MAGAZINE FALL 2018
MISSOURIâ€™S FIRST LADY
Living her happiest life 99th General Assembly
OUTSTANDING FRESHMAN REPRESENTATIVES
Committed to Training. Dedicated to Missouri.
TABLE OF CONTENTS 5 Letter from the Editor
6 Arnold: The Future of Gambling 7: Rice: MRCC is not for me 8: DeGroot: Tort reform of the future 10: Butler: Conservation Federation represents citizen-conservationalists 13: Dreith: Stand up for Missouri women
Caleb Jones is POLICY & PEOPLE the next 15 What’s next for Missouri farmers 18 Three options for legalizing medical marijuana AMEC 19 A river port coming to Jefferson City? CEO 17
Congrats to the
EXIT SURVEYS 21 Sen. Munzlinger 22 Rep. Rhoads 23 Rep. Engler
24 Sen. Wasson 25 Rep. Conway
Meet the First Lady Service is Sweet
33 Q&A with the First Lady
OUTSTANDING FRESHMEN REPRESENTATIVES 35 Jean Evans 37 Bruce Franks Jr. 38 David Gregory 39 DaRon McGee 40 Peter Merideth
Republican Outstanding Freshmen Legislators on being recognized for your rock star start.
41 Dean Plocher 42 Crystal Quade 43 Greg Razer 44 Cody Smith 45 Curtis Trent
46 New radio show visits Governor’s home town 48 Capitol construction under wraps 49 #FishingwithRusty 50 20 Questions with...Rep. Steven Roberts, Jr.
TEAM SCOTT FAUGHN | PUBLISHER RACHAEL HERNDON DUNN | EDITOR WRITERS BENJAMIN PETERS ALISHA SHURR DANIELLE MAE FRANKLIN
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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR It shouldn’t be any surprise to anyone reading this publication that the biggest concept talked repeatedly about in this edition is relationships. Between Exit Surveys, the interview with the First Lady, and recognition of the Outstanding Freshman Representatives, people in the state Capitol are quick to attribute the relationships they’ve built not only their success, but an easier journey through Missouri politics. This summer, Missouri Times publisher Scott Faughn and I have started putting campaignlevel miles on his car as we tape a new show he created called Show Me Missourah, where he sits with county locals and legends exploring the history and relationships that made the counties and this state what it is today. (Did you know former Senate Pro Tem Earl Blackwell was the first to fly a plane through the Arch?) Before we launched the episodes you can hear now, I tested out the recording equipment (successfully) on outgoing Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard in our second multipart retrospective series. (Gov. Jay Nixon was the first. Both are available to listen to in full online and in podcast stores.) Three hours with Richard later, it was clear he credited his relationships with former governors and others in leadership, from Govs. Bob Holden and Matt Blunt to former Speaker Steve Tilley and now-Treasurer Eric Schmitt,
for building his footprint on Missouri history. After a whirlwind past year, Richard was quick to lend a simple, but necessarily mature reflection: “You just can’t, you just cannot hold grudges.” As the summer has quieted down and the Capitol goes into what is likely to be one of the most relaxed veto sessions in recent history, I’m again honored to present to you another Missouri Times Magazine. I’m thrilled to present an introduction to Missouri’s new First Lady, Teresa Parson, who could not have been a more graceful hostess in the Governor’s Mansion as two journalists snapped excessive photos and asked questions about her upbringing and how she feels about being propelled to the top as a refreshing standard to Missourians everywhere. Alisha Shurr, one of your favorite Missouri Times reporters, had the joy of going to the First Lady’s Pie Baking contest at the State Fair and watch Missourians embrace the First Lady just as much as she embraces the state and all the relationships she has built and continues to build on a journey she calls her “happiest life.” It should also not be a surprise that the lesson the First Lady
says is the most important she has learned is: “Just showing someone respect. It doesn’t take much effort for us to show someone respect. And it definitely makes a big difference in the relationship you have with that person.” When it comes to lessons in relationships and the legacies they leave, the dedication of Mrs. Parson, honesty of Rep. Gregory, and the grand theft auto of Sen. Wasson (and how a relationship got him out of it) echo in this publication. In ten interviews with ten representatives nominated by Missouri Times subscribers as outstanding freshman representatives, each one of them dotes the pride they have in how hard they’ve worked to connect themselves in the Capitol and how relationships allowed them to quickly get anything done, especially in their first term. Reflecting back on their careers, five legislators terming out noted the relationships they’ve built while in the building, whether 8 or sixteen years, will be what they miss most. If only the farmers and ranchers the “What’s next for Missouri farmers?” feature is based on could build a relationship with the weather as
well as they have with the soil. After veto session, the political class will kick their relationships into full gear preparing for the 100th General Assembly. Here at the Missouri Times, we’re looking forward to releasing the 2018 Statesman of the Year and the Best of the Legislature 2018 in the January edition of the magazine. As always, I rely on this publication’s relationships with each and every subscriber and reader to help us curate the best list worth documenting. Please text, call, or email me with your thoughts on who stood out and made a historic 2018 go a little more smoothly. As editor, I professionally and personally rely on my relationships to assist me in producing an accurate reflection of the Capitol to stand for generations just like our subscribers rely on me and our writers to get them the important news first. Best,
Rachael Herndon Dunn Editor, The Missouri Times firstname.lastname@example.org
FROM THE COVER Did you know that the Governor and Mrs. Parson wanted the rocking chairs for the Mansion and sit out on the porch often?
