Associated Press | KBIA

Associated Press

A civilian police oversight board established in St. Louis soon after Michael Brown’s death in nearby Ferguson, Missouri, was shut out from reviewing all 21 fatal police shootings during its first four years of existence, according to a report from the board.

Teachers and staff in a St. Louis-area school district say opponents of the district’s new diversity and equity programs are posting threats of violence on social media, according to a union representing the teachers.

The union sent a letter to the school board in the Rockwood School District and Superintendent Mark Miles on Saturday asking that teachers and staff be protected from the attacks and that leaders address an “unhealthy and unproductive” environment in the district.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has directed all state employees to return to in-person work in the office by May 17, after many spent most of the past 14 months working remotely.

Parson’s order, announced Wednesday, also requires that all state buildings be open and accessible to the public during normal business hours.

The owner of a suburban St. Louis startup has announced a bid for the U.S. Senate in 2022. S

pencer Toder is the fifth Democrat to announce a Senate run since incumbent Republican Sen. Roy Blunt announced in March that he would not seek reelection. He announced his decision Tuesday on Twitter. Two Republicans — former Gov. Eric Greitens and Attorney General Eric Schmitt — also have entered the race. Toder works in real estate and also is CEO of Atrial Innovations, a medical device company.

The Missouri House has voted in favor of barring state and local officials from putting any restrictions on businesses, churches or other non-public entities during public health emergencies, except in certain circumstances.

The Missouri House has passed legislation to crack down on protesters who block roadways.

The Republican-led House voted 98-50 to pass the bill. The legislation would make repeatedly blocking traffic a felony. The tactic is often used to draw attention to racial injustice. Protesters angered by the death of George Floyd blocked traffic on Interstate 70 in the St. Louis area last summer.

Judges could issue lifelong restraining orders that also cover pets under a bill passed by the Missouri Legislature.

Senators on Monday voted 31-0 to send the bill to Gov. Mike Parson. Currently, orders of protection are limited to at most one year. After that, victims have to go back to court to get an extension. Under the bill, judges have the option to grant restraining orders for longer lengths of time depending on the potential threat. The orders could be automatically renewed.

The measure also would allow restraining orders to cover people’s pets.

St. Louis and St. Louis County are lifting limits on the number of people allowed in restaurants.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that local officials announced the changes Monday. St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page cited the drop in cases in the area and the increase in vaccinations. The decision ends St. Louis' midnight business curfew. It also ends a half-capacity limit on county restaurants.

An embattled Missouri residential treatment program for troubled youth that started in 1832 as a home for orphans from the cholera epidemic has closed its doors as the federal government moves away from funding such facilities.

A gathering that traditionally has drawn tens of thousands of Vietnamese Catholics from across the U.S. to southwest Missouri has been canceled for a second straight year because of the pandemic.

The Joplin Globe reports that the city of Carthage and the Congregation of the Mother of the Redeemer in Carthage have decided that the risk of COVID-19 transmission is still too great to hold the Marian Days celebration. Before 2020, the event had taken place in the city every year since 1978, reuniting families and friends separated after the fall of Saigon.

The Missouri Legislature is the latest statehouse fighting to undo voter-backed ballot measures.

Missouri's GOP-led Senate this past week voted against paying for voter-approved Medicaid expansion. The battle between Missouri lawmakers and voters is just one example of pushback to direct democracy. The purpose of ballot initiatives is to let voters address issues that lawmakers don't act on.

Vaccination rates vary widely across Kansas and Missouri as officials work to persuade more people to get the coronavirus shots.

Statistics on the vaccination campaign show some communities making good progress distributing the shots while other, often rural areas, lag behind. In Kansas, a 26-percentage point gap exists between the county with the highest vaccination rate and the lowest. In Missouri, that gap is 33 percentage points. Health officials say the places with higher vaccination rates will have fewer cases of the virus.

Kansas City officials are planning to create a village of up to 150 tiny homes to provide housing for residents who are currently homeless.

The homes in the village would range from single person up to family size, officials said Wednesday. The city is seeking a site for the village that would be large enough to also provide other social services to the residents, The Kansas City Star reported.

A judge on Friday denied a defense request to return to a grand jury the case against a St. Louis couple accused of waving guns at racial injustice protesters last year.

A southwest Missouri school district that dropped its mask mandate earlier this month has decided to reinstate it after several students became infected with COVID-19, leading to dozens of quarantines.

Missouri has reported just 14 breakthrough COVID-19 cases among people who are fully vaccinated to federal health officials, even though dozens more have been detected in just the state’s largest county.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked states at the start of this month to instruct local health departments and health systems to collect real-time information on “breakthrough infections.” States are to collect the data and enter it into a national database.

A Missouri bill to shield businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits has hit a major roadblock in the Legislature.

