Jo Mannies | KCUR

Jo Mannies

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter.  She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

New Missouri Gov. Mike Parson called for “debating with respect’’ as he pledged Monday to set a new tone in the state Capitol while staying true to the Republican Party’s conservative policies.

To illustrate his point, Parson met privately with Republicans and Democrats – including most of the state’s members of Congress – before addressing the General Assembly to formally mark his takeover of state government.

Parson’s 15-minute speech was conciliatory in its message, even as it was filled with veiled criticisms of his predecessor, fellow Republican Eric Greitens. The former governor resigned less than two weeks ago amid scandal and controversy over his personal and political behavior.

The Missouri House committee investigating allegations against Gov. Eric Greitens has rejected his lawyers’ request that they be allowed to cross-examine the panel’s witnesses.

The committee’s decision Tuesday was aimed at preventing what one member called a “filibuster’’ by the governor's legal team in order to slow down their proceedings. The panel noted that the lawyers already had interviewed most of its previous and potential witnesses.

Standing in a light rain in the shadow of the state Capitol, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens blamed “rip-off artists” in the state’s low-income housing program “who thought they ran Missouri” for many of his legal troubles and the threat of his impeachment.

But recalling his past as a Navy SEAL, Greitens declared Thursday that they won’t succeed because he was taught to never quit.

Missouri voters could have several marijuana proposals to choose from this fall, along with ballot issues that seek to increase the state’s minimum wage and change Missouri’s process for crafting legislative districts.

Backers turned in signatures for six initiative-petition proposals by Sunday’s deadline. Four of them deal with marijuana.

Two of the proposals would legalize marijuana for medical use, while two others would legalize it for recreational use as well.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is launching one probe into Gov. Eric Greitens’ activities while clearing him in another.

Hawley’s deputy chief of staff said Thursday that it is looking into the charitable activities of a nonprofit called The Mission Continues, which was set up several years ago by Greitens – before he was a candidate – to help fellow military veterans.


When it comes to Gov. Eric Greitens’ legal troubles, the split among Missouri Republicans was obvious Monday during back-to-back news conferences.

Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson, a Republican from Poplar Bluff, announced that he has set up a bipartisan committee to investigate the issues surrounding the governor’s indictment Thursday for allegedly taking a photo of a partially nude woman without her consent.

Right after the speaker’s brief event, two St. Louis area lawmakers held a rival news conference that urged the governor to resign.

Amid a sex scandal that threatens his political future, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has canceled plans to hold an event Tuesday in St. Peters to promote his tax-cut proposal.

 

Greitens was scheduled to appear at Arrowhead Building Supply, which provides building materials to contractors.

Updated January 11 at 4:20 p.m. with Gardner investigation —  Missouri House and Senate Republican leaders issued almost identical statements of concern Thursday as they otherwise declined comment on the sex scandal swirling around Gov. Eric Greitens.

Using the bad weather as an excuse, most lawmakers fled the state Capitol, and both chambers adjourned swiftly until next Tuesday.

However, a bipartisan group of senators – all frequent critics of the governor – announced they were sending a letter asking state Attorney General Josh Hawley to investigate the matter.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens used his State of the State address Wednesday to announce a proposal to cut state taxes this year, even as the state budget is still adjusting to earlier state and federal tax cuts that are just now going into effect.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens cast a key vote Friday to block state spending for its low-income housing tax credit program, saying such development efforts “sound nice, but don’t get results.”

The Republican governor is among the state officials who sit on the Missouri Housing Development Commission, which oversees construction projects that receive state assistance, primarily through state tax credits.

Less than two weeks after U.S. Sen. Al Franken headlined the Missouri Democratic Party’s biggest event of the year, the Minnesota Democrat is back in the news over a groping allegation that is stirring up the state’s U.S. Senate race.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. and a longtime friend of Franken’s, announced Thursday that Missouri food banks will be getting $30,000 from her – representing the campaign aid she has received from Franken’s political action committee since 2006.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has sent a scathing letter to the state’s two U.S. senators – including fellow Republican Roy Blunt – that accuses them of ignoring problems at the state-run St. Louis Veterans Home and trying to shift the responsibility to him.

