Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Rachel Lippmann

Justice Reporter

Rachel Lippmann covers courts, public safety and city politics for St. Louis Public Radio. (She jokingly refers to them as the “nothing ever happens beats.”) She joined the NPR affiliate in her hometown in 2008, after spending two years in Lansing covering the Michigan Capitol and various other state political shenanigans for NPR affiliates there. Though she’s a native St. Louisan, part of her heart definitely remains in the Mitten. (And no, she’s not going to tell you where she went to high school.)

Rachel has an undergraduate degree from the Medill School of Journalism, and a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield. When she’s not busy pursuing the latest scoop, you can find her mentoring her Big Brothers Big Sisters match, hitting the running and biking paths in south St. Louis, catching the latest sporting event on TV, playing with every dog she possibly can, or spending time with the great friends she’s met during her time in this city.

Rachel’s on Twitter @rlippmann. Even with 240 characters, spellings are still phonetic.

Ways to Connect

The Board of Aldermen chambers on July 7, 2017.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Efforts to ask St. Louis residents to weigh in again on reducing the number of city aldermen by 2023 are on hold.

The decision made Friday to delay any action on legislation forcing another referendum acknowledges the difficulty supporters will have in getting the 20 votes needed to override a promised mayoral veto.

DON'T USE AS FILE PHOTO St. Louis Blues' Alex Pietrangelo carries the Stanley Cup after the Blues defeated the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup Final, Wednesday, June 12, 2019, in Boston
AP | Charles Krupa

Updated at 11 a.m., June 13 with details about the championship parade — For the first time in their 52-year history, the St. Louis Blues have hoisted the Stanley Cup.

The Blues defeated the Boston Bruins 4-1 Wednesday night to secure their first-ever National Hockey League championship. When the final buzzer sounded, fans in St. Louis and elsewhere erupted in a long-awaited celebration, as the Blues mobbed their goaltender on the ice in Boston.

The city of St. Louis will honor the team with a parade and rally downtown along Market Street at noon on Saturday. The route starts at 18th Street and ends at Broadway. A rally will be held afterwards at the Gateway Arch. 

Susan DeCourcy, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminsitration, speaks at the launch of the 2019 Click It or Ticket campaign on May 20, 2019.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Police departments in Missouri and Illinois are joining law enforcement across the nation over this Memorial Day weekend to crack down on drivers and passengers who don’t wear their seat belts.

More than 500 people have died on the roads in the two states combined this year, and in more than half of those crashes, the people who died were not wearing a seat belt. The annual "Click It or Ticket" campaign, which runs this year from May 20 until June 2, is intended to help bring that number down.

Fans celebrate amid falling streamers after the St. Louis Blues defeated the San Jose Sharks 5-1 on Tuesday night, sending the team back to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 49 years. May 22, 2019.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Enterprise Center and much of St. Louis erupted in bedlam Tuesday night as the final horn sounded, sending the St. Louis Blues to the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.

The Blues beat the San Jose Sharks in spectacular fashion, scoring two power-play goals and an empty-netter to win 5-1. It sets up a rematch of the 1970 final, which the Boston Bruins won in four.

Missouri House of Representatives members speak on the house floor on the last day of the legislative session.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On a special edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio links up with KCUR’s Statehouse Blend to review the ins and outs of the 2019 session of the Missouri General Assembly.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Rachel Lippmann joined KCUR’s Samuel King and Brian Ellison to talk about the final week of the legislative session. That’s when the Legislature sent abortion restrictions to Gov. Mike Parson.

Members of the Missouri House throw paper in the air on May 17, 2019, to celebrate the end of the legislative session.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers sent legislation banning abortion after eight weeks to Gov. Mike Parson, the culmination of an emotional and contentious week that ended with many of the GOP governor’s priorities accomplished.

