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On November 8,  Missouri voters will decide on a number of ballot questions, the most controversial being a photo voter ID amendment and a pair of cigarette taxes. 

But a far less attention-grabbing question is a measure that could affect sales taxes on services. 

Constitutional Amendment 4 would ban sales and use taxes on any service that was not already being taxed as of Jan. 1, 2015.

In this episode, Suzanne digs into the sacred geometry and mysterious happenings surrounding a giant octagon in Belton, Missouri. 

Courtesy Lyal Strickland

Lyal Strickland

Lyal Strickland’s day job, raising grass-fed beef cattle on 900 acres or so just north of Springfield in Buffalo, Missouri, says as much about his authenticity as his rocky, heart-wrenching songs.

UPDATED: Democratic leaders in the Missouri House are suggesting that likely state representative-elect Steve Roberts Jr. reconsider taking the post in the wake of sexual assault allegations leveled against him by a fellow new legislator, Cora Faith Walker.

Roberts and Walker are both St. Louis-area Democrats who in August won their respective primaries in the 77th and 74th districts. They face no opponents in the November election.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt and his Democratic rival, Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, stuck to their long-standing playbooks of pitches and attacks during their first – and possibly, only – joint appearance on the same stage.

They were among five U.S. Senate contenders on stage at Friday’s forum in Branson sponsored by the Missouri Press Association. 

Although Kander has accepted two other debate invitations, Blunt so far has not.

Joe Gratz / Creative Commons-Flickr

Does a prison’s failure to regard atheism as a “religious preference” violate the Constitution?

That’s the question raised by a former Missouri prisoner, who contended the failure of the Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC) to list “atheist” on prison intake forms violated his First Amendment rights.

The case was filed in federal court in Kansas City more than four-and-a-half years ago by Randall Jackson, a persistent DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) offender who served prison terms from 2006-08 and again from 2010-2014.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

With just over 40 days until election day, Hillary Clinton's campaign opened an office in Kansas City Sunday.

More than a hundred people gathered at the grand opening in the Crossroads to sign up for volunteer opportunities, take selfies with life-sized Hillary cutouts, and connect with other supporters. 

Most polls have given Republican nominee Donald Trump a big lead over the Democrat in Missouri, but some have shown the state as a toss-up.

Geologist Carrie Elliott takes the U.S. Geological Survey speedboat out on the Missouri River to monitor the water quality and habitat.
Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

Farming in the fertile Midwest is tied to an environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. But scientists are studying new ways to lessen the Midwest’s environmental impact and improve water quality.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts the so-called “dead zone,” an area of sea without enough oxygen to support most marine life, to grow larger than the size of Connecticut, or roughly 6,000 square miles.  


GOP incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri responded Tuesday to a much talked-about political ad by Secretary of State Jason Kander, fighting back as his Democratic challenger grows closer in the polls.

St. Louis-based Monsanto, a world agribusiness leader, has agreed to be acquired by the German company Bayer.

Bayer will pay $57 billion dollars, or $128 per share, in a deal that has been in the works since last spring. Regulators still must approve the move. Two other mergers are underway in the industry, with Dow set to combine with DuPont (already the owner of Iowa-based DuPont Pioneer) and ChemChina planning to buy the Swiss company Syngenta.

Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2015

The uninsured rates in Kansas and Missouri continue to drop.

But they’re declining faster in states that have expanded Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income families, seniors and people with disabilities.

New data out Tuesday from the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that Kansas’ uninsured rate dropped to 9.1 percent in 2015, down from 10.2 percent the year before and 12.3 percent in 2013.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

As he gears up for next week's veto session, Governor Jay Nixon is maintaining his stance on two controversial bills — a gun law that would loosen concealed carry regulations and a voter ID law. 

Both bills were passed with veto-proof majorities in both chambers, and the Republican legislature is expected to try and override the vetoes. 

Still, Nixon is doubling down on his position.

With regards to legislation that would require photo identification to vote in Missouri, he says Republicans are trying to bring attention to what he calls "a nonexistent problem."

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

As the race for the U.S. Senate seat from Missouri is tightening, the candidates are taking on the bread-and-butter issues they hope will resonate with voters.

Secretary of State Jason Kander, who is challenging GOP incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt, on Wednesday met with a group of college students and university administrators about the high cost of college.

Kander told the group that he believes those costs – and resulting high student loan debt – is a middle-class issue that affects generations of families.

Farmers can expect a paycut, thanks mostly to an abundance of corn and soybeans.
File: Kathleen Masterson / Harvest Public Media

This year will be another tight one for farmers, at least if the federal government’s predictions are correct.

Farm income will sink to its lowest point since 2009, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast. The USDA expects net farm income will drop 11.5 percent to $71.5 billion this year, which would mark the third-straight year of falling income.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Military installations in Missouri face budget uncertainty, according to U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.  McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat who sits on the Armed Services Committee, has been touring bases in across the state this week. She talked with people who maintain B-2 stealth bombers at Whiteman Air Force Base, before making her way to the Honeywell plant in Kansas City, where parts for nuclear weapons are produced. 

She says she’s hearing that uncertainty about the military budget is making it harder to plan ahead.

