Erica Hunzinger | KCUR

Erica Hunzinger

Editor, Harvest Public Media

Erica Hunzinger is the editor of Harvest Public Media, based at KCUR.

Previously, Erica was the political/education/criminal justice editor at St. Louis Public Radio and spent 5 years on The Associated Press' Central Region editing desk. She also worked as an editor at The News Journal in Wilmington, Delaware, and a sports copy editor at The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Born and bred in central Illinois, Erica branched out to the University of Missouri-Columbia for her journalism degree and earned an MA in Humanities (with an emphasis on poetry) from the University of Chicago.

She's a farmer's granddaughter, quite familiar with the smell of cow manure and processed soybeans, tries to nurture flowers and plants and pays way too much attention to baseball. 

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill won’t vote for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, the Democrat said in a news release Wednesday.

After weeks of deliberation, McCaskill said she opposes Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court because of so-called dark money — donations to nonprofits that keep the source secret.

K. Trimble / Wikimedia Commons

Updated Sept. 14, 2018, with court ruling — The wide-ranging initiative petition that would change how Missouri draws its legislative districts and effectively ban lobbyist gifts won't be on the Nov. 6 ballot, a judge ruled Friday.

The United States and Mexico announced this week there’s a tentative deal in their renegotiation of the nearly 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.

A new book, "Eating NAFTA: Trade, Food Policies and the Destruction of Mexico," looks at the connections between the agricultural and food trade policies that the policy has brought about.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media file photo

Updated Aug. 22, 2018 — Two research arms of the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be moving out of Washington, D.C. Three of Missouri’s U.S. representatives and one from Kansas said Kansas City is the perfect place for those agencies.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Tuesday is Missouri voters’ first chance to weigh in on statewide primary races — including choosing which Republican will take on U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill in November — as well as a crucial union-related ballot measure.

What follows is not an exhaustive list of races and issues on ballots around Missouri, but highlights the major statewide issues, as well as a few local races.

The trade war has come home to roost among U.S. farmers and ranchers whose livelihoods are targeted by tariffs from China, Mexico and Canada. The U.S. Department of Agriculture did something about it Tuesday, announcing it'll spend up to $12 billion in aid, including direct payments to growers. 

Luke X. Martin/KCUR 89.3 and Sen. Claire McCaskill/Flickr - CC

President Donald Trump is coming to Kansas City on Tuesday in part to headline a lunch fundraiser for U.S. Senate hopeful Josh Hawley.

 

It’s good timing: The Missouri GOP primary is two weeks away, and even though the attorney general is widely expected to win the Aug. 7 election, he’s lagging behind Democrat Claire McCaskill when it comes to the money race.

Updated at 8:40 p.m. July 19 to correct numbers in 2nd paragraph —There are few places better to see the effects of an intensifying drought than a hulking, 200-plus-acre complex just off of Interstate 44 in southwest Missouri.

This is the Joplin Regional Stockyards, one of the biggest in the country, selling more than 430,000 head of cattle in 2017 alone. Usually, they’ll have 800 to 900 cows on the block at weekly Wednesday sales. On July 11, they had double that.

Philip Taylor / Creative Commons-Flickr

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed legislation Thursday that will cut the state's top individual income tax rate to 5.4 percent next year.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3 file photo

UMKC's new chancellor won't start the search for a new athletics director until he sees a "working blueprint for the future," he said Tuesday.

C. Mauli Agrawal issued a statement about the athletics department, which is in transition after athletics director Carla Wilson was reassigned last week to the chancellor's office, where she'll be the senior director of student support services. 

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Updated 1:45 p.m. June 15, 2018, with new amount due — The state of Missouri won't pay more than $120,000 to two attorneys former Gov. Eric Greitens' office hired ahead of possible impeachment proceedings, the state Office of Administration said Thursday.

Greitens
Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio file photo

Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens knew there was "sufficient evidence" for the felony charge of computer tampering to go to trial, according to the unredacted agreement between Greitens and the St. Louis Circuit Attorney.

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Updated May 30, 2018 — Missouri Republican Gov. Eric Greitens has resigned after coming under intense scrutiny over allegations of breaking campaign finance rules and participating in sexually coercive behavior and blackmail.

Jo Mannies / St. Louis Public Radio file photo

Missouri’s 2018 General Assembly session will likely be remembered most for the legal and ethical travails of Gov. Eric Greitens. But the Republican-dominated legislature managed to approve numerous policy initiatives — the impact of which may last longer than Greitens’ tenure.

Updated June 1, 2018, with bill signed — Missouri is in the vanguard when it comes to defining what meat is.