And while legislators Friday also finished a bridge-repair bonding plan and proposal to institute term limits for statewide officials, they fell short on overhauling the state low-income housing tax-credit program and another measure undoing a new state legislative redistricting system.

State Rep. Doug Richey, R-Excelsior Springs, listens in the House chambers Friday afternoon. May 17, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The 2019 regular session of the Missouri General Assembly wraps up today in Jefferson City. Many legislative priorities for Gov. Mike Parson, including new abortion restrictions, bridge repair and the low-income housing tax-credit program remain on the to-do list.

Here’s how this is going to work: we’ll update from Jefferson City with the latest news and insights. The most recent news will be on top, meaning you can get a whole recap of the day starting at the bottom.

Members of the senate walk onto the floor of the House chambers ahead of this year's State of the State address.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

After a week that featured titanic battles over high-profile legislation, Missouri lawmakers are heading into the final day with a lot on their plate.

The unfinished business set for Friday includes final passage of abortion legislation that’s made national headlines, as well as a bill to overhaul the low-income housing tax-credit program.

Sens. Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City, and Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, speak on the Missouri Senate floor on May 15, 2019. Both senators are against legislation that would substantially restrict abortion.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 6 a.m. May 16 with Senate passage — Missouri is a step closer to having some of the strictest limits on abortion in the country.

The measure approved by the state Senate early Thursday bans abortion after a heartbeat can be detected, usually around six to eight weeks. There is no exception for rape or incest and there are also complete bans on abortion if a fetus is diagnosed with Down syndrome, or based on race or gender.

Sen. Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, speaks on the Senate floor Tuesday about his economic development legislation. The Senate passed Hough's bill after a 28 hour filibuster.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

A nearly 28-hour filibuster of what is usually a simple procedural step ended Tuesday night with a big win for Missouri Gov. Mike Parson.

Over the objection of a group of six Republicans, the state Senate approved a major economic development package that extended a tax credit for General Motors, which is considering a $750 million expansion of its plant in Wentzville. Also included is a program to fund training for adults in “high-need” jobs, and a deal-closing fund that allows for up-front tax breaks to companies considering expansion.

State Sen. Cindy O'Laughlin, R-Shelbina, helps delay action in the Senate on May 13, 2019 as part of a dispute over incentives for General Motors.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 12 p.m. Tuesday with comments from Gov. Parson:

A state incentive package aimed at getting General Motors to expand in Missouri is running into a major roadblock in the state Senate, threatening to derail some of Gov. Mike Parson’s priorities with less than a week left in the legislative session.

Six Republican senators who object to the expansion of job-training aid and a fund that would help finance the closing of economic development deals led a filibuster Monday on what is generally a quick procedural step to begin the day. That prevented any other work from getting done, as the filibuster, which began around 2:30 p.m., stretched into the night and early Tuesday morning.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

The ACLU of Missouri and the state’s public defender system have reached a deal meant to ensure that low-income defendants are properly represented when they go to court.

The agreement made public on Monday sets maximum caseloads for the state’s 500-plus public defenders, and allows them to turn down cases to stay within a time limit that is based on how much work should be spent defending different types of crimes. It also makes it clear that defendants must be screened quickly to see if they qualify for a public defender.

John Rallo (left), who allegedly received county contracts in exchange for campaign contributions to Stenger, leaves federal court with his attorney Friday afternoon.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:15 p.m., May 10 with Sheila Sweeney's guilty plea — Two people who figured prominently in the political corruption scandal that brought down former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger have been charged as well.

John Rallo, an insurance executive who allegedly received county contracts in exchange for campaign contributions to Stenger, was charged Friday with bribery, mail fraud and honest services fraud, the same charges that Stenger pleaded guilty to last week. Sheila Sweeney, the former head of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, pleaded guilty to covering up the scheme, and not telling law enforcement about it.

Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger walks out of federal court after pleading guilty to federal charges of bribery, mail fraud and theft of honest services.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 1:30 p.m., May 3 with plea hearing details and comments from officials — Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger pleaded guilty Friday to three counts of public corruption for steering county contracts to campaign donors andfaces prison time when he is sentenced in August.

Based on the offense level calculated in his guilty plea under federal guidelines, Stenger could get around three to four years in prison. Judge Catherine Perry emphasized she’s not bound by those guidelines, and set Stenger’s sentencing for Aug. 9. He will also be required to pay restitution. Although the exact amount isn’t clear it could be several hundred thousand dollars. The maximum sentence is 20 years and a $250,000 fine on each count.

Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger walks into federal court Monday afternoon for his arraignment on pay-to-play charges.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:30 p.m., May 2 with reactions from officials and legal experts — Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger will plead guilty on Friday to federal corruption charges — just four days after his indictment was announced.

Stenger was charged Monday with steering county contracts to a major campaign contributor. He resigned the same day.

Ladue police officer Julia Crews in a mug shot from May 1, 2019.
Provided | St. Louis County Police Department

A Ladue police officer has been charged with second-degree assault for shooting a suspected shoplifter in the parking lot of a Schnucks grocery store.

“A person commits the offense of assault in the second degree if he or she recklessly causes physical injury to another person by means of discharge of a firearm,” St. Louis County prosecutor Wesley Bell said Wednesday in announcing the charge against officer Julia Crews. “It is our position that the officer’s actions were reckless.”

St. Louis County Councilman Sam Page (left), joined by his wife, Dr. Jennifer Page, is sworn in by Administrative Hearing Commissioner Sreenivasa Rao Dandamudi Monday to take over as county executive following Steve Stenger's resignation from the office.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Sam Page is the new top official in St. Louis County. 

The County Council on Monday night appointed the Democrat to take over the post left vacant when Steve Stenger resigned Monday after being charged in federal court with directing county contracts to a campaign contributor.

Page, now the council’s chairman, will serve as county executive until a November 2020 election to fill the remainder of Stenger's term, which lasts through 2022. He will have to give up a lucrative anesthesiology practice to take the post.

Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and his attorney Scott Rosenblum leave the federal courthouse in St. Louis Monday afternoon after Stenger pleaded not guilty to federal pay-to-play charges. April 29, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 4:15 p.m., April 29 with more information from Stenger's court appearance — Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger has pleaded not guilty to federal charges that he steered county contracts to big campaign donors.

Stenger appeared in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Noelle Collins Monday, hours after resigning as county executive. He was released without having to pay bond, but will not be allowed to travel outside of eastern Missouri without permission.

The Board of Aldermen chambers on July 7, 2017.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

In a change that lawmakers acknowledged was a long time coming, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen has voted to ban lobbyists from the floor of the chamber.

The ban was part of the board’s operating rules adopted Friday by a 22-2 vote, with one alderman voting present.

Tashonda Troupe, whose son Lamar Catchings died in the St. Louis County jail in March, addresses the St. Louis County Council on April 23, 2019.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The new interim head of the St. Louis County jail wants to bring in an outsider to help figure out why three inmates have died in custody since January.

“I want an unbiased opinion about what’s going on at the jail,” Lt. Col. Troy Doyle told reporters Tuesday after a meeting of the St. Louis County Council. “I work for St. Louis County and county government, but I think that would be reassuring to not only the workers there but the families.”

Boxes of signatures were delivered to the Sec. of State's office on May 2, 2018, for a ballot initiative that would raise Missouri's minimum wage.
File photo | Erin Achenbach | St. Louis Public Radio

In the last month of Missouri's legislative session, lawmakers are likely to change — if not completely eliminate — some of the initiative petitions the state’s voters passed in November.

Republican leaders in both the state House and Senate said they are prepared to make changes to Amendment 1, an ethics proposal also known as Clean Missouri. The House has already passed a bill chipping away at the minimum wage increase, and the Senate has debated, though not approved, a measure that would allow younger employees and tipped workers to make less.

