Jaclyn Driscoll | KCUR

Jaclyn Driscoll

Jaclyn Driscoll is the Jefferson City statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio. She joined the politics team in 2019 after spending two years at the Springfield, Illinois NPR affiliate. Jaclyn covered a variety of issues at the statehouse for all of Illinois' public radio stations, but focused primarily on public health and agriculture related policy. Before joining public radio, Jaclyn reported for a couple television stations in Illinois and Iowa as a general assignment reporter.

Jaclyn has an undergraduate degree in History with a middle and secondary education teaching endorsement from Monmouth College. She was the History Department Chair at Greenfield High School in Illinois, but after one year she decided to go back to school for a master's in journalism at DePaul University. Though she has a passion for education and hasn't ruled out teaching again in the future, Jaclyn enjoys the every day excitement that comes with political reporting.

She's a 6th generation descendant on her family farm back in Illinois, but is excited to plant some roots of her own in the Show-Me state. When she isn't busy working, Jaclyn can be found trying to entertain her twin boys who still think she's a cool mom (for now). She loves cheeseburgers, hiking, 2% milk, and binge listening to true crime podcasts.

Hundreds of gun-restriction advocates visited the Missouri Statehouse on Tuesday to encourage lawmakers to pass stricter gun control measures. 

The specific legislation Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action want would prohibit anyone with a domestic offense conviction or an order of protection from purchasing a firearm.

Some Missouri House Democrats are calling on the governor to stop the removal of people from Medicaid rolls until the state can get a better handle on children losing their coverage.

In recent weeks, Republican leadership in Missouri has publicly recognized that roughly 60,000 children who still qualify for coverage have been dropped from Medicaid. Previously, Gov. Mike Parson and Republican leaders in the statehouse have said the drop in the Medicaid rolls was because of a better economy and restructuring the outdated Medicaid system. 

The Missouri House of Representatives passed legislation on Monday to create a statewide prescription drug monitoring program. 

The program, designed to prevent opioid abuse, was approved 98-56. The measure now moves to the Senate, where it has failed in recent years at least partially because some members say it is an invasion of privacy and they do not want to create a government list. 

More than 80% of the state’s population is covered under St. Louis County’s PDMP, and this measure would essentially expand that statewide, with added protections. 

The Missouri House of Representatives is set to vote Monday on legislation that would create a statewide prescription drug monitoring program

The House gave preliminary approval to the measure 95-56 on Wednesday. 

Missouri is the only state in the nation that does not have a statewide PDMP, which is designed to help catch misuse and abuse of prescription opioids. 

The Missouri Senate approved a ballot item Monday evening that would change how state House and Senate districts are drawn, repealing a system approved by voters in 2018. 

The proposal, which passed 22-9, now heads to the House, where it is almost certain to be approved, and then will head to voters again. They’ll choose between keeping a system they overwhelmingly passed as Clean Missouri, in which a nonpartisan demographer holds much of the power, or a modified version of the previous system. 

Updated at 3:30 p.m. with comments from Attorney General Eric Schmitt

Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway released an audit critical of Josh Hawley’s tenure as attorney general, with the Democrat questioning how some of the GOP’s official’s campaign consultants interacted with governmental employees.

The audit, though, states that Galloway’s office “cannot conclude any laws were violated” from the interactions between the consultants and staff — which became a flashpoint near the end of Hawley’s successful 2018 contest against U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill. And attorneys for Hawley, who has sharply criticized Galloway for how she conducted the audit, took issue with the audit’s conclusions.

Missouri’s Legislative Black Caucus on Monday highlighted legislation they’ve filed to honor and remember the work done by African American Missourians. 

State Rep. Steven Roberts, D-St. Louis, spoke about the “perseverance and triumphs” of African Americans to begin the celebrations of Black History Month at a press conference at the Capitol. 

“When I think about black history in this country and in this state, ‘celebrate’ is not the first word that comes to mind,” he said. 

