Rachel Lippmann | KBIA

Rachel Lippmann

Reporter

Lippmann returned to her native St. Louis after spending two years covering state government in Lansing, Michigan. She earned her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and followed (though not directly) in Maria Altman's footsteps in Springfield, also earning her graduate degree in public affairs reporting. She's also done reporting stints in Detroit, Michigan and Austin, Texas. Rachel likes to fill her free time with good books, good friends, good food, and good baseball.

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Efforts to ask St. Louis residents to weigh in again on reducing the number of city aldermen by 2023 are on hold.

The decision made Friday to delay any action on legislation forcing another referendum acknowledges the difficulty supporters will have in getting the 20 votes needed to override a promised mayoral veto.

Updated at 11 a.m., June 13 with details about the championship parade — For the first time in their 52-year history, the St. Louis Blues have hoisted the Stanley Cup.

The Blues defeated the Boston Bruins 4-1 Wednesday night to secure their first-ever National Hockey League championship. When the final buzzer sounded, fans in St. Louis and elsewhere erupted in a long-awaited celebration, as the Blues mobbed their goaltender on the ice in Boston.

The city of St. Louis will honor the team with a parade and rally downtown along Market Street at noon on Saturday. The route starts at 18th Street and ends at Broadway. A rally will be held afterwards at the Gateway Arch. 

Police departments in Missouri and Illinois are joining law enforcement across the nation over this Memorial Day weekend to crack down on drivers and passengers who don’t wear their seat belts.

More than 500 people have died on the roads in the two states combined this year, and in more than half of those crashes, the people who died were not wearing a seat belt. The annual "Click It or Ticket" campaign, which runs this year from May 20 until June 2, is intended to help bring that number down.

Enterprise Center and much of St. Louis erupted in bedlam Tuesday night as the final horn sounded, sending the St. Louis Blues to the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.

The Blues beat the San Jose Sharks in spectacular fashion, scoring two power-play goals and an empty-netter to win 5-1. It sets up a rematch of the 1970 final, which the Boston Bruins won in four.

In this very special episode of KCUR’s Statehouse Blend Missouri podcast, we joined forces with St. Louis Public Radio’s Politically Speaking podcast to round up the 2019 session of the Missouri General Assembly.

On a special edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio links up with KCUR’s Statehouse Blend to review the ins and outs of the 2019 session of the Missouri General Assembly.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Rachel Lippmann joined KCUR’s Samuel King and Brian Ellison to talk about the final week of the legislative session. That’s when the Legislature sent abortion restrictions to Gov. Mike Parson.

Missouri lawmakers sent legislation banning abortion after eight weeks to Gov. Mike Parson, the culmination of an emotional and contentious week that ended with many of the GOP governor’s priorities accomplished.

And while legislators Friday also finished a bridge-repair bonding plan and proposal to institute term limits for statewide officials, they fell short on overhauling the state low-income housing tax-credit program and another measure undoing a new state legislative redistricting system.

The 2019 regular session of the Missouri General Assembly wraps up today in Jefferson City. Many legislative priorities for Gov. Mike Parson, including new abortion restrictions, bridge repair and the low-income housing tax-credit program remain on the to-do list.

Here’s how this is going to work: we’ll update from Jefferson City with the latest news and insights. The most recent news will be on top, meaning you can get a whole recap of the day starting at the bottom.

After a week that featured titanic battles over high-profile legislation, Missouri lawmakers are heading into the final day with a lot on their plate.

The unfinished business set for Friday includes final passage of abortion legislation that’s made national headlines, as well as a bill to overhaul the low-income housing tax-credit program.

A nearly 28-hour filibuster of what is usually a simple procedural step ended Tuesday night with a big win for Missouri Gov. Mike Parson.

Over the objection of a group of six Republicans, the state Senate approved a major economic development package that extended a tax credit for General Motors, which is considering a $750 million expansion of its plant in Wentzville. Also included is a program to fund training for adults in “high-need” jobs, and a deal-closing fund that allows for up-front tax breaks to companies considering expansion.

Updated at 12 p.m. Tuesday with comments from Gov. Parson:

A state incentive package aimed at getting General Motors to expand in Missouri is running into a major roadblock in the state Senate, threatening to derail some of Gov. Mike Parson’s priorities with less than a week left in the legislative session.

Six Republican senators who object to the expansion of job-training aid and a fund that would help finance the closing of economic development deals led a filibuster Monday on what is generally a quick procedural step to begin the day. That prevented any other work from getting done, as the filibuster, which began around 2:30 p.m., stretched into the night and early Tuesday morning.

The ACLU of Missouri and the state’s public defender system have reached a deal meant to ensure that low-income defendants are properly represented when they go to court.

The agreement made public on Monday sets maximum caseloads for the state’s 500-plus public defenders, and allows them to turn down cases to stay within a time limit that is based on how much work should be spent defending different types of crimes. It also makes it clear that defendants must be screened quickly to see if they qualify for a public defender.

Updated at 5:15 p.m., May 10 with Sheila Sweeney's guilty plea — Two people who figured prominently in the political corruption scandal that brought down former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger have been charged as well.

John Rallo, an insurance executive who allegedly received county contracts in exchange for campaign contributions to Stenger, was charged Friday with bribery, mail fraud and honest services fraud, the same charges that Stenger pleaded guilty to last week. Sheila Sweeney, the former head of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, pleaded guilty to covering up the scheme, and not telling law enforcement about it.

