Bruce Franks | St. Louis Public Radio

Bruce Franks

Members of the Missouri House listen on May 16, 2019, as state Rep. Bruce Franks, D-St. Louis, announces his resignation.
Rachel Lippmann I St. Louis Public Radio

State Rep. Bruce Franks will step down from his St. Louis-based seat, citing a need to deal with his anxiety and depression.

The Democrat said he still wants to make his mark on St. Louis’ politics, even though he’ll no longer be in elected office. He’s also hoping his spotlight on mental health will resonate.

Community activists, including State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr., are asking Gov. Mike Parson to pardon or commute the sentence of Joshua Williams.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Rep. Bruce Franks returns for his third appearance on Politically Speaking, where the St. Louis Democrat talked about how he’s been faring during his third year in the Missouri House.

Franks first burst on the Missouri political scene in 2016, when he defeated (after a high-profile redo election) incumbent Penny Hubbard. He was elected to another term last year without opposition, getting another two years to represent a part of eastern St. Louis.

Legal medical marijuana
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri legislators gave first-round approval Wednesday to a bill that would allow medical marijuana patients to expunge pot-related offenses from their records.

It’s an outgrowth of a voter-approved decision in November legalizing marijuana for medicinal use.

Colorful photographs hang in the lobby at HCI Alternatives, a dispensary in Collinsville. (June 14, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies delve into the three medical marijuana initiatives.

Missourians will vote on Amendment 2, Amendment 3 and Proposition C. All three initiatives would make it legal to get marijuana for medical use. But they differ greatly in terms of how much marijuana will be taxed, how the regulatory framework would work, and where the money would go. Missouri state law says that if there are two conflicting constitutional amendments, the measure with the “largest affirmative vote” will prevail.

Community activists, including State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr., are asking Gov. Mike Parson to pardon or commute the sentence of Joshua Williams.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis activists and community leaders have called on Gov. Mike Parson to pardon protester Joshua Williams for an event that occurred in 2014.

State Rep. Bruce Franks, Jr., held a press conference Friday at the St. Louis County Justice Center objecting to the eight-year sentence Williams is serving.

Williams was a part of a protest in December 2014 following the police-involved shooting of Antonio Martin. While looting was taking place at a QuikTrip in Berkeley, Williams set fire to a trash can outside.

Attendees at Friday's "People's Ribbon Cutting" celebrate near the Gateway Arch grounds in St. Louis.
Wiley Price I St. Louis American

Darryl Gray made something abundantly clear at Friday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Arch grounds: The diverse gathering of elected officials, candidates and St. Louisans wasn’t a do-over.

After a group of white officials cut the ribbon in front of the Arch’s new visitors’ center and museum sparked public outcry Tuesday, Gray emphasized that Friday’s event was aimed at showcasing St. Louis’ diversity — and sending a message that racial and ethnic minorities need a place at the decision-making table.

Maplewood Richmond Heights students honor victims killed at a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, last month during a walkout Wednesday, March 14, 2018.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Thousands of people are expected to march through downtown St. Louis to protest gun violence on Saturday. They’ll walk a 2-mile route with March for Our Lives STL, one of hundreds of student-led rallies planned for this weekend.

Student organizers, survivors of gun violence and local leaders, including Rep. Bruce Franks, will speak at the event. City officials say they’re prepared to accommodate up to 10,000 marchers.

What is March for Our Lives?

Speaker of the House Todd Richardson (L) and Lt. Gov. Mike Parson (R) listen as Chief Justice Zel Fischer delivers his State of the Judiciary address on January 24, 2018.
Tim Bommel | House Communications

Missouri Chief Justice Zel Fischer wants the state’s lawmakers to help him expand the reach of the state’s drug court program.

“Right now, there are 15 counties with no access to any type of treatment court,” Fischer told legislators Wednesday morning in his State of the Judiciary speech. “Individuals addicted to opioids and other substances in these areas are restrained by county lines they cannot see.”

Anthony Gray (l) and John Chasnoff (r)
Mary Edwards | St. Louis Public Radio

On December 28 following a several months long search, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson named John Hayden, a 30 year veteran of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, as the new chief of police. He was selected from a field of six, three internal candidates and for the first time, three who were from outside the department.

State Rep. Bruce Franks answers reporter questions outside City Hall on Sept. 29, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A diverse crowd of Democrats packed a recent party meeting in Richmond Heights to hear from state Rep. Bruce Franks, a St. Louis Democrat who’s become a prominent voice for police accountability amid protests throughout the St. Louis region.

You could hear a pin drop when Franks bluntly asked his audience, “Can somebody tell me how black folks are supposed to vote for Claire McCaskill?”

Arlene Holt Baker, executive vice president emerita of the AFL-CIO, joins state Rep. Bruce Franks outside America's Center on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 7:25 p.m. Oct. 21, with details from Galleria mall protest — Missouri state Rep. Bruce Franks urged members of the AFL-CIO on Saturday to stand with protesters in St. Louis who are fighting to end police killings of black people.