Arnold Associates For all of your governmental consulting and lobbying needs,
contact Charles Andy Arnold
(314) 971-1000 | email@example.com Member of the Missouri Times’ “The 100 List: Best Lobbyists & Consultants in Missouri”
THE FUTURE OF GAMBLING VLTs, sports betting need attention CHARLES ANDY ARNOLD While the Missouri Constitution, Article 3, Section 39 (9), contains a general prohibition against the General Assembly authorizing gambling on “lotteries or gift enterprises,” also known as “game of chance” or games of skill where consideration (money) is paid, it allows the legislature to authorize: • Bingo Games operated by Missouri not-for-profits (Art. 3, Sec. 39a); • Missouri State Lottery (Art. 3, Sec. 39b); • Pari-Mutual Wagering on Horse Races (Art. 3, Sec. 39c); • Riverboat Gaming (Art. 3, Sec. 39e); and, • Raffles & Sweepstakes operated by religious and not-for-profits (Art. 3, Sec. 39f). Currently, Bingo, Lottery, Riverboat Casinos, Raffles & Sweepstakes are operating in the state. Only Pari-mutual wagering on Horse Races is dormant because the law ties betting activity to live racing at a horse racetrack located in Missouri. While racing has been offered from time to time at the state fair, sustaining the activity has not been successful. Bingo, authorized by voters in 1980 and Raffles & Sweepstakes, authorized by voters in 1998, are restricted to not-for profit service clubs and charitable and religious organizations. The Missouri State Lottery, authorized by voters in 1984, is governed by a constitutionally created 5-member commission. Riverboat casino gambling, authorized by voters in 1992, is governed by a statutorily created 5-member commission that also regulates bingo and horse racing. Commissioners for both commissions are appointed by the Governor with advice and consent of the Missouri Senate. The Missouri Lottery Traditionally, state lotteries have offered a variety of instant game scratcher tickets, pull-tabs, daily and bi-weekly numbers games sold at grocery and convenience stores or
through dispensing machines. However, as technology evolves and the demand from players for new products begins to rise, lottery commissions around the nation are looking to electronic, video and smart phone technologies to deliver what players want and to remain a viable revenue source for their respective states. Video lottery terminals (VLTs) capable of offering players multiple instant lottery game options were first introduced in the early 1990s in South Dakota and Louisiana and are currently in use in multiple states. These machines convert coins and cash into machine credits that are used to play instant lottery games. The player can cash-out at any time by printing a ticket or voucher that can be presented for payment at a redemption terminal. Some compare this technology to slot machines used in casinos, but other than a slot in front that accepts coins or cash, the video screen and the randomizer used to generate game outcomes, the systems are different as VLTs are networked into a central computer system capable of turning the machines on or off, tracking every game play and all money in and out. This instant audit capability insures players get a fair game and the state gets an accurate accounting. Today’s VLT systems are not your run of the mill casino slot machine, nor should they be. Legislation introduced in the Missouri legislature to authorize a statewide network of VLTs has been introduced for the last 2-years. The VLT system contemplated would be run by multiple private terminal operators licensed & regulated by the Missouri lottery. This system allows private operators to compete against one another, requires significant private investment and job creation, and generates an estimated $12K to $15K in annual tax revenues for Missouri education programs for each VLT deployed. As introduced last session, VLT legislation limits the number of machines at any one location to 5-machines, requires video surveillance
and direct line of sight of the cashier as well as placement requirements. The initial roll-out of the VLT system would take into consideration competition with other lottery products and minimize the impact on other authorized forms of gaming. Machine deployment is also limited to establishments with a state issued license to sell liquor. As this proposal moves forward, policy makers will have to balance competition concerns of the state casinos against the ever-increasing demands for both higher-ed and elementary & secondary funding. Riverboat Casino Gambling When originally approved, Missouri’s riverboat gaming law was to be governed by the Missouri Tourism Commission as riverboat gambling was promoted during the 1992 election with commercials of historic paddle wheelers cruising up and down the states 2- great rivers. That quickly changed when the legislature created the Missouri Gaming Commission and allowed “boats in a moat”, essentially barges built-out as casino’s that float in a basin filled with river water no more than 2,000 feet from the rivers’ edge. Riverboat casinos began operating in Missouri in early 1994 amid a legal snafu as the Missouri Supreme Court determined that the Missouri constitution only allowed bingo games or the state lottery to offer “lotteries and gift enterprises”- games of chance. Translation, no slot machines that make up approximately 65 percent of all casino revenues, only games of skill. The legislature quickly stepped in and put an initiative on the November 1994 ballot to authorize games of chance at casinos and Missouri voters overwhelmingly passed the measure. When the casinos couldn’t get the legislature to remove the $500 lose-limit, they went to the ballot box again, and in 2008 voters approved a 1 percent increase in the gross receipts tax and a cap on casino operator licenses in exchange for the $500 loss limit removal. Now Missouri
casinos are poised to go back to the legislature again, this time to remove the restriction in current law against wagering on sporting events. When the US Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that the against state regulated wagering on sporting events in all states except Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) passed by congress in 1992 was unconstitutional, the federal prohibition Nevada, Montana, Oregon and Delaware, was lifted. States like New Jersey, the original plaintiff in the case with no statutory restrictions against wagering on sporting events, announced plans to regulate and tax sports betting at casinos and via their on-line gaming portal. Legislators from states like Missouri with prohibitions against sports betting will most certainly file legislation during the 2019 session to lift their states statutory restriction but the path may not be that easy. A major sticking point will pushback from professional sports teams for a piece of the action in what they call an “integrity fee” that amounts to a 1 percent annual fee of the total amount wagered. Doesn’t sound like much, but 1 percent of an estimated $1.5 Billion Missouri market is estimated to be $15M annually. An issue within the sports wagering issue will be the gross receipts tax rate. The current rate in Missouri is 21 percent with a portion of that going to the home dock city where the casino is located. Proposals floated during the 2018 Missouri legislative session pegged the rate between 6.25 percent and 12 percent, a significant drop in the rate producing an estimated $100M windfall for the 5-outof-state casino operators licensed in run Missouri’s 13-casinos. As this proposal moves forward, policy makers will have to balance the tax-break the casinos seek against profits and the integrity fee the professional sports teams seek against education funding needs.
