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.

Ways to Connect

Kathy Howard shows what a rape kit looks like once it has been used and sealed. Sept. 27, 2019
Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

Roughly 100 of Missouri’s 7,019 untested rape kits have been sent out of state to a private forensic lab for testing.

The state completed a full inventory of those untested kits last fall. Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office is now moving forward with testing the kits to help prosecute rapists and provide justice for victims. 

This is all a part of a $2.8 million grant former Attorney General Josh Hawley’s office received from the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance. Schmitt said they have the funds to test roughly 1,250 of the kits, but will be seeking more funding to clear the entire backlog. 

Quade in healthcare press conference on Monday, Jan. 27, 2020
Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications

Democrats in the Missouri House say they’re confident voters will approve Medicaid expansion, and they want to strengthen other health care measures in 2020. 

In a press conference Monday, House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, said the need for Missouri to expand Medicaid is vital, despite Republican efforts to kill the idea. 

“Since 2014, no fewer than seven rural hospitals have closed,” said Quade. “In no small part because the governor and Republicans have refused to expand Medicaid.” 

Have a question about legal marijuana in Illinois or medical marijuana in Missouri? Ask here, and we'll update this guide with answers as we report them out.
Eric Schmid | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services began awarding the 192 state medical marijuana dispensary licenses on Thursday. 

According to the constitutional amendment that voters approved in 2018, the department was required to license at least 192 dispensaries, 24 in each of Missouri’s eight congressional districts. This means DHSS could have awarded more licenses, but officials want to see if the minimum number can meet demand. 

voxefxtm | Flickr

A recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling gutted the state’s voter ID law approved by voters in 2016, but Republicans in the statehouse are looking to restore it. 

State Rep. John Simmons, R-Washington, has filed a measure that he hopes would withstand a court challenge. 

The original law approved by voters allowed three methods to cast a ballot. Voters could show a photo ID; another form of identification, like a utility bill, but were then required to sign an affidavit; or they could cast a provisional ballot. The provisional vote would count once they returned to show ID or election workers matched their signatures with a past vote.

St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden testifies in committee hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 14 about residency requirement.
Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 2:10 p.m. Jan. 22 with House committee action

Legislation that would remove residency requirements for St. Louis police officers passed out of Missouri House committee Tuesday evening.

Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, has a similar measure that was heard in a Senate committee on Wednesday.

Here is the original story:

After years of city officials trying to end the residency requirement for police officers in St. Louis, lawmakers in Jefferson City are expecting to get it done. 

Rep. Ron Hicks, R-Dardenne Prairie, is sponsoring legislation that will lift the requirement, and he said he has the support needed to make it law. 

“Right now, we have a clean bill,” Hicks said in a committee hearing on the proposal on Tuesday. “We have a good path through the House; we have a good path through the Senate right to the governor’s desk. He himself told me he’ll sign the bill if we can get it there the way it is written.” 

State Sen Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, presents his legislation to lengthen sentences for armed criminal action to the Senate Judiciary committee on Jan. 21, 2020.
Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers are still at odds on how to solve the spike in gun violence and gun deaths in St. Louis and other urban areas. 

On Tuesday, House Democrats held a press conference highlighting gun control legislation they believe will address the violence. 

“Perpetrators of gun violence deserve harsh punishment, but what Missouri needs most are policies that help prevent shootings from ever taking place,” said House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield.

Gov. Mike Parson greets members of the Missouri Legislature ahead of his 2020 State of the State address.
Marta Payne | Special to St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is distancing himself from proposed gun restrictions that he previously supported. 

In a November meeting with the mayors of St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield, Parson agreed to several proposals to help fight violence, including some so-called red flag laws. 

The mayors and the governor laid out a clear initiative: increase funding for witness protection programs and mental health resources, pass a state law that would prohibit minors from buying handguns, and keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and violent criminals.

Have a question about legal marijuana in Illinois or medical marijuana in Missouri? Ask here, and we'll update this guide with answers as we report them out.
Eric Schmid | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Jan. 15 with more answers to reader questions —

2020 will be a year of new marijuana laws. Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana on Jan. 1, six years after Colorado first started recreational sales. Missouri begins medical marijuana sales later in the year — likely this spring — and thousands of residents have already received certification cards.

With totally different laws in the neighboring states, there’s an understandable level of confusion among residents: Why is it easier to get medical marijuana in Missouri than in Illinois? Where can you consume cannabis products legally? How much will marijuana cost at dispensaries? And with the ease of traveling between Missouri and Illinois in the St. Louis region, what are the rules about bringing weed across state lines?

Photos of seclusion rooms at press conference on Monday, Jan. 13.
Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

For the second year, legislation aiming to limit the use of seclusion rooms and restraint in Missouri schools has been filed. 

But this year, with Republican support in the GOP-dominated Legislature and more media attention, the chances of it passing appear more promising, backers say.

