Jo Mannies

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter.  She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

A Missouri appeals court helped labor groups Tuesday, giving them a backup plan in their attempt to block the new right-to-work law that’ll take effect Aug. 28.

The court ruled that the state must restore the original ballot language for initiative petitions that seek a constitutional amendment to make sure Missouri can’t have any right-to-work laws. Such laws bar unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues or fees.

A small building nestled off Interstate 70 in Collinsville looks like a typical doctor’s office, until you get inside and look up close at the colorful artwork on the walls. They’re portraits of marijuana plants.

At this dispensary, about 12 miles east of the Missouri border, patients and the medical staff have lively conversations about the various medical marijuana products available, from brownies and blueberry-flavored candies to transdermal patches.

Updated at 11:15 a.m. June 26 with comment from Ashcroft — Missouri’s top labor group says the union effort to go to the ballot box next year to block “right to work’’ remains on course, despite a judge’s ruling Thursday that changes the ballot language.

The state AFL-CIO already has collected “tens of thousands of signatures,’’ said spokeswoman Laura Swinford. But those signatures were on petitions that contained the original summary ballot language that had been approved by Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Politically Speaking podcast team of Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies were on the road again Wednesday, this time to Picasso’s coffeehouse in the historic downtown of St. Charles. The two welcomed state Sens. Bob Onder and Bill Eigel, Republicans who represent much of St. Charles County.

Onder, of Lake St. Louis, and Eigel, of Weldon Spring, focused on a variety issues and fielded a number of tough questions from the audience. Each praised Gov. Eric Greitens for calling a special legislative session, now underway, to deal with the abortion issue. Both are outspoken opponents of abortion.

Missouri is the only state in the U.S. using consumer-protection laws to pursue a website that’s accused of advertising illegal sexual activity such as human trafficking, Attorney General Josh Hawley says.

Hawley’s office says it has filed a lawsuit Thursday in state court in St. Charles as a way to try to force Backpage.com to turn over documents that Hawley contends may be helping traffickers evade prosecution in the state and elsewhere. It’s the second time Hawley has sought court intervention in recent weeks.


Updated at 7:45 p.m. with changes to Onder's bill — Missouri’s GOP legislative majority is virtually unanimous in its opposition to abortion, but the divisions within their ranks were laid bare by a number of competing abortion regulation bills filed in the second special session of the year.

When it goes into its second special session Monday, the Missouri General Assembly will focus on a frequent — and arguably, favorite — target: local control.

On issues ranging from gun rights to anti-discrimination regulations, Republican leaders have made it clear that they believe there should be a consistent law across Missouri. That’s why since 2007, they’ve approved bills to bar communities from enacting stricter gun laws, overturned Kansas City’s higher minimum wage (there’s an action pending against St. Louis’ higher wage, too), and tossed out Columbia’s plastic bag ban.

As promised, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is calling lawmakers back to Jefferson City — for the second time — to target organizations and local governments that support abortion rights.

The session begins next Monday. “I'm pro-life, and I believe that we need to defend life and promote a culture of life here in the state of Missouri,” the governor said in his announcement on Facebook.

Public schools and other institutions in Missouri that receive state money likely won’t see any last-minute cuts before the fiscal year ends June 30, budget chief Dan Haug said Friday.

That’s even with the state’s income collections running slightly behind estimates used to craft the current budget.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens appears to be reinforcing his anti-union image, inviting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — who also has built a reputation for taking on unions — to a rally Tuesday, where Greitens signed a bill outlawing a longstanding practice.

The bill bans cities and counties from using project labor agreements, which have been in use in the St. Louis area for decades. PLAs require all subcontractors to pay union wages, and often bar work stoppages over labor disagreements. Already, there are PLA bans on state projects.

For proof of Missouri’s prominent place in the national abortion debate, one only needs to look at the two developments energizing abortion rights and anti-abortion activists.

Due to a recent federal court ruling, Missouri, which only has one abortion clinic at the moment, likely will see several others open in the coming months — a rarity in the U.S. And St. Louis will be engaged in a legal battle over a new ordinance that bars employers and landlords from discriminating against women who obtain abortions.

Updated 7:45 p.m. May 22  with number of bills filed Monday – On the eve of his first legislative special session, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and his allied nonprofit group are attacking one of the pivotal legislators  needed to win approval of the governor’s favored bill.

The nonprofit group is called A New Missouri and can collect unlimited donations from unidentified donors. It is targeting state Sen. Doug Libla, a Republican whose southeast Missouri district includes the now-closed aluminum smelting plant that Greitens hopes to reopen, along with a possible steel mill.

Libla says he supports the projects. But the senator questions some provisions in the expected special-session bill that he says could reduce state oversight over Ameren, which provides electricity to much of eastern Missouri.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill said Thursday she thinks it’s important for Congress to “repair, not repealthe federal Affordable Care Act, which she says is under threat by the Trump administration’s hints that it won’t continue to pay subsidies to participating insurance companies.