Charles Andy Arnold is a veteran lobbyist with longstanding experience in state gambling policy.
I’m a Farmer and the
Missouri Rural Crisis Center is not for me MITCHELL RICE This week, I saw an ad in my Facebook newsfeed from an organization called “Missouri Rural Crisis Center” asking for my opinion on the state’s minimum wage laws. I had heard of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center (MRCC) before. They are active in my part of the state, telling farmers how they should operate their business and pushing for a return to one cow, one sow and one plow types of operations. They’re mostly progressive activists partnering with people with a farming background that didn’t make it through the tough times of the 1980’s. Their policies are mostly driven by the bitterness of the progressive left. The ad was paid for by the Missouri Organizing and Voter Engagement Collaborative, or “MOVE.” This organization
is housed on Paseo in Kansas City. According to their website, the organization “… exists to empower ordinary people to reclaim democracy in the state of Missouri. MOVE’s role is behind-the-scenes, supporting existing grassroots movement organizations in developing and executing strategic integrated voter engagement plans.” The Missouri Rural Crisis Center’s connection to progressive groups is not surprising. They’re often pushing for Medicaid Expansion through Obamacare and have many ties to groups like the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) and the ACLU. To say that MRCC does not represent our rural values would be an understatement. Is it any wonder, then, when Missouri Rural Crisis Center comes knocking on the door of our rural legislators or our county commissions throughout
rural Missouri, they are met with opposition? This organization does not promote the values and conservative principles that we hold so dear in places like Chariton County. However, the Rural Crisis Center has access to big money grants coming from folks like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, the socialists that own Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream and even the Missouri Foundation for Health and the Greater Kanas City Community Foundation. Several of the largest grants they receive are from organizations receiving millions of dollars from George Soros. These are not organizations or people popular here in rural Missouri. Earlier this year, the Missouri Ethics Commission investigated the Missouri Rural Crisis Center. Rep. Jay Houghton alleged the organization was perhaps trying to circumvent the disclosure of their lobbying activities for tax purpos-
es. Brian Smith with the Missouri Rural Crisis Center then finally registered to lobby after years of performing that type of work for MRCC. Often, progressives think they are above the law. For this reason, I am starting a letter writing campaign, and I hope you will join me, too. I am going to write to any one that I know is supporting the Missouri Rural Crisis Center and ask them to defund MRCC. They do not represent our rural Missouri values and only exist to threaten them. Perhaps these organizations will listen to my plea or maybe they will ignore me. However, as a farmer – it is too important for me to not try to stop and organization that threatens my way of life.
Mitchell Rice is a row crop and cattle farmer in Chariton and Randolph County.
TORT REFORM OF THE FUTURE
How Missouri can become a leader in legal clarity REP BRUCE DEGROOT & THOMAS BRADBURY As the economy continues to grow and new technologies emerge, there is a real need for legal clarity that both protects the individual and gives fair outcomes to businesses. However, in many rising industries there is a clear lack of legal precedent or guidelines. While this is a problem, it is also an opportunity for Missouri to become a leader. From 3D printers to autonomous vehicles, there are many reasons to be excited for the future. Yet, there is also a huge risk of overzealous regulation and unfair liability standards that would stifle innovation and delay new product development. Existing industry is already timid about moving to the state. One reason for this is that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranked Missouri as the second worst lawsuit climate in the country. This type of legal environment is losing the state business and hurting growth. While there are already strides being made to address those issues, Missouri has an opportunity - through tort reform focused on the future - to be the first state that signals to tech companies that we are a destination to do business. By doing this Missouri
will have a chance to welcome new jobs and grow our economy. One of the new technologies that is already showing significant promise is 3D printing. Though around in some capacity since the 1980s, 3D printing has now become a feasible area for everything from prosthetics to manufacturing and even homebased printed objects. 3D printing is a form of additive manufacturing where materials and a blueprint are inputted into a machine that creates the blueprint from the materials layer-by-layer until a finished product is constructed. For example, one popular use of 3D printing among the early group of home printer adapters is custom phone cases. To create this case, a person would either find an existing blueprint on the internet or create their own, input a plastic or silicone based material into their printer and then wait for it to print. This technology is significant. “As 3D printers improve and become ubiquitous, having a computer-aided design (CAD) file of an object, such as a coffee cup or a toy, will essentially be the equivalent of having the physical object,” wrote Lucus Osborn of Campbell University School of Law. This will clearly present a number of interesting questions for the courts to decide; like who