In the letter, sent Thursday, Greitens appeared to take offense at an earlier letter that Blunt and Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill had jointly sent to him this week asking for an investigation into accusations of patient mistreatment.

Updated 7:15 p.m. July 24 with Senate reconvening — The Missouri General Assembly’s special session dealing with new abortion restrictions resumed Monday, though senators declined to take immediate action on Sen. Andrew Koenig’s bill. Several Republican senators were absent, which meant there weren’t enough votes to kill a Democratic filibuster.

There was a sense of urgency when Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens called the first special session on May 18, aimed primarily at reopening an aluminum-smelting operation that had been southeast Missouri’s largest employer.

But in the weeks since Republicans gave the new governor what he wanted, there’s been no communication between smelting-plant officials and the state agency tasked with approving lower utility rates for such projects. However, leaders in the area are pinning their job-creation hopes on the other issue in that special session — a new steel mill that could employ up to 200 people.

For 118 years, Missouri has been represented in the U.S. Capitol’s esteemed Statuary Hall by two statues of slavery opponents from the 1800s: Francis Preston Blair Jr., and Thomas Hart Benton (the politician, not the painter.)

That’s likely to change, according to U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill, who issued a rare joint news release a few days ago to declare, in effect, that they’re wild about Harry S. Truman and optimistic his statue will soon bump Blair’s.

U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, a Republican from Ballwin, has upended Missouri’s 2018 expected contest for the U.S. Senate by announcing Monday that she won’t challenge Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill.

Wagner instead plans to seek re-election for the House seat she has held since 2013.

She had been expected to announce her Senate candidacy in the next few weeks.  A number of Republicans and Democrats already had been privately maneuvering to run for her 2nd District seat, once she declared her Senate bid.

Just hours before Missouri’s new fiscal year begins, Gov. Eric Greitens on Friday announced that he was trimming more than $250 million in budgeted state spending, concerned that the state’s income would not cover all of legislators’ allocations.

Most of the trims, called “withholds,” are temporary and could be restored if the state’s finances improve. They largely affect dozens of programs in the state’s departments of health, social services and higher education.  For example, Greitens is withholding $60 million of the state’s share of Medicaid spending but predicts the money likely won’t be needed to match the federal portion of the Medicaid spending.

When it goes into its second special session Monday, the Missouri General Assembly will focus on a frequent — and arguably, favorite — target: local control.

On issues ranging from gun rights to anti-discrimination regulations, Republican leaders have made it clear that they believe there should be a consistent law across Missouri. That’s why since 2007, they’ve approved bills to bar communities from enacting stricter gun laws, overturned Kansas City’s higher minimum wage (there’s an action pending against St. Louis’ higher wage, too), and tossed out Columbia’s plastic bag ban.

As promised, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is calling lawmakers back to Jefferson City — for the second time — to target organizations and local governments that support abortion rights.

The session begins next Monday. “I'm pro-life, and I believe that we need to defend life and promote a culture of life here in the state of Missouri,” the governor said in his announcement on Facebook.

Updated 7:45 p.m. May 22  with number of bills filed Monday – On the eve of his first legislative special session, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and his allied nonprofit group are attacking one of the pivotal legislators  needed to win approval of the governor’s favored bill.

The nonprofit group is called A New Missouri and can collect unlimited donations from unidentified donors. It is targeting state Sen. Doug Libla, a Republican whose southeast Missouri district includes the now-closed aluminum smelting plant that Greitens hopes to reopen, along with a possible steel mill.

Libla says he supports the projects. But the senator questions some provisions in the expected special-session bill that he says could reduce state oversight over Ameren, which provides electricity to much of eastern Missouri.

