On the Trail | St. Louis Public Radio

On the Trail

Erin Williams / St. Louis Public Radio

President Barack Obama sent a message during his State of the Union address to every mayor, governor and state legislator who want to increase the minimum wage: Don't wait on Congress, Americans will support more local government initiatives.

Flickr/MoDOTNews

Wes Shoemyer was content to ride off into the political sunset. 

The former Democratic state senator lost his re-election bid decisively in 2010. Afterward he told people in Jefferson City that he had a great “consolation prize” – going back to his farm near Monroe County.

But Shoemyer is leaping back into the fray to fight an amendment making it more difficult to regulate agriculture. And he’s taking on familiar adversaries – some the state’s largest agricultural organizations.

photo of Thomas Schweich
Provided by the auditor's office

Democrats may be deciding between "fight or flight" when it comes to taking on state Auditor Tom Schweich in November.

Last week, state Rep. Jay Swearingen, D-North Kansas City, bowed out of the state auditor's contest. He told the Associated Press that he wanted to step aside for another Democrat who's better able to raise money for the race.

When it comes to campaign financing, one name stands out: Rex Sinquefield. 

In 2013, an off year politically, the retired financier gave millions in campaign contributions — primarily to ballot initiatives and political action committees. Most of Sinquefield's money went toward an ultimately unsuccessful campaign to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of tax cut legislation. Sinquefield also gave hundreds of thousands of dollars for ballot initiatives, including one to curtail teacher tenure.

(via Flickr/401K)

For most intents and purposes, it was all quiet on Missouri's electoral front in 2013. But that didn’t stop the money from flowing to candidates and campaigns. 

Throughout last year, a diverse group of donors gave well over $21 million worth of donations of $5,000 or more. That money flowed to candidates, political party committees, ballot initiatives and political action committees in all corners of the state.

It make take longer than expected to fill Ryan McKenna's void in the Missouri Senate.

When the Jefferson County Democrat resigned in December to become director of the state labor department, he left open the possibility that his Senate seat may remain vacant throughout 2014. If that occurs, the Missouri Senate would not be at full membership for an entire calendar year.

Jason Rosenbaum/St. Louis Public Radio

Proponents of a transportation sales tax were dealt a big blow last year when a legislative effort died at the last minute. But that doesn’t mean they’re giving up on putting a 1-cent sales tax increase before voters.   

St. Louis City Hall
Richie Diesterheft | Flickr

When a Board of Aldermen committee made changes to St. Louis' community development block grant recommendations, it showed the city's legislative branch asserting itself against a power shift to the executive.

But not everybody was happy -- including the agency that gave the city the funds in the first place.

St. Louis City Hall
Richie Diesterheft | Flickr

When St. Louis changed how it divided out community development block grants, it marked a major sea change in how St. Louis government functions -- shifting power toward the mayor's administrative umbrella and away from individual aldermen.

Boeing CEO W. James McNerney, Jr., left, and U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth, met earlier in December in Washington, D.C. Luetkemeyer is part of a bipartisan contingent of federal lawmakers who are using the bully pulpit to steer Boeing's 77
Provided by Luetkemeyer's office.

When U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer met with Boeing CEO James McNerney in his Washington office earlier this month, his message wasn’t subtle. 

Luetkemeyer was there to make the case that Missouri was the right place to steer production of Boeing's 777X civilian aircraft. He said he told McNerney he was “excited about the opportunity for the state of Missouri to bid on it.”

“Whatever help we could be at the federal level, we would more than willing to do that,” Luetkemeyer , R-St. Elizabeth, said.  

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio) / St. Louis Public Radio)

Alderman Antonio French is sponsoring legislation to require videotaping or transcribing various meetings and hearings in city government. French is one of several people seeking to use the web to make government more transparent to the public. 

St. Louis Alderman Antonio French knows something about putting a camera in the face of government. 

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - When Better Together, a group tasked with studying a potential reunion between St. Louis and St. Louis County, launched last week, there was a lot of talk about the “lines” dividing the region.

Mayor Francis Slay said that few people cared if they “were crossing the line” while staying in the Cheshire Inn, a hotel straddling the city-county border. But, he later said, “the line does exist and many other lines exist as well.”

Skelton presides over a meeting of the House Armed Service Committee. Skelton was chairman of the powerful committee on military affairs from 2007 to 2011.
U.S. House of Representatives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - When he was a teenager, polio dashed Ike Skelton's dream of serving the military. But that didn't deter Skelton from carrying on with his life – not by a long shot.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: In the wake of the Missouri Legislature's failure to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of a tax-cut bill, some Republicans called out the 15 members of their party who went against the leadership and the rest of the caucus.

John Lamping mo senator 2014
Official photo

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When it comes to lengthy commutes, state Sen. John Lamping’s may take the cake.

The Ladue Republican represents a swath of central and eastern St. Louis County in the Missouri Senate – a distinction he earned after a very narrow victory in 2010 over Democrat Barbara Fraser. But his family lives in Kansas City, mainly because his daughter is training to become an elite gymnast.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When this session of the Missouri General Assembly came to a close in May, Democratic lawmakers and their allies wasted little time in criticizing the GOP majority for passing "extreme" bills.

Take, for example, House Minority Leader Jake Hummel. The St. Louis Democrat sent out a statement lambasting the Republican majority’s “super-extremist” agenda, including measures nullifying federal guns laws, barring implementation of a United Nations resolution called Agenda 21 and banning drones.

Speaker Pro Tem Jason Smith, R-Salem, speaks with fellow Republican legislators on the final day of the General Assembly's 2013 session. Smith - the GOP nominee in the 8th Congressional District - received a standing ovation then, including from Democrats
Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: In some respects, the preliminary jockeying to replace U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson may have been more exciting than the actual election.

Scott Ogilvie
Provided by Mr. Ogilvie | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: If there’s one message that Alderman Scott Ogilvie wants to deliver with his bill restricting campaign contributions to city of St. Louis candidates, it’s that Missouri’s situation is not the norm.

From a practical standpoint, Ogilvie is correct. Missouri is one of only four states without contribution limits, a distinction that’s spurred much discussion  -- and, in some cases, derision – over the past few years.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Missouri General Assembly is at half time, but that doesn’t mean lawmakers are getting treated to a musical extravaganza from Beyonce.

Instead lawmakers are prepping for what could be a busy second half of the  session. Not only do lawmakers have to complete work on next year’s budget, but they must also tackle some substantial bills that – perhaps surprisingly – advanced in the first part of the session.

Pages