Missouri General Assembly

Updated at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 21 with governor's office declining comment — A nonprofit that seeks to overturn wrongful convictions has asked Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens to put Tuesday’s scheduled execution on hold.

The Midwest Innocence Project said new DNA evidence presented last week shows Marcellus Williams didn’t kill former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Felicia Gayle in 1998.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Michelle Tyrene Johnson scrolls back to a Facebook post she made in July with news about the national NAACP supporting a travel advisory in a single state for the first time.

“My comment with this is: ‘I have always had the policy that I don't travel in Missouri at night unless I'm on I-70 because parts of the state are just that openly racist,’” she says

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.

JO MANNIES / St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Senate is scheduled to debate a bill this week that would add new regulations for clinics providing abortions. Its supporters, including Gov. Eric Greitens, say these will protect the health and safety of Missouri women, but abortion rights advocates say the legislation is designed to deny access to safe and legal abortion. We talk with both sides about this bill and how the abortion debate plays out in Missouri, year after year.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Can a sweet treat help narrow a gender gap in the technology field? Today, the founder of Kansas City Women in Technology walks us through how a mother/daughter coding class could get more girls interested in pursuing it as a career. Then, we discuss the upcoming special session that will focus on considering abortion regulations in Missouri. Joining us is Democratic Rep.

Kevin Collison / CityScene KC

A task force established by Gov. Greitens to examine state tax credit policy has returned with recommendations that preservationists say would substantially cut the historic tax credit program and make it much more difficult to utilize.

Missouri Democratic Party Leader Looks To Rebuild

Jul 7, 2017
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Democrats across the country suffered bruising electoral defeats in November 2016. Now, Missouri Democrats are looking to the 2018 elections and trying to rebuild.

Stephen Webber, who has chaired the Missouri Democratic Party since last year, is coming up with a plan he thinks could combat the issues that plagued his party last time around. Webber was elected to lead after losing a narrow fall race for Missouri Senate District 19 to Republican Caleb Rowden. 

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Urban parts of Kansas City have seen a rapid increase in apartment building, and the trend isn't expected to change anytime soon. Today, we find out what's behind the boom and see how it might change the metro. Then, Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Webber discusses the future of his party, and his plans to reverse recent troubles at the ballot box.

CAROLINA HIDALGO / ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

Governor Eric Greitens had a busy afternoon last Friday, June 30. He signed a major change to employment law, making it much harder for a fired employee to prove a discrimination case. He vetoed a bipartisan compromise that would have preserved a tax credit for low-income seniors and disabled people. And he signed the state budget—while also withholding more than $250 million in spending. Host Brian Ellison talks with KCUR's Kyle Palmer to catch you up on the political news of the weekend and give you an update on what might come next out of Missouri's Capitol.

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.

University of Missouri-Kansas City

Update: This story was updated at 4:00 p.m. to include Missouri Governor Eric Greitens' veto statement.

Despite gaining approval from the Missouri House and Senate for $48 million in state bond funding for its proposed Downtown Campus for the Arts, the University of Missouri Board of Curators announced today that it would instead "develop plans for an alternative funding match ... rather than seek funding from the state under the 50-50 matching program for capital projects."

Unsatisfied with the extent of the Senate’s new proposed abortion restrictions, a Missouri House committee restored some provisions Monday, including one that gives the attorney general the ability to enforce any abortion law at any time.

Republicans on the House Committee for Children and Families said they added back the provisions, which had been stripped from the bill the Senate passed last week as a means of protecting against Democratic filibusters, because they didn't want to be a rubber stamp for the Senate.

BOWLING GREEN, Mo. — After Missouri Democrats were routed in rural areas last year, the party’s leaders promised to be more aggressive in fielding candidates for the legislative districts ceded to Republicans.

Accomplishing that goal may require them to promote and fund House and Senate aspirants with socially conservative views on abortion — a strategy that makes some uneasy in a party that largely supports abortion rights. The talk also comes as the legislature holds a special session to strengthen abortion restrictions in Missouri.


