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Missouri

Brandon Reid remembers watching Barack Obama win the presidential election from his living room couch in 2008. 

Most of his friends had gone to the polls that day to vote in what became a historic election. But Reid, who was in and out of prison because of drugs, couldn’t vote. He was on criminal supervision at the time. He missed the 2012 presidential election for the same reason. 

“If you don’t have the right to vote, of course, you are going to know about it, right? You see it on the news. It’s voting day. You want to be a part of it,” Reid said. 

Listen to this episode of A People's History Of Kansas City, a new podcast from KCUR 89.3. For more stories like this one, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Play.

As the Missouri General Assembly is poised to give voters another chance to decide how to draw state House and Senate maps, one of the lesser-discussed parts of the debate is how judges will gain expansive power if voters scrap the Clean Missouri system.

Under a ballot measure that recently passed the Senate and will likely be approved in the House, bipartisan commissions will have first crack at redistricting instead of a demographer. But the truth is the commissions have been historically irrelevant because they tend to deadlock along party lines and then turn over authority to appellate judges. 

There’s been little insight into how the judges actually came up with House and Senate districts — until now.

Many early, unique dialects of German are preserved in communities in small towns in Missouri and Kansas. But they're endangered. Meet a handful of linguistic diehards in Cole Camp, Missouri, and hear about their valiant efforts to save their immigrant history. 

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Segment 1: Missouri looks to start opening medical marijuana dispensaries in June.

Missouri's Department of Health and Senior Services has issued licenses for 192 medical marijuana dispensaries since a voter approved initiative for medical cannabis passed in 2018. Once patients are able to start purchasing, and in some cases growing, the product, the state could look to issue more dispensary licenses based on supply and demand.

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.

leyla.a / Flickr - CC

If you placed a Super Bowl wager in Missouri or Kansas this year, chances are good it was probably illegal.

But in Missouri, the smart money is increasingly on legal sports betting. That might become a reality by the end of the year, thanks to a 2018 Supreme Court case that gave states the right to organize sports betting.

Segment 1: Odds are good that sports betting won't be illegal in Missouri for much longer.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled two years ago that states have the power to legalize sports betting, and 2020 may be the year that the Missouri General Assembly gives it the green light. If new tax revenue from legalized sports gambling in Iowa is any indication, the initiative could be a moneymaker for the Show-Me State. 

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. 

Updated at 5:30 p.m. with Greitens' comments on Facebook

After almost 20 months and nearly two dozen subpoenas, the Missouri Ethics Commission closed an investigation into former Gov. Eric Greitens’ campaign by fining him $178,000 — which could be significantly reduced with a prompt payment.

Soon after the ethics commission handed down its decision, Greitens took to Facebook for the first time since May 2018 to react to the news — and hint at a political comeback.

While Greitens signed a consent order about failing to disclose in-kind donations, the ethics commission dismissed a slew of other allegations against the former governor. That included running an illegal shadow campaign operation to avoid the state’s campaign-donation laws.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

On Feb. 6, 2018, Travis Claussen had his right hip replaced at Blue Valley Hospital in Overland Park.

The 40-year-old resident of Lawson, Missouri, had been experiencing severe back pain for years. Before then, he’d been a physical fitness buff who was into off-road motorcycle racing.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City’s business leaders have officially come out in favor of expanding Medicaid in Missouri. 

In a move that could put more political and financial heft behind a campaign effort, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Greater Kansas City and Civic Council of Greater Kansas City on Tuesday announced their support for a petition drive to put Medicaid expansion on Missouri’s November ballot.

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. 

Segment 1: Missouri Republicans want to see a "Cleaner Missouri" version of an initiative voters passed in 2018.

Missouri Republicans argue that Amendment 1, also known as Clean Missouri, is biased when it comes to drawing legislative boundaries, and that the state's Democratic Party will get an unfair number of seats in the General Assembly. Now, a so-called "Cleaner Missouri" proposal has been introduced. Proponents say it will not only expand upon some of the original initiative's language, but it will also make redistricting more fair. 