Roughly 100 of Missouri’s 7,019 untested rape kits have been sent out of state to a private forensic lab for testing.

The state completed a full inventory of those untested kits last fall. Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office is now moving forward with testing the kits to help prosecute rape cases and provide justice for victims. 

This is part of a $2.8 million grant former Attorney General Josh Hawley’s office received from the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance. Schmitt said there's enough money to test roughly 1,250 of the kits, but more will be sought to clear the entire backlog. 

Jaclyn Driscoll / St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers are at odds on how to solve the spike in gun violence and gun deaths in urban areas across the state, discussing it this week in the wake of one of Kansas City’s worst shootings in recent memory. 

The Missouri General Assembly’s 2020 legislative session began with procedure and ceremony: lawmakers reading the Bill of Rights, new legislators being sworn in and hundreds of bills being formally introduced.

But even though Wednesday’s opening was fairly mundane, legislators from both parties are expecting fierce debates in the coming weeks over state legislative redistricting and gun violence — issues that could play a big role in the impending 2020 elections.

Gun control, Medicaid and redistricting are expected to be the most contentious issues Missouri lawmakers will take up this legislative session. 

House and Senate members return to the state Capitol on Wednesday, and the governor is to deliver his State of the State address a week later on Jan. 15. 

Democrats in both chambers say gun control and urban violence will be at the top of their list of priorities. 

Missouri officials have denied St. Louis’ request for $30 million in tax credits for a Major League Soccer stadium. 

A meeting scheduled for Tuesday to vote on the first round of tax credits, totaling $15 million, was canceled. Bob Miserez, executive director of the Missouri Development Finance Board, said the meeting was canceled because the board did not have authorization to go above a cap on the credits. 

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is working to change current Missouri law on HIV that they say hasn’t been updated since the 1980s. 

Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, said current laws now actually discourage people from being tested. She said if someone knowingly exposes their partner to HIV and they contract the disease, it’s a class A felony. This is the most serious of felony crimes that include murder, rape and forcible kidnapping. 

The Missouri Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday to decide whether the state’s 12 Planned Parenthood clinics should receive federal funding. 

John Sauer argued on behalf of the state, asking the court to back the Republican-led Legislature’s 2018 decision to deny funding to all Planned Parenthood facilities but not other providers that care for the state’s Medicaid population. 

Nationally, the number of reported hate crimes remained fairly stagnant in 2018 compared to the year before, but Missouri saw a 39% reduction. 

According to the FBI, there were more than 16,000 law enforcement agencies participating in the Hate Crime Statistics Program in 2018, but only about 12% reported incidents. The other 87% reported that no hate crimes occurred in their jurisdictions. Agencies participate on a voluntary basis and provide one to 12 months of data. 

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson agreed to back stricter gun control after a meeting Monday with the mayors of St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield to continue their discussion on addressing crime and gun violence throughout the state. 

At its fourth meeting, the group agreed on three top priorities to make communities in Missouri safer: additional funding for witness protection programs, greater access to mental health care and stricter gun control.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Monday announced the launch of the state’s new youth vaping education campaign to bring attention to the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping products. 

Parson signed an executive order in October giving the departments of Health and Senior Services, Elementary and Secondary Education, and Public Safety one month to get the program running without any additional funding. 

Missouri has already approved more than 17,000 patients for its yet-to-be-launched medical marijuana program — a stark contrast to neighboring Illinois, which had fewer than 3,000 patients in the first 10 months. 

Licenses for Missouri’s dispensaries are expected to be awarded by January, and cannabis should be available for medical card holders by spring. 

At their core, Missouri and Illinois programs do the same thing: They allow doctors to certify patients to use cannabis if they have a qualifying condition. But there are significant differences in the details of each law, including who has access, how they’re getting access and how the programs can be changed in the future.

A Missouri Senate committee heard several hours of testimony on Monday regarding gun violence throughout the state, with possible solutions including more money for gang intervention and better retention of police officers. 