A Not-So-Extraordinary Session

Jun 18, 2017
Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

Back in February, St. Louis passed a law that some say placed too many restrictions on anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers. In April, a federal judge struck down many of Missouri's restrictive regulations on abortion clinics. And last week, Gov. Eric Greitens called lawmakers back for an "extraordinary session" to pass a bill in response to all of that. But these two lawmakers think the session, and the reasons for it, aren't so extraordinary.

Republican lawmakers pushed an abortion bill through the Missouri Senate this week, but were unable to secure many of the provisions they wanted.

Democrats are happy with a watered-down bill, but unhappy with having to deal with another attempt to further restrict access to abortion and that it came during a special legislative session.

Updated at 6:30 a.m. June 15 with Senate passing abortion bill — Missouri senators passed legislation early Thursday that would require annual health inspections of abortion clinics and enact other new restrictions on the procedure.

Amidst Missouri lawmakers' ongoing special session focused on abortion, there will be competing pro-life and pro-choice rallies at the state capitol Wednesday.

Republican Gov. Eric Greitens is hosting what his office calls a “Pro-Life Celebration” in the capitol building Wednesday afternoon. Immediately prior to that gathering, a coalition of Missouri pro-choice groups will also hold a rally.

Organizers of what is being called the “People’s Session Rally” say it is specifically a response to the special legislative session called by Greitens to discuss abortion issues.

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.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

One Missouri lawmaker who won't be back for any special sessions this summer is Kansas City's Randy Dunn; the representative resigned last week to begin a new job in Omaha. Dunn was a triple minority in the Missouri General Assembly: A Democrat, a person of color and an openly gay man. He joined us for an exit interview to give us an unvarnished look at the way things work in Jefferson City.

University of Missouri

University of Missouri System President Mun Choi on Friday outlined plans for addressing $94 million in potential budget cuts over the next two years.

Besides a $19.6 million reduction in its state allocation, Choi said, the university system's budget problems have been "compounded by the dramatically lower enrollments we're facing especially here at the Columbia campus."

Elementary school kids form a line behind their teacher as they prepare to tour the House chamber in the Missouri Capitol building.

Statistically, about one in every nine of these kids will have a major depressive episode between the ages of 12 and 17, according to the Missouri Department of Mental Health.

State lawmakers, who draft laws that regulate and fund many mental health programs, just wrapped up their 2017 session.

More than half of Missouri’s counties don’t have a licensed psychiatrist, and nearly half don’t have a licensed psychologist.  

A day before Missouri’s new voter ID law takes effect, a coalition of civil rights groups and Democratic politicians warned Wednesday that the law could disenfranchise minority voters and older people.

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, whose office oversees elections, scoffed at the concerns, arguing that “if you’re a registered voter, you’ll be able to vote.”

Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri General Assembly’s first special session during Eric Greitens' governorship has come and gone, but the state's chief executive has signaled that more legislative overtime could be on the way. Today, we discuss that might mean for Missouri's part-time lawmakers.

Catherine Wheeler / KCUR 89.3

At the end of the 2017 legislative session, we took the podcast on the road to ask an important question: are Kansas City's communities of color being heard in Jefferson City?  

This podcast was recorded live at the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church in Kansas City, Missouri. 

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ first special session was a success.

On Friday, the Senate passed a bill 24-5 designed to reopen an aluminum smelting plant once operated by Noranda, as well as to build a new steel plant nearby. The bill will take effect the moment the Republican governor signs it.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

The president of the Kansas City, Missouri, chapter of the NAACP told reporters and members of the community Tuesday that there was an “ugly urgency" to call on Governor Eric Greitens to veto Senate Bill 43.

The bill weakens protection for minorities and women, Rev. Rodney Williams said, by making it harder to prove discrimination is the cause of an employer’s disciplinary behavior.

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.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

 

Kansas City is the largest city in Missouri. But sometimes, it feels like its interests aren't at the forefront of the discussion in Jefferson City. Two former Missouri legislators turned Kansas City council members talk about how the city's priorities fared during the 2017 session and what's on their agenda for the future.  

Missouri Republicans had a lot to be optimistic about when the General Assembly convened in January. For the first time nearly a decade, the GOP held the reins of power in the executive and legislative branches — giving the party a prime chance to pass longstanding policy initiatives.

That optimism turned out to be warranted, especially when it came to overhauling the state’s labor and legal climate. But the process was anything but smooth. 

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