are most burdened by toxic waste sites, said Stan Walker, the Brownfield and Land Revitalization Branch Director for EPA Region 7.

St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson answers questions during a news conference following the filing of a lawsuit against the city's so-called abortion sanctuary ordinance.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

The Archdiocese of St. Louis and the city are in a legal showdown over new provisions in St. Louis' anti-discrimination law regarding women's reproductive decisions. The archdiocese's schools and a private company, O'Brien Industrial Holdings, on Monday in federal court filed a lawsuit challenging a St. Louis ordinance that they say adds abortion rights supporters to a protected class, while discriminating those who are against abortions.

Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O'Fallon, May 2017
Jason Rosenbaum 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 state Rep. Nick Schroer to the program for the first time.

The O’Fallon Republican represents a portion of St. Charles County in the Missouri House. He was first elected to the 107th  House District in 2016.

Missouri Capitol, May 2017
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 7:45 p.m. May 22  with number of bills filed Monday – On the eve of his first legislative special session, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and his allied nonprofit group are attacking one of the pivotal legislators  needed to win approval of the governor’s favored bill.

The nonprofit group is called A New Missouri and can collect unlimited donations from unidentified donors. It is targeting state Sen. Doug Libla, a Republican whose southeast Missouri district includes the now-closed aluminum smelting plant that Greitens hopes to reopen, along with a possible steel mill.

Libla says he supports the projects. But the senator questions some provisions in the expected special-session bill that he says could reduce state oversight over Ameren, which provides electricity to much of eastern Missouri.

Students at Collegiate School of Medicine & Bioscience take two science classes a year.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

For the first time in more than a decade, the St. Louis public school district is celebrating the first graduating class of a new high school.

The Collegiate School of Medicine & Bioscience gave diplomas to 44 seniors Sunday.

While still too new to have much of a track record, Collegiate’s high standardized test scores help the highly selective magnet school stand out from a crowded field of science-themed schools in the city.

The Goldenrod Showboat took on about 7 feet of water when the Illinois River flooded near Kampsville, Illinois, in early May 2017.
photo courtesy of Historic Riverboat Preservation Association

Illinois River floodwater has drained from the hull of the Goldenrod Showboat, along with any lingering optimism that the century-old vessel can be saved, according to the preservation group that owns it.

“There’s no glimmer of hope,’’ said Jacob Medford, vice president of the nonprofit Historic Riverboat Preservation Association. “We’ve tried our best with the Goldenrod, but not everything works out exactly how you want it. But we gave it our all.”

A student walks through the University of Missouri-St. Louis' campus Friday afternoon, May 19, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

The University of Missouri-St. Louis will reduce its spending by another 2.5 percent, campus leaders announced Friday, meeting a deadline that is part of a budget cutting process across the University of Missouri System.

Cool Valley Mayor Viola Murphy stands near a grassy path near South Florissant Road. She says a new state law limiting traffic fine revenue will make it harder for her city to pay for new sidewalks.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A top Democratic backer of the effort to limit fines and fees in St. Louis County believes Missouri lawmakers will have to play a role in forcing cities to change.

The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out parts of a 2015 law that capped the amount of money cities could make from fines and fees and required them to meet minimum standards like having an accredited police department. 

A young woman stands before Edo Rosenblith's painting which is three black and white triangle panels linked to form a large triangle.
Provided by Daniel Burnett

Most people probably don’t think artists develop their exhibits by meeting for coffee, walking through the park, and talking. But that’s exactly how the Daniel Burnett-curated show, “Anchors,” came together. Burnett said his initial approach wasn’t about finding the biggest names in St. Louis, but finding out how artists might fit together to represent the visual art community.

Sue Spencer surveys what remains of her home on County Road 806 in Perryville. A tornado tore through the area in late February, destroying the home she lived in for three decades.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The sirens started a little before 8 p.m. on the last night of February. Residents of Perry County, in southeastern Missouri,  retreated to their basements — many of them not expecting the incoming tornado with a 14-mile-long and half-mile-wide path. Within an hour, the tornado had killed one man, damaged more than 100 homes and leveled dozens more.  

Three months later, there are signs that rebuilding is underway. Structures now stand where fallen trees, busted up car frames, and mangled bits of homes were scattered before. Perryville’s residents are recovering, hiring contractors, negotiating with insurance companies, and even managing the aftermath of severe flooding in April.

A group of Hazelwood West students protest their suspensions Thursday May 18, 2017 outside the district's administration offices.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Hazelwood school officials lifted the suspensions of nearly 200 high school students Thursday after several days of pressure from fellow students, parents and civil rights groups.

The students had been given five-day suspensions and were banned from participating in the graduation ceremony at Hazelwood West High School after they walked out of classes Monday to protest on behalf of the teachers. The teachers had been hoping to negotiate raises with the district. 

Metrolink 2014
Paul Sableman | Flickr

The three counties that fund MetroLink signed an agreement Thursday they say will help keep the train system safe.

The deal among the city of St. Louis, and St. Louis and St. Clair counties, would eventually put all law enforcement officers assigned to patrol MetroLink under the command of one person. Eventually, those police and sheriffs' deputies also would get the authority to work anywhere on the system, a process known as cross deputization.

This radiation warning sign is one of many posted on the chain link fence surrounding part of the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton, Mo.
File photo | Sarah Skiold-Hanlin | St. Louis Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency has found no evidence of radioactive waste from the Manhattan Project in two Bridgeton homes close to the West Lake Landfill Superfund site. 

