Rachel Lippmann | KCUR

Rachel Lippmann

Lippmann returned to her native St. Louis after spending two years covering state government in Lansing, Michigan. She earned her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and followed (though not directly) in Maria Altman's footsteps in Springfield, also earning her graduate degree in public affairs reporting. She's also done reporting stints in Detroit, Michigan and Austin, Texas. Rachel likes to fill her free time with good books, good friends, good food, and good baseball.

The state of Missouri has its first confirmed death from COVID-19, the virus caused by the new coronavirus.

Gov. Mike Parson confirmed the death Wednesday at a brief press conference at the Capitol. The patient is from Boone County, and the infection was related to travel, but no other information was provided.

The chief justice of the Missouri Supreme Court says the state needs to properly fund its public defender system to continue the criminal justice reforms it has passed in the past several years.

Speaking to a joint session of the state Legislature on Wednesday for his first State of the Judiciary address, Chief Justice George Draper applauded the General Assembly for boosting access to treatment courts and allowing more individuals to enter diversion programs. However, he cautioned those reforms can only go so far.

St. Louis' first black prosecutor, Kim Gardner, has sued the city, its police union and five others for what she calls a racist effort to block her reform agenda.

Samuel King / KCUR 89.3 file photo

In this very special episode of KCUR’s Statehouse Blend Missouri podcast, we joined forces with St. Louis Public Radio’s Politically Speaking podcast to round up the 2019 session of the Missouri General Assembly.

After a week that featured titanic battles over high-profile legislation, Missouri lawmakers are heading into the final day with a lot on their plate.

The unfinished business set for Friday includes final passage of abortion legislation that’s made national headlines, as well as a bill to overhaul the low-income housing tax-credit program.

A nearly 28-hour filibuster of what is usually a simple procedural step ended Tuesday night with a big win for Missouri Gov. Mike Parson.

Over the objection of a group of six Republicans, the state Senate approved a major economic development package that extended a tax credit for General Motors, which is considering a $750 million expansion of its plant in Wentzville. Also included is a program to fund training for adults in “high-need” jobs, and a deal-closing fund that allows for up-front tax breaks to companies considering expansion.

The ACLU of Missouri and the state’s public defender system have reached a deal meant to ensure that low-income defendants are properly represented when they go to court.

The agreement made public on Monday sets maximum caseloads for the state’s 500-plus public defenders, and allows them to turn down cases to stay within a time limit that is based on how much work should be spent defending different types of crimes. It also makes it clear that defendants must be screened quickly to see if they qualify for a public defender.

Updated at 12 p.m. Tuesday with comments from Gov. Parson:

A state incentive package aimed at getting General Motors to expand in Missouri is running into a major roadblock in the state Senate, threatening to derail some of Gov. Mike Parson’s priorities with less than a week left in the legislative session.

Six Republican senators who object to the expansion of job-training aid and a fund that would help finance the closing of economic development deals led a filibuster Monday on what is generally a quick procedural step to begin the day. That prevented any other work from getting done, as the filibuster, which began around 2:30 p.m., stretched into the night and early Tuesday morning.

A Missouri House committee has approved major changes to the state’s criminal justice system, including giving judges more leeway in nonviolent crime sentencing.

The action Thursday by the House Special Committee on Criminal Justice is just the first step in what its chairman, Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, acknowledges could be a long fight.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson delivered his first State of the State address Wednesday, giving the GOP chief executive a chance to detail an ambitious agenda for state government.

Parson took the opportunity to flesh out his main priorities of bolstering workforce-development programs and improving roads and bridges. He told lawmakers that he wants to reorient economic-development programs to train people for local jobs — and fight opioid abuse and boost money for drug courts.

Supporters of a plan that would have boosted Missouri’s gas tax by 10 cents are plotting their next steps after voters rejected the increase Tuesday.

Proposition D failed 54 percent to 46 percent, winning just six counties, all of which are located along Interstate 70. Voters last approved an increase in 1996.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and her GOP rival, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, sparred over how they would improve health care in an hour-long debate Thursday night that featured familiar themes.

Hawley said McCaskill adheres to the Democratic Party stance and has, over 12 years, moved away from the views of her state, where voters went for President Donald Trump by 19 points. McCaskill emphasized her independence, as someone who will work with “anyone, anytime” to address the state’s needs.

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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."

Updated June 19 at 2:50 p.m. with comments from Attorney General Josh Hawley and additional background — The Missouri Democratic Party is challenging Gov. Mike Parson’s appointment of Mike Kehoe as lieutenant governor.

In a lawsuit filed Monday night on behalf of a World War II veteran, attorneys for the party say Parson had no authority to name Kehoe, a former Republican state senator from Jefferson City, to the office. The lieutenant governor is, by law, an advocate for seniors and by tradition an advocate for veterans.

Updated at 5:15 p.m. June 8 with comments from Jean Peters Baker — A special prosecutor has decided not to charge former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens in connection with an affair he had before he became governor.

Gov. Eric Greitens’ resignation was part of an agreement reached with prosecutors to dismiss charges that the governor misused a charity donor list during his campaign.