Sebastian Martinez Valdivia / Side Effects Public Media

It's a cold and windy January morning in Boonville, Missouri, and Thomas Talent has driven close to an hour to Pinnacle Regional Hospital for an appointment. The only problem: the hospital closed suddenly the day before.

Missouri agriculture officials are struggling to address a backlog of complaints from farmers who allege that dicamba-based herbicide drift from another farm has damaged their crops. 

The Missouri Department of Agriculture has about 600 pending pesticide investigations. Some of them date back to 2016, the year that Bayer-owned Monsanto began selling its dicamba-tolerant soybeans. 

State legislators are considering a budget request the state agriculture agency made last week to hire more staff to help address complaints.

Chris Haxel / KCUR 89.3

The man responsible for broadcasting Russian state programming in the Kansas City area says he always dreamed of owning a radio station.

Today he owns two, plus a small fleet of radio transmitters across the Kansas City metro.

Absentee voting is already underway for Missouri’s presidential primary on March 10.

But it’s unclear how much attention the primary will receive from candidates or voters. Or how important Missouri’s votes will be in choosing the two major parties’ nominees.

Would-be voters in Missouri have until Feb. 12 to register.

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. 

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley has been critical of how state Auditor Nicole Galloway is conducting a closeout audit of his former state office, contending that the Democratic official has been treating him unfairly.

Galloway’s office directly addressed some of Hawley’s objections on Wednesday about the unreleased audit, noting that a staffer overseeing the look into his two-year tenure as attorney general was replaced to avoid any appearance of bias. Galloway’s director of quality control told House lawmakers that he doesn’t believe any bias occurred during the audit.

Missouri voters will almost certainly have another say this year on how state Senate and House districts are drawn.

They’ll choose between keeping a system they voted for in 2018, in which a demographer holds much of the power to draw maps, and a modified version of the old system.

It’s a debate that’s elicited national attention from redistricting enthusiasts and political parties, especially since the complex and wonky subject of mapmaking has an immense impact on how citizens are represented in government. 

A state senator from southwest Missouri wrote to his constituents on Monday saying the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in 1973 was worse than slavery. 

“What a horrible mark that is upon the history of our nation, surpassing the barbarism even of slavery,” Republican state Sen. Ed Emery wrote in a newsletter to the people living in his district around Nevada, Mo.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Lawmakers representing district in the Kansas City metropolitan area have introduced hundreds of bills to this year's session of the Missouri General Assembly. 

Some of the bills, like a statewide prescription drug monitoring program or banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, have been priorities for years but didn't get to the governor's desk. Other proposals, like those dealing with violent crimes, have come into focus with a climb in homicides

KCUR talked with eight local lawmakers to find out what they’re prioritizing this session.

KCUR 89.3 file photo

The Kansas City metro area, and a couple of cities just outside of it, will soon have 45 medical marijuana dispensaries. 

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services issued dispensary licenses Thursday, marking a major milepost since voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2018 that legalized medical marijuana. 

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. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

The posthumous resurgence of interest in Kansas City artist Arthur Kraft, who died in 1977, continues to gain momentum.

Jenna and Martin / Facebook

Jenna Rae and Martin Farrell both grew up in cities. But when the two got serious about playing music together as the folk duo Jenna & Martin, they ended up living the life they were singing about.

Rae is from Merriam, Kansas, and Farrell is from Minnetonka, Minnesota. The two met four years ago on the sprawling campgrounds of the Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival in Winfield, Kansas. They soon started performing together, and onstage, they’re young and carefree with a chemistry that’s easy to see and hear.

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This week's closure of Pinnacle Regional Hospital in Boonville, Missouri, caps a year of worse financial troubles than were previously known.

Over the last year, the hospital has been sued by vendors for nonpayment, by the Missouri Division of Employment Security for failing to pay into the state’s unemployment insurance program and, most recently, by employees for failing to pay their health insurance premiums.

“There’s considerably more to this story than what’s currently in the public domain,” said an attorney for the employees, North Kansas City lawyer Blake Green.

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