Central Missouri farmer Gary Wenig plans to plant trap crops around his high tunnel in an effort to stop pests from eating his produce.
Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

In an effort to turn away from chemical pesticides, which have the potential to damage the environment, some farmers are looking in a new direction in the age-old, quiet struggle on farm fields of farmers versus pests. They’re warding off intruding insects and noxious weeds with bugs and chickens.

As St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay sees it, the crowd that packed Hillary Clinton’s new local office Tuesday night could help persuade her Democratic presidential campaign to direct more attention — and resources to Missouri.

Win or lose, such action could help the state’s entire Democratic ticket.

“We need to show the support is here, to pull her over the top,’’ Slay told reporters, shortly before addressing the shoulder-to-shoulder audience that spilled onto the sidewalk outside the Clinton campaign office at 4039 Lindell Blvd.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has tapped two veteran GOP operatives to head up his state operation.

Aaron Willard, who has held several key posts in the Republican-controlled General Assembly, is Trump’s new state director. Todd Abrajano, a consultant with similar GOP ties, is to serve as Trump’s communications director.

Corbis-Creative Commons

An inmate serving life without parole in a Missouri prison is suing to receive therapy for gender dysphoria disorder.

Jessica Hicklin, a 37-year-old transgender woman, has been diagnosed by multiple doctors with the disorder but has been denied access to hormone therapy to treat the condition, according to Lambda Legal, an LBGT legal organization based in New York. The organization filed the lawsuit Monday in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri Eastern Division.

Courtesy The Brad Cunningham Band

The Brad Cunningham Band
Every Inch of Texas

It’s too easy to forget that Kansas City’s traditional country music is still out there.

Part of the blind spot is the residual glow from the flash of contemporary country acts that, to their credit, regularly land in town. Some of the neglect comes from music so stratified that acts without a hyphen (i.e., not alt-country, bro-country, etc.) have trouble persuading audiences to bridge beyond their favorite sub-genres.

MoBikeFed / Flickr - CC

Any hopes Gov. Jay Nixon may have about patching things up with Missouri’s top public defender will have to be put on hold for a while longer.

Budget tensions came to a head last week when Michael Barrett, director of the state’s public defender’s office, assigned the governor to defend an assault case in Cole County, Missouri.

The head of Missouri's public defender system appointed Gov. Jay Nixon to handle a case in protest of withheld funding. So, just how dire is the situation for Missouri's public defenders?


Courtesy The Rainmakers

Rightfully categorized as a heartland rock band in the vein of John Mellencamp, The Rainmakers are one of the most notable bands to emerge from Kansas City.

They remain local favorites more than 30 years after the group’s formation.

3 reasons we’re listening to The Rainmakers this week:

1. The Rainmakers’ self-titled debut album was released by Mercury Records in 1986. Two tracks, “Downstream” and “Let My People Go-Go,” were minor hits.

Contractor Mike Hudson and his team pull apart an old barn in Malta Bend, Missouri. The pieces will be sold as reclaimed wood.
Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

Larry Gerdes is having his barn taken down and disassembled in Malta Bend, Mo. It’s about the size of a three-car garage but stands much taller in a clearing surrounded by six-foot stalks of corn.

The barn’s exterior is graying, part of its roof is missing and there’s a gaping hole looking out from the hayloft. It’s about 100 years old and it’s not really useful.

“It’s deteriorated and it would cost a lot of money to repair it,” Gerdes says. “And it doesn’t fit into the modern farming. Unless you got two cows to let them loaf inside, nothing fits and it’s just obsolete.”

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

The U.S. Supreme Court transformed the landscape of the abortion debate this summer with a sweeping decision throwing a broad class of abortion restrictions into question, and thrusting Missouri back into the center of the abortion debate.

The Planned Parenthood clinic at Cleaver Boulevard and Troost Avenue in Midtown Kansas City dispenses birth control and provides reproductive health exams, but doesn’t do everything a woman might expect from Planned Parenthood. 

The year is 2091 and you have a business trip to make to Kansas City. You wake up in the morning, ask the speaker in your wall for a car to be brought to your door to take you there. A car arrives, no driver, naturally, and you set up camp in the back seat with your laptop to prepare for a big meeting. The car, dodging traffic reported along Forest Park Parkway, hops onto I-70 and into a line of other driver-less cars along a solar-paneled highway.

Echo Bluff State Park is officially open.

Gov. Jay Nixon cut the ribbon Saturday on Missouri's newest park, which is being promoted as a hub from which visitors can explore the state's Ozark region.


A legal challenge to Missouri’s execution protocol brought by four taxpayers has been rejected by the Missouri Court of Appeals.

In a decision Tuesday, the appeals court upheld a lower court’s dismissal of the taxpayers’ claims just days after they filed their lawsuit.

The lawsuit sought to halt the scheduled execution by lethal injection of convicted murderer David Zink. The execution went ahead as scheduled, on July 14, 2015.

Zink had been found guilty of first-degree murder, kidnapping and rape in the 2001 death of 19-year-old Amanda Morton.

Photo courtesy of Katherine Dumas

On June 30, Governor Jay Nixon appointed Aliki Barnstone as Missouri’s fourth Poet Laureate.

A creative writing professor at the University of Missouri–Columbia, her work has often appeared in UMKC’s New Letters magazine.  

The daughter of Greek visual artist, Elli Tzalopoulou-Barnstone, and American writer, Willis Barnstone, Aliki Barnstone was destined for a life in the arts.