Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

Jaclyn Driscoll

Statehouse & Politics Reporter

Jaclyn Driscoll is the Jefferson City statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio. She joined the politics team in 2019 after spending two years at the Springfield, Illinois NPR affiliate. Jaclyn covered a variety of issues at the statehouse for all of Illinois' public radio stations, but focused primarily on public health and agriculture related policy. Before joining public radio, Jaclyn reported for a couple television stations in Illinois and Iowa as a general assignment reporter.

Jaclyn has an undergraduate degree in History with a middle and secondary education teaching endorsement from Monmouth College. She was the History Department Chair at Greenfield High School in Illinois, but after one year she decided to go back to school for a master's in journalism at DePaul University. Though she has a passion for education and hasn't ruled out teaching again in the future, Jaclyn enjoys the every day excitement that comes with political reporting.

She's a 6th generation descendant on her family farm back in Illinois, but is excited to plant some roots of her own in the Show-Me state. When she isn't busy working, Jaclyn can be found trying to entertain her twin boys who still think she's a cool mom (for now). She loves cheeseburgers, hiking, 2% milk, and binge listening to true crime podcasts.

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Majority Floor Leader Rob Vescovo, R-Arnold, and House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, speak during House floor debate on May 6, 2020
Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Wednesday signed legislation that modifies how plaintiffs are awarded punitive damages.

The measure requires plaintiffs to prove that the defendant intentionally harmed them or acted in a deliberately flagrant manner to collect. 

In a press release, Parson said he was "proud" to sign the bill into law because it will "stop the unfair and unreasonable litigation" Missouri businesses face. "This bill shows that Missouri is open for business and strikes a fair balance between protecting Missouri employers and employees from frivolous claims while ensuring the ability of those harmed to seek relief in court,” he said.

Original story published on May 12, 2020

Missouri lawmakers agreed to a measure on Tuesday that would make it more difficult for plaintiffs to receive punitive damages. 

State Rep. Bruce DeGroot, R-Chesterfield, who sponsored the legislation in the House, said courts have eroded the concept of punitive damages. 

The bill “brings back some common sense” to the court system, he said.

Parson announces $448 million in withholds for the FY 2021 state budget
Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced that he signed the state budget on Tuesday but is withholding $448.8 million in order to keep it balanced after the state’s economy was ravaged by the coronavirus. 

The area hit hardest is K-12 education funding. According to the Office of Administration, $123.3 million will be withheld from the foundation formula. Higher education is expected to see the next-largest reduction in planned spending, with $27.9 million in withholds, and community colleges will see $18.4 million. 

John Curtis, co-owner of BeLeaf Medical, inspects seedlings in the nursery of the company's cultivation facility located in Earth City.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Medical marijuana is now being grown legally in Missouri, but it won’t be ready for the more than 52,000 patients waiting to buy it until at least late summer. 

Despite initial projections that medical marijuana would be available for purchase in the spring, the Department of Health and Senior Services only earlier this month approved two of the state’s 60 cultivation sites to begin growing. 

Parson at briefing on Wednesday, May 5, 2020
File photo| Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 6:30 p.m. June 11 with plan details

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Thursday he will allow all businesses in the state to open without restrictions on Tuesday. 

“At some point, government has to get out of the way and let people live their lives and regulate their own selves,” Parson said at a press briefing. “We are at that time in the state of Missouri.”

Democratic Secretary of State nominee Yinka Faleti
Courtesy of Yinka Faleti

On the latest episode of Politically Speaking, Yinka Faleti, the Democratic nominee for secretary of state, joins the program to discuss his bid for the office, as well as the burgeoning protest movement for police accountability. 

Faleti’s appearance on the podcast kicks off an effort to have all of Missouri’s major statewide candidates on Politically Speaking. The two Democratic contenders for attorney general, Elad Gross and Rich Finneran, are slated to record episodes later this month — and we’ll be reaching out to GOP and Democratic candidates to be on the show in the coming weeks. 

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft has approved a petition to allow Missouri voters to decide whether to expand Medicaid.
Nat Thomas | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday signed legislation allowing people at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus to vote absentee without needing an additional notarized statement. 

“Any Missourian affected by COVID-19 should still be able to vote, including those who are sick or considered at-risk,” Parson said in a statement. “I applaud Senator Dan Hegeman, Representative Dan Shaul, and the rest of the legislature for taking this important step, which provides Missourians with a safe and secure way to vote while still safeguarding our elections and ballot process.”

Protestors gathered Monday, June 1, at the City Justice Center in St. Louis for a protest for social justice, ignited by the recent killing of George Floyd.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Tuesday he will deploy more than 1,000 additional members of the National Guard to assist local law enforcement statewide after four police officers were shot in St. Louis on Monday. 

After a day of protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, the city experienced an outbreak of violence and looting. Parson said this will not be tolerated. 

Parson announces more cuts on Monday, June 1, 2020
Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Monday he will restrict $209 million in planned spending for June, largely affecting higher and K-12 education. 

