Jaclyn Driscoll | KBIA

Jaclyn Driscoll

Jaclyn Driscoll is the Jefferson City statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio. She joined the politics team in 2019 after spending two years at the Springfield, Illinois NPR affiliate. Jaclyn covered a variety of issues at the statehouse for all of Illinois' public radio stations, but focused primarily on public health and agriculture related policy. Before joining public radio, Jaclyn reported for a couple television stations in Illinois and Iowa as a general assignment reporter.

Jaclyn has an undergraduate degree in History with a middle and secondary education teaching endorsement from Monmouth College. She was the History Department Chair at Greenfield High School in Illinois, but after one year she decided to go back to school for a master's in journalism at DePaul University. Though she has a passion for education and hasn't ruled out teaching again in the future, Jaclyn enjoys the every day excitement that comes with political reporting.

She's a 6th generation descendant on her family farm back in Illinois, but is excited to plant some roots of her own in the Show-Me state. When she isn't busy working, Jaclyn can be found trying to entertain her twin boys who still think she's a cool mom (for now). She loves cheeseburgers, hiking, 2% milk, and binge listening to true crime podcasts.

Legislators were originally scheduled to be back in Jefferson City this week after the legislative spring break, but the coronavirus has put a hold on their return. 

Before the House adjourned the week of March 16, it approved a supplemental budget that includes $40 million in federal and state funds to help fight COVID-19. 

As the federal government leads the national response to the coronavirus, Illinois and Missouri are examples of how states are crafting their own plans, and how they differ, during the health crisis. 

Of the many differences between Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his Missouri counterpart, Mike Parson, response to COVID-19 is at the top of the list. While Parson is quick to remind residents that the pandemic is not a doomsday scenario, Pritzker relays possible worst-case situations at his daily press briefings. 

Legislation creating a statewide prescription drug monitoring program cleared its last major hurdle on Thursday — passing the Missouri Senate 21-10.

The measure has passed in the House for years, but a strong filibuster in the Senate has allowed some of the conservative members to kill the proposal due to privacy concerns. A monitoring program is designed to prevent abuse, especially of opioids. 

The Missouri House has approved a measure that would end residency requirements for police officers throughout the state. 

State Rep. Ron Hicks, R-Dardenne Prairie, is sponsoring the legislation that would allow officers to live anywhere within a one-hour response time to their precinct. The proposal passed the House 105-41 Monday. On the House floor before the vote, Hicks held up a stack of printouts of emails his office received from law enforcement around the state in favor of the proposal. 

The Missouri Senate is set to debate legislation next week that would create a statewide prescription drug monitoring program, and it appears to have a better chance of finally passing, leaders said. 

The program is designed to stop the misuse and abuse of opioids. Missouri is the only state in the country without such a program. The measure passed through a Senate committee last week after passing the House earlier in February. 

Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, said he hopes to see the bill pass this year. 

Democrats in the Missouri House are fighting to undo a state requirement for abortion providers to perform pelvic exams prior to abortions.

Legislation filed late last month would prohibit health care providers from requiring such examinations unless they are medically necessary.

The Missouri House on Thursday passed legislation that would exempt private and religious school workers from statewide minimum wage increases.

The measure passed by a vote of 94 to 53. The bill aims to create parity between public and private schools, said state Rep. Tim Remole, R-Excello, who sponsored the proposal.

Democrats in the Missouri House are ramping up their efforts to pass legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Missouri Nondiscrimination Act, known as MONA, was filed weeks ago but has yet to have a public hearing.

The current Missouri Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex and disability in employment, housing and “public accommodation,” which refers to access and service at businesses and facilities. MONA would add sexual orientation and gender identity to that list. 

The two top candidates for Missouri governor signed up to run in their party’s respective primaries on Tuesday, and spent their first moments as official candidates diverging on a ballot item to expand Medicaid.

Gov. Mike Parson and state Auditor Nicole Galloway’s entry into the 2020 gubernatorial contest came as scores of other congressional, statewide and legislative candidates traveled to Jefferson City to file for office.

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.

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. 

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. 

Missouri lawmakers are considering a proposal that would allow some inmates 65 or older to be released from prison early. 

The sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Tom Hannegan, said a small number — about 100 inmates — would be eligible for an early parole hearing. 

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. 

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. 

Updated at 3:30 p.m. with comments from Attorney General Eric Schmitt

Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway released an audit critical of Josh Hawley’s tenure as attorney general, with the Democrat questioning how some of the GOP’s official’s campaign consultants interacted with governmental employees.

The audit, though, states that Galloway’s office “cannot conclude any laws were violated” from the interactions between the consultants and staff — which became a flashpoint near the end of Hawley’s successful 2018 contest against U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill. And attorneys for Hawley, who has sharply criticized Galloway for how she conducted the audit, took issue with the audit’s conclusions.

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. 

Roughly 100 of Missouri’s 7,019 untested rape kits have been sent out of state to a private forensic lab for testing.

The state completed a full inventory of those untested kits last fall. Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office is now moving forward with testing the kits to help prosecute rape cases and provide justice for victims. 

