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Missouri

Despite recent rainfall, more than half of Missouri is still in a drought, hitting hard at one of the state’s key economic engines: agriculture.

Missouri hay — the primary feed for livestock — has hit its lowest production levels in 30 years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Ideally, each acre of pasture produces two tons of hay a year, which would be two of those large circular rolls often seen in farm fields. In 1988, the average acre in Missouri only yielded 1.2 tons, and this year it’s been 1.5 tons.

Funding for running school buses in Missouri could return to state funding goals within five years if the state education department’s request to the legislature is fulfilled.

Missouri education officials outlined a $6.3 billion budget for the 2020 fiscal year to the state Board of Education Tuesday, which asks state lawmakers for more transportation aid and per-student funding as part of a $140 million increase in its budget.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

A federal appeals court ruling in Missouri earlier this week significantly escalated the legal battle over abortion rights, reduced the number of clinics performing surgical abortions in the state to one – in St. Louis – and may be the decision that puts abortion rights back in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, where Brett Kavanaugh may or may not be among the sitting justices.

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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.

Samuel King / KCUR 89.3

Certain affordable housing projects in Missouri have until Oct. 31 to take advantage in $140 million in tax credits. But nonprofits and developers are concerned the state board charged with approving the tax credits won’t act in time.

Samuel King / KCUR 89.3

The Missouri Senate gained another Democrat on Wednesday, as former state Rep. Lauren Arthur took the oath of office.

But because Arthur is taking office before the 2019 regular session, which starts in January, she can only run for re-election once due to term limits.

Arthur was warmly welcomed by her new Senate colleagues after being sworn in during the special session, and said she’s looking forward to the new position.

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The Missouri Supreme Court is expected to decide within months whether state law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. But the American Civil Liberties Union alleges in a lawsuit that the Missouri Commission on Human Rights has determined that LGBTQ people are not protected.

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Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday officially called for a special session of the Missouri General Assembly next month. Drug treatment courts and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education will be among the items on the agenda.

“When I addressed the General Assembly nearly three months ago, I pledged that I would change the tone and work with the legislature,” Parson said in a statement. “This call is a step in delivering that promise. These two issues were a part of the General Assembly’s historic session as they passed a number of their priorities. By working together to come up with a more narrowly defined focus, we will have better served the people of Missouri.”

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Planned Parenthood’s midtown Kansas City clinic can no longer perform medication abortions after its license officially expired on Aug. 10.

Clinic officials say they sought timely renewal of its license, but state health officials delayed it after saying they were unable to conduct a complete inspection of the facility in June.

The clinic had no abortion provider on the premises at the time, having stopped performing medication abortions on March 29 when its previous provider left.

Jason Kander
Brian Ellison / KCUR 89.3

The final slog to the November elections is underway, and Missouri's already wild political year holds the possibility of getting wilder yet. As Democrat Jason Kander pivots from the state and national stage to a Kansas City mayoral run, we get his assessment of the state of Missouri politics. We recap the primary election's top story, the overwhelming defeat of the anti-union "Right to Work" law. And we take a closer look at November's top race: the battle between Claire McCaskill and Josh Hawley that could determine control of the U.S. Senate.

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.

Samuel King/KCUR

Missouri taxpayers generally have no say and little information about some 400 tax districts across the state, according to a new report from the state auditor.

“The law allows for sales taxes to be charged without a vote. The law allows for a lack of transparency and a lack of accountability," Auditor Nicole Galloway said Wednesday during a news conference in Kansas City.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

A Kansas City attorney and abuse victims are calling on the attorneys general of Kansas and Missouri to launch investigations into clergy sexual abuse, similar to the grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania.

Attorney Rebecca Randles said she has hundreds of clients who allege they’ve been abused by a member of the Catholic Church.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

In the latest in an ever growing pile of legal challenges, the principals behind a questionable lab billing scheme at 10 small rural hospitals in Missouri, Kansas, and three other states have been sued by a Mission Hills couple for fraud and conspiracy.