Parson has already restricted more than $220 million due to budget constraints during the coronavirus, but he said withholding more now will hopefully allow for fewer cuts in the next fiscal year that begins in July. 

A voter fills out a ballot at Central Baptist Church on March 10, 2020.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 9 p.m. with lawsuit filed against the initiative

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Tuesday that the question of whether to expand Medicaid will be placed on the August primary ballot, a move he said is more about policy than politics. 

Parson said that expanding Medicaid to insure more low-income people will be a “massive spending initiative” and that the state needs to know where it stands financially. 

The Missouri General Assembly's 2020 session was shortened considerably due to concerns over COVID-19.
Illustration by David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio, Photos by J. Stephen Conn, Phillip Wong, Reading Tom, David Kovaluk, and Giveawayboy| Flickr

Sen. Paul Wieland has seen a lot of startling events during his 12 Missouri legislative sessions.

The Imperial Republican has witnessed resignations of House speakers, deaths of statewide officials and implosions of gubernatorial administrations. But Wieland says he’s never gone through anything like 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic massively altered the Legislature’s workload and focus.

Lawmakers throw paper in the air on May 15, 2020, to celebrate the end of the 2020 Missouri legislative session.
Jaclyn Driscoll I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers capped an unprecedented 2020 legislative session by expanding access to absentee ballots during a pandemic and passing a wide-ranging crime bill — even as other priorities failed to get final approval.

And while the session featured some major budget moves aimed at combating the coronavirus, lawmakers from both parties expressed frustration about missed opportunities — and how the legislative process unfolded.

Rep. Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, listening to budget negotiations on Friday, May 8, 2020
Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications

Missouri lawmakers are headed into the last week of the 2020 legislative session Monday, with leadership saying they’d like to keep it “uneventful.” 

Typically, the final days of session mimics that of a college student cramming for finals. It’s reserved for some of the bigger and more controversial pieces of legislation, but the coronavirus halted much of the lawmaking process. 

Cody Smith discusses state budget on Friday, May 8, 2020
Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications

Missouri legislators approved a $35.2 billion state budget on Friday that includes $14.7 billion from the federal government’s coronavirus relief package. 

This comes at a time when State Budget Director Dan Haug said net general revenue collections for April were down 54% — from $1.5 billion to $725.2 million — compared to last year. 

Parson at briefing on Wednesday, May 5, 2020
File photo| Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri is spending $66 million in federal money to help with child care needs because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The money will allow low-income families looking for work to be eligible for 90-day child care benefits through December, Missouri Department of Social Services Director Jennifer Tidball said Wednesday. 

In addition, families with incomes up to 215% of the poverty level and with a “documented child care need” will have access to subsidies for transitional child care through August. 

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield
Tim Bommel I House Communications

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade is the latest guest on Politically Speaking. The Springfield Democrat joined St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jaclyn Driscoll to provide her impressions of how the Missouri General Assembly is faring after it was idle for weeks due to the coronavirus.

Quade represents a House district that takes in part of Springfield. As the leader of the House Democrats, Quade is largely responsible for crafting her party’s message and strategy in the Missouri House.

Missouri House on Wednesday April 29, 2020
Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications

The Missouri House passed a $34 billion state budget on Wednesday that reflects the economic costs of COVID-19. 

House Budget Chair Cody Smith, R-Neosho, said the plan includes $146 million less compared to the state’s current budget. However, Smith said that Missouri is doing much better than most states during the virus outbreak. 

Parson announces plan to reopen Missouri businesses by May 4 on Monday, April 27, 2020
Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced on Monday that every business throughout the state will be allowed to open on Monday, May 4. 

This is Parson’s first phase in his “gradual” and “strategic” reopening plan that he said will lead to economic recovery. 

“All of Missouri’s businesses, employers and employees are vital to our state’s economy and well-being,” Parson said at a press briefing on Monday. “Opening these businesses is going to look very different for awhile, but I’m confident Missourians will abide by the guidelines as we move forward.” 

Haahr presiding over a nearly empty House chamber on April 8, 2020 as lawmakers vote in groups of four on the supplemental budget
Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications

Missouri lawmakers are headed back to the state capitol Monday to pass a state budget by May 8. 

The coronavirus has left the 2020 legislative session in limbo, and there’s still serious concerns about spreading the virus. But House Speaker Elijah Haahr said it’s imperative to get a budget complete. 

“Our constitution doesn’t allow us to do anything but to pass it by May 8,” said Haahr. 

House Speaker Elijah Haahr, right, hands some papers to House Majority Leader Rob Vescovo earlier this month in Jefferson City.
Tim Bommel I House Communications

House Speaker Elijah Haahr is the latest guest on Politically Speaking. The Springfield Republican spoke with St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jaclyn Driscoll about why the General Assembly is coming back into session on Monday — and what issues lawmakers plan to discuss.

Haahr, a Springfield Republican, became Missouri House speaker in 2019 after serving two years as House speaker pro tem. Term limits will bar Haahr from running again for his House seat.

