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Kansas City and St. Louis have some of the worst-rated nursing homes in the country, while Topeka, Overland Park and Wichita have some of the best.

That’s according to rankings published by FamilyAssets, a New York-based company that offers assessments and planning for people seeking home health care services.

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Updated at 10:23 a.m. Oct. 10 with state's response — A Cole County judge has rejected a sworn statement that Missouri voters who wanted to use non-photo forms of identification had to sign in order to vote.

But Richard Callahan’s ruling, issued Tuesday, says most of the identification requirement the Missouri Legislature created in 2016 “is within its constitutional prerogative under the Missouri Constitution."

A smiling person with shoulder-length red hair. Wearing a white shirt and positioned in front of a light neutral background.
Andrew Eccles

She's well known for her stints as assistant Erin on the television show "The Office," the naive friend in the movie "Bridesmaids" and the lead role on Netflix comedy "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." Now Missouri-native Ellie Kemper is branching out from the screen to the page with a newly-released collection of personal essays. We talked about why her the book devotes a chapter to squirrels and what it was like to make the jump from from the Midwest to Hollywood.

As Mary Elizabeth Coleman drives her kids to school, her SUV is a cacophony of chatter. At a stoplight she pulls up behind a car with a "Jesus loves feminists" bumper sticker.

Coleman says to nobody in particular, “Yesterday was the day that women earned the right to vote! 98 years ago … ” She trails off as her footnote to the bumper sticker is drowned out by the shrieking of her baby and a barrage of school drop-off questions from her other kids.

Bram Sable-Smith

Editor's note: Until recently, Bram Sable-Smith was a health reporter at KCUR's sister station KBIA in Columbia, Missouri. His father, George P. Smith, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday for developing a laboratory technique known as phage display, in which a virus that infects bacteria can be used to evolve new proteins.

Bram spoke with his father for KCUR.

Sable-Smith: When did it sink in that you had won the Nobel Prize?

Luetkemeyer and Rucker
Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

The influence of money in today's politics is undeniable, in Missouri and everywhere else. We explore campaign contributions, PACs, "dark money" groups and more, not only in big races like the U.S. Senate race between Claire McCaskill and Josh Hawley, but also in tight local races like the fight for the Missouri Senate seat in Platte and Buchanan Counties. We talk with Republican Tony Luetkemeyer and Democrat Martin Rucker, and St. Louis Public Radio's Jo Mannies.

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.

Jennifer Morrow / Creative Commons-Flickr

This story was updated at 9 a.m. Oct. 4 to add the comments of Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and Department of Health and Senior Services Director Dr. Randall Williams. 

A federal judge has declined – at least for now — to block a Missouri abortion law, leaving the state with just one abortion provider.

The law requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital or else face criminal prosecution. 

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

At more than 60 years old, Kansas City’s Buck O’Neil bridge is nearing the end of its useful life. And it’s one of thousands across Missouri that the state Department of Transportation can’t afford to replace.

In 2017, MoDOT gave the city two options: It could make major repairs, which would mean closing the bridge for two years. Or the city could make smaller repairs but keep it open to limited traffic.

File Photo / KCUR 89.3

Missouri now has until August 2019 to fall in line with federal ID requirements, as the Department of Homeland Security on Monday extended the deadline.

The so-called Real ID law is meant to prevent terrorist attacks and fraud by heightening security standards.

Missouri is among 16 states that have not yet fully complied and if it doesn’t update IDs, residents eventually will have to present a passport to board a domestic flight.

The extension means residents can still fly using their current Missouri driver’s license.

Missouri Auditor's Office

Missouri law enforcement agencies have lost track of 1,259 registered sex offenders, according to a report from State Auditor Nicole Galloway. That includes 439 in Jackson County, the highest number in the state.

Jennifer Moore / KSMU

On a recent Thursday evening, as commuters whizzed by on a busy Springfield street, a handful of activists gathered inside the First Unitarian Universalist Church.

“You’ll login with an ID and password, which I’ll give you,” Susan Schmalzbauer instructed the volunteers, who are part of Missouri Faith Voices, a multi-faith organization that pushes for equality across economic and racial lines.

“They’re getting ready to call people across the state,” Schmalzbauer said.

Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio

Less than two miles from the iconic Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. Louis, a startup with 11 employees is brewing small batches of beers with names like Dead Druid King (made with oak leaves instead of hops), Cucumber Pepper Kolsch and Ozark Common.

Earthbound Beer occupies the site of a 19th-century brewery and fills several thousand aluminum cans each month in the limestone cellars 25 feet underground where brewmasters once kept their kegs cool with ice from the Mississippi River.

www.HealthCare.gov

Kansans seeking health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s federally run exchange will have the choice of three insurers in 2019.

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer said in a statement that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Medica Insurance Co. and Ambetter from Sunflower Health Plan will offer 23 separate plans for individuals through HealthCare.gov, the federal government exchange.

Samuel King / KCUR-89.3

In the blocks around the square in downtown Liberty, the seat of government in western Missouri’s Clay County, there’s a varied amount of businesses, restaurants and shops.

There’s just as varied an amount of political opinions ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm election. Dustin McAdams tends bar at Rock and Run Brewery and Pub, and while he’s sure he’ll vote in this year’s election, he has no loyalty to one party.

David Kovaluk / St. Louis Public Radio

After the August primaries, it’s clear many people — young, black and progressive — played a major role in helping former Ferguson Councilman Wesley Bell defeat incumbent St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch in the Democratic race.

“We’re saying bye to Bob and ushering in, hopefully, a new era in prosecutor politics,” Rodney Brown said weeks before the primaries. He’s a member of a local committee of young, black progressives called St. Louis Action Council.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman

It’s been a long week for St. Dominic High School senior Emma Story. But as the sun sets on a Friday night, Story is out knocking on doors in St. Charles for the Missouri GOP.

Story is a first-time voter who spends most of her free time — when she’s not practicing on her high school’s golf team — trying to get Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley and other Republicans elected.

“I’m really excited to really have a direct voice or direct effect in democracy this year,” Story said.

She’s not the only high school senior looking forward to voting this November.

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.

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.

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.

Joe Gratz / Creative Commons-Flickr

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.”

File photo

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.”

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