This is part of a $2.8 million grant former Attorney General Josh Hawley’s office received from the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance. Schmitt said there's enough money to test roughly 1,250 of the kits, but more will be sought to clear the entire backlog. 

Democrats in the Missouri House say they’re confident voters will approve Medicaid expansion, and they want to strengthen other health care measures in 2020. 

In a press conference Monday, House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, said the need for Missouri to expand Medicaid is vital, despite Republican efforts to kill the idea. 

“Since 2014, no fewer than seven rural hospitals have closed,” Quade said, “in no small part because the governor and Republicans have refused to expand Medicaid.” 

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services began awarding the 192 state medical marijuana dispensary licenses on Thursday. 

According to the constitutional amendment that voters approved in 2018, the department was required to license at least 192 dispensaries, 24 in each of Missouri’s eight congressional districts. This means DHSS could have awarded more licenses, but officials want to see if the minimum number can meet demand. 

A recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling gutted the state’s voter ID law approved by voters in 2016, but Republicans in the statehouse are looking to restore it. 

State Rep. John Simmons, R-Washington, has filed a measure that he hopes would withstand a court challenge. 

The original law approved by voters allowed three methods to cast a ballot. Voters could show a photo ID; another form of identification, like a utility bill, but were then required to sign an affidavit; or they could cast a provisional ballot. The provisional vote would count once they returned to show ID or election workers matched their signatures with a past vote.

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. 

Missouri lawmakers are still at odds on how to solve the spike in gun violence and gun deaths in St. Louis and other urban areas. 

On Tuesday, House Democrats held a press conference highlighting gun control legislation they believe will address the violence. 

“Perpetrators of gun violence deserve harsh punishment, but what Missouri needs most are policies that help prevent shootings from ever taking place,” said House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is distancing himself from proposed gun restrictions that he previously supported. 

In a November meeting with the mayors of St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield, Parson agreed to several proposals to help fight violence, including some so-called red flag laws. 

The mayors and the governor laid out a clear initiative: increase funding for witness protection programs and mental health resources, pass a state law that would prohibit minors from buying handguns, and keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and violent criminals.

Updated at 2:10 p.m. Jan. 22 with House committee action

Legislation that would remove residency requirements for St. Louis police officers passed out of Missouri House committee Tuesday evening.

Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, has a similar measure that was heard in a Senate committee on Wednesday.

Here is the original story:

After years of city officials trying to end the residency requirement for police officers in St. Louis, lawmakers in Jefferson City are expecting to get it done. 

Rep. Ron Hicks, R-Dardenne Prairie, is sponsoring legislation that will lift the requirement, and he said he has the support needed to make it law. 

“Right now, we have a clean bill,” Hicks said in a committee hearing on the proposal on Tuesday. “We have a good path through the House; we have a good path through the Senate right to the governor’s desk. He himself told me he’ll sign the bill if we can get it there the way it is written.” 

For the second year, legislation aiming to limit the use of seclusion rooms and restraint in Missouri schools has been filed. 

But this year, with Republican support in the GOP-dominated Legislature and more media attention, the chances of it passing appear more promising, backers say.

State Rep. Ian Mackey, D-Richmond Heights, filed the proposal last year. It passed it out of committee but did not make it to the House floor for a vote. This year, Mackey said lawmakers are much more aware of the issue. 

“Isolating kids, and in many cases telling no one, including the parents,” is happening every day in Missouri schools, Mackey said at a press conference promoting the legislation on Monday. 

The GOP leaders of the Missouri Senate say they plan to make changes in the process for drawing the state’s House and Senate districts a top priority — and are prepared to withstand any opposition among the Democratic caucus.

That makes it basically inevitable that Missouri voters will decide whether they want to retain a new redistricting system that they approved in 2018 — or largely go back to a prior system that was used to craft state legislative maps.

The Missouri General Assembly’s 2020 legislative session began with procedure and ceremony: lawmakers reading the Bill of Rights, new legislators being sworn in and hundreds of bills being formally introduced.

But even though Wednesday’s opening was fairly mundane, legislators from both parties are expecting fierce debates in the coming weeks over state legislative redistricting and gun violence — issues that could play a big role in the impending 2020 elections.

Updated Feb. 3 with more answers to reader questions —

2020 will be a year of new marijuana laws. Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana on Jan. 1, six years after Colorado first started recreational sales. Missouri begins medical marijuana sales later in the year — likely this spring — and thousands of residents have already received certification cards.

With totally different laws in the neighboring states, there’s an understandable level of confusion among residents: Why is it easier to get medical marijuana in Missouri than in Illinois? Where can you consume cannabis products legally? How much will marijuana cost at dispensaries? And with the ease of traveling between Missouri and Illinois in the St. Louis region, what are the rules about bringing weed across state lines?

Gun control, Medicaid and redistricting are expected to be the most contentious issues Missouri lawmakers will take up this legislative session. 

House and Senate members return to the state Capitol on Wednesday, and the governor is to deliver his State of the State address a week later on Jan. 15. 

Democrats in both chambers say gun control and urban violence will be at the top of their list of priorities. 

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