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.

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. 

Vice President Joe Biden today lauded the nation’s military veterans who have fought battles overseas, but he made clear that there’s a limit to what the United States’ military can do.

“It’s time for those we liberated to stand up and put themselves together,” Biden said at the end of a lengthy speech to about 12,000 members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars gathered in St. Louis at the America's Center convention hall downtown.

Todd Akin’s new book is entitled “Firing Back.’’ But based on the former St. Louis area congressman’s  interviews over the past week, an equally descriptive title could be “No Apology.”

Two years after losing a nationally watched contest for the U.S. Senate, Akin is arguably more passionate than ever as he defends the message that landed him in hot water in 2012.

The immortal phrase in question: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

The group backing the proposed transportation sales tax is the biggest money-raising operation in the state – but it has yet to air a single TV ad.

Missourians for Safe Transportation and New Jobs, the campaign committee for the sales tax known as Amendment 7, appears to be entering the final weeks of the campaign with more than $2.5 million to spend.

(Updated 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 15)

Former U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Wildwood, is continuing this week to make the rounds of the national news outlets as he promotes his new book, “Firing Back.”

But most Republicans, nationally and in Missouri, are continuing to ignore his book – and him.

In the book, Akin generally defends his controversial 2012 contention that in cases of “legitimate rape,’’ women rarely get pregnant because “their bodies have ways of shutting the whole thing down.”

(Updated 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 2)

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has vetoed a bill that would have tripled the state’s waiting period for an abortion to 72 hours, saying it reflected  “a callous disregard for women who find themselves in horrific circumstances.”

The governor noted in Wednesday’s veto message that the bill, HB 1307, had no exceptions for rape or incest.

“This extreme and disrespectful measure would unnecessarily prolong the suffering of rape and incest victims and jeopardize the health and wellbeing of women,” Nixon said Wednesday.

(Updated 11:40 a.m. Friday, June 27)

Just a few weeks ago, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster  was publicly exhorting Missouri Republicans to change their party’s platform, which endorses the state’s 10-year-old constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., says the Iraqi government bears most of the blame for the violence now engulfing the country and is urging caution as the U.S. government decides how to respond.

“The mess that is in Iraq right now is Iraq’s doing,” McCaskill said in a conference call Tuesday with Missouri journalists. “The U.S. put them on a path of free and fair elections, and to have a military that could enforce the rule of law...I’m sick to my stomach that what we have done in that country has been so carelessly and casually abandoned in favor of sectarian dominance.”

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon followed through with his earlier threat by vetoing on Wednesday 10 bills passed during the last day of the legislative session. The bills set up special tax breaks for a variety of businesses, from restaurants to data centers.

Missouri’s chaotic history with presidential primaries may finally be settled, now that Gov. Jay Nixon has signed into law a measure that sets the state’s presidential primary date in March.

Under the new law, Missouri’s once-every-four-years primary would be held on the second Tuesday after the first Monday. In 2016, that date would be March 15 – the first day allowed by the two national political parties without incurring penalties.

(Updated Thursday, May 29)

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says that local governments stand to lose almost as much money as the state because of a final tax-cutting spree by the General Assembly before it adjourned earlier this month.

All told, Nixon said Wednesday, local jurisdictions around Missouri — from city halls to fire districts, libraries and ambulance services — could lose $351 million in annual sales tax revenue because of “a grab bag of giveaways’’ approved by legislators.

After telegraphing his intention for a week, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Friday announced that he is indeed going to veto the student-transfer bill because of its provisions allowing public money to be used for private schools.

He also faults the bill because it does not require unaccredited sending districts to pay any transportation costs for students transferring to accredited districts, as the schools now are required to do.

On Friday, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill is releasing the latest results of a survey of Missouri military veterans who have received care at Veterans Administration’s facilities around the state, including Cochran and Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis.

While not disclosing any details, McCaskill told reporters Tuesday that “every year we’ve done it, the VA has done a little better. I’m particularly pleased this year because we’ve had even more responses this year than we had last year.”

