Missouri

Dan Verbeck / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Chief of Police Darryl Forté announced Wednesday morning that he is retiring, effective May 20, 2017. The city's first African-American police chief, Forté made the announcement in a Twitter post.

Courtesy of Mid-America Arts Alliance

With President Donald Trump’s proposal to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mid-America Arts Alliance will widen its advocacy efforts in hopes of preserving funding for the agencies, says Todd Stein, M-AAA's interim chief executive officer.

The Missouri Department of Transport (MoDOT)

Kansas City’s newest bridge officially opens Thursday with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The U.S. 69 Missouri River Bridge connects Platte and Wyandotte Counties. The crossing opened to traffic in December but the finishing touches to a ramp and a pathway for pedestrians and cyclists were just completed.

Missouri is busy upgrading or replacing historic bridges build from the 1930s to the 1950s. A new bridge was recently finished upstream in Atchison and engineers are currently looking at downtown’s 60-year-old Buck O’Neil Bridge.

Roundup, the Monsanto brand name pesticide built on the chemical glyphosate, is used on farm fields and on lawns and gardens.
File: Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

After court documents unsealed Tuesday raised questions about its research methods, chemical giant Monsanto says it did not ghostwrite a 2000 study on the safety of glyphosate, the active ingredient in its flagship pesticide Roundup.

Wikimedia Commons

In 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation creating the interstate highway system that links just about every major city in the United States. The very first stretch of this was an eight-mile stretch of I-70, which started in Missouri and ended in Topeka, Kansas.  

Now, at 2,151 miles, I-70 runs from Baltimore, Maryland, to Provo, Utah. Since it was finished, Kansas and Missouri have been shaped by I-70.

Then-administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Gina McCarthy visits a Missouri farm in 2014 to highlight the Clean Water Rule.
file: Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

President Donald Trump issued an executive order Tuesday directing the Environmental Protection Agency to revise a controversial environmental rule opposed by many Midwest farm groups.

Trump ordered new EPA administrator Scott Pruitt to formally revise the Obama Administration’s 2015 Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the U.S. Rule, which was meant to explain which rivers, streams and creeks are subject to regulation by the EPA.

Organic farmer Liz Graznak and her daughter hunt for weeds in the high tunnel at Happy Hollow Farm in central Missouri.
Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

Liz Graznak runs an organic farm in Jamestown, Missouri, which she calls Happy Hollow Farm. She sells her vegetables to local restaurants, in CSA boxes and at the farmer’s market.  But eight years ago, after falling in love with the idea of growing her own local produce, the farm she runs today looked like a near-impossible dream.

David Slusky and Donna Ginther

The Affordable Care Act has been credited – and blamed – for lots of things, but lowering the divorce rate generally hasn’t been one of them.

Not until now, anyway. A paper co-authored by two KU economists suggests that states that expanded Medicaid saw fewer so-called medical divorces than states, like Kansas and Missouri, that didn’t expand Medicaid.

How so?

Used to be Medicaid had an asset limit. The program’s income eligibility requirements limited the maximum amount of assets and income individuals could possess.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Anti-abortion groups in Missouri helped boost many Republican candidates to victory in November, and they’re now eagerly waiting to see how those lawmakers advance their cause.

Missouri legislators have filed dozens of restrictive abortion bills, including two that would outlaw abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy rather than the current 21-weeks and six days.

Supporters say late-term abortion bans protect the unborn, but opponents say they create undue hardships for women. One such opponent is a Missouri woman who had to leave the state to end her fraught pregnancy,

Courtesy Friends of Arrow Rock

On a bitterly cold afternoon early this winter, Patrick Overton was standing outside the historic Federated Church of Arrow Rock, Missouri, greeting people for the town’s annual folk sing-along. As visitors made their way through the afternoon cold to the warm glow of the church, Overton welcomed old friends, introduced himself to new ones, and joked that it was safe for all to enter because he would not be singing.

Clean Line Energy Partners website

For the second time in three years, a massive electricity line project is back in Missouri seeking approval. 

The Grain Belt Express Clean Line would connect Kansas wind turbines to the eastern states with an 800-mile-long overhead transmission line. The company running the $2 billion project says it has approvals from three of the four states in its path, only Missouri stands in the way.

The transmission line is supported by  utility companies and unlikely bedfellows such as the Sierra Club and Walmart.

Andrew Birgensmith / Kansas City Symphony

The day before Donald Trump's presidential inauguration, reports surfaced that his administration might cut funding for, or eliminate, federal arts agencies.

3 Reasons We're Listening To Erica Joy This Week

Feb 1, 2017
Courtesy Erica Joy

Erica Joy plays her first high-profile show on Friday to celebrate the release of her debut record, a five-song EP called Erica Joy, Introduction.

3 reasons we're listening to Erica Joy this week:

1. Whether by accident or design, Joy is a mysterious figure. The artist from Springfield, Missouri, hasn't released much biographical information, which adds a layer of intrigue to her music.

Rachel A.K. / Creative Commons-Flickr

For the second time, a judge has dismissed a challenge to a Missouri prison policy that conditions early inmate release on participation in programs requiring belief in a deity.

U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan Jr. ruled that the plaintiff, one-time Missouri inmate Randall Jackson, did not meet the requirements for filing a class action and that, in any case, his claims were moot because he was released from prison in December 2014.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

In one of his final public appearances as governor, Jay Nixon stopped at Magna Seating, a small automotive parts manufacturer in Excelsior Springs.

