Despite all the bad press, the Republican Party is riding high, holding more state legislative seats and governorships than any time since 1922.  They control all three elected branches of the national government.  By contrast, Democrats are fractured, leaderless and outvoted at every turn.

The GOP is certainly not without problems.  The Trump base is, shall we agree, firm.  But it’s only one-third of the electorate.  Establishment Republicans lurch between taking advantage of their current dominance plus Democratic disarray and plotting Trump work-arounds, often very cynically.

Evangelicals, 81 percent of whom voted for Trump, are discredited by their tolerance of Trump’s stormy assortment of misbehaviors.  Republican women are especially conflicted.

Conversation Divided on Whether Prevailing Wage Helps or Hurts Missouri Workers

Feb 19, 2018

Some county commissioners and public officials say their communities face barriers to building schools, county courthouses, police stations and fire departments because of Missouri's prevailing wage law.

Supporters of prevailing wage say that eliminating it would mean lower pay for Missouri workers and fewer highly-skilled laborers working on public works projects.

The Fair Housing task force will focus on implementing new policies to promote fair housing. The task force will consist of 15 members from different organizations and backgrounds.

The National Fair Housing Alliance reports 28,181 complaints in regards to discrimination in 2016. “Columbia directly correlates with the national average, which is why we want to implement this task force,” says Columbia Housing Programs Supervisor Randy Cole.

“The city needs to look inward at what the landscape of our community is in terms of fair housing, access to opportunity, jobs and quality of housing,” says Cole.

Meiying Wu / KBIA

City Manager Mike Matthes has selected Sgt. Robert Fox of the Columbia Police Department to lead the city's proposed community-oriented policing project.

The appointment was announced Saturday in an email to City Council members, Police Chief Ken Burton, Columbia Police Officers Association Executive Director Dale Roberts and others.

Kimberly Ruiz, left, stands over a head lower than her partner, Lonnie Kessler, right. She wears dark, black-rimmed glasses, they both wear bright green NORML shirts and smile into the camera.
Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Lonnie Kessler and Kimberly Ruiz are a couple that lives in Moberly. Lonnie has intractable epilepsy and Kimberly is a disabled vet – and they both advocate for the legalization of medical marijuana in the state.

They sat down at the Little Dixie Regional Library in Moberly, and spoke about their relationship and about how both of them having disabilities has influenced and strengthened their relationship.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at

Missouri Mental Health Department Admits Mailing Error

Feb 19, 2018

The Missouri Department of Mental Health is notifying 1,000 people that some personal information might have been mailed to an incorrect address.

The department said in a statement Friday that the information released included only the participants' names, not medical or financial information.

Today guest host James Mouser welcomes back a pair of legendary folk musicians, CATHY BARTON and DAVE PARA! At [3:48] they perform "Nothing Better Than a River Life" on banjo and guitar. This Cathy-penned tune was first heard in the musical, "Gumbo Bottoms." Cathy and Dave will perform a free concert along side the Columbia Civic Orchestra this Sunday in Columbia - watch for details! February 19, 2018

A proposal in the Missouri Legislature seeks to give convicted felons a second chance in pursuing a career.

A House committee this week approved a law that would ease restrictions on convicted felons in the workplace. Among other things, people with felony convictions aren't allowed to sell alcohol or lottery tickets.

Police Say Two Pedestrians Killed on Same Stretch of I-70

Feb 19, 2018
Meiying Wu

Police say two pedestrians have been killed in separate incidents on a two-mile stretch of Interstate 70 near Columbia in central Missouri.

Columbia police says 35-year-old Jerry Martin, of Florissant, was killed Saturday when he was hit by a vehicle as he walked along the interstate. Martin was killed. Police say the vehicle fled the scene, and officials continued Saturday evening to search for the car and driver.

Centralia Juvenile Detained with Gun at School

Feb 19, 2018

 Authorities have detained a juvenile in Centralia who they said had a gun and ammunition in a school.

Superintendent Darin Ford said administrators at Centralia High School took a handgun and ammunition from the student's backpack Friday morning. The student was entering the school at the time.

Afternoon Newscast for February 16, 2018

Feb 16, 2018
KBIA/file photo

The man serving as interim U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri may soon be able to lose the interim tag.

Republican Sen. Roy Blunt said Friday that President Donald Trump intends to nominate Timothy Garrison as U.S. attorney. Garrison has served in an interim role leading the Kansas City-based office since January.

Total Ban On Texting And Driving Heard By Senate Committee

Feb 16, 2018
missouri house floor
File photo / KBIA

Under current Missouri law, only drivers under 21 are explicitly prohibited from texting while driving. Everyone else just needs to follow the state’s broad distracted driving law by driving in a “careful and prudent manner” and exercising the “highest degree of care.”

Today Paul Pepper visits with CRYSTAL KRONER about Cradle to Career Alliance, a non-profit that brings together community leaders and Boone County's six school districts. Crystal says that each year, six milestones (such as kindergarten-readiness) are set based on local educational data. When there are noticeable achievement gaps, 'action teams' are formed to try and come up with solutions. And it's not just about what happens in the classroom. "There are so many factors involved in children's educational success that happen way before they're getting into school buildings." February 16, 2018

Moms Demand Action to Lobby Proposed Gun Legislation

Feb 16, 2018

In the wake of the most recent school shooting at a Florida high school on Monday, Moms Demand Action — a gun safety advocacy group — made plans to continue its push against new gun legislation in Missouri. 