About 40 counties in Missouri have only one insurer participating in the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace.

Updated May 19 with Gov. Eric Greitens' plans to campaign for the legislation  — Missouri lawmakers will return to Jefferson City next week to consider legislation aimed at boosting the chances that the Noranda aluminum smelter plant will reopen and that a new steel plant will be built.

Gov. Eric Greitens is holding four rallies Saturday to promote legislation he says will help both southeast Missouri projects. The session will begin at 4 p.m. Monday.

Missouri lawmakers solved the puzzle over federally mandated IDs on Thursday night, sending Republican Gov. Eric Greitens a bill that would ease travelers’ and military members’ worries come January.

It was one of several pieces of legislation that reached the finish line ahead of the 6 p.m. Friday deadline for the 2017 session. Here’s a look at Thursday’s action:

Updated May 30 with news of appeal — Missouri's attorney general will appeal a federal court ruling that struck down parts of the state's limits on campaign finance.

In a statement released Tuesday, Republican Josh Hawley said it was his duty as attorney general to defend the laws and constitution of Missouri. A federal judge earlier this month kept in place donation limits, but threw out a ban on certain committee-to-committee transfers.

Seventy percent of voters approved the amendment in November.

Almost $1.3 million went into this year’s failed attempt to persuade St. Louis voters to help fund an MLS stadium, according to campaign finance reports filed Thursday.

The report, posted on the Missouri Ethics Commission website, shows AspireSTL raised just under $1.2 million for their failed quest to pass Proposition 2 in the April 4 election.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt for years wasn’t shy about his disdain for the Affordable Care Act, condemning it on the Senate floor, in town hall meetings and during interviews.

Then came Tuesday, when the Republican said fixing President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law doesn’t hinge on whether Congress takes action this week to do away with it entirely.

The Missouri state auditor is the only official who examines how every other statewide office and most taxpayer-funded institutions —large or small, county governments and municipalities included — spend their money.

As a result, it’s often the auditor who shows up on the news when there’s evidence of misused or missing money, which explains why you’ve heard from Nicole Galloway recently. One of her high-profile reports brought to light that top officials in the University of Missouri System were receiving pricey bonuses, which has since stopped.

While Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and potential GOP rival U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner collect millions of dollars in campaign donations, many Missouri officials are raising far less as they adjust to new state campaign donation limits.

Campaign finance reports from Jan. 1 to March 31 also showed that Gov. Eric Greitens spent more than a half-million dollars in that timespan, with a large chunk going toward a media services firm run by Georgia-based consultant Nick Ayers, who also has done work for Vice President Mike Pence.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill was prepared Wednesday for a repeat of the hostile reception she received at her last town hall in politically volatile Jefferson County in 2009.

Updated at 5:45 p.m. with Greitens' office comment Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has set up a task force that’s meant to examine which of the state’s hundreds of boards and commissions are necessary and which ones are not.

Four regional airports in Missouri and three in Illinois could find their operations at risk if the Congress approves President Donald Trump’s plan to end the federal subsidies they’ve received for decades.

But Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt is taking on Trump. “While a president has the right to propose cuts in spending, the Constitution gives Congress the power to actually set spending,” he said at a hearing he chaired Thursday in Washington.

Despite all the talk about Missouri’s shaky income numbers, the state’s revenue collections have picked up significantly in recent months, which could help ease legislators’ concerns as they finish fashioning a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

In other words, if trends continue, lawmakers might not have to cut as much as they planned.

A woman will take over the St. Louis mayor’s office — a first in the city’s more than 250-year history.

Democrat Lyda Krewson, the 28th Ward alderman since 1997, beat Republican Andrew Jones and four other candidates in Tuesday’s general election.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is the state’s first chief executive to set up nonprofit groups that can raise unlimited amounts of money from unknown donors.

The governor’s chief advisor, Austin Chambers, says there’s nothing unusual about it — and he’s right. Governors in Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts and Georgia, as well as New York Mayor Bill DiBlasio, are among the politicians who have set up similar nonprofit organizations, or have allies who have set them up.

The U.S. Senate approved Monday a bill sponsored by U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill that would let the historic Delta Queen riverboat operate once again on the Mississippi River.

After weeks of mulling it over, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill announced Friday that she'll oppose Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Missouri Democrat called it “a really difficult decision.” Her announcement comes ahead of next week's expected vote. Gorsuch needs 60 votes, which means at least eight Democrats must support him.

St. Louis’ Recorder of Deeds office is in the crosshairs in Tuesday’s election, when voters will have to decide whether to eliminate the agency, which maintains public records, and put any money saved toward body cameras for police.

Updated March 27 with details of governor's visit — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is returning to Missouri after spending time in Washington addressing a major conference promoting U.S.-Israel ties and talking policy with federal officials, including President Donald Trump.

Pages