Updated at 3:30 p.m., May 2 with reactions from officials and legal experts — Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger will plead guilty on Friday to federal corruption charges — just four days after his indictment was announced.

Stenger was charged Monday with steering county contracts to a major campaign contributor. He resigned the same day.

A Ladue police officer has been charged with second-degree assault for shooting a suspected shoplifter in the parking lot of a Schnucks grocery store.

“A person commits the offense of assault in the second degree if he or she recklessly causes physical injury to another person by means of discharge of a firearm,” St. Louis County prosecutor Wesley Bell said Wednesday in announcing the charge against officer Julia Crews. “It is our position that the officer’s actions were reckless.”

Sam Page is the new top official in St. Louis County.
 

The County Council on Monday night appointed the Democrat to take over the post left vacant when Steve Stenger resigned Monday after being charged in federal court with directing county contracts to a campaign contributor.

Page, now the council’s chairman, will serve as county executive until a November 2020 election to fill the remainder of Stenger's term, which lasts through 2022. He will have to give up a lucrative anesthesiology practice to take the post.

In a change that lawmakers acknowledged was a long time coming, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen has voted to ban lobbyists from the floor of the chamber.

The ban was part of the board’s operating rules adopted Friday by a 22-2 vote, with one alderman voting present.

The new interim head of the St. Louis County jail wants to bring in an outsider to help figure out why three inmates have died in custody since January.

“I want an unbiased opinion about what’s going on at the jail,” Lt. Col. Troy Doyle told reporters Tuesday after a meeting of the St. Louis County Council. “I work for St. Louis County and county government, but I think that would be reassuring to not only the workers there but the families.”

In the last month of Missouri's legislative session, lawmakers are likely to change — if not completely eliminate — some of the initiative petitions the state’s voters passed in November.

Republican leaders in both the state House and Senate said they are prepared to make changes to Amendment 1, an ethics proposal also known as Clean Missouri. The House has already passed a bill chipping away at the minimum wage increase, and the Senate has debated, though not approved, a measure that would allow younger employees and tipped workers to make less.

A federal appeals court will hear arguments in St. Louis on Friday in a case that challenges the idea that unpaid lobbyists have to register with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

A divided panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in November that Ron Calzone, a conservative activist, had to fill out the required forms and pay a fine for failing to do so. In a rare move, all 12 judges of the court will reconsider the case.

Senator Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, was the first in his family to go to college.

Yet the good economic news in the state, and especially his hometown of Springfield, has him championing other routes than four-year degrees, such as certificate programs and associates degrees.

Members of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Monday recognized two colleagues who came to the chamber in different ways yet left their mark on the institution and the legislation it passed.

Terry Kennedy, D-18th Ward, stepped into his father Samuel’s seat 31 years ago, then won re-election eight times. Scott Ogilvie, D-24th Ward, won his 2011 election as an independent after the Democratic incumbent lost to a former alderman who had been recalled. He ran for re-election in 2015 as a Democrat.

St. Louis residents are getting their first look at what the new headquarters of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in north St. Louis will look like.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which is overseeing construction at the 97-acre site, released the drawings for the spy agency’s new campus on Tuesday. The office building, garages, visitors center and security checkpoints are being designed and built by a combined venture of McCarthy Building Companies, which is based in the St. Louis suburb of Rock Hill, and HITT Contracting, which is based in the Washington, D.C. area.

St. Louis and St. Louis County residents on Tuesday rejected a Metropolitan Sewer District tax increase aimed at stopping erosion and flooding.

Voters also endorsed designating an attorney to represent the St. Louis County Council, while in Ferguson Fran Griffin defeated Michael Brown’s mother, Lezley McSpadden, and incumbent Keith Kallstrom for a seat on the city council.

A Missouri House committee has approved major changes to the state’s criminal justice system, including giving judges more leeway in nonviolent crime sentencing.

The action Thursday by the House Special Committee on Criminal Justice is just the first step in what its chairman, Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, acknowledges could be a long fight.

Nearly five years after Michael Brown’s death sparked protests and a movement over police treatment of African-Americans, his mother, Lezley McSpadden, is running for a Ferguson city council seat in the southern part of town where her son died.

“I hope that people will see that I’m still standing after all that I’ve been through,” McSpadden said. “And I’m still fighting. And I will always be a voice for Michael Brown and all of our other black and brown children who are being mistreated and who have been up against police brutality.”

An election cycle in Missouri that saw 371 petitions submitted to change the state’s laws or constitution is prompting a new discussion among lawmakers about ways to limit the process.

The House Committee on Elections and Elected Officials heard several hours of testimony on nine proposals Wednesday, though it did not vote on any of them. Measures making similar changes are awaiting first-round approval in the Senate.

Voters in the Ferguson-Florissant School District will select their school board members much differently on April 2.

The new method, called cumulative voting, settles a Voting Rights Act lawsuit filed in 2014 by the ACLU of Missouri and the NAACP. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case in January.

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District is asking its customers to pay a little more for stormwater service in an effort to fix problems caused by erosion.

The new fee, which would be based on how much of a property can absorb water, would cost the average homeowner about $27 a year. It’s expected to generate about $30 million to stabilize creek and stream banks and repair the damage, and deal with flooding.

The country’s top elected Democrat came to Ferguson Monday to push the party’s efforts to expand voting rights across the country.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, are among hundreds of co-sponsors of two bills: one that sets new requirements for when states must get federal approval to change their voting or election laws, and another that reduces the amount of money in campaigns, including eliminating so-called "dark money" from unidentified donors.

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