State Rep. Ian Mackey, D-Richmond Heights, filed the proposal last year. It passed it out of committee but did not make it to the House floor for a vote. This year, Mackey said lawmakers are much more aware of the issue. 

“Isolating kids, and in many cases telling no one, including the parents,” is happening every day in Missouri schools, Mackey said at a press conference promoting the legislation on Monday. 

Missouri Senate on the second day of the 2020 legislative session Jan. 9, 2020
Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

The GOP leaders of the Missouri Senate say they plan to make changes in the process for drawing the state’s House and Senate districts a top priority — and are prepared to withstand any opposition among the Democratic caucus.

That makes it basically inevitable that Missouri voters will decide whether they want to retain a new redistricting system that they approved in 2018 — or largely go back to a prior system that was used to craft state legislative maps.

House Speaker Elijah Haahr and House Republicans speak to news reporters following the first day of the Missouri Legislative Session in Jefferson City. (Jan. 8, 2020)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri General Assembly’s 2020 legislative session began with procedure and ceremony: lawmakers reading the Bill of Rights, new legislators being sworn in and hundreds of bills being formally introduced.

But even though Wednesday’s opening was fairly mundane, legislators from both parties are expecting fierce debates in the coming weeks over state legislative redistricting and gun violence — issues that could play a big role in the impending 2020 elections.

Members of the Missouri House converse on the first day of the 2019 legislative session.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Gun control, Medicaid and redistricting are expected to be the most contentious issues Missouri lawmakers will take up this legislative session. 

House and Senate members return to the state Capitol on Wednesday, and the governor is to deliver his State of the State address a week later on Jan. 15. 

Democrats in both chambers say gun control and urban violence will be at the top of their list of priorities. 

Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, is a member of the six-person Conservative Caucus.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The Clean Missouri amendment was passed by 62% of voters in 2018, but repealing at least part of it in the 2020 legislative session is a top priority for some lawmakers. 

The constitutional amendment was billed as a way to “clean up Missouri politics” by capping campaign contributions, limiting the powers of lobbyists and revamping the redistricting process. 

Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, said the measure should have never made it on the ballot because it included too many topics. 

Cannabis flower grows at a recreational grow facility in Illinois. Sales of recreational marijuana started Illinois Jan 1.
Eric Schmid | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s medical marijuana program awarded the first group of facility licenses on Thursday. Ten testing locations received approval to begin preparing for final state inspections before operations begin this spring. 

Testing facilities are responsible for testing all of the cannabis in the state. They will test the levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive component found in the drug. 

Facilities will also ensure there are no foreign substances or bacteria present. 

A rendering shows how the proposed MLS stadium will look from above.
MLS4theLou

Missouri officials have denied St. Louis’ request for $30 million in tax credits for a Major League Soccer stadium. 

A meeting scheduled for Tuesday to vote on the first round of tax credits, totaling $15 million, was canceled. Bob Miserez, executive director of the Missouri Development Finance Board, said the meeting was canceled because the board did not have authorization to go above a cap on the credits. 

voxefxtm | Flickr

Six people are being considered for the new state demographer position that will draw Missouri’s legislative districts. 

The applicants are Damon Braidlow, Donald B. Cripe, Sara Hartman, Bryan Kinworthy, R. Zane Price and Jason J. Ross. 

The position was created by the Clean Missouri amendment that was approved by 62% of voters in 2018. The demographer is required to be nonpartisan in order to draw the state legislative districts fairly and competitively. Legislators who have questioned the process may try to change it in the 2020 session that begins next month.

Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, at a press conference discussing new legislation that would modernize HIV laws in Missouri on Dec. 11, 2019.
Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is working to change current Missouri law on HIV that they say hasn’t been updated since the 1980s. 

Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, said current laws now actually discourage people from being tested. She said if someone knowingly exposes their partner to HIV and they contract the disease, it’s a class A felony. This is the most serious of felony crimes that include murder, rape and forcible kidnapping. 

Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region is the last provider of abortion services in Missouri. It could lose its license this week.
File photo | David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday to decide whether the state’s 12 Planned Parenthood clinics should receive federal funding. 

John Sauer argued on behalf of the state, asking the court to back the Republican-led Legislature’s 2018 decision to deny funding to all Planned Parenthood facilities but not other providers that care for the state’s Medicaid population. 

Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, was taken down for restoration for the first time in nearly 100 years.
Dana Millier | Missouri House of Representatives

Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, returned to Jefferson City on Friday. The 1,400-pound statue normally sits atop the Capitol dome but was taken down for restoration for the first time in almost 100 years. 

“Hopefully the public will get to see a part of history here,” said Gov. Mike Parson at the public unveiling of the statue. 

Bob Priddy, past president of the State Historical Society of Missouri, said this will likely be the only time visitors will see the statue up close before it’s hoisted 240 feet in the air. 