is liable if an injury occurs from a 3D printed object, what legally qualifies as a product and who is a manufacturer. The time to decide these questions is more pressing now than ever. For example, the FDA has already reviewed hundreds of medical devices, including prosthetics and dental implants that are custom fitted to a patient. Since any doctor could now be aided by the use of custom medical devices for patients, it creates the unique question of who becomes liable, from the person who made the design to the 3D printer itself if something goes wrong. Traditionally, courts have not considered something like software or code to be products. For example, intangible content associated with products are not subject to product liability law. The reason 3D printers are different is because the code could be seen as a product in the end resulting object. This question gets more challenging if the blueprint for the object was not sold, but simply available for download online. Furthermore, current product liability definitions are unlikely to apply to the nontraditional sources like repair shops, hospitals and people’s homes. Instead, traditional liability principals should solve these issues. For
example, people who create blueprints should be protected if they provide adequate warnings or instructions. 3D printers should not be liable for things created through their product just as a manufacturer of tools should not be liable for a poorly constructed building. At its core, steps should be taken to ensure that the Missouri Merchandise Protection Act is not extended to cover 3D printed objects from nontraditional sources. This is because RSMO Chapter 407 was never intended to include these types of actions. Instead, courts will need strict expert witness standards to serve as gatekeepers that evaluate duty of care from all potential parties. Unless these steps are taken to create balanced standards to fairly determine liability, excessive litigation from plaintiff ’s attorneys could stifle the innovation that 3D printing technology provides by making it too cost prohibitive for individuals to engage in. In terms of public safety, autonomous vehicles are poised to be one of the most significant advancements in the near future. By eliminating human error, drunk driving and road rage Missouri’s streets would be significantly safer for all those on them. Additionally, they are expected to provide mobility to
senior citizens and handicapped individuals unable to currently drive. Furthermore, research has found that autonomous vehicles will have a significant effect on our economy. A 2013 study by the Eno Center for Transportation found that if only 10 percent of the cars on the road were self-driving, 1,000 lives and $18 billion would be saved each year. When 90 percent of the cars are autonomous, those numbers jump to 22,000 lives and $350 billion. While this research is exciting, the prospect of a future with autonomous vehicles may be further away than most think due to the prospect of burdensome regulation and lawsuits. Thankfully, there are many features of autonomous vehicles already being introduced in recently released vehicles. Whether it be lane assist, self-parking or front end collision awareness, the technology of autonomous vehicles is already making the roads safer. Autonomous vehicles will require a number of features like sensors, radars, cameras, computer mapping, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, vehicle-to-infrastructure communication and more, to provide data for the car’s artificial intelligence to properly evaluate the road and its conditions. With all of these working parts on top of traditional car mechanisms, there is a major fear that excessive litigation could undermine the entire field before the technology is able to take off. In the near future, as fully autonomous vehicles share the road with human drivers there will be major questions that arise in where liability falls. California and Nevada have been the first states to try and define this. These states place liability on the operator of the autonomous vehicle. This standard is particularly effective. This leads to the ultimate question of how much courts should rule for negligence versus product liability. Because traditional car accidents are assessed by driver negligence, product liability only comes into play when defects in cars cause or exacerbate injuries. If the negligence
standard is used for autonomous vehicles, courts will be forced to look at the circumstances of the crash, rather than simply allowing suits to be brought against every manufacturer involved in the finished product of an autonomous vehicle. University of Surrey Law Professor Ryan Abbott believes that negligence should continue to be used as the standard and not product liability for autonomous car companies because, “holding computer-generated torts to a negligence standard will result in an improved outcome; it will accelerate the adoption of automation.” Personal injury attorneys fear this precedent because they would rather use standards in product liability to go after software designers, component makers and car manufacturers. If the negligence standard is not used, extreme litigation could threaten the advancement of this life saving technology. 3D printing and autonomous vehicles are just two of the exciting new technologies that have the potential to bring significant public benefits. As other new areas emerge in our economy, it is important to protect the industries against unjust litigation. In order to grow Missouri’s economy, it is imperative that the state legislature acts appropriately by creating or applying reasonable legal standards that do not diminish or delay new innovation. If this is done, Missouri can be on the cutting edge of advancement that brings our state into a prosperous future.
CATALYST AND OUR CLIENTS WELCOME DAVID WILLIS TO OUR TEAM
Rep. Bruce DeGroot currently represents Missouri’s 101st District. DeGroot served as Vice Chairman of the Judiciary Committee during Missouri’s 99th General Assembly. He is a defense attorney for the Brown & James PC which serves clients throughout the state of Missouri. Thomas Bradbury is the legislative aide to DeGroot. He previously served in the same role to Rep. Dan Stacy. Additionally, Bradbury formerly worked for political consultant James Harris and was a legislative intern to Sen. Roy Blunt.