Missouri lawmakers solved the puzzle over federally mandated IDs on Thursday night, sending Republican Gov. Eric Greitens a bill that would ease travelers’ and military members’ worries come January.

It was one of several pieces of legislation that reached the finish line ahead of the 6 p.m. Friday deadline for the 2017 session. Here’s a look at Thursday’s action:

Updated May 30 with news of appeal — Missouri's attorney general will appeal a federal court ruling that struck down parts of the state's limits on campaign finance.

In a statement released Tuesday, Republican Josh Hawley said it was his duty as attorney general to defend the laws and constitution of Missouri. A federal judge earlier this month kept in place donation limits, but threw out a ban on certain committee-to-committee transfers.

Seventy percent of voters approved the amendment in November.

Flanked by family, friends and four former mayors, Lyda Krewson became St. Louis’ 46th mayor on Tuesday — and, as she was sure to note, the first woman to do so.

Her address then took a swift, and somewhat surprising turn as she signaled that one of her main goals is to encourage an urban coalition that includes St. Louis County and Kansas City.

While Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and potential GOP rival U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner collect millions of dollars in campaign donations, many Missouri officials are raising far less as they adjust to new state campaign donation limits.

Campaign finance reports from Jan. 1 to March 31 also showed that Gov. Eric Greitens spent more than a half-million dollars in that timespan, with a large chunk going toward a media services firm run by Georgia-based consultant Nick Ayers, who also has done work for Vice President Mike Pence.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is the state’s first chief executive to set up nonprofit groups that can raise unlimited amounts of money from unknown donors.

The governor’s chief advisor, Austin Chambers, says there’s nothing unusual about it — and he’s right. Governors in Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts and Georgia, as well as New York Mayor Bill DiBlasio, are among the politicians who have set up similar nonprofit organizations, or have allies who have set them up.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley plans to be in court today to support a federal lawsuit that challenges former President Barack Obama’s order to expand the nation’s overtime rules to cover about 4 million more workers.

It’s the second time Hawley has targeted the federal government since he took office Jan. 9 – and in line with his campaign pledge to challenge any federal action that he believes is illegal or against Missouri’s interests.

(Updated January 18)  Members of the Missouri House have taken a big step toward delivering a right-to-work law to Missouri.

On Wednesday, the House initially passed state Rep. Holly Rehder’s legislation, which would bar unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues. The Sikeston Republican’s bill, which passed 101-58, also paves the way for criminal penalties for anybody that violates the proposal.

As Missouri Governor-elect Eric Greitens prepares to be sworn in Monday, he’s completing a week filled with thanking the folks who helped get him there.

“I will always remember that I am standing here because of you,’’ Greitens said Saturday as he addressed supporters gathered in a Maryland Heights warehouse for his last official rally before taking office.

Once perceived as all-powerful, Missouri’s two major political parties have been relegated to the balcony ever since the state got rid of campaign-donation limits in 2008.  That change allowed the bulk of the state’s political cash to flow directly to the candidates. 

The state Republican and Democratic parties found most of their income eliminated, and ended up being beholden to their top politicians for payments just to keep their offices open and staffed. 

But now, unless the courts rule otherwise, Missouri once again has campaign donation limits for some elective offices, courtesy of Amendment 2, which almost 70 percent of the state's voters approved last month. 

Updated Dec. 8  from Dec. 1 article to reflect more donations and suit actually filed - Opponents filed suit Wednesday to block part of Missouri’s new campaign donation law slated to go into effect Thurday. The suit doesn't challenge the new campaign-finance limits, but does ask the court to block a ban on some donors.

Meanwhile, some politicians – notably Gov.-elect Eric Greitens – appear to be taking advantage of the guaranteed one-month window to stock up on cash before the new limits go into effect. On Wednesday, the final day of unlimited donations, Greitens collected $2,382,860.

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