Reopen Missouri Rally on Tuesday, April 21, 2020
Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

Several hundred men, women and children gathered in Jefferson City and St. Louis County on Tuesday asking Gov. Mike Parson to lift his statewide stay-at-home order and let Missourians get back to work. 

Some protesters ignored social distancing restrictions and stood close together, with only a few wearing masks. They held signs that read, “Poverty Kills People Too," "Freedom For Missourians” and “We Have Rights.” 

Parson first press briefing in weeks to update on statewide stay-at-home order on Friday, April 17, 2020.
Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Mike Parson said Friday his goal of getting some Missouri businesses up and running by May 4 can be achieved. 

Parson announced on Thursday that he was extending his statewide stay-at-home order until May 3, mainly to ensure parts of the state would be able to reopen. 

With that goal, he laid out a four-pronged approach: increase the state’s testing capacity and personal protective equipment reserves, if necessary expand health care facilities, and be able to predict potential outbreaks.

Parson announces statewide stay-at-home order extended until May 3
Office of Missouri Governor

Missouri businesses and residents will see restrictions because of the coronavirus until at least May 3.

Gov. Mike Parson announced Thursday that he is extending his statewide stay-at-home order until that date so the state can prepare to reopen some businesses on May 4. 

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page also announced indefinite extensions of their orders, which are stricter than the state’s.

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, in a photo taken at St. Louis Public Radio on June 28, 2018
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft is asking about 40 employees who have their own offices to return to work on Monday, one week after a statewide stay-at-home order was issued by Gov. Mike Parson. 

In an email obtained by St. Louis Public Radio, Trish Vincent, executive deputy secretary of state, said Thursday that “those who have offices should return to work” next week “unless otherwise directed.” The email goes on to suggest employees use the handicap entrance and activate the button that opens the door with their elbows to enter the office building.

Haahr presiding over a nearly empty House chamber on April 8, 2020 as lawmakers vote in groups of four on the supplemental budget
Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications

The Missouri Legislature on Wednesday approved $6.2 billion to fight the coronavirus statewide. 

The supplemental budget gives Gov. Mike Parson spending authority for the money, most of which comes from the federal government’s stimulus package. That money has yet to be doled out to states, and there is some speculation as to how it can be spent. 

Gov. Mike Parson issued a statewide stay-at-home order on Friday. It will go into effect on Monday.
Governor Mike Parson screenshot via Facebook

Gov. Mike Parson’s statewide stay-at-home order to fight coronavirus that began Monday includes few additional restrictions compared to a social distancing order issued more than two weeks ago.

According to Parson, that’s the way he intended it to be. 

“The first order I done in the state of Missouri was the most strict order we have done,” he said in Monday’s virtual press briefing. “It was no more than 10 people could ever be grouped up together, and six feet apart.” 

Gov. Mike Parson issued a statewide stay-at-home order on Friday. It will go into effect on Monday.
Governor Mike Parson screenshot via Facebook

Updated 6:25 p.m., April 3 

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson issued a statewide stay-at-home order on Friday to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

The order goes into effect on Monday, April 6, and remains in place until Friday, April 24. 

Parson, a Republican, experienced mounting pressure from top Democrats, local officials and medical groups throughout the state to put an order in place. Parson maintained for weeks that the decision should be left up to community leaders. At his press briefing Friday evening, he said the decision weighed heavily on his mind. 

Medical workers collect a sample from a patient at Mercy Health's drive-through novel coronavirus test collection site in Chesterfield on Monday afternoon, March 16, 2020.
File photo |Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, Missouri lawmakers say they are planning to return to Jefferson City next week to pass a supplemental budget that includes millions of state and federal dollars to help deal with the outbreak. 

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

Legislators were originally scheduled to be back in Jefferson City this week after the legislative spring break, but the coronavirus has put a hold on their return. 

Before the House adjourned the week of March 16, it approved a supplemental budget that includes $40 million in federal and state funds to help fight COVID-19. 

Missouri Governor Mike Parson (left) and Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker have taken different steps to prepare for the coronoavirus in their states.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio and Brian Mackey | NPR Illinois

As the federal government leads the national response to the coronavirus, Illinois and Missouri are examples of how states are crafting their own plans, and how they differ, during the health crisis. 

Of the many differences between Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his Missouri counterpart, Mike Parson, response to COVID-19 is at the top of the list. While Parson is quick to remind residents that the pandemic is not a doomsday scenario, Pritzker relays possible worst-case situations at his daily press briefings. 

Senate Press availability with Dave Schatz, Caleb Rowden, John Rizzo on Thurs. March, 12, 2020.
Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

Legislation creating a statewide prescription drug monitoring program cleared its last major hurdle on Thursday — passing the Missouri Senate 21-10.

The measure has passed in the House for years, but a strong filibuster in the Senate has allowed some of the conservative members to kill the proposal due to privacy concerns. A monitoring program is designed to prevent abuse, especially of opioids. 

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