Judge Rex Burlison on Wednesday accepted the deal reached between St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner and attorneys for Greitens. The state will not be able to refile the computer tampering charge, but the agreement has no bearing on the decision of a special prosecutor, Jean Peters Baker, whether to refile invasion of privacy charges. The governor could also face other state or federal charges.

In a stunning move, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner has dropped the felony invasion of privacy charge against Gov. Eric Greitens — short-circuiting the unprecedented trial of a sitting Missouri chief executive.

While Gardner’s office is promising to refile the case with a special prosecutor, the governor’s attorneys are confident that another prosecutor won’t touch the case.

Editor's note: This is the second in a series of three stories profiling the main legal figures involved in the trial of Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens. A profile of the prosecution ran Tuesday. A profile of the judge will run Thursday.

The felony trial of Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, which starts Thursday with jury selection, has the makings of an epic courtroom skirmish.

As one attorney put it, the case is an All-Star Game for the legal community, and a sizable amount of talent is batting for the governor.

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of three stories profiling the main legal figures involved in the trial of Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens. A profile of the defense attorneys will run Wednesday and the judge on Thursday.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner made history in February when she charged Gov. Eric Greitens with felony invasion of privacy. It was the first time a Missouri governor had been indicted.

In the indictment made public Feb. 22, Gardner said that in 2015, Greitens took a photo of the woman with whom he was having an affair, while she was semi-nude, and then transmitted it so that it could be viewed on a computer.

Updated April 19 at 12 p.m. with comments from circuit attorney's office — A St. Louis judge is allowing the criminal case against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens to move forward, rejecting a move by the governor's lawyers to dismiss it.

Circuit Judge Rex Burlison on Thursday disagreed with defense attorneys that the conduct by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner and an investigator she hired was so bad that the only way to protect Greitens’ rights to a fair trial was to dismiss the felony invasion of privacy charge. 

Updated April 16 with timeline on ruling  St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison says he'll rule in open court on Thursday about the defense motion to dismiss the felony invasion of privacy trial against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens.

Original story from April 12:

Gov. Eric Greitens has been subpoenaed as part of an investigation into whether he used a list of donors to his charity, The Mission Continues, in his campaign for governor.

The fact that Attorney General Josh Hawley had issued subpoenas as part of the probe was already known. A Hawley spokeswoman confirmed in an emailed statement Thursday that the governor was one of the targets.

Updated March 26 at 4:30 p.m. with ruling on effort to throw out case based on grand jury instructions — A group of 12 St. Louis residents will decide if Gov. Eric Greitens invaded the privacy of a woman with whom he had an affair in 2015.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison on Monday denied a request by the governor's defense team to hear the case from the bench, rather than a jury.

Updated March 21 at 5:45 p.m. with comments from Wednesday's hearing — Gov. Eric Greitens will go on trial in May in St. Louis for felony invasion of privacy.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison on Wednesday denied an attempt by Greitens' defense team to start the trial in April, in order to get it done before a special state House committee investigating the governor finishes its work.

Updated Feb. 21 with St. Louis on the Air conversation with reporter Chris McDaniel

Original story from Feb. 20 — A BuzzFeed News investigation has found that a St. Louis-area compounding pharmacy with a troubled safety history has provided execution drugs to the state of Missouri for the last four years.

Sources told BuzzFeed News reporter Chris McDaniel that Foundation Care, based in Earth City, supplied the drugs for 17 executions since February 2014. Foundation Care denied its participation in executions to McDaniel, and did not respond to requests for comment from St. Louis Public Radio.

The Missouri Supreme Court will hear arguments Thursday on whether the state can determine that a mother is unfit because a court has previously terminated her right to parent other children.

The case involves a Kansas City-area mother who lost the rights to her older children — a ruling that became evidence in a hearing over infant twin girls. Her attorneys say the law that allows that to happen violates her constitutional rights to be a parent.

Updated July 18 at 1:30 p.m. with comments from the ACLU of Missouri — The Missouri Human Rights Act does not provide protections for gender identity, the Missouri Court of Appeals reinforced Tuesday.

The 2-1 decision stems from a case in which a 17-year-old transgender boy in the Kansas City area sued because he was not allowed to use the boys' restroom or locker rooms at his high school.

Updated May 31 with oral arguments — A case that could expand legal protections for the state’s LGBTQ community is in the hands of a three-judge panel of Missouri’s Court of Appeals.

Judges Anthony Gabbert, Victor Howard and Cynthia Martin heard arguments Wednesday in the case of a 17-year-old transgender boy from the Kansas City area who wants to be allowed to use the boy’s restroom and lockers rooms at his school. His attorneys argue that the decision by the Blue Springs R-IV district to deny the request violates Missouri’s Human Rights Act.

Pledging money, research and expertise for local law enforcement, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions brought a face to the Trump administration’s pro-police message during a speech Friday in St. Louis.

He also made general mention of the 2014 unrest in Ferguson after Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white officer, and the tensions between police and African-Americans.

Updated at 11:50 a.m. with additional comments and information on the replacement process.

A leading liberal voice in the Missouri legal community has died.

Judge Richard Teitelman was 69. The Missouri Supreme Court confirmed his death in a brief press release Tuesday morning.  Teitelman had been dealing with health problems for some time, including complications from diabetes.

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