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.

(Updated 11 a.m. Friday, May 15) Missouri Rep. Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, was elected and sworn in as new House speaker Friday, and swiftly got the House back to the business at hand — passing bills in the final hours of a surreal last week of session.

"This is not the time for speeches,'' Richardson said, ending tumultuous applause from the packed chamber. "This is a time to get back to work."

Updated 1:40 p.m. Thurs, May 14: Missouri House Speaker John Diehl, R-Town and Country, has announced he's resigning as speaker and as a member of the Missouri House.

His statement was issued less than 28 hours after news broke that he had been exchanging sexually salacious texts with a college-age female intern earlier this spring.

Diehl's statement does not say, however, when he will step down. The General Assembly's legislative session officially ends at 6 p.m. Friday. State Rep. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, told reporters the House's GOP caucus will select a new speaker tonight.

Amid a sex-text scandal engulfing the House speaker, the Missouri House voted Wednesday to approve an anti-union bill that would make Missouri the nation's 26th "right-to-work" state.

But the 92-66 vote was well shy the 109 needed to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s promised veto, prompting even some Republican lawmakers to blast their leadership for pressing for the controversial matter during the session’s final week.

With no votes to spare, the Missouri House acted Tuesday to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that would reduce the state’s unemployment benefits to 13 weeks, one of the lowest in the country.

The lower benefits would go into effect when the state’s unemployment rate is below 6 percent, as it is now.

After shutting down a Democratic filibuster, the Missouri Senate voted 21-13 to approve an anti-union measure that would make Missouri a “right-to-work’’ state.

Republican backers were two votes short Tuesday night of the 23 needed to override a guaranteed veto by Gov. Jay Nixon. They also achieved the final vote by using a controversial and rarely used procedure – called “moving the previous question,’’ or PQ – that angered many of the bill’s opponents.

(Updated, 9:40 p.m. Thursday, April 30)

In a move long expected, Missouri Sen. Mike Parson, R-Bolivar, announced today that he’s running for Missouri governor in 2016.

And his top issue, he said in his kickoff address, "will be about protecting and fighting to expand the number one industry in our state - agriculture."

His entry also is expected to kick off a likely parade of rural GOP rivals.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has maintained a large financial lead in his 2016 quest for governor, despite new self-imposed rules that prompted him to return $45,000 in donations.

Koster, a Democrat, reported over $3.2 million in the bank in his latest campaign filings, due Wednesday.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has appointed Boone County Treasurer Nicole Galloway as the new state auditor, replacing Tom Schweich, who committed suicide Feb. 26.

Galloway, a Democrat, is a certified public accountant, and has held her current post since April 2011.

While in Europe, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s trade entourage has held a lot of meetings, but so far has yet to strike any deals.

That was the message in the governor’s progress report, delivered via a telephone call Wednesday from Munich in Germany.

(Updated 4:20 p.m. Friday, March 20)

Retired U.S. Sen. John C. Danforth says he’s not giving up in his quest to force the ouster of Missouri GOP chairman, John Hancock, whom Danforth blames for an alleged anti-Semitic “whispering campaign’’ that Danforth believes prompted state Auditor Tom Schweich to kill himself.

“I think (Hancock) should be repudiated by all Republicans,’’ Danforth said in a telephone interview late Thursday.  The retired senator added that he was not calling for Hancock’s resignation, and instead wanted Hancock to be forced out.

For different reasons, both Missouri Republicans and Democrats have found themselves engaged in some introspection -- even soul-searching -- as they struggle to assess and reconsider their words, actions and policies in the face of some direct challenges from within.

(Updated 5:10 p.m.)

Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich has died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, shocking the state’s political world and throwing turmoil into the state’s 2016 contest for governor.

(Updated 12:40 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 12)

For the first time ever, the Missouri House has approved a right-to-work bill that curbs union rights.

But the House’s 92-66 vote Wednesday afternoon was far short of the number – 109 -- needed to withstand a likely veto by Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat with close union ties.

Final House approval came Thursday morning. The  measure now moves to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future and a possible Democratic filibuster.

(Updated 1 p.m., Wed., Feb. 11)

By a voice vote, the Missouri House gave first round-approval Wednesday to a bill to bar construction unions and employers from requiring all employees to join a union and pay dues if a majority votes to organize. The bill, HB 582, is sponsored by Rep. Courtney Curtis, D-Berkeley.

----- Our earlier story

(Updated 2 p.m. Friday, Jan. 9, 2015)

Despite all the gains that Missouri Republicans made in last fall’s balloting, the state party appears headed for a showdown shortly over who should be its leader heading into the crucial 2016 elections.

Two St. Louisans – incumbent state GOP chairman Ed Martin and former party executive director John Hancock – are competing in an election to determine who gets Martin's job.

