public policy

Insurance bill triggers contraception debate

Earlier this year, Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a bill that would modify state laws regarding abortion, contraception and sterilization. On Wednesday, members of the Missouri General Assembly will meet for their annual veto session and are expected to try to override Nixon. There’s a good chance they’ll succeed.

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Missouri legislature to consider at least two bills vetoed by Gov. Nixon

Article previewing state legislature’s upcoming veto session / 494 words / The Columbia Missourian

Missouri lawmakers have one last chance to make law from legislation that Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed earlier this year. The General Assembly’s annual veto session is scheduled for Sept. 12.

States’ rights, religious freedom and women’s health will converge to drive the debate over Senate Bill 749. Arguments about business competitiveness and accusations of retroactive taxation promise to see House Bill 1329 buffeted back and forth across the proverbial aisle.

Rep. Mike Talboy, D-Kansas City, who is minority floor leader in the House, said he anticipates the vote on SB 749 to be tense. Still, he thinks there’s a good chance the legislature will override the governor’s veto and pass the bill.

“I would anticipate that one is going to be the most difficult to sustain the governor’s veto,” Talboy said. “It’s probably the most fueled and emotional type of bill that we’re going to see in veto session.”

In the Senate, Majority Leader and SB 749 co-sponsor Tom Dempsey, R-St. Peters, also thinks an override of the veto is probable. He is less certain about HB 1329. There have been instances, he said, when votes for a bill during the regular session did not translate to override votes during the veto session.

“If they had a desire to support their governor, then the House would not have the votes to override that bill,” he said.

North Village demolition reveals murky zoning authority in Columbia

Explanatory article on brewing controversy between a county social service agency and some residents in the neighborhood of its headquarters / 1021 words / The Columbia Missourian

COLUMBIA, MO. — When Boone County Family Resources demolished the house at 400 St. Joseph St. in August, a cloud of confusion over permitting remained even after the debris was cleared.

Two months later, uncertainty persists not only about the demolition permit but also about whether the city has any standing to determine how the agency uses the land.

Boone County Family Resources bought 400 St. Joseph St. in May and tore down a house on the property in August. It also announced this summer that it needed room to grow when it submitted a proposal for leased parking and office space at the new Short Street garage.

Residents in the agency’s North Village neighborhood, aware of inevitable development pressure as downtown Columbia grows, approached the city with concerns that Boone County Family Resources might be violating city codes and making moves that could compromise the historic character of their area.

The demolition also triggered a debate about whether Boone County Family Resources is subject to city zoning ordinances. This surprised city staff, which has since learned of a complicated case history informing the social service agency’s sense of zoning autonomy.

Columbia City Council to cast final vote on ward reapportionment Monday

Preview of city council vote on local redistricting plans / 776 words / The Columbian Missourian

COLUMBIA, MO. — City Council members remain in suspense about the outcome of their own vote scheduled for Monday. That’s when Columbia’s months-long discussion of ward reapportionment is scheduled to come to a close with a final vote.

The impact of that vote, however, will resonate long after next week. The new ward maps chosen Monday will determine the city’s voting districts for roughly 10 years. The city has redrawn its maps about every decade since 1973 to keep ward representation numerically equal according to the latest census numbers.

“I think it’s going to be very close, extremely contentious and a very long council meeting,” said Fifth Ward Councilwoman Helen Anthony.

The council’s conversation will be held against the backdrop of a petition started this week to recall Fourth Ward Councilman Daryl Dudley from his post. The initiative was spurred by opposition to Dudley’s most recent proposal for ward reapportionment.

Dudley went out of his way to advocate for the map known as Trial D, which maintains a central city ward. His most vocal opponents favor Trial E, which extends the First Ward (currently the central city ward) to the west.

Dudley’s opponents have charged that he selected neighborhoods to move from the Third and Fourth wards into the First, purposefully relocating those in which he and Third Ward Councilman Gary Kespolh fared worst in the last election.