“It’s good to visit people that are working, you know?” Nixon said. “Especially after that first year and a half where everyone was losing their jobs and the economy was tanking.”

A researcher with the federal Agricultural Research Service studies a sample at a vault preserving genetic material in Fort Collins, Colorado.
File: Grace Hood / for Harvest Public Media

Update 1/25/2017: The Agricultural Research Service rescinded its initial directive in an email to employees Tuesday evening.

Employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s main research arm, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), received an email from the division’s chief of staff ordering them to stop publicizing their work.

Jeff Evrard

The Women’s Foundation, a Kansas City-based research and advocacy organization, released its second Status of Women in Missouri Report Thursday.

Although the report shows the state's women making progress in some areas, it also indicates “real areas of concern that require policy solutions to empower women economically,” says Wendy Doyle, the organization’s president and CEO.

Then-Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue visits the U.S. embassy in Uruguay in 2010.
usembassy_montevideo / Flickr

President-elect Donald Trump plans to pick former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to lead the Agriculture Department, a transition official and a source close to the process confirmed to NPR.

Trump is expected to make a formal announcement on Thursday, ending a months-long process that left Agriculture Secretary as the final Cabinet post to be filled.

The Missouri State University Chorale is anxiously anticipating January 20—the day millions of eyes will turn to the nation’s capitol for the inauguration of the 45th U.S. president.  The 50-member choir will be part of the ceremony and has commissioned a new piece for the event.  KSMU’s Michele Skalicky has the story.

Sweet potato consumption in the U.S. nearly doubled over 15  years, from about 4 pounds per person in 2000.
U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr

Sweet potatoes are undergoing a modern renaissance in this country.

While they have always made special appearances on many American tables around the holidays, year-round demand for the root vegetables has grown. In 2015, farmers produced more sweet potatoes than in any year since World War II.

War Effort

“A lot of things were hard to get during World War II and potatoes were easier to raise than some of the other vegetables,” my grandmother Joyce Heise tells me.

Tom Schroeder / Kansas City Wildlands

It took bee expert Mike Arduser about seven months to discover all the bee species living in two small patches of nature preserve in Kansas City.

But with a net and a lot of patience, he found something unexpected: 89 different bee species – including two never before seen in Missouri – pollinating flowering plants.

The surprising diversity is good news for conservationists because many of the bees evolved to fill narrow niches and serve vital roles in pollinating specific native plants.

Greitens workout
Brian Ellison / KCUR 89.3

Laying out a central theme of his first-year agenda, Missouri Gov.-elect Eric Greitens told a group of law enforcement officers, recruits and their families Tuesday that he would have their back when he takes office next week.

Capitol
Marshall Griffin / St. Louis Public Radio

The head of Eric Greitens’ transition team outlined the Missouri governor-elect’s legislative priorities for 2017 and new details on inaugural and transition activities during a conference call on Thursday.

Greitens will be sworn in at noon on Monday, January 9.

Austin Chambers, who will be a senior adviser in the new administration, says Greitens will focus his legislative efforts on laws related to jobs, ethics reform, public safety and education reform.

NIAID / www.flickr.com/photos/niaid/15138207362

A new report from the nonprofit Trust For America’s Health says Kansas meets six of 10 measures related to public health threats while Missouri meets five.

The “Ready or Not” report says Kansas and Nebraska are among 17 states, along with the District of Columbia, that meet six indicators. Missouri was among four states that meet only five.

Download the Trust for America's Health Report: Ready or Not

Many hydroponic operations want to certify as organic to take advantage of the growing organics market.
(File: Pat Blank / for Harvest Public Media)

There is a battle going on in the organic industry over hydroponics, the technique of growing plants without soil. The debate gets at the very heart of what it means to be “organic” and may change the organic food available to grocery store shoppers.

To be labeled as organic, fruits and vegetables are required to be grown without genetic modification or synthetic chemicals, and to meet other rules set out by the Agriculture Department. But what about produce that isn’t grown in the dirt?  

A building on Monsanto's Chesterfield, Missouri, research campus.
file: Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Shareholders of agricultural seed and chemical giant Monsanto agreed to a merger Tuesday, moving the controversial deal one-step closer to fruition.

German drug and chemical maker Bayer plans to pay shareholders $66 billion to take over Missouri-based Monsanto. That breaks down to $128 per share if the merger closes.

A 47-mile stretch of the Katy Trail in Cass County opened Saturday.
Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

The Katy Trail State Park, the nation’s longest rails-to-trails project, now stretches to the outskirts of Kansas City. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon opened a new section of the pathway Saturday, connecting the town of Pleasant Hill in Cass County southeast of Kansas City to Windsor.

The 47-mile stretch, along an old rail corridor, took the Missouri Department of Natural Resources seven years to construct, at a cost of $15.5 million.

Courtesy Brooke Schreier Ganz

Back in February, a nonprofit group called Reclaim the Records filed requests for Missouri birth and death listings from 1910 through 2015.

The California-based outfit describes itself as a “group of genealogists, historians, researchers, and open government advocates who are filing Freedom of Information requests to get public data released back into the public domain.”

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.

Matt Hodapp / Heartland Health Monitor

Missouri’s two Planned Parenthood affiliates on Wednesday morning sued to overturn the state’s highly restrictive abortion laws, a move expected since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down similar laws in Texas in June. 

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Jefferson City, sets up a showdown over state statutes that were enacted in the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which held that the right to an abortion in the early stages of pregnancy is rooted in the Constitution.

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