The couple, James and Phyllis Shaffer, allege the defendants fraudulently took majority control of a company, HMC Hospitals, that owns the hospitals and used them as “instrumentalities in the operation of an illegal billing scheme.”

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

A judge has put on hold a case challenging Missouri’s regulation of medication abortions because two pending cases on appeal address some of the same issues.

U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips reasoned that a decision in one of the appellate cases “forms part of the facts that bear on the Court’s analysis in this case.”

Missouri Primary Election Results 2018

Aug 7, 2018
Creative Commons

Tuesday's primary will nominate candidates for the Nov. 6 general election and decide a statewide ballot question, in addition to deciding several local issues. The results below are for U.S. Senate primaries, as well as Kansas City-area state House and Senate races in which candidates faced primary opponents.

These results are unofficial. Keep checking throughout the evening and Wednesday morning for updates.

Farmers in a federal class-action lawsuit filed two main complaints this week against agro-chemical giants Monsanto and BASF regarding the herbicide dicamba, which is blamed for millions of acres of crop damage, especially to soybeans, over the last couple years.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.8

Catholics in and around Kansas City said for the most part they support Pope Francis’ declaration Thursday, in which he officially changed Catholic doctrine to say the death penalty is wrong in all cases.

This is a departure for the church, which has historically accepted the death penalty for the most heinous crimes.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Updated Aug. 1, 2018

The Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission found lots of reasons to stall the expansion of a feedlot near Powell Gardens last week, among them that the corporation that won the permit to expand does not legally exist.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

This story was updated at 5:24 p.m. to include information that the Missouri attorney general's office has begun a criminal investigation into the accident.

Two separate civil lawsuits have been filed over the duck boat accident in Branson, Missouri, that led to deaths of 17 people on July 19.

Experts: Missouri’s Widespread Drought Expected to Get Worse

Jul 26, 2018
U.S. Drought Monitor

Missouri officials considered ways to step up drought response Thursday, the same day the U.S. Drought Monitor said more than 2.5 million people are being affected by the conditions.

Jackson County has become the latest government body to sue drug companies and distributors for their alleged complicity in the opioid epidemic.

The suit, filed on Wednesday in federal court in Kansas City, names dozens of businesses, including drug giants like Johnson & Johnson and pharmacies like CVS. It says at least 308 people in Jackson County died of opioid overdoses between 2013 and 2017.

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. 

'Duck Boats' Have A History Of Fatal Accidents

Jul 20, 2018
Josh Miller/Flickr

The death toll from the capsized tourist "duck boat" in Branson, Missouri, has risen to 17, making it the deadliest accident involving a duck boat in North America.

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.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

When Cody Goodwin, of Independence, Missouri, was 24, he had already been hooked on opioids, including heroin, for years. His sister decided jail was the only way he could be cut off from drugs, so she reported him to the police.

A federal judge has frozen the assets  of 10 Kansas City-area companies that allegedly ran phony sweepstakes contests, preying mainly on the elderly.

U.S. District Judge Greg Kays on Tuesday also ordered the appointment of a temporary receiver to take charge of the businesses and imposed conditions on their operation.

Christie Spencer

There’s a long-forbidden crop on the verge of legalization, one that’s versatile and could open up new markets for farmers: hemp.

“I believe, honestly, that [hemp] is the only thing that’s really gonna bring agriculture out of the rut that it’s been in for the last 30 years,” hemp farmer Ryan Loflin said.

He lives in Colorado, one of at least 35 states that can grow hemp mainly through research pilot programs. That was a provision championed by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the 2014 farm bill.

Over the last six years, enough opioids were shipped to the state of Missouri to give every resident 260 pills.

The finding comes from a report released Thursday by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. It's the latest in a series of investigations by the senator into the role of drugmakers, distributors and other industry players in fueling the opioid epidemic.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Nearly a year after Missouri state Auditor Nicole Galloway released a scathing audit of Putnam County Memorial Hospital in Unionville, Missouri, the tiny hospital is still struggling to recover from a lab billing scheme that's now the subject of criminal investigations. 

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