Erica Hunzinger | KCUR

Erica Hunzinger

Editor, Harvest Public Media

Erica Hunzinger is news editor for the Kansas News Service and the Missouri politics and government editor for KCUR.

Previously, she was the editor of Harvest Public Media, as well as an editor with St. Louis Public Radio, the Associated Press in Chicago, the News Journal in Wilmington, Delaware, and 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.

How Kansas City should be preparing for climate change.

Average temperatures in Kansas and Missouri are up a degree or two from a century ago. That may not seem like much, but only the Dust Bowl years were hotter than the last decade. KCUR's extensive reporting on this explains how climate change is already affecting us in the Kansas City metro area, as well as what we can do about it.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

The changes in climate that people in the Kansas City region are now experiencing haven't been seen in previous lifetimes.

That's according to Doug Kluck, a regional climate services director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). He also spent 18 years with the National Weather Service as a researcher and forecaster.

KCUR recently sat down with Kluck in an effort to provide readers with some perspective on what's happening. Below is the edited version of that conversation.

Samuel King / KCUR 89.3

In baseball circles, the St. Louis Cardinals organization is known for its so-called “The Cardinal Way,” a manual of sorts that players and managers adhere to in the quest for consistency. 

Since August 2018, Missouri state government has been teaching “The Missouri Way,” a leadership training program that’s already indoctrinated more than 1,000 employees from the 16 executive departments. Statewide-elected officials like the secretary of state, auditor and attorney general are not required to take the training, and neither is their staff. 

Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 2:05 p.m. May 24 with comment from Parson spokesman — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed strict abortion regulations into law Friday, just hours after one of the biggest GOP donors encouraged him to veto it. 

Carolina Hildalgo / St. Louis Public Radio file photo

Updated at 3:42 p.m. with governor's statement  — Missouri’s auditor wants to know whether it’s OK for Gov. Mike Parson’s office to claim First Amendment rights when redacting certain pieces of information from public records.

The Kansas City metro area is among three sites still in the hunt to become the next location for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's research arms.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Kansas City Democrat DaRon McGee resigned from his seat in the Missouri House on Monday night following allegations that he sought an unwanted relationship with an employee in his office for at least 10 months.

New York Yankees

Major League Baseball is staring down a gender problem. And despite initiatives meant to bring more women into its dugouts, executive offices and broadcast booths, everyone — including women in high-powered positions — says things won’t change quickly.

“Look, I think there’s no sugar-coating this. There’s a lot to do,” said Renee Tirado, MLB’s chief diversity officer.

Brian Ellison / KCUR 89.3

Missouri state Rep. Ashley Bland Manlove is the granddaughter and niece of state lawmakers, but she’s already making her own mark two months into her first term. 

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Just four quarters, barring any overtime, stand between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Super Bowl. That, and the NFL’s most consistent franchise in a generation in the New England Patriots.

If you’re reading this and already are confused, keep going. Here’s what you’ll want to know when you’re watching Sunday’s game at Arrowhead Stadium (5:40 p.m., CBS).

Erica Hunzinger / Harvest Public Media

As the 2018 harvest wrapped up and the leaves turned brilliant shades of red and yellow, two of the world’s biggest agribusinesses, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Smithfield Foods, announced they were pairing up on projects with environmental nonprofits.

It didn’t create the furor like in past years when oil companies joined forces with nonprofits and were met by accusations of “greenwashing” — that is, just trying to shine up their reputations. But that doesn’t mean these latest partnerships have it figured out. 

Samuel King / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley will have a different title come January: U.S. senator. Hawley, a Republican, ousted incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill in Tuesday’s midterm.

With the win, Republicans will hold both of Missouri’s seats in that chamber. It’ll also mean Gov. Mike Parson will need to appoint an interim attorney general who’ll serve through 2020.

The polls in Missouri will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. There’s been a lot to keep up on a national and international level, so if you don’t feel quite as informed as you’d like about what’s on Missouri’s ballot, don’t fret.

The following is a rundown of the state’s biggest races — especially that contentious U.S. Senate contest between incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley — plus a breakdown of several major issues that voters will be asked to decide.

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.

YouTube screenshot

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.

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