Category Archives: Local

MO Lawmakers Pass Abortion Ban

Missouri has joined other conservative states in passing a law that severely restricts abortions.

Missouri has joined other conservative states in passing a law that severely restricts women’s right to get abortions.

By MCNS Staff

Following a nationwide conservative swell, the Missouri Senate voted on Friday to ban abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy. The only exception would be cases of medical emergencies, which would not include rape or incest.

Democrats in the Republican-led Senate on Wednesday slammed the pending legislation, according to local reports. The legislation now goes to Governor Mike Parsons who is expected to sign it.

The Missouri bill comes as abortion opponents across the US pass similar legislation severely limiting abortion rights. Observers suggest the bills flow from a national push to influence the more conservative U.S. Supreme Court will overturn its landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion.

Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia have approved bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur in about the sixth week of pregnancy. Alabama lawmakers have passed a similar bill and sent it to state’s Republican governor for signature Tuesday.

Republican Effort to Repeal Clean Missouri at Risk

By MCNS Staff

Clean Missouri, if not obstructed, will redraw district lines in the state. Its advocates purport that it will e done on a non-partisan basis.

Clean Missouri will purportedly redraw district lines in the state on a non-partisan basis.

Missouri Republican lawmakers went into the last week of the 2019 legislative session trying to undo a new redistricting process enacted by statewide vote last year.

But, a procedural issue on Monday complicated their plan, and with time running out before adjournment, has put the GOP repeal effort in jeopardy, the Kansas City Star reports.

Democrats have already threatened to filibuster to block Republican legislation to put a question on the 2020 ballot to repeal the Clean Missouri initiative, a broad-stroked petition that changes how Missouri draws its legislative districts after the Census.

Republicans knew they were likely going to have to turn to a sporadically-used procedural maneuver to break the filibuster. They expected to also employ the device – known as “moving the previous question,” or PQ – on a second bill enacting some of the nation’s toughest restrictions on abortion, the publication said on Tuesday.

But before the Clean Missouri repeal could be brought up for debate in the Senate, it needed approval of the Senate Fiscal Oversight Committee.

Per procedure, the seven-member committee – five Republicans and two Democrats – was supposed to be an easy hurdle to clear. But two Republican Senators didn’t show up for the meeting. A third, who was recording a Facebook Live with Gov. Mike Parson about a proposed expansion of a General Motors facility in St. Charles County, tried to leave his vote with the committee chairman but was not permitted to do so under Senate rules.

So, in the absence of Republican committee members, the bill fell on a 2-to-2 party-line vote, and was defeated.

“No, it’s not dead yet,” said Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia. “Somebody threw a little dirt on it. But I wouldn’t say it’s dead.”

“I think it’s dead,” said Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, a St. Louis Democrat and one of the two “no” votes on the committee. “And I’m pretty happy about that.”

Clean Missouri and its fundamental issue of redistricting has been controversial statewide and nationally. Many progressives argue that conservatives, in the absence of votes in local areas, draw districts in ways that unfairly maximize Republican votes. Those progressives celebrated the “yes” vote on Clean Missouri because it signaled a change in how those lines were drawn and put forward a process they believed would be fairer. This Republican bill would have rolled back the redistricting reforms.

Stenger Resigns Following Corruption Indictment

Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger appears in court on Monday.

Embattled former Saint Louis County Executive Steve Stenger appears in court on Monday with his attorney.

By MCNS Staff

The former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger is the target of a yearlong undercover federal investigation into the political favors he traded for campaign contributions. Stenger was indicted by a grand jury Thursday on charges of theft of honest services.

Reports indicate the indictment was unsealed Monday as Stenger resigned in a letter to County Counselor Peter Krane, writing that “it is in the best interest of our County and my family.”

The St. Louis County Council met Monday night and selected council chairman Sam Page to fill the vacated executive seat until the November 2020 election. The county charter states the County Council has to choose a replacement from the same political party as the outgoing executive; Stenger is a Democrat. Councilwoman Hazel Erby was the lone opposition to Page’s appointment.

Reports indicate Stenger appeared in US District Court at 1pm on Monday with famed local lawyer Scott Rosenblum. The judge entered a not guilty plea for the former county executive. Stenger was released without bail. If convicted, he could spend at least 5 years in prison and has agreed to surrender his law license.

According to stltoday.com, Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith told reporters the indictment was the result of an investigation that began in early 2018 that involved his staff, the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the IRS criminal investigations unit. He said the investigation was continuing.

Controversial STL County NAACP President Suspended

By Free Radical

John Gaskin, was unceremoniously suspended from his role as president of the St. Louis County NAACP.

John Gaskin, was from his position as president of the St. Louis County chapter of the NAACP.

John Gaskin III, who was selected as the head of the St. Louis County NAACP late last year, has been suspended from this post. On Thursday, Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the national NAACP, took this punitive action against Gaskin for the latter’s controversial stance on several issues.

Johnson’s letter specifically cited Gaskin for pledging the local organization’s support for legislation that would weaken Title IX protections against victims of sexual abuse on Missouri’s college campuses. The national group has demonstrated unyielding support of Title IX since its inception. The Missouri bill is part of a national movement pushed by conservatives to safeguard students accused of sexual assault.

The Kansas City Star has reported that lobbyist Richard McIntosh is the primary author of the Missouri legislation. Perhaps it is no coincidence that his son was expelled from Washington University following a Title IX violation.

Gaskin also found himself in hot water over his advocacy for the privately-funded Better Together plan to merge St. Louis City and County. The proposal has been derided by most local Black officials as a means to dilute Black political power. However, Gaskin did not only give his personal support of the plan, he also made it the official position of the St. Louis County NAACP, to the astonishment to even some of its board members.

Gaskin made matters worse by disclosing to members of the NAACP and the general public that he was a paid consultant for Unite STL. Unite STL is the campaign arm of Better Together.

In his statement to Gaskin, Johnson expressed, “Given the importance of these issues to the NAACP and the communities we represent, I have concluded that the conduct described above is inimical to the best interest of the Association and presents a danger of irreparable harm to the Association and the St. Louis County Branch.”

As is due process, Gaskin can respond to his suspension in a hearing. He has not publicly stated if he intended to do so by the time of press.