Republican Rick Stream waited until the deadline to go to court Thursday and request a recount in the close contest he lost Nov. 4 for St. Louis County executive.

Stream lost by fewer than 1,800 votes to Democrat Steve Stenger, who is to be sworn in on Jan. 1.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is calling for state highway officials to examine the possibility of imposing tolls on parts of Interstate 70 – and to report back to him before the end of this month.

In a letter sent Tuesday, the governor told the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission that he wanted them to report by Dec. 31 on “analyzing and providing options for utilizing tolls to improve and expand I-70 and to free up resources for road and bridge projects throughout the state.”

Nixon noted that the newest parts of I-70 in Missouri “are 50 years old.”

(Updated 11:30 p.m. Nov. 25)

After a night of rioting and flaming businesses Monday, elected officials and business leaders were reassessing what happened and how to prevent more of it.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon found himself under fire, as critics blasted the low-profile use of National Guardsmen late Monday.

The Missouri General Assembly’s 19-member Black Legislative Caucus is asking that Ferguson drop the charges for non-violent protesters who have been arrested since demonstrations began following the Aug. 9 shooting that killed Michael Brown.

In a release issued Monday, the caucus called for the city to set up “a restorative justice plan in lieu of municipal fines for the non-violent protesters that have been arrested.”

In 1991, then-Missouri Attorney General Bill Webster’s ascension to become the next governor seemed inevitable. He had the looks, charisma, campaign cash and the connections.

But then a controversy erupted over whether his office was giving preferential treatment to donors when it came to state contracts. A federal investigation ensued. Webster’s reputation took a huge hit.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is expected to return to Jefferson City on Monday after an undercover, whirlwind trip to Afghanistan over the weekend.

It was Nixon’s fourth trip to the war zone, where U.S. troops have been present for more than a decade.

According to the governor’s office, he “arrived in Afghanistan on Saturday as part of a delegation of four U.S. governors that included Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Tennessee Gov. William Haslam.”

(Updated 12:15 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 11)

The Missouri General Assembly has made the state the third in the country to require a 72-hour waiting period before a woman can obtain an abortion, after the state Senate killed off a filibuster.

The Senate voted 23-7 – along party lines -- to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of the bill, but only after deploying a procedural action that it hadn’t used in seven years to end a Democratic filibuster that had gone on for about two hours.

Missouri residents who have concealed-carry permits will be able to openly carry their firearms anywhere in the state, as a result of the General Assembly decision to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a broad gun-rights bill.

The bill prevents municipalities from barring people from openly carrying firearms, lowers the minimum age to 19 for concealed carry permits in the state, and allows school districts to arm teachers. Police officers also will be barred from disarming people unless they are under arrest.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has lifted the state of emergency that he imposed several weeks ago in Ferguson – thus ending his power to replace St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch as the head of the local investigation into the police shooting that set off the community’s unrest.

Executives with Noranda, the aluminum-smelting operation in southeast Missouri, are following through with their threats of cutbacks as a result of the Public Service Commission’s refusal to cut their electric bill.

Noranda now plans to lay off up to  200 workers over the next six months at its New Madrid plant, and is suspending its planned $30 million expansion project, said  chief executive Kip Smith at a news conference Tuesday.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says that Centene Corporation’s plans to build a new claims processing center in Ferguson doesn’t just create jobs.

It’s also about sending a message.

"We're very heartened by their willingness to make an investment,” Nixon said Tuesday. “It now sends a signal, not only in St. Louis but around the world that North County is open for business."

Nixon offered up praise for Centene at the beginning of his luncheon address to members of the Regional Chamber and Growth Association.

As the state – and his reputation – seeks to move beyond Ferguson, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is rekindling his longstanding pitch in favor of expanding Medicaid.

And Nixon may be seeking to subtly link the expansion with Ferguson’s headline-grabbing racial and economic unrest, by emphasizing what the state has been giving up in federal money – and what he said has resulted in less help to those who need it.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has nominated former St. Louis Police Chief Dan Isom to be the state’s new public-safety director, a move that will put Isom in charge of a number of diverse state agencies – from the Highway Patrol to the Gaming Commission.

Isom served 24 years on the St. Louis police force, and retired as chief 18 months ago. He holds doctoral degrees in criminology and criminal justice from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where he has served as a professor for the past year.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster plans to host a two-day public workshop this fall – in St. Louis and Kansas City – to probe ways to improve the minority makeup in both region’s law-enforcement agencies.

(Updated at 4:20 p.m., Thurs., Aug. 14)

As of Thursday, the Missouri Highway Patrol is now in charge in Ferguson. And Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who announced the change, said at a news conference that the public should see a difference at once.

The St. Louis County police have been widely criticized for their aggressive, even militaristic stance -- using armored vehicles and tear gas -- to quell protests stemming from last Saturday's police shooting. 

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