Witnesses at the hearing were invited by one of the seven senators on the newly formed Interim Committee on Public Safety. They included police, prosecutors and research analysts. 

There are hundreds of thousands of Missouri families that don’t know where their next meal is coming from. 

Despite progress, the state is still higher than the national average for food insecurity. 

A recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows Missouri has improved hunger levels throughout the state. Compared to one year ago, levels are down almost one full percentage point. However, 11.7% is the national average of food insecurity, and Missouri sits at 12%

Calling vaping-related illnesses among Missouri’s youth an epidemic, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Tuesday signed an executive order mandating education to discourage usage. 

Thousands have been sickened across the country due to vaping-related illnesses. In Missouri, there have been 22 reported illnesses and one death as of Oct. 4. The majority of those cases involve people between the ages of 15 and 24. 

Missouri has more than 10,000 untested rape kits sitting on shelves in police departments and hospitals — some have been there for decades — but the state is finally set to have a full inventory of those kits by the end of the month. 

Once the inventory is complete, Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office can move forward with creating an electronic database to not only keep track of the untested kits, but to help prosecute rapists and provide justice for victims. 

The Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday on whether a portion of the state’s voter identification law is unconstitutional. 

The law allows three methods to cast a vote. People can show a photo ID; another form of identification, like a utility bill, but are then required to sign an affidavit; or they can cast a provisional ballot, which will only count once they return to show ID or election workers match their signatures with a past ballot. 

On Aug. 9, Holly Uchtman and her 7-year-old son Zyler headed to their weekly appointment at Mercy Hospital in Springfield. Zyler has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a rare, terminal disease that causes muscles to weaken and eventually stop working. For two years, Zyler had been receiving eteplirsen, gene therapy that helped his muscles keep their shape.

But that day, there was a surprise on the other side of their journey. The state had removed Zyler from Medicaid, which pays for his nearly $40,000-a-week treatment. They were turned away, and he missed his appointment.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson reiterated Wednesday there will be no special legislative session on gun violence. 

Parson called a special session to resolve a car sales tax issue to run concurrently with the state’s annual veto session. It’s set to begin on Sept. 9 and will cost taxpayers an estimated $16,000. 

Gov. Mike Parson is calling a special session next month to clear up an issue regarding sales tax bills on new cars. 

In June, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in Kehlenbrink v. Director of Revenue that the sale proceeds of only one used vehicle can be applied as a credit on a new car. The Department of Revenue was allowing couples to turn in more than one used vehicle to bring down the sales tax on a new model. 

With the deadline to submit an application for a medical marijuana business closed, more than 2,100 were received, bringing in more than $5.3 million in fees, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. 

On Thursday, the department announced it would extend the deadline to 4:30 p.m. Monday. Initially the cutoff was midnight Saturday, but with a slow start early in the application period, the department expected an influx toward the end. 

Missouri’s two likely nominees for the 2020 governor’s race have similar stances on gun reform measures needed in the state, but are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to access to abortion. 

Democratic Auditor Nicole Galloway and Republican Gov. Mike Parson both spoke with members of the press at the annual Governor’s Ham Breakfast at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia on Thursday. 

Parson has not officially entered the race yet, but Galloway, who announced her candidacy Monday, was critical of the incumbent’s leadership. 

After taking in $4.2 million in early application fees, Missouri’s medical marijuana program is off to a slow start since it began accepting full applications on Saturday.

Roughly 600 applicants chose to pay their required fees in advance, but so far only 27 full applications have been submitted. The application process is extensive, and the deadline isn’t until Aug. 17. Still, Lyndall Fraker, the director of the state’s medical marijuana program, said he was surprised by the low numbers. 

Tens of thousands of Missourians are still waiting to receive their state tax refunds this year. 

And some are saying this year’s wait is particularly bad.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway said this has been an issue for years, under both Republican and Democratic governors. Despite significant improvements in the timeliness of refunds last year, Galloway said problems persist and little has been done to remedy the situation.