Dudley denied the charge at a meeting on Oct. 7. He did not respond to repeated calls for comment for this article.

Columbia’s Fourth Ward councilman faces possible recall over reapportionment map

Night-turn story on councilman’s public information meeting that ended in plans to recall him from office / 751 words / The Columbia Missourian

COLUMBIA, MO. — Outrage filled the Friends Room at the Columbia Public Library on Friday afternoon, culminating in an initiative to recall Fourth Ward Councilman Daryl Dudley.

Angry residents alternately talked over one another, cheered each other on, snickered and shouted down Dudley. He had assembled them for a public meeting to discuss his latest proposal for how to redraw the city’s ward boundaries.

He did little talking.

Amidst accusations of gerrymandering, some of the roughly 40 people in attendance started plotting ways to recall him from office. Dudley was elected to the seat in April 2010.

Downtown Columbia Leadership Council weighs in on Short Street Garage

COLUMBIA, MO. — A new trio is in charge of the Downtown Columbia Leadership Council, which voted in its new executive committee Tuesday afternoon.

Outgoing chairman Randy Gray urged the group to “stay the course” on the work they’ve done since 2008. In the immediate future that work includes input on the planned Short Street Garage.

The new executive committee consists of current members Rosalie Gerding as chairwoman, current secretary Brian Treece as vice-chairman, and Historic Preservation Commission representative Brent Gardner as secretary.

Presiding County Commissioner Ed Robb, who passed away unexpectedly over the weekend, had been serving as representative to the DCLC from the Boone County Commission. According to the legislation that established the DCLC, the commission is called on to appoint a representative. Discussion Tuesday afternoon did not go beyond memorial services for Robb.

The Short Street Garage was the topic of the hour, including the most recent design plans, the upcoming public hearing, traffic implications and the private development proposed for an adjoining parcel of land.

Redrawing Columbia’s wards proves puzzling for representatives, residents

Explanatory feature on reapportionment of the City of Columbia’s political districts / 1557 words / The Columbia Missourian

COLUMBIA, MO. — Louis Wilson occupies a rare place in Columbia. What makes him — and his neighbors — unusual is location, location, location.

Anecdotally, many people in Columbia don’t know which of the city’s six wards they live in. As communications director of the Historic West Broadway Association, however, Wilson knows his neighborhood is one of few in the city that straddle two wards, in his case the First and the Fourth.

Because each ward elects one representative to the Columbia City Council, Wilson and his neighbors have the benefit of being able to bend the ears of two council members.

“That may be a stupid type of political addition, but it seems to make sense,” Wilson said. He spoke as an individual citizen, not on behalf of his neighborhood association. “It’s nice to have access to two parties.”

The issues of access and representation are central to the debate over how to redraw the city’s ward boundaries. Equalizing ward populations was the primary goal of ward reapportionment, but the committee charged with the task was also directed by the council to avoid splitting neighborhoods. Aside from neighborhoods, any number of constituencies can be concentrated in one ward or spread among them.

Demand precedes Short Street garage

News update on city plans for a new parking garage / 881 words / The Columbia Missourian

COLUMBIA, MO. — The surprise question looming about the new Short Street garage is whether there will be any public parking spaces left by the time it is built next year.

“It’s a good problem to have, to have it all sold out before you build it,” Third Ward Councilman Gary Kespohl said.

In addition to deciding what Columbia’s fifth downtown parking garage will look like, City Council members now are considering whether to build commercial space into the ground floor of the structure and to add an extra level of parking to accommodate advance demand for leased spaces.

The current four-story design provides for 340 spaces, and already 150 of them could be spoken for. Adding another level would add about 70 more spaces and cost about $1 million more.

Farming in the U.S.A.

More than ever, women and minorities are running the country’s farms, “boutique” farming is a hot trend, and farmers’ markets continue to grow and multiply. We speak with Carol House of the National Agricultural Statistics Service about the latest numbers in farming, and we check in with Jon Satz, who runs Woods Market Garden in Brandon, Vermont.
Farming