Conservation Federation represents citizen-conservationists BRANDON BUTLER It’s hard to fathom Missouri without white-tailed deer or wild turkeys. Yet that was almost the case in the early 1900s. Over-harvest and market hunting nearly wiped out these iconic game species. Thankfully, concerned citizens banded together to force change. The results of their efforts set Missouri on course to become the greatest conservation state in America. In 1935, sportsmen from throughout the state came together to form the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM). They assembled at the Tiger Hotel in Columbia and organized behind the purpose of taking conservation out of politics. Their initiative petition campaign resulted in the creation of the Conservation Commission and ultimately the Missouri Department of Conservation,
a non-political agency that has been a national model for nearly a century. Then, just as today, these conservationists represented both Republicans and Democrats. Conservation is not a partisan issue. Clean air, clean water, healthy soil, robust forests and thriving populations of fish and game matter to all Missourians. The CFM unites individuals and organizations with specific interests behind core principles of conservation, including regulatory authority and funding. Today, CFM is the largest and most representative conservation organization in Missouri. The Federation is made up of thousands of individual members, nearly 100 affiliated organizations and 85 Business Alliance corporate supporters. CFM is the Missouri affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), and co-chairs the Sportsmen Caucus. The Conservation Federation
has undertaken many successful campaigns throughout our history to ensure Missouri continues to be the leading state in conservation policies and funding. In 1976, CFM spearheaded the successful passage of the Conservation Sales Tax to create stable broad-based funding for Missouri’s forests, fish and wildlife. CFM was also instrumental in the creation and passage of the Parks, Soil and Water Sales Tax in 1984. The organization played a large role, along with agricultural, industrial and environmental partners, in leading the way to a monumental renewal of this tax in 2016, when 80.1 percent of Missourians voted to continue paying for the protection of healthy soil and water, while ensuring the future of our nationally acclaimed state park system. CFM presents awards to individuals and organizations whose outstanding work continues to
provide benefit for the future of our state’s natural resources. Mervin Wallace, the owner of Missouri Wildflower Nursery is the current Conservationist of the Year. He earned this honor for his work with wild flowers and native habitats. Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe and State Representative Tommie Pierson Jr. are the reigning CFM Legislators of the Year. When citizens ask what is the best way for their voice to be heard and ideas implemented to help set the direction of scientific conservation and natural resource management in Missouri, becoming an active member of the Conservation Federation of Missouri is the best answer. Through a democratic resolution process, CFM is instrumental in shaping conservation action in Missouri. When looking back over the great conservation achievements in our state’s history, CFM has been at the center
OPINION of creating or guiding most initiatives. Along with leading the efforts to create of the Conservation Commission and the Design for Conservation Sales Tax, CFM created Stream Teams, Operation Game Thief, Operation Forest Arson, the Conservation Leadership Corps and so many more important programs and initiatives. The Federation has 10 different Resource Action Committees. This is where citizens can dig in with other individuals concerned with the same topic, for or against, and can meet with federal and state agency experts for discussion. The resource committees are: Archery and Shooting Sports; Big Game, Turkey, and Furbearers; Education and Outdoor Recreation; Environment and Ecology, Forest Resources and Management, Grassland and Prairies, Public and Private Lands; Rivers, Streams, and Fisheries; Upland Wildlife; and Wetlands and Waterfowl. If a citizen
is passionate about one or more of these topics, then they can engage with these committees and help bring citizen perspective to how Missouri manages these aspects of conservation. Each year, CFM hosts a threeday convention in Jefferson City, at which policy is created through a resolution process. Committee leaders pre-file citizen submitted resolutions. These are then discussed and reviewed Saturday morning by the committees before moving to the Resolution Committee. The resolutions then go to the General Assembly for a final vote on Sunday. There are numerous steps to the creation of our policy, but all of it is citizen-member driven. Missouri is truly wonderful. Our culture of hard-work and high-morality makes this state an ideal place to live and raise a family. Our state’s incredible conservation efforts of natural resources have a lot to do with this. Because we have so many amaz-
ing opportunities to take to fields and forests in pursuit of game, and to our enormous reservoirs and world-class rivers for fishing and water recreation, and to trails and campgrounds and parks and prairies, we can balance our work and recreation better than those in most other states. We know Missourians embrace these opportunities, because 1.2-million of us hold a fishing license. Over 520,000 Missourians purchase a deer hunting license. And over 18-million people visit our state parks each year. The economic impact of outdoor recreation on Missouri’s economy is enormous, but it’s the immeasurable intrinsic value of the outdoors – the feelings of euphoria when a trout rises and turkey gobbles, the smiles on a children’s faces when they see a hummingbird – that really define and speak to the value of conservation. Yes, it truly is a blessing to be a Missourian. Yet, Missouri is not without
our challenges. Like most other states, Missouri has our work cut out for us with economic development, social services, an aging demographic and crumbling infrastructure. Facing so many challenges, with so much work ahead, it should be a point of pride for all Missourians, those elected to office and those who put them there, that conservation is simply not a concern at this time. Thus, allowing for legislative focus to be placed on much more pressing concerns. Conservation management in Missouri is the envy of 49 other states. We are the model all others are pointing at, saying, if only we were like them. Without question, Missouri sets the conservation bar. Citizens and a lawmakers only must chose to allow our tradition of being the best in the nation to continue.
Brandon Butler is the executive director for the Conservation Federation of Missouri.
