Author

Rudi Keller

Rudi Keller

Rudi Keller covers the state budget and the legislature. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, he spent 22 of his 32 years in journalism covering Missouri government and politics for the Columbia Daily Tribune, where he won awards for spot news and investigative reporting.

Lawmakers renew push to legalize sports wagering in Missouri

By: - February 8, 2023

There were more than 1,500 disappointed people at Arrowhead Stadium on Jan. 29, not including visitors from Ohio. On the day the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Cincinnati Bengals to earn their third trip to the Super Bowl in the past four years, 1,550 people tried and failed 4,571 times to place a bet on […]

Missouri tax agency says it thwarted $118 million refund scheme

By: - February 8, 2023

The Missouri Department of Revenue is investigating an income tax scheme the agency says tried to fool the state into issuing $118 million in tax refunds. The plot, first revealed publicly as a footnote in the  Feb. 7 daily revenue report, has been turned over to the department’s Criminal Tax Investigation Bureau, spokeswoman Anne Marie […]

Missouri’s largest workers comp insurer seeks legislative approval to become private company

By: - February 8, 2023

Missouri Employers Mutual, the state’s largest workers compensation insurer, is seeking to be removed from state control under legislation heard Wednesday in a Missouri House committee. Chief Executive Officer Jim Owen testified that policyholders of the Columbia-based company would see little difference under a revised organizational structure while the company would likely be able to […]

Governor, lawmakers removed from plan to hike pay for Missouri state workers

By: - February 7, 2023

Neither Gov. Mike Parson nor legislators should get a proposed pay raise for state workers, the Missouri House Budget Committee decided Tuesday. Parson asked lawmakers to approve an 8.7% pay hike, the biggest in living memory, to stem the loss of state workers to the private sector. No state department is fully staffed and some […]

Lawsuit over MoDOT pay plan could put roadblock into Missouri governor’s plan for I-70

By: - February 7, 2023

Some or all of the $859 million Gov. Mike Parson wants to spend on Interstate 70 improvements could become hostage to legislative pressure on the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission to drop a lawsuit over how much it pays employees. Filed in late 2021, the litigation in Cole County seeks to clarify the constitutional provision […]

Vacancies, turnover leave thousands of jobs unfilled in Missouri state government

By: - February 6, 2023

The Department of Mental Health canceled a $16 million project to renovate a building at Fulton State Hospital for use as a sex offender treatment center because there is no realistic expectation of finding staff to run it. Lawmakers appropriated the money last year from federal COVID-19 recovery funds. Department Director Valerie Huhn told legislative […]

Missouri lawmakers warn lack of confidence in MoDOT could stall funding for major projects

By: - February 1, 2023

The state Senate’s top leader delivered a stern warning Wednesday to the governor’s nominees for the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, saying lawmakers have “no confidence” in the transportation department’s leadership and that could stall plans for major highway investments. The warning came during the Senate Gubernatorial Appointments Committee hearing for Brian Treece, a former […]

Missouri Senate leader’s tweet about drag performance helped kickstart controversy

By: - January 31, 2023

With a single tweet, Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden turned a local controversy over what Columbia Public Schools told parents about the drag entertainment at a city diversity breakfast into a state issue. At 8:44 p.m. on Jan. 19, Rowden wrote that his “office has been inundated with calls & emails re: grade […]

Missouri Republican pushes to legalize ‘magic mushrooms’ to treat depression, PTSD

By: - January 30, 2023

The magic in “magic mushrooms” may be the ability to defeat post-traumatic stress disorder, and a St. Charles County Republican lawmaker wants to make them legal in a treatment setting. State Rep. Tony Lovasco of O’Fallon isn’t a hippie. He says he’s never taken psilocybin mushrooms or smoked a joint. “I’ve never even smoked a […]

Four bills making initiative petition process harder passed by Missouri House committee

By: - January 26, 2023

A Missouri House committee approved four versions of proposals to overhaul the initiative petition process Thursday on party-line votes, despite warnings of well-funded opposition if lawmakers put one on the ballot. The differences among the competing proposals were enough that House Elections Committee Chairwoman Peggy McGaugh, R-Carrollton, said she didn’t feel comfortable combining them. “I […]

Missouri realtors vow to fight GOP push to make it harder to amend state constitution

By: - January 24, 2023

The Missouri Association of Realtors, an organization that spent millions in recent years on two successful initiative petition campaigns, is warning lawmakers it will oppose anything more than tinkering with the way the constitution is amended by voters. During testimony Tuesday before the House Elections and Elected Officials Committee, Sam Licklider, lobbyist for the realtors, […]

Drag performers at Columbia event push back against Missouri Republican attack

By: and - January 23, 2023

A drag performance last week at a diversity event attended by Columbia middle schoolers was “high-brow and innocent,” not the salacious sexual display alleged by Missouri Republicans, the marketing director for the group behind the performance said Sunday. At the annual Columbia Values Diversity Breakfast, timed to be near the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, […]