Protesters hold LGBTQ pride flags at a Rainbow Workers' Alliance rally.
Andrea Smith | St. Louis Public Radio

Nationally, the number of reported hate crimes remained fairly stagnant in 2018 compared to the year before, but Missouri saw a 39% reduction. 

According to the FBI, there were more than 16,000 law enforcement agencies participating in the Hate Crime Statistics Program in 2018, but only about 12% reported incidents. The other 87% reported that no hate crimes occurred in their jurisdictions. Agencies participate on a voluntary basis and provide one to 12 months of data. 

The proposed stadium would seat up to 22,500 for soccer. It could also be a site for concerts and other events.
HOK

St. Louis asked the state Tuesday for $15 million in tax credits to prepare the site of a $461 million soccer stadium complex northwest of Union Station. 

At a meeting in Jefferson City, the Missouri Development Finance Board got a closer look at plans for the entire area, which will include a public plaza, bike paths, restaurants and commercial space with the intention of year-round use, not just when games are being played. 

Parson and mayors of St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, and Columbia meet to talk about violent crime on Monday, Nov. 25, 2019.
Office of Missouri Governor

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson agreed to back stricter gun control after a meeting Monday with the mayors of St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield to continue their discussion on addressing crime and gun violence throughout the state. 

At its fourth meeting, the group agreed on three top priorities to make communities in Missouri safer: additional funding for witness protection programs, greater access to mental health care and stricter gun control.

On the latest news roundup show for the Politically Speaking podcast, the St. Louis Public Radio team discusses vaping, St. Louis' police residency requirement and General Motors state tax incentives.
File | Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest episode of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum, Julie O’Donoghue and Jaclyn Driscoll review some of the week’s biggest stories in state and local politics.

We break down how Gov. Mike Parson is responding to the recent spate of illnesses and deaths related to vaping.

A part of the Clear the Air Campaign promotional materials that launched Monday, Nov. 18, 2019
Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Monday announced the launch of the state’s new youth vaping education campaign to bring attention to the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping products. 

Parson signed an executive order in October giving the departments of Health and Senior Services, Elementary and Secondary Education, and Public Safety one month to get the program running without any additional funding. 

Colorful photos hang on the walls at HCI Alternatives in Collinsville. The marijuana dispensary is set up like a typical doctor's office.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest episode of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Julie O’Donoghue, Jason Rosenbaum and Jaclyn Driscoll review some of the week’s biggest stories in state and local politics.

One of the big topics on the show is the first meeting of the Board of Freeholders, which can propose consolidating services in St. Louis and St. Louis County — or even combining city and county governments.

Recreational marijuana facility in San Francisco, California in Nov. 2018
File photo | Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri has already approved more than 17,000 patients for its yet-to-be-launched medical marijuana program — a stark contrast to neighboring Illinois, which had fewer than 3,000 patients in the first 10 months. 

Licenses for Missouri’s dispensaries are expected to be awarded by January, and cannabis should be available for medical card holders by spring. 

At their core, Missouri and Illinois programs do the same thing: They allow doctors to certify patients to use cannabis if they have a qualifying condition. But there are significant differences in the details of each law, including who has access, how they’re getting access and how the programs can be changed in the future.

State Rep. LaDonna Appelbaum, D, St. Louis County
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Radio’s Julie O’Donoghue and Jaclyn Driscoll welcome state Rep. LaDonna Appelbaum to Politically Speaking for the first time. The discussion includes the Democrat's efforts to improve health care.

Appelbaum represents Missouri’s 71st House District, which takes in portions of Chesterfield, Creve Coeur, Maryland Heights, Olivette, Overland and unincorporated St. Louis County. She was first elected in 2018.

State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, address Rolla Police Chief Sean Fagan during the first meeting for the Interim Committee on Public Safety on Nov. 4, 2019.
Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

A Missouri Senate committee heard several hours of testimony on Monday regarding gun violence throughout the state, with possible solutions including more money for gang intervention and better retention of police officers. 

Witnesses at the hearing were invited by one of the seven senators on the newly formed Interim Committee on Public Safety. They included police, prosecutors and research analysts. 

Close to 740,000 Missourians used the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program on a monthly basis in 2018, according to the Food Research and Action Center.
Flickr | The Consumerist .

There are hundreds of thousands of Missouri families that don’t know where their next meal is coming from. 

Despite progress, the state is still higher than the national average for food insecurity. 

A recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows Missouri has improved hunger levels throughout the state. Compared to one year ago, levels are down almost one full percentage point. However, 11.7% is the national average of food insecurity, and Missouri sits at 12%

The Loop Trolley during a test drive on June 13, 2018.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest episode of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Julie O’Donoghue, Jason Rosenbaum and Jaclyn Driscoll break down some of the week’s biggest stories in federal, state and local politics.

Of particular interest for many St. Louis area residents is the financial peril surrounding the Loop Trolley.

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