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Gov. Parson & AG Hawley Can Make Up for Greitens By Standing Up for Missouri Women ALISON DREITH When people tell you who they are, believe them. Former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens first told us who he was when he convened a special session of the Missouri Legislature in 2017 specifically to target women seeking abortion care. The legislature passed, at his urging, a package of bills designed to prevent Missouri women from exercising their Constitutional right to choose abortion. He spent $92,000 of taxpayer money to keep legislators in Jefferson City to pass laws for the sole reason of restricting a woman’s bodily autonomy. Because he has no regard for women and families, Greitens also attacked an ordinance approved in St. Louis that banned employers and landlords from discriminating against women for making reproductive health care decisions. His goal was to make sure it would remain legal for women to be fired or evicted for getting an abortion or for being pregnant. Greitens, who will say anything to boost his own image, claimed these were moves aimed at protecting women and our rights. This could not have been further from the truth. Former Gov. Greitens didn’t care about women and families,
or he would have put his money where his mouth was -- he would have made sure TANF funding went to hungry children and families, instead of signing a budget that averted these funds to religious-oriented “crisis pregnancy centers.” He would have made sure that Planned Parenthood was funded so women could get access to contraception, cancer screenings and a full range of reproductive health care services. I said it back in 2017 and I’ll say it again: the intent behind the governor’s actions was to shame women for their personal medical decisions and make basic reproductive health care harder to access. So is it really a surprise that a man who has a history of going after women politically stands accused of assaulting them personally? In the words of NARAL ProChoice America Ilyse Hogue, @ ilyseh “MO Gov is resigning bc the Court is forcing him to turn over his books to the State Leg on his fraudulent charity. Good riddance, but revenge porn and charges of assault should have been sufficient to shame him into resignation.” Because of his refusal to resign, the Missouri House of Representatives commissioned a report that ended up being so graphic in nature that many Missourians
were unable to finish reading it. The report detailed Greitens trapping a woman in his basement, spitting at her, forcing her to perform a sex act in order to leave, and committing acts of sexual violence. He took a picture without her consent and threatened to release it if the woman revealed his extramarital activity. This is the person who thought Missouri women had no right to make decisions about abortion care for themselves, and who tried to wrap women’s health clinics in so much red tape they would be forced to close. The laws he championed in the 2017 abortion special session were on their face unconstitutional after the Supreme Court’s 2016 ruling in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt that defined what an “undue burden” on abortion is. They are being challenged in court by a coalition of groups, including Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. Let’s be clear, former Governor Greitens created a short, but harmful, legacy of letting hard working women and families down. He used our tax dollars to boost his own ego but couldn’t be bothered to actually get things done for us. Just because Greitens is gone does not mean women and families across Missouri aren’t still feeling the affects of his costly obsession to further
restrict women’s access to basic reproductive healthcare and abortion. That’s why we are taking it one step further by calling on Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley to stop Greitens’ shameful anti-woman legacy in its tracks and drop its defense of these unconstitutional laws. Because many states with similar laws have seen these laws struck down by the courts, defending the Missouri versions is a waste of taxpayer time and money. It serves no purpose and it harms women and families. Hawley dragged his feet on investigating Greitens. He should not delay in walking away from the harm Greitens has done to our Constitutional rights. Greitens resigning does not mean he gets to walk free with no consequences for his actions. Governor Parson, AG Hawley, and the Missouri legislature now have a choice themselves: they can continue Greitens’ path to punishing Missouri women for seeking health care, or they can stand up for Missouri women by protecting their rights. If anything positive comes out of this awful episode, it should be that.
Alison Dreith is the executive director for NARAL Missouri.
What’s next for Missouri farmers? Advances give hope amidst drought and economic uncertainty PHOTOS/ALISHA SHURR (THEMISSOURITIMES)
ALISHA SHURR Even with the advantages Missouri offers agriculturalist, farming is not an easy task in any given year. The profession requires long hours and relies heavily on the weather. Advancements are made each year to make farming and ranching more efficient and more productive. Genetically engineered seed allows crops to survive with less water and requires fewer chemicals. Precision technology allows farmers to apply fertilizer in a constant, controlled manner. Genetic data allows ranchers to make more informed culling decisions. And that’s just to name a few. The Show-Me State has an $88 billion agricultural industry employing nearing 400,000 people across the state working 28.3 million acres on nearly 100,000 farms. It’s to no surprise that agriculture is the number one industry in Missouri. And quite the diverse industry it is.
In 2016, the top agricultural commodities in the state are, in order: soybeans, corn, cattle and calves, hogs, and broilers. Across the nation, Missouri ranks in the top ten in production for beef cattle, soybeans, corn, goats, turkeys, hogs, rice, hay, cotton, rice, broiler chickens, and horses. Part of the diversity can contribute to the terrain. Fertile soil, great for growing crops, is plentiful across the state. The Ozark Plateau, the largest part of Missouri, is covered in forested hills and known for its large lakes and clear rivers. In the Bootheel region, rich farmland supports crops ranging from cotton and rice to corn and soybeans. This varied terrain allows the state to produce many different and unexpected crops including several grape varieties that make Missouri wines. But agriculture is an industry that depends heavily on the weather. The lack of snow last winter combined with the lack of rainfall this summer has put many Missouri farmers in a tough situation. Combined with
the escalating trade war, Missouri farmers are facing ongoing struggles.