A group of about 25 protesters gathered outside America’s Center, where the union is holding its convention. Franks had been invited to speak, but protesters were not allowed in until the national union’s leaders assured the convention center there would be no problems. A few hours later, protesters returned to the Galleria mall in Richmond Heights, where police declared their demonstration an unlawful assembly, but left without incident.

State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. leads a chant inside the St. Louis Galleria. Sept. 30, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

“No justice, no profits.”

That’s one of several chants protesters have used in nearly daily events since Sept. 15, the day a St. Louis Circuit judge acquitted former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith. Activists have made it clear that economic disruption is a big part of their strategy.

And they’ve put a number on it. Rep. Bruce Franks, D-St. Louis, who has taken part in many of the demonstrations, told a crowd late last month the economic impact was $10 million to $11 million.

Audience members express dissatisfaction with St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson's comments Wednesday at a meeting at Harris-Stowe State University. Oct. 11, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

During a frequently contentious forum Wednesday at Harris-Stowe State University, people who have been protesting for the past three weeks had choice words and asked pointed questions of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson.

What was billed as a forum to discuss how to transfer the activism of the protests into policy turned into more of a question-and-answer session with audience members demanding to know why it’s so hard to get a new police chief; why the city isn’t investing more in communities of color and why the city hasn’t followed the recommendations of the Ferguson Commission.

St. Louis Alderwoman Sharon Tyus answers questions from fellow public safety committee members on Oct. 10, 2017.
Chelsea Hoye | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

A St. Louis Board of Aldermen committee has taken the first step to hear testimony from interim Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole.

Members of the board’s public safety committee on Tuesday approved a resolution sponsored by Alderwoman Sharon Tyus, D-1st Ward. Tyus wants to question O’Toole about police department practices in response to protesters. The move comes after protests over former St. Louis Police officer Jason Stockley’s acquittal of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

Police arrested dozens of people on Oct. 3, 2017, after they blocked part of Interstate 64.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Oct. 4 at 9:55 a.m. with the number of arrests — The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department arrested 143 people protesting Jason Stockley’s acquittal  Tuesday night after they blocked a section of Interstate 64 in St. Louis.

It’s the latest demonstration after a judge found Stockley not guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, on Sept. 15. Demonstrators aredemanding police officers stop killing black people throughout St. Louis.

Protesters marched through downtown St. Louis silently on Monday night. They wore blue tape over their mouths to represent "blue silence." Sept 25, 2017
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Protesters introduced a new demand Monday night: that St. Louis’ interim police chief step down immediately.

Their call for Interim Chief Larry O’Toole to leave the department’s head post comes more than a week into daily protests against a judge’s decision to acquit former officer Jason Stockley, who is white, in the 2011 fatal shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, a black man.

State Rep. Bruce Franks took part in the protests sparked by Michael Brown's death in Ferguson. He's now joined demonstrations against Stockley's not guilty verdict.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On this edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio's Jason Rosenbaum takes a closer look at how young African-American politicians are making an impact after a judge found former St. Louis Police officer Jason Stockley not guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

St. Louis Alderman John Collins-Muhammad stands near the street where Jason Stockley killed Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011. Reps. Joshua Peters and Bruce Franks also spoke out against Stockley's not guilty verdict.
File Photo |Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In the hours after a judge acquitted former St. Louis Police officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder last week, St. Louis Alderman John Collins-Muhammad appeared at the street where Stockley fatally wounded Anthony Lamar Smith roughly six years ago.

The 21st Ward alderman is part of a younger group of African-American politicians who are fed up that, again, the judicial system has not punished a white police officer who killed a black person. Collins-Muhammad made clear last week that he and his fellow elected officials would continue agitating and advocating for change.

Protesters wait outside a news conference held by Gov. Eric Greitens on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017. The region awaits a judge's ruling in the case of ex-officer Jason Stockley, who is charged with murder in the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 8:15 p.m. Sept. 14 with Greitens' meeting — Though there’s no official word on when the Jason Stockley verdict will be announced in St. Louis, city and state leaders made it clear the time is soon.

A few hours after activating the National Guard, Gov. Eric Greitens met Thursday night with the fiancee of Anthony Lamar Smith, a black man who was fatally shot by Stockley, an white ex-St. Louis officer, in December 2011. Earlier in the day, Mayor Lyda Krewson issued a video in which she said the city is preparing to quell any disorder. And the city and county police departments said they’d start 12-hour shifts starting Friday morning.

Activists have promised days of protests if Stockley, who resigned in 2013 and now lives in Texas, is acquitted.

Biddle Housing Opportunities Center. Biddle is partly run by the St. Patrick Center, a homeless service provider. Biddle is not only an emergency shelter, but also provides help for homeless, including finding housing. May 5, 2017
Marie Schwarz | St. Louis Public Radio

Federal investigators will begin looking into the only city-run homeless shelter in St. Louis this week.

