Aviva Okeson-Haberman | KBIA

Aviva Okeson-Haberman

The Jackson County Detention Center has been a contentious topic in city and county politics, with a lot of the public debate focused on questions of funding and space. But conditions for inmates, most of whom are awaiting trial, continue to be concerning for those who know the facility.

Beyoncé tickets. Pricey steak dinners. Royals games. 

Lobbyists used to be able to spend thousands in an effort to influence Missouri lawmakers. Voters approved a $5 dollar limit on gifts for lawmakers in November. A KCUR analysis of data released this month by the Missouri Ethics Commission shows there’s been a 94% decrease in spending from the 2019 to 2018 legislative session. 

In this year’s session, lobbyists spent less than $17,000 on lawmakers. That’s a significant drop from the about $300,000 spent in the 2018 session. 

Criminal justice advocates in Missouri hope that new statewide rules will keep poor defendants out of jail because they can’t afford bail.

But one Kansas City public defender is concerned that poor defendants will have to stay behind bars before trial due to the cost of electronic monitoring devices.

There’ll likely be a special election in Missouri this fall to fill three Democrat-held House seats, two of which represent Kansas City. 

Kyra Haas / KBIA and Columbia Missourian

Ken and Beth Bristow were trusting people.

So when a man calling himself “Allen Bobby” responded to their Craigslist ad to sell a digital piano the retired couple from Nixa took him at his word.

The couple expected $550 for the piano, but Bobby sent a cashier's check for $2,050. When the Bristows asked why, he said he wanted them to cash the check and purchase Walmart gift cards to pay the movers who were picking it up.

He said he wanted pictures of the cards with their security codes. That was strange, but the Bristows went along.

A triptych of legislative photos.
Jason Rosenbaum, Rachel Lippmann and Missouri House Communications

Abortion opponents in Missouri have cleared the biggest hurdle to restrict access to most abortions — Senate approval. A bill passed in the Senate early Thursday morning bans abortion as early as eight weeks into a pregnancy. But the bill also saw some last-minute changes, under threat of a filibuster.

House Bill 575 has gotten plenty of attention because it would allow the concealed carrying of guns at previously banned places like college campuses.

What’s gone largely unnoticed is that the bill would also have a major impact on how universities fund their student health centers, putting some at risk of closing, a higher education advocate said.

Public universities would no longer be able to charge each student the fees that fund student health centers. Students who are able to prove they have health insurance wouldn’t be forced to pay the fee.

KBIA/file photo

Senators are considering making cuts to the $29 billion budget passed by the house in late March as revenue reports are coming in lower than projected.

The Senate Appropriations Committee met Tuesday to review the budget line by line. Senator Denny Hoskins proposed saving money by eliminating around 200 state full-time positions that haven’t been filled for over six months.

He gave one example where cutting nine positions would save about $300,000, which is about 20 percent of the total state positions that have been vacant for six months or more.

Meiying Wu / KBIA

Missouri lawmakers want to waive penalties for taxpayers who pay their bill late because of confusion over withholdings.

But the legislature likely won’t be able to pass a bill before the tax season ends.

At the House Special Committee on Government Oversight meeting Wednesday, representatives heard a bill that would waive the late fee for taxpayers who establish a payment plan with the Department of Revenue. It would only apply to this tax season.

Nathan Lawrence / KBIA

Governor Mike Parson toured three bridges in Mid-Missouri Thursday to promote his $351 million bond package to repair 250 bridges.

Parson said infrastructure, specifically bridges, and workforce development are his two top priorities this year. 

“As we keep traveling across the state of Missouri we realize that there’s some serious problems with our infrastructure in the state and that we have to face the fact that we have to figure out how we’re going to deal with this.”

The True/False Film Festival is here and KBIA has been talking with filmmakers and artists.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman spoke with the director of Mike Wallace is Here, a documentary that examines the legacy of the legendary 60 minutes anchor.

Director Avi Belkin says he wanted to examine the life of a man who shaped broadcast news today. 

A Roe v. Wade challenge could be coming. Will it come from Missouri?

Feb 22, 2019
Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KBIA

With multiple abortion-related bills on the table for the 2019 session, some are raising questions about the possibility of a future legal challenge or an eventual Supreme Court hearing.

“In order to get Roe versus Wade changed, we need to push it further than we’ve pushed it in the past,” Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester, said.

Nathan Lawrence / KBIA

Missouri congresswoman Vicky Hartzler is renewing her calls for the state legislature to create a prescription drug monitoring program.

Hartzler spoke with hospital administrators from Boone Hospital Center Tuesday about their work addressing the opioid crisis.

Boone County participates in the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health Prescription Drug Monitoring Program but Missouri doesn’t have a statewide monitoring program.

Olivia Gerling

Dennis Thompson’s Harley has a 131-inch motor and no muffler. Thompson says he built it to be “loud and proud.” The jet black Harley almost vibrates from the sound.

While it’s a noise Thompson associates with freedom, this motorcycle almost cost him his life.

“I'm tough. You know, I was in the army and I ain't afraid of nothing,” Dennis said.

After Thompson left the army, he became an aviation mechanic in St. Louis. He was very independent, and he says he spent his free time fishing, hunting, biking and chasing girls.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman

Former Columbia City Manager Mike Matthes will receive more than $166,000 in severance pay. Matthes resigned from his post last week.

The City council voted Monday in a unanimous decision to approve the mutual severance agreement which gives Matthes a lump sum equal to his yearly salary and compensation for all accrued vacation and holiday leave, totaling almost $180,000.

Mayor Brian Treece said the severance package is consistent with Matthes’ employment agreement.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KBIA


Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway is now the only Democrat elected to statewide office in Missouri. She defeated Republican challenger Saundra McDowell.

“Missourians have spoken tonight,” Galloway told the crowd of more than 50 people at her watch party in Columbia. “They want an independent watchdog in Jefferson City to hold the powerful accountable.”

One music teacher learns how to chant at the moon. Now she provides the opportunity for others to join her at Stephens Lake Park. Margaret Waddell started chanting more than a decade ago. KBIA’s Aviva Okeson-Haberman caught up with Waddell on a cool fall evening as she led new friends in moon chanting. 

Nathan Lawrence / KBIA

President Donald Trump is headed to Columbia Thursday for a rally at the Columbia Regional Airport.

The rally marks Trump's first stop in Columbia since his 2016 election. He's expected to rally support for Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley's U.S. Senate run less than a week before the election. Hawley, a Republican, is challenging Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, in a close race that could determine control of the Senate.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman

In 2000, Missouri had more than 150,000 dairy cows. Now, there are now less than 90,000 cows, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. MU economist Joe Horner studies the dairy industry and said most dairy farmers leave because of financial hardship. Dairy is a volatile market, and Missouri dairy farmers are choosing to get out of the business.