(Updated 11:40 a.m Thursday, May 15)

After more than an hour of emotional – and often loud – debate, the Missouri House voted to send to the governor a bill that would triple Missouri’s waiting period for abortions to 72 hours from 24 hours.

If approved by Gov. Jay Nixon, the measure would make Missouri only the third state in the nation to mandate a 72-hour wait – and possibly set the stage for a legal challenge.

Missouri House and Senate budget chiefs are accusing Gov. Jay Nixon of misusing state money because his office has paid dues to the National Governors Association for the past three years out of the Department of Social Services’ budget.

“He basically misspent the money,’’ said House Budget chairman Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood, during a news conference Wednesday. He was joined by House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, and state Rep. Sue Allen, R-Town and Country, who heads the House panel that oversees social-service spending. Senate leaders fired off similar complaints.

The Missouri House has given final approval to an early-voting ballot proposal that includes a provision aimed at knocking out a more-generous rival proposal that also may be on the same ballot.

Opponents call the Republican-backed measure “a sham,’’ while backers say it’s a reasonable compromise.

With fights over tax cuts and budgets out of the way, the Missouri General Assembly appears poised to spend its final week focusing on some familiar topics: guns, abortion and voting rights.

    

Measures to restrict enforcement of federal laws, triple the waiting period for an abortion and to ask voters to mandate photo IDs at the polls are among the hot-button proposals expected to eat up some of legislators’ precious floor time during the final five days.

When young Joe Teasdale won the Missouri gubernatorial race against incumbent Christopher “Kit” Bond in 1976, few were more surprised than Teasdale himself. That fact became increasingly evident on that election night nearly 38 years ago, as a ballroom-full of supporters waited, and waited, and waited for their man to come down from his hotel suite above, and make his acceptance speech.

After learning of Teasdale's death Thursday at age 78, I had a flashback to a November night in 1976.

In the final weeks of the legislative session, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has made a last-ditch effort to resurrect a push to expand Missouri’s Medicaid program and accept roughly $2 billion a year in federal money.

The governor, a Democrat, unveiled his “Missouri Health Works’’ program before business leaders Monday in Cape Girardeau. By coincidence or design, state House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka and an opponent of Medicaid expansion, was also in Cape on Monday with conservative low-tax icon Grover Norquist to highlight a different issue.

With a new tax-cut package on his desk, Missouri Gov. Nixon has zeroed in on a new “fatal flaw’’ that his administration says could wipe out 65 percent of the state’s general-revenue income used to fund most state services and aid to public schools.

The details may be different, but the basic argument mirrors last year’s fight, when Nixon successfully killed a tax-cut bill by highlighting flaws that he said would cost the state's treasury – and the public – far more than the bill’s backers had intended.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and some potential allies in the latest legislative battle over tax cuts stepped up their attack Thursday on two fronts.

Just as the General Assembly was leaving for its long weekend, the governor issued a statement making clear that the tax-cut measures that the House and Senate have been considering so far don’t meet his standards for approval.

(Updated 4:30 p.m. Wed., March 26)

In the last six months alone, Missouri hospitals have eliminated nearly 1,000 jobs, imposed hiring freezes affecting another 2,145 positions and cut or delayed at least $50 million in building projects.

The blame is due, in part, to the General Assembly’s refusal to expand Medicaid.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers are talking about what’s best for the Bridgeton landfill and the World War II-era radioactive material stored at the neighboring West Lake landfill.

So says U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who was among four Missouri members of Congress – two Republicans and two Democrats – who cosigned a recent letter asking the EPA to work with the Corps, which previously dealt with similar radioactive sites elsewhere in the St. Louis area.

(Updated 1:50 p.m. Friday, March 14)

State Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, has dropped his bid for re-election – ending two weeks of political suspense about his intentions.

(Updated 12:45 p.m. Fri., Feb. 14)

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has unveiled a tentative deal for a tax-cut package made with some Republicans in the state Senate, but his requirements could delay when -- or if -- the cuts go into effect.

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