The moms want to stop House Bill 1936 from passing. Over 200 members are expected to lobby legislators at the state Capitol next week. 

Republican lawmakers are working to shorten the amount of time out-of-work Missouri residents can receive unemployment benefits. 

The Missouri House Thursday passed legislation to create a sliding scale, in which the unemployment rate would have to be nine percent or higher in order to receive benefits for 20 weeks. Benefits would only be available for 13 weeks when the jobless rate is below six percent.

Senate floor at the Missouri Capitol
File / KBIA

The Missouri Senate passed legislation Thursday that could allow the state's largest electric companies to recoup more of their costs for infrastructure improvements from their customers.

The legislation, which sparked an overnight filibuster last week and threats of another one this week, cleared the Senate by a 25-6 vote. But passage came only after several Senate opponents who fear it will lead to higher rates pledged to continue pushing for additional changes when the legislation moves to the House.

St. Louis Public Radio

Investigators from the St. Louis prosecutor's office have visited the Missouri Capitol and interviewed at least two dozen lawmakers as the office checks into Gov. Eric Greitens.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner launched an investigation in January after Greitens admitted to a 2015 affair with his St. Louis hairdresser, before Greitens was elected in 2016. Greitens has denied taking a compromising photo of the woman as potential blackmail.

Flickr/KurdishStruggle/Creative Commons

The Kurds have played a key role in the Syrian war. With U.S. military aid, a Kurdish militia called the YPG has done a large share of the ground fighting that has led to the near-defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Still it’s not clear that these military gains have brought the Kurds any closer to their dream of a Kurdish nation.

On this edition of Global Journalist, we look at the prospects and aspirations of the Kurds after the defeat of ISIS, and what may become of thousands of captured ISIS fighters.

Meiying Wu

  The City of Columbia’s 2017 Citizen Survey results revealed that citizens’ satisfaction with quality of police services decreased in the past year.

Only 47 percent of citizens indicated they were satisfied with police response times and efforts to prevent crimes.


Dale Roberts is the executive director of the Columbia Police Officers’ Association. He said he was not at all surprised by the results.

“We’re not embarrassed by that number,” Roberts said. “We don’t feel like we got a bad grade. It actually supports what we’ve been saying all along, which is that we need more officers.”

Kansas City Attorney Announces Independent Senate Bid

Feb 15, 2018

Kansas City attorney Craig O'Dear has entered the race for U.S. Senate as an independent in a bid to unseat incumbent Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill.

O'Dear launched his campaign Thursday with a news conference in Kansas City, criticizing both Democrats and Republicans for producing "division and gridlock."

O'Dear is 60. He has been active in fundraising for candidates in both parties but has never previously run for political office.

Missouri Public Defender's System Asks for Funding

Feb 15, 2018

The Missouri public defender’s system is asking for more funding to efficiently try cases throughout the state of Missouri. The office spoke to the House Budget Committee Thursday morning to outline its budget requests for the 2019 fiscal year.

The office cited an audit completed in 2014 that stated 294 additional lawyers needed to be hired to cover the 74,000 cases the office takes on. According to Michael Barrett, the director of the State Public Defender System, the current caseload of 83,000 would require 330 lawyers.

School Board Member Talks School Safety

Feb 15, 2018
Meiying Wu

  A high school shooting in Parkland, Florida left 17 people dead on Wednesday, Feb. 14. While the shooting was states away, the incident serves as a moment for parents to pause and think about the safety of school children, said Christine King, Columbia Board of Education member.

“I don’t want to be so naive to say that it would never happen here,” King said. Because I don’t think you can ever stop people from making really bad and grave decisions. But I think we’re in a very good position from a safety standpoint.”

King said that current safety procedures are discussed at active shooter trainings that Columbia Public School District employees, building personnel and students attend at least once a year.

True/False programmers Chris Boeckmann and Abby Sun give the inside scoop on can't miss films, revamped shorts programs and this year's True Vision Award recipient: director Dieudo Hamadi.

Today Paul Pepper visits with CHRIS MILLER about Healthy Bottoms Diaper Bank, an organization that collects disposable diapers, and then distributes them to families in need through partner agencies like Voluntary Action Center. Chris says that in 2017, 50,000 diapers were donated and distributed, and the goal in 2018 is twice that number. Watch for details on how to you can get involved! At [4:50] MAJOR JACK HOLLOWAY tells us about the outcome of the 2017 Red Kettle Campaign (it's good news!), and about the importance of the Salvation Army Thrift Store. Last year, the store generated $170,000 in profit; that money went right back into programs and services like Harbor House. None of it would be possible without volunteer assistance, and they're always looking for more help! February 15, 2018

Regional stories from the KBIA newsroom, including: 

A bill that would place limitations on the governor’s ability to appoint and remove people to state boards is closer to becoming a law.

The Senate Government Reform Committee passed a bill Wednesday morning that would give more power to the Senate when it comes to gubernatorial appointments to state boards and commissions. This bill comes after accusations from lawmakers that Gov. Eric Greitens stacked the board of education in his favor late last year.