“I’ve never fed hay in August in my entire career as a farmer, all the way from being on my dad’s farm. But, I did two weeks ago for the first time, and I’m not the only one who’s doing that,” said Missouri Governor Mike Parson on August 20. From livestock to row crops, the drought in Missouri has affected nearly every sector of agriculture, putting increased strain on the industry. While Missouri is dry during the month of July 2018 had less rain than average. Aggravating the effects of the lack of rain during the recent months was a lack of snow during the winter months, ponds that farmers use never had the chance to replenish. “Agriculture is more dependant on weather than any other industry, except maybe golf,” said David Drennan, the Executive Director of the Missouri Dairy
Association. The lack of rain hindered the growth of pastures and feed crops for livestock along with corn, soybean and other row crops. Some farmers were forced to bring in hay at a high price from out of state, some harvest their crops early, and some sold portions of their herds to make the bills. “Some people are not going to make it, unfortunately,” Parson said during an August press conference on the drought. But there were portions of the state that didn’t suffer the drought conditions to that extreme. Some farmers got enough rain throughout the summer for their crops to survive, if not thrive. Twenty-eight percent of Missouri’s corn was rated as good to excellent by the United States Department of Agriculture over the summer. “Where I live, we were fortunate enough to get some rain,” said Todd Hays, Missouri Farm Bureau Vice President. “It’s kind of a mixed bag.”
Farmers and ranchers are also taking a hit with market uncertainty on a multitude of fronts. Not only is an escalating trade war with China hurting the bottom line, but negotiations over North American Free Trade Agreement is ongoing and the EPA granting of hardship waivers is unexpecting decrease renewable fuel demand. “The tariffs are on everybody’s mind. I think most people want to see something done,” said Jones. “Getting a good trade deal negotiated is essential to get more stability for future generations.” But in the meantime, agriculturalists in Missouri are feeling the effects. Prices on products have dropped and industries across the spectrum have suffered billions in damages nationwide. In Missouri alone, the soybean industry has lost $36 million in economic activity due to a 10-cent drop in prices. The National Milk Producers Federation estimates that the industry across the country has suffered $1.8 billion in damages from the tariffs. Depending on the agricultural commodity, Mexico and Canada are Missouri’s two biggest exports for goods. Drennan called the President Donald Trump’s move on trade “long overdue” saying that “some of the trade deals we have had have not been the best.” “We are optimistic we will get a negotiated NAFTA soon,” said Shane Kinne with the Missouri
Corn Producers Association. “We want to make sure we get that locked down and get that certainty with our biggest trade partners.” But the tariffs and trade deal negotiations aren’t the only factors to an uncertain market. While leading the EPA, former Dir. Scott Pruitt granted an unprecedented number of hardship waivers for the renewable fuel standard, with more waivers granted that decreased the demand for crops that are used in renewable fuel. “When farmers go to plant they look at that demand and if that demand is cut in the middle of the year that is problematic,” said Kinne. “We are hopeful that with Pruitt leaving the EPA will gain some stability back. “We are working to get some of that certainty back so that when farmers go to plant, they have a better picture of what their demand will be.”
Ebb & Flow
Like any industry, agriculture has its ups and downs. There are several industries within agriculture expanding — or were expanding before the drought hit. “We all have our low points and farmers aren’t immune to it,” said Hays, “but there are also high points.” While sheep may not be a major commodity in Missouri, it is one of the faster-growing livestock species in the state. Ray Jones, President of the Missouri Sheep Producers, said
he doesn’t really see any livestock area expanding at the same rate as sheep. “I think overall the industry is poised to increase in the state with new people coming in,” said Jones. “I attribute that too with smaller acreages it is easier to have a larger number of sheep.” In Missouri, the state has seen an increase in the popularity of hair sheep. There is a lack of accessible markets or shearers to handle wool. The pork industry in the state is also in a growth phase though the actual number of hogs is nowhere near 1940s numbers. And before the drought hit, the cattle industry was also on the fast track to expand. “We were increasing the herd size in the state, we are the second largest cow/calf state in the nation, and we have a lot of farmers involve,” said Mike Deering, Executive Vice President of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association. Missouri has the second largest number of cattle ranchers in the country with more than 52,000 producers. The dairy cattle industry, on the other hand, is in a holding pattern until the weather improves and the economic situation improves. “I don’t think there is anyone going to be expanding their herd or operation right now,” said Drennan.
“Farmers are getting really good at being good stewards of
the land,” said Kinne. The agriculture industry is making advancements everyday. The industry is working to raise livestock better and growing crops more efficient. Don Nikodim, the Executive Vice President of the Missouri Pork Association, notes that the way hogs are housed currently is a huge advance compared to 50 years ago. “Hogs are in much better environments nowadays,” said Nikodim. “The vast majority of pigs are held in environmentally controlled buildings where we protect the pigs and the farmers from mother nature. This means the pigs don’t have to suffer through the heat in the summer and the cold nasty weather in the winter.” Data technology as a whole has been a boom for the livestock industry. Genetics markers and DNA can be used to make sure each industry is putting the best product forwards. DNA testing also helps screen for potentially fatal diseases. Feed technologies have also made improvements. There have also been advancements made in seeds, fertilizers, and chemical applications. “Farmers are getting better and better every year at growing a crop,” said Kinne. “Weather conditions that may have eliminated a crop 10- or 15- or 20-years-ago, we are seeing better biotechnology to help get farmers through. Genetics getting better and better, so you see farmers producing more each year.”