At issue is a fair housing complaint filed in April by two St. Louis-area state lawmakers, who claim the shelter’s location in the Carr Square neighborhood north of downtown is unconstitutional because it makes poverty worse in an area that’s already struggling.

Protesting youth were stranded on the street after curfew when Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and imposed a midnight-to-5 a.m. curfew in Ferguson in August 2014.
File photo | Lawrence Bryant | St. Louis American

The 2014 death of Michael Brown, a black, unarmed 18-year-old, at the hands of a white police officer unleashed anger and activism throughout the St. Louis area.

Some who marched in the streets of Ferguson after August 9 of that year remain committed to changing hearts, minds and laws throughout St. Louis and Missouri, despite setbacks at the ballot box and within legislative chambers. But activists also concede that policy alone won't bring St. Louis together: It'll require people of all stripes acknowledging the realities of a racially divided region and state.

Gov. Eric Greitens sits down for an interview with St. Louis Public Radio in downtown St. Louis on July 17, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In the span of a week, Gov. Eric Greitens unveiled two high-profile proposals: A proposal aimed at reducing violent crime in St. Louis and a statewide prescription drug monitoring program.

Critics of the Republican governor contended the plans lacked specificity – and questioned whether either proposal would stem the tide of St. Louis violence or opioid abuse. But in an interview with St. Louis Public Radio on Monday, Greitens positioned his two plans as "bold" action that should have been taken a long time ago.

State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. joined St. Louis on the Air on Thursday to discuss his freshman year as a state representative and his plans for the future.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Democratic State Representative Bruce Franks Jr., representing District 78 in St. Louis, joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Thursday to reflect on his first year as a state lawmaker. He also discussed the challenges facing his district and the state of Missouri going forward.

Downtown St. Louis,  looking east
File photo | Brent Jones | St. Louis Beacon

After the difficult process this year of piecing together Missouri’s budget, lawmakers believe they’ve found a way to get more money for vital state services: Cutting tax credits.

But a report from state Auditor Nicole Galloway’s office shows that even with big changes to popular incentives, it could be years before the state saves a significant amount of money.

State Rep. Bruce Franks takes part in a recording of Politically Speaking at Yaquis on Cherokee.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies shook things up, recording the show with state Rep. Bruce Franks on Wednesday in front of a live audience at Yaquis on Cherokee in St. Louis.

Franks, a St. Louis Democrat, was elected to the Missouri House last year to represent the 78th District, which stretches from Carr Square to Dutchtown in the eastern part of the city.

Carr Square residents Kevin Costello and Joseph Futrell gather petitions against Biddle House outside the public forum introducing the agencies that applied to run it on Wed. May, 25, 2016.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

A new homeless shelter north of downtown St. Louis violates the U.S. Constitution by promoting segregation, according to a complaint lodged Monday with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development by two St. Louis-area state representatives.  

File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A freshman Democratic lawmaker from St. Louis has his first major victory: persuading the Republican-controlled Missouri House to restore funding for a jobs program that Gov. Eric Greitens wants to cut entirely.

 

The amendment sponsored by Bruce Franks would put $6 million toward the state’s youth summer jobs program in St. Louis and Kansas City.

This is Franks' first time running for office.
File photo by Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated with statement from Tishaura Jones)

State Rep. Bruce Franks will not run for St. Louis mayor.

Franks, a St. Louis Democrat, currently holds office as the State Representative for the 78th District of Missouri. On Thursday, he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he was making the necessary moves to become a write-in mayoral candidate in the April 4 general election. That would have put him on a collision course with Alderman Lyda Krewson, who narrowly won Tuesday’s Democratic primary for mayor.

But, on Friday morning, Franks then told St. Louis Public Radio he was reversing course and will not be pursuing the mayor’s office. He said he was concerned Republican Gov. Eric Greitens would leave the 78th House District seat vacant until 2018 if he prevailed.

Three men stand at a podium with microphones at St. Louis City Hall.
Joseph Leahy | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft kicked off a media campaign in the marbled rotunda of St. Louis City Hall on Monday to inform the public about Missouri's new voter ID law, which takes effect June 1.

The law that voters gave legislators the constitutional authority to enact in November will require any voter who can’t show a valid photo ID to either provide supplemental documents and their signature or cast a provisional ballot. The first election to be affected takes place Aug. 8.

File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

In just three weeks, Missouri saw the installation of a GOP legislative supermajority, the inauguration of Republican statewide officials and Gov. Eric Greitens’ first State of the State address. These ceremonies came as Missouri’s political leaders appear ready to pass seismic policy changes  – and deal with a worsening budget situation.

As is customary when I spent time at Missouri’s beautiful Capitol, I pulled together some odds and ends to provide a bit more context about the big-ticket items on the state’s legislative and executive radar.

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