Opponents of a new transmission line across northern Missouri sit in the rotunda of the Missouri Capitol on April 16, 2019.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

A federal appeals court will hear arguments in St. Louis on Friday in a case that challenges the idea that unpaid lobbyists have to register with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

A divided panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in November that Ron Calzone, a conservative activist, had to fill out the required forms and pay a fine for failing to do so. In a rare move, all 12 judges of the court will reconsider the case.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., delivers remarks to the Missouri House of Representatives on April 17, 2019.
Tim Bommell | Missouri House Communications

Senator Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, was the first in his family to go to college.

Yet the good economic news in the state, and especially his hometown of Springfield, has him championing other routes than four-year degrees, such as certificate programs and associates degrees.

Outgoing Alderman Terry Kennedy, D-18th Ward (center, in tie), stands with his family on April 15, 2019 after being recognized at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen for 31 years of service.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Members of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Monday recognized two colleagues who came to the chamber in different ways yet left their mark on the institution and the legislation it passed.

Terry Kennedy, D-18th Ward, stepped into his father Samuel’s seat 31 years ago, then won re-election eight times. Scott Ogilvie, D-24th Ward, won his 2011 election as an independent after the Democratic incumbent lost to a former alderman who had been recalled. He ran for re-election in 2015 as a Democrat.

Drawings by a joint venture between McCarthy Building Companies and HITT Contracting show an aerial view of the new western headquarters of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in north St. Louis.
Provided | McCarthy-HITT

St. Louis residents are getting their first look at what the new headquarters of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in north St. Louis will look like.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which is overseeing construction at the 97-acre site, released the drawings for the spy agency’s new campus on Tuesday. The office building, garages, visitors center and security checkpoints are being designed and built by a combined venture of McCarthy Building Companies, which is based in the St. Louis suburb of Rock Hill, and HITT Contracting, which is based in the Washington, D.C. area.

The St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis and St. Louis County residents on Tuesday rejected a Metropolitan Sewer District tax increase aimed at stopping erosion and flooding.

Voters also endorsed designating an attorney to represent the St. Louis County Council, while in Ferguson Fran Griffin defeated Michael Brown’s mother, Lezley McSpadden, and incumbent Keith Kallstrom for a seat on the city council.

Shamed Dogan May 2016
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A Missouri House committee has approved major changes to the state’s criminal justice system, including giving judges more leeway in nonviolent crime sentencing.

The action Thursday by the House Special Committee on Criminal Justice is just the first step in what its chairman, Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, acknowledges could be a long fight.

Lezley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown, stands near the memorial to her son on August 10, 2018 to announce that she will run for Ferguson City Council. Aug. 10, 2018
File photo I Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Nearly five years after Michael Brown’s death sparked protests and a movement over police treatment of African-Americans, his mother, Lezley McSpadden, is running for a Ferguson city council seat in the southern part of town where her son died.

“I hope that people will see that I’m still standing after all that I’ve been through,” McSpadden said. “And I’m still fighting. And I will always be a voice for Michael Brown and all of our other black and brown children who are being mistreated and who have been up against police brutality.”

Union members and supporters gathered at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Hall this month to notarize and count petition signatures to block Missouri's new right-to-work law. (Aug. 8, 2017)
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

An election cycle in Missouri that saw 371 petitions submitted to change the state’s laws or constitution is prompting a new discussion among lawmakers about ways to limit the process.

The House Committee on Elections and Elected Officials heard several hours of testimony on nine proposals Wednesday, though it did not vote on any of them. Measures making similar changes are awaiting first-round approval in the Senate.

election voting illustration
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Voters in the Ferguson-Florissant School District will select their school board members much differently on April 2.

The new method, called cumulative voting, settles a Voting Rights Act lawsuit filed in 2014 by the ACLU of Missouri and the NAACP. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case in January.

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