CALEB JONES Next AMEC CEO
Less than one year after departing from the Governor’s Office to accept a new role with Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives (AMEC), former state representative Caleb Jones is moving on up. AMEC announced that Jones has been named as the next Assistant CEO, and will assume the position of CEO upon Barry Hart’s retirement January 6. Hart served Missouri’s Cooperatives for more than 15 years as CEO. “I’m pleased to be leading such a great team,” Jones says of his new role. “The electric cooperatives have a great reputation for trustworthiness and they work hard to raise the quality of life
for rural people. I look forward to using my skills for the benefit of electric cooperative members statewide and am excited to make sure our members at the end of the line continue to receive the reliable and affordable electricity they deserve.” Jones first joined AMEC in the fall of 2017 after leaving his position as deputy chief of staff for then-Gov. Eric Greitens. Prior to that, Jones served in the Missouri House of Representatives, dating back to 2011. The Republican practiced law in Columbia, and he has worked in Washington D.C. for U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof, and in the U.S. Department of Agriculture during the Bush administration. He also worked on the 2004 Bush/Cheney campaign.
In the Missouri House, Jones represented parts of Boone, Cole, Moniteau and Cooper Counties, and ran unopposed in his last three elections. As one of the leading figures in the House, he was often referred to as the “most well-connected person,” and at one point ran for House Speaker, while also serving as the chairman of the General Laws committee. During his legislative tenure, he helped the electric cooperatives by supporting a bill that made it easier to increase reliability by clearing right of way and by opposing a tax increase that would have increased the cost of electricity for electric co-op members. “I’m excited about the Board’s selection of Caleb Jones to
succeed me as CEO of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives upon my retirement in January after 42 years of work,” Hart said. “He is a great leader, respected by many Missouri leaders and, most importantly, understands issues affecting rural Missourians. He believes in the cooperative principles and is dedicated to representing the member/owners at the end of the line that own their electric cooperative. Keeping electricity affordable and reliable for co-op members and improving the quality of life in rural Missouri will be his priority!” Jones resides in Columbia with his wife Lindsey, son Max, and daughter Charleston. He is the son of former state Rep. Kenny Jones and the late Pam Jones.
Three options for legalizing medical marijuana on face voters on November ballot ALISHA SHURR The Show-Me State will get the chance in November to decide whether or not to join the plethora of other states in legalizing medical marijuana. And voters will not be shy of options, with three initiative petitions submitting enough signatures to be certified for the general election ballot. Though illegal on a federal level, the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes has become of growing movement with 30 states in the U.S., including Oklahoma and Arkansas, passing laws giving patients with certain illness access to cannabis. “Americans views on the subject are shifting and shifting fast,” said Travis Brown, with Missourians for Patient Care, a group that put forward one of the initiative petitions. On June 25, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration took a momentous step in approving a drug derived from marijuana to treat severe forms of epilepsy. That move signaled that even though cannabis in all forms is considered a Schedule I drug — a drug without medical uses — the plant has medical uses. “Missourians really want to put the doctor and the patient back in charge of making decisions on medical treatment options, not bureaucrats and politicians,” said Jack Cardetti with New Approach Missouri, a group that put forward one of the initiative petitions. And now voters in the ShowMe State are going to be presented with the question of if medical marijuana should be legal, and if so, just how they want to do so. “In November, Missourians will choose whether or not to
create a program to allow access to marijuana for a wide range of ailments,” said NCADA’s Executive Director, Nichole Dawsey, in a news release. “This will be the first time Missourians have voted on whether or not something constitutes a medicine. Due to the unprecedented nature of these efforts, it’s crucial that Missourians be informed of the details of each initiative.” The three options Missourians will be presented with legalizing medical marijuana are vastly different. Two are Constitutional amendments, one is a statutory change. Tax rates range from 2 percent to 15 percent, cost of administration runs between $500,000 to $10 million, and revenue generation estimates vary from $10 million to $66 million. If more than one measure is passed by voters, state law states that “the largest affirmative vote shall prevail, even if that amendment did not receive the greatest majority of affirmative votes.” Here is a breakdown of the three measures:
Proposition C Unique within the medical marijuana measures is the Missouri Patient Care Act, which is a statutory change instead of a constitutional amendment. In drafting the measure, Brown said that “there was a lot of deference given to state laws that have worked, or are viewed to have worked.” The measure creates a framework where physicians with a “bona fide” relationship with the patient may recommend marijuana or marijuana products to treat qualifying conditions. Some of the illnesses specified in language are cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma,
intractable migraines unresponsive to other treatment, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, and seizures. It contains a provision allowing “any other chronic, debilitating or other medical condition...” at the professional judgment of the physician. Oversight of the program would fall to the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco. An individual would be able to possess 2.5 ounces as a 14 day supply and may possess up to a 60 day supply
estimate initial and one-time costs of $2.6 million, annual costs of $10 million, and annual revenues of at least $10 million. Local government entities estimate no annual costs and are expected to have at least $152,000 in annual revenues. As a statutory amendment, it allows the Missouri General Assembly to revise the law and make improvements as necessary. “For this particular industry, the kinds of investors, and the
“For this particular industry, the kinds of investors, and the marketplace that is growing very rapidly we felt like a statutory approach is more appropriate than a constitutional approach because the probability that you might need to tweak something at some point is relatively high.” at a time. Medical marijuana would be taxed at 2 percent, the lowest of the proposals. This statute requires local municipalities to pass regulating ordinances and requirements for