A House committee voted the bill down Monday. The measure was meant to protect hospitals, manufacturers and other businesses from lawsuits over alleged wrongdoing during the pandemic. Republican Gov. Mike Parson says the bill is a top priority for him. The measure passed the GOP-led Senate before it failed to pass out of the House committee.

The Missouri Senate has voted against paying for Medicaid expansion. Senators on Wednesday voted 20-14 against a proposal to add the funding to the state budget.

The vote locks in the House's decision not to pay for Medicaid expansion. Missouri voters last year voted to expand who is eligible for government health care coverage to thousands more low-income adults. But the Republican-led Legislature has long opposed growing the program. Now they're trying to thwart expansion by blocking funding for it.

The number of Missourians who have been infected with the coronavirus has now topped the half-million mark.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services on Tuesday cited 524 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 500,071.

The state also reported 37 new deaths, though 34 of those occurred between November and earlier this month and were uncovered in the state’s weekly review of death certificates. All told, 8,732 Missourians have died from the virus.

A Missouri House committee unanimously endorsed a proposal to increase the state's gasoline tax.

The House Transportation Committee's vote on Monday sends the measure to the full House, where some Republicans oppose raising taxes. If it's approved, Missouri's gasoline tax would increase 12.5 cents over five years, resulting in a tax of 29.5 cents per gallon. It would be the first increase since 1996. House Speaker Rob Vescovo, a Republican from Arnold, has previously said he’s against tax hikes.The Senate approved the measure in March.

A Missouri bill to limit when police can use chokeholds is advancing in the state House.

The GOP-led chamber gave the measure initial approval in a voice vote Monday. The bill would restrict police from using chokeholds except if their lives or the lives of others are at risk or if they face serious physical injury.

St. Louis’ new mayor, U.S. Rep. Cori Bush and several other officials met with detainees at both of the city’s jails Saturday to check out conditions and highlight reform efforts.

Mayor Tishaura Jones said she is particularly concerned about complaints she heard about substandard food and lack of access to medical treatment in the city’s jails. Jones has pledged to close the medium security jail known as the workhouse, which has often been criticized for unsanitary and unsafe conditions.

Missouri is resuming use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after federal scientific advisers decided its benefits outweigh a rare risk of blood clots.

The state made the announcement Friday night in a tweet in response to U.S. health officials lifting an 11-day pause on the single-dose vaccine. The state said that providers with J&J vaccine in stock can immediately begin administering it and that shipments from the federal government will resume next week.

Just over 105,000 doses of J&J had been administered in Missouri before the pause.

The Missouri Supreme Court has declined to pause a capital murder trial for a St. Louis man accused of killing his ex-girlfriend, her mom and his baby boy after, despite two positive COVID-19 tests for potential jurors who had appeared in court.

The ruling on Friday came two days after attorneys for Eric Lawson requested a two-week delay, citing concerns that COVID-19 infections could spread to other potential jurors, trial staff and lawyers. 

Sara Shahriari / KBIA

About 1,500 University of Missouri graduates who didn’t get the chance to walk across the stage last year because of the pandemic are returning to campus this weekend for a long-delayed celebration.

A mass vaccination clinic that was planned at the stadium where the Kansas City Chiefs play has been canceled due to the suspension of the use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

KSHB-TV reports that the clinic had been planned for April 29-30. But the Jackson County Health Department said it had to be canceled because Arrowhead Stadium and National Guard were not available to administer a second dose if they were to use the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson says he hopes to have a new health director within the next two months.

Parson said Thursday that he thought it was in the best interest of his office and Cabinet to part ways with former health director Randall Williams. The governor did not elaborate on on specific reasons but noted that the coronavirus pandemic had created a “stressful environment” and he pushes his Cabinet members hard. The governor's office announced Williams' resignation on Tuesday.

Transgender girls would be banned from playing on girls' sports teams under a bill advancing in the Missouri House.

House lawmakers voted 100-51 on Wednesday to add the proposal to another bill. Republican supporters argued the change is needed to protect girls in sports. They decried the risk of being called bigots, hateful or transphobic for proposing the rule. Democrats at times wept and said the rule change could push transgender children to kill themselves.

Doses of the coronavirus vaccine that were sent to rural areas of Missouri at the beginning of the state’s immunization campaign often didn’t reach locals, state data shows.

That means that vaccinations in parts of largely rural southern Missouri have stalled at some of the lowest rates in the country, even though rural areas initially received more doses per person than cities. For instance, 46,000 doses were allocated as of April 13 to a cluster of nine counties in an area of south-central Missouri where West Plains is located.

Missouri's GOP-led House has passed a bill that would allow guns in churches and on public transportation.

The House voted Monday to send the proposal to the Republican-led Senate. Currently, people need permission to bring firearms into places of religious worship. The bill would allow people with concealed carry permits to bring guns into churches, synagogues and mosques regardless.

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