It’s an essential, perhaps even existential, question sparked by the growth of plant-based proteins,meat substitutes and lab-grown products. And it’s a topic that, while first passed at the state level Thursday, is also being considered at the federal level.

Missouri Department of Social Services screenshot

People who work with federal food-aid recipients in Missouri and recipients themselves have said the state’s hotline is slow to answer phone calls. State data shows that at times, callers have had to wait up to an hour to talk to someone and that in May 2017, almost a quarter of callers abandoned getting through.

Missouri’s Family Services Division started addressing those concerns in April and said it expects to have new software in place by July to make the call center more efficient and start the food-stamp interview process more quickly.

Erica Hunzinger / Harvest Public Media

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the biggest federal program aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty that millions of Americans find themselves in — sometimes for a few months, sometimes for several years.

Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio file photo

This story has been updated with additional information.

A Missouri House committee report on Gov. Eric Greitens contains graphic details about the affair between the governor and his former hair stylist, including an unwanted sexual encounter and a threat of blackmail.

Joe Carson/Courtesy of Bob Hughes Jr.

On Jan. 19, 1968, Chester Owens Jr., and several other Kansas City leaders posed for a photo with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a TWA lounge. King was passing through due to a speech at Kansas State University. The men had been summoned, “really just there to make him comfortable,” as Owens put it on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Erica Hunzinger / Harvest Public Media/KCUR 89.3

Big cities in the Midwest are gaining ground on the rural communities that, for many decades, have thrived on the edges of urban development.

Erica Hunzinger / KCUR 89.3 file photo

It’s been five months since Missouri’s attorney general, Josh Hawley, announced in a video that he was challenging Democrat Claire McCaskill for her U.S. Senate seat.

On Tuesday, Hawley took aim at McCaskill's tenure and political leanings in a populist stump speech during his first public rally for the Senate.

Erica Hunzinger / KCUR 89.3

Jason Kander spoke to the National Farmers Union conference in his official capacity as the head of a voting rights nonprofit. Yet Monday’s hometown address by the Democrat, which ranged from U.S. trade policy to college affordability, sounded more like a stump speech.

Kander didn’t directly address whether he’d run for office again, telling reporters he’s “focused on making sure we’re still able to hold elections.”

“Then maybe one day I’ll be in one” he added.

Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is due in a St. Louis court on May 14 to face trial on the felony invasion of privacy charge stemming from his 2015 affair.

But prosecutors admitted Wednesday that they don’t have one key piece of evidence: the photo Greitens allegedly took of the woman “in a state of full or partial nudity.”

BigStock Images

Eric Greitens was having a rocky 15 months as Missouri governor even before being charged this week with felony invasion of privacy tied to his 2015 extramarital affair.

So far, his term has been marked by disagreements with fellow Republicans, severe cuts to higher education and a state ethics fine. Questions surround his appointments to the state board of education, the use of a secretive texting app and who’s donating to the nonprofit, run by former campaign staffers, that advocates for his agenda.

bigstock.com

Missouri’s execution drug, the sedative pentobarbital, is made by a compounding pharmacy in a St. Louis suburb, according to a BuzzFeed report published Tuesday.

The identity of the compounding pharmacy has been a state secret, despite lawsuits brought by media outlets and inmates, the latter claiming it was information they needed to know to ensure that executions will not inflict pain and suffering.

File/Harvest Public Media

Partisan politics may meet its match in the 2018 farm bill.

The massive legislation, versions of which will be introduced this spring in the U.S. House and Senate, is shaping up to be less about political affiliations and more about finding common ground.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3 file photo

The attorney for the man whose ex-wife had an affair with Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens says his client has been subpoenaed by a grand jury.

Attorney Al Watkins said in a news release that the ex-husband who secretly recorded his wife's admission of the 2015 affair with Greitens had been asked Monday to testify. The release did not say when that testimony would happen.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3 file photo

The woman at the center of the scandal surrounding Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ extramarital affair in 2015 says she did not give her ex-husband permission to release a secretly recorded conversation to the media and is “extremely distraught that the information has been made public.”

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Missouri's attorney general said Wednesday that he will look into whether Republican Gov. Eric Greitens and his staff are breaking the state's open records laws by using a secretive app that deletes messages after they're read.

Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican who is running for U.S. Senate against Claire McCaskill, announced the decision in a letter to the St. Louis-area Democratic state senator who requested the investigation. 

Updated at 5:15 p.m. with McCulloch statement — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens cited new DNA evidence in postponing Tuesday’s scheduled execution of Marcellus Williams.

Greitens also will appoint a five-member board of inquiry that will include retired Missouri judges. That hasn’t happened since 1997, according to Greitens spokesman Parker Briden.

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