Federal officials began testing homes in late 2016 in response to a lawsuit filed in November by a married couple in the Spanish Village subdivision against landfill owner Republic Services and 10 other companies.

Members of the United Mine Workers of America protest in Washington, D.C. in September of 2016.
Flickr | AFGE

Retired coal workers are no longer at risk of losing their union health insurance as the latest federal spending bill funded coverage that is no longer being paid for by bankrupt coal companies.

But the deal left another issue untouched: the looming insolvency of the union’s pension fund, which could run out of money as early as 2025.

Six clergymen who were found guilty of trespassing in the Missouri Senate gallery after they protested Missouri’s failure to expand Medicaid were sentenced today to one year of unsupervised probation.

The six, including well-known Kansas City clergymen Sam Mann, Wallace Hartzfield Sr. and Vernon P. Howard Jr., were part of the so-called Medicaid 23, who were charged with trespassing and obstructing government operations after leading a group of about 300 protestors in the Senate gallery three years ago.

Renovations have given Kiener Plaza a more open and greener look. May 2017
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louisans will get their first peek at Kiener Plaza’s lush new gardens, splash pad and colorful playground when the downtown park reopens at noon Friday.

The bronze statue of The Runner is back and selfie-ready, with a new fountain and LED lighting that can change colors to mark holidays and special events, like Cardinals-playoff red and Stanley Cup-blue.

Sen. Claire McCaskill in May 2017
Provided | Office of Senator Claire McCaskill

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill said Thursday she thinks it’s important for Congress to “repair, not repeal” the federal Affordable Care Act, which she says is under threat by the Trump administration’s hints that it won’t continue to pay subsidies to participating insurance companies.

About 40 counties in Missouri have only one insurer participating in the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace.

This story was updated at 3:12 p.m. to include a statement from Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley. 

A federal judge has denied Missouri’s request to stay his order blocking two statewide abortion restrictions, making clear he takes a dim view of the state’s arguments.

In a three-page ruling on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs rejected out of hand Missouri’s claim that the restrictions protect abortion patients’ health.

Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City, 2016
Ethan Weston | Flickr

Updated May 19 with Gov. Eric Greitens' plans to campaign for the legislation  — Missouri lawmakers will return to Jefferson City next week to consider legislation aimed at boosting the chances that the Noranda aluminum smelter plant will reopen and that a new steel plant will be built.

Gov. Eric Greitens is holding four rallies Saturday to promote legislation he says will help both southeast Missouri projects. The session will begin at 4 p.m. Monday.

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.
Carolina Hidalgo

Eric Greitens’ successful campaign to become Missouri’s governor was based on the premise that politicians were ruining the state and that an outsider’s help was needed.

But with the 2017 legislative session in the books, some of the elected officials Greitens decried believe he got in their way and took an unwarranted, heavy-handed approach — despite the fact that the Republican stands to implement policies his party waited generations to complete.

Tameka Stigers, left, and Ivy Perry, right, braid LaQuinn Laws hair in June 2015 in St. Louis.
Provided | Institute for Justice

This spring a few Missouri state lawmakers fought and failed to pass a proposal that would have stripped the requirement for hair braiders to obtain a cosmetology license.

Under current law, those who want to pursue hair braiding as a profession must attend 1,500 hours of cosmetology classes and spend at least $12,000.

The welcome sign for the Spanish Village neighborhood in Bridgeton May 2017
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Residents of a Bridgeton neighborhood were denied the chance to move away from the West Lake Landfill Superfund site after Missouri lawmakers last week rejected a bill that would have paid for a state agency to buy their homes.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, would have allowed 91 families in Spanish Village, the closest neighborhood to the landfill, to sell their properties to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The Senate overwhelmingly passed the bill last month, but when the bill moved to a conference committee, lawmakers cut funding for the bill from $12.5 million to $1 million. The measure failed in the House, 79-65. 

Members of the Missouri State Senate work through the final day of the General Assembly's legislative sessions.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s workers will bear the brunt of sweeping policy changes that were approved during the 2017 session.

With Republicans firmly in control of the governor’s office and both chambers of the legislature, they took the opportunity to back long-awaited policy proposals, including making it harder for employees to sue for discrimination and blunting the power of labor unions.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s the chicken or the egg argument.

Should city aldermen meet with stakeholders and then craft a bill? Or should the bill be proposed and then brought to the public for input?

St. Louis Alderwoman Megan Green, 15th Ward, prefers the first approach when it comes to developing Community Benefits Agreements legislation.

The Vietnam War memorial in Wentzville has been expanded and now includes lighting and landscaping. May 2017
Provided by city of Wentzville

The city of Wentzville will cut the ribbon on an updated memorial to Vietnam War veterans at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The city recently expanded the memorial site and added landscaping, lights, and a ramp, so disabled veterans can visit. The memorial is at 209 W. Pearce Blvd., next to the fire department.

Parents and alumni wave signs welcoming students back to Normandy High School for the 2013 school year.
File photo: Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

Normandy’s schools will remain under the control of a state-appointed board for three more years, education officials said Tuesday, adding that they are optimistic about students’ academic progress in the state’s only unaccredited school district.

File photo | Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Supreme Court capped the amount of money cities can take in from traffic fines and fees at 20 percent statewide in a ruling issued Tuesday.  It also throws out parts of a law that was the Missouri legislature's main attempt to deal with the aftermath of Michael Brown's 2014 death in Ferguson.

Investigations following Brown's shooting by a police officer revealed the extent to which small cities in St. Louis County relied on their municipal courts to fund city services, with the burden falling heavily on poor defendants of color.

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