A bill meant to thwart illegal use of a pesticide has become law. The U.S. attorney general discussed violent crime during a stop today in St. Louis. Alisa Nelson reports.
A bill meant to thwart illegal use of a pesticide has become law. The U.S. attorney general discussed violent crime during a stop today in St. Louis. Alisa Nelson reports.
By Missourinet contributor Jill Enders
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session visited St. Louis on Friday. Sessions spoke to members of law enforcement along with state and community leaders about the surge in violent crime in America in recent years. During his speech at the Thomas Eagleton U.S. Courthouse in downtown St. Louis, the Attorney General began by citing the great strides in reducing violent crime in the past four decades.
“First, we should remember some context. In the past four decades, our nation has won great victories against crime. Overall, crime rates remain near historic lows. Murder rates are half of what they were in 1980. We have driven the violent crime rate down to almost half of what it was at its peak. The good people of St. Louis have seen this progress firsthand: In 2013, the violent crime rate here was less than half of what it was at its highest point 20 years before.” Sessions said.
The Attorney General warned that the spike in violent crime in recent years could continue if steps aren’t taken.
“My fear is that this surge in violent crime in St. Louis, and throughout America, is not a “blip,” but the start of a dangerous new trend. This increase risks losing the hard-won gains that have made our country a safer and more prosperous place; gains that were made on the backs of the brave men and women in uniform.” Sessions warned.
The latest FBI data shows that from 2014 to 2015, violent crime rate in the U.S. increased by more than 3%. This marks the largest one-year increase since 1991. The murder rate increased 10%, marking the largest increase since 1968. Sessions also correlated the increase in violent crimes to the nation’s heroin and opioid epidemic.
“Our nation is in the throes of an epidemic of heroin and opioid abuse. According to the CDC, heroin-related overdose deaths have more than quadrupled since 2010. On average, about 140 Americans now die each day from a drug overdose. That means every three weeks, we lose as many American lives to overdoses as we lost in the 9/11 attacks.” said Sessions.
Sessions added, “Unfortunately, the people of St. Louis know this problem all too well. Last year, 256 people in this city died from an opioid overdose. That is almost double the total from the previous year — and more than the number of murders during that time.”
Sessions recommends three ways to fight this problem: criminal enforcement, treatment programs, and prevention.
“We need criminal enforcement to stop the transnational cartels that smuggle drugs across our borders, and the thugs and gangs who use violence and extortion to move their product. One of the President’s executive orders directed the Justice Department to dismantle these organizations — and we will do just that.” said Sessions.
Following his speech, Sessions met with members of law enforcement in a closed door meeting. Meanwhile, Sessions’ visit was only met with about a dozen protesters outside of the courthouse.
Governor Eric Greitens signed into law bipartisan legislation increasing the penalties for illegal use of herbicides Friday in the southeast Missouri community of Portageville.
The Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) has been investigating pesticide complaints from five southeast Missouri counties and from northwest Missouri’s Carroll County.
Governor Greitens spoke to Missourinet Friday afternoon from Portageville, where he signed the bill.
“I talked to a group of farmers this morning, and they told me how the illegal use of pesticides had destroyed their crops, hurt their livelihoods and really started tearing apart communities,” Greitens says. “It was critical that we get this done today.”
Listen to Greitens’ interview with Missourinet News Director Brian Hauswirth (3:09):
The Missouri House passed the bill 143-12 with an emergency clause, which means the law takes effect immediately. The bill authorizes MDA to issue a $10,000 penalty per violation. Chronic violators can now be fined up to $25,000 per violation.
Governor Greitens says those provisions have teeth in them, adding that we must “have the backs” of Missouri farmers.
“You know, we have guys who are out there doing the right thing every day, trying to support themselves, support their families, serve their community, and they deserve a government that’s going to have their back,” says Greitens. The state Department of Agriculture will investigate complaints under the new law, with the power to subpoena witnesses and require records of a person’s application of any herbicide.
The Missouri Department of Agriculture’s division director testified in November that MDA’s investigation into 124 pesticide complaints had cost taxpayers $177,000.
Greitens signed State Rep. Don Rone’s (R-Portageville) dicamba bill, which says any fine will go to the school district “in which the violation occurred.”
House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff), State Rep. Steve Cookson (R-Poplar Bluff), State Rep. Tila Hubrecht (R-Dexter) and and State Sen. Doug Libla (R-Poplar Bluff) attended the bill-signing ceremony as well. It took place at Rone Hall, which is at the Delta Center.
Cell phone upgrades are in place ahead of this weekend’s season opener for the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
AT&T has enlarged capacity by 60% through it’s the Distributed Antenna System (or DAS) compared to last year’s Opening Day.
John Sondag with AT&T Missouri says the DAS enhancements shorten the distance a call or text must travel, making it less likely for them to get stuck in network “traffic jams”.
“Think of the stadium as a pizza” said Sondag. “You can cut it up into six pieces, big pieces and no matter how many fans are in that sector, that capacity has to serve all of them. And what we’ve done is, instead of having six slices, we’ve sliced this up to maybe 11 or 12.”
Sondag says DAS technology is employed at other sports venues in Missouri, such as Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums in Kansas City and the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, as well as the University of Missouri Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium in Columbia.
Last year, Busch Stadium used 925 gigabytes of mobile data on the AT&T network, which is equal to 2.6 million selfies. Sondag says the explosion of smartphone usage, video uploads and social media postings constantly challenge network capacity.
“It’s just created this significant growth and demand on our network” Sondag said. “We’ve spent about $1.6 billion over the last three years in our networks in Missouri just trying to keep up with this demand.”
The enhancements at Busch Stadium are designed to solely handle wireless traffic during games. “You would have to put up, I don’t know how many poles and towers around there (outside the stadium) to try to get the capacity (otherwise)” said Sondag. “And 95% of the time it would be wasted capacity. So that’s the beauty on trying to build in-building systems that can be utilized to handle the crowds when the crowds are there.”
The improvements were made specifically for use by the 3 million people who attends baseball games at Busch Stadium every year. They do not impact AT&T’s other operations in Missouri which are handled through a vast network of cell towers and poles.
Sondag notes a lot of the upgrades to wireless capacity at the venues are done in partnership with other providers, who will share equipment and expenses.
Agreements with the venues themselves vary, with some footing a portion of the expense for wireless upgrades as a service to patrons, while others charge providers for any changes to service.
The Cardinals have a strong relationship with AT&T according to the baseball club’s Senior VP of Sales and Marketing, Dan Farrell.
In a statement, Farrell said “As the Official Telecommunications Partner of the St. Louis Cardinals, AT&T and the Cardinals have had a long and successful partnership over the years. The Cardinals appreciate AT&T’s commitment to invest into Busch Stadium to enhance the game day experience of our fans.”
Safety may also play a factor in further enhanced wireless communication access. A MetroLink light rail platform outside the stadium was the scene of a shooting which took the life of a homeless man March 19th.
The Cardinal’s season opening game at Busch Stadium is Sunday at 7:35 p.m.
Legislation aimed to create transparency for the state’s Legal Expense Fund was approved Thursday by a Missouri House committee in Jefferson City.
The committee voted 7-0 to approve State Rep. Paul Fitzwater’s (R-Potosi) bill to require the Attorney General to submit monthly reports to legislative leaders detailing lawsuits against the DOC.
State Rep. Jim Hansen (R-Frankford), who chairs the House Subcommittee on Corrections Workforce Environment and Conduct, notes House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty’s (D-Kansas City) bill would require Attorney General Josh Hawley to submit monthly reports detailing all activity concerning the fund.
“And I’ve seen the report from the Attorney General and the other departments and some of the settlements and lawsuits that have been made out of other agencies, and there’s no question there’s some issues there that need to be looked at,” Hansen says.
But Hansen notes his subcommittee has been asked to investigate Corrections.
The Missouri House Budget Committee voted 34-0 earlier this month to approve Beatty’s version.
Fitzwater, who chairs the House Corrections and Public Institutions Committee, tells Missourinet that he and Hansen met Thursday with House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff). Fitzwater says the Speaker will look at both versions. Chairman Fitzwater is hopeful the Speaker will combine Fitzwater’s state Legal Expense Fund legislation with Beatty’s, or allow both of them to go through.
The Potosi Republican tells Missourinet this is a bipartisan issue.
“I look forward to working with the Minority Floor Leader and getting this passed through the House and hopefully over to the Senate and getting it done,” says Fitzwater.
Fitzwater and Beatty have filed similar but separate bills. The main difference is that Fitzwater’s bill involves the Department of Corrections only.
The 2017 session ends May 12.
Top Stories: The Missouri House yesterday passed a bill to overturn a St. Louis ordinance which makes pregnancy and reproductive health decisions protected classes. And legislation to satisfy federal REAL ID regulations has passed the Missouri House and is headed to the Senate.
Legislation to satisfy federal REAL ID regulations has passed the Missouri House and is headed to the Senate.
Currently, the state doesn’t comply with security requirements that’ll be needed to board an airplane starting in January.
Republican Governor Eric Greitens thinks state lawmakers should wait and see if the Trump administration makes changes to existing law.
“When I was in Washington D.C., I talked with some folks in the Trump-Pence administration about this” said Greitens. “We need to look at whether or not the Trump-Pence administration are going to actually keep the Obama era rules in place. They actually may be considering a change. If that change happens, then the ID’s that we have today will actually be functional for people to fly.”
Greitens is referring to a requirement that documentation needed to obtain a driver’s license, such as a birth certificate or social security card, be scanned and stored on a database.
The rule actually predates the Obama administration. It was passed by congress in 2005 to beef up security in response to the September 2001 terrorist attacks.
A group of Senate Republicans think the federal statute constitutes an invasion of privacy. Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe (R-Jefferson City) confirms that Governor Greitens contacted the Trump administration by letter to express the chamber’s concern.
“The governor has delivered that letter to Washington D.C. to let the Trump administration know that the Missouri Senate’s preference would be that we unwind some of the effects of REAL ID, and the problems that it’s caused to some of our citizens.”
Kehoe says the Senate will seek to pass legislation later in the current session if the administration fails to change the requirement. He said the chamber wouldn’t wait until the last week to take action.
The House approved the measure by a 99-40 vote Thursday. Democratic Senate Leader Gina Walsh doesn’t think the chamber can afford to delay the measure.
She says workers will have to have access to the nuclear power plant in Calloway County for an upcoming maintenance project.
“If you do not have a passport or a federal ID, you’re not getting into that plant. If you only have a Missouri driver’s license, you’re not getting into that plant.”
A delay for the legislation would be ironic, given that Senator Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City) pre-filed a REAL ID bill before the current session began. It would allow Missourians to choose if they want the identification by requiring the Department of Revenue to create a REAL ID-compliant license and a non-compliant ID to offer to residents.
Legislation requiring the Amber Alert System Oversight Committee to meet at least annually is heading to the Missouri Senate.
The current law says the committee should “regularly review” the Amber Alert System, but does not specify what “regularly” means.
The Missouri House voted this week to approve “Hailey’s Law” on a 141-1 vote.
House sponsor State Rep. Curtis Trent (R-Springfield) says he’s asked State Sen. Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) to carry the bill in the Senate. Trent tells Missourinet that while there’s a reasonable chance of passage, he’ll continue to look for amendment opportunities to give it every possible chance.
The 2017 legislative session ends May 12.
Trent’s bill is known as “Hailey’s Law”: it is named after 10-year-old Hailey Owens, who was kidnapped, raped and murdered in Springfield in February 2014.
Hailey’s mother and the suspect’s father support the bill and have urged Missouri lawmakers to streamline the Amber Alert System.
Trent’s bill also calls for the Amber Alert System to be integrated into the Missouri uniform law enforcement system (MULES) and the Regional Justice Information Service (REJIS) to expedite the reporting of child abductions.
Craig Wood is charged with first degree murder, kidnapping, rape and sodomy and is set to go on trial in southwest Missouri’s Greene County on October 23.
Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri set the stage for Sir Winston Churchill’s famous speech warning that Russia was creating political instability in other countries after World War II. The “Iron Curtain” address called out Joseph Stalin for dividing Europe between Moscow’s interests and the rest of the Western world.
Listen to 2:30 minute excerpt:
Same stage, 71 years later and two men who have immense knowlege of world affairs, national politics and military history have an opportunity to address the current status of the relationship between the United States and Russia, among other political issues.
Retired General David H. Petraeus, former CIA director and former Commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, will hold a press conference Saturday morning, then take part in a “conversation” for an audience at 2:30 p.m. at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury on campus.
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, political analyst and publishing executive Jon Meacham will also speak to the press before delivering the Enid and Crosby Kemper Lecture at 11:45 a.m. at the same church.
Both men will be honored as Churchill Fellows, joining dignitaries like Margaret Thatcher, Walter Cronkite and Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The day’s events are in conjunction with Churchill Weekend and the first ever meeting at the National Churchill Museum by the board members of the Washington D.C. based International Churchill Society. Board members include Bill Roedy, former Chairman and CEO of MTV Networks International; Edwina Sandys, Churchill’s granddaughter; Duncan Sandys, Churchill’s great grandson; and, Lord Alan Watson of Richmond, England, C.B.E., former President of Britain’s Labor Party.
A mid-Missouri woman who tragically lost two of her children while swimming on the Lake of the Ozarks wants the state legislature to enact policies that could prevent electrical shock drownings.
On July 4, 2012, Angela Anderson says her children, Brayden and Alexandra, were enjoying the lake like they had many times. After swimming for about 10 or 15 minutes, Anderson heard the most horrific scream that she says still haunts her at night.
“And both of my children were dead. That quickly,” she says.
They died after being shocked by power running to a dock they were swimming near. Anderson, of Ashland, says lawmakers must improve safety standards at boat docks and marinas.
“There have been more electrocution-related deaths at the Lake of the Ozarks alone, than any other single state combined. There have been more electrical shock near misses on the Lake of the Ozarks than any other single state,” says Anderson.
Since 2015, four people have died at the lake from electric shock drowning. Anderson blames Ameren for failing to fix the safety issues.
“The Lake of the Ozarks is owned by Ameren. Ameren, not unable, but unwilling, to provide protection and safety for citizens and tourists of this state. That is what is taking place,” says Anderson. “It is killing people. It is nothing less than voluntary manslaughter.”
Jake Hummel (D-St. Louis) is sponsoring a bill that he hopes will avoid such future tragedies. Hummel says there are more than 20,000 docks at the lake – about 20% of those meet safety requirements like Ameren’s.
The proposal would require:
*New docks and those changing ownership to have safety inspections and meet new standards
*No swimming policies around docks
*All Highway Patrol boats to have defibrillators
If the measures are not followed, the legislation calls for fines and jail time.
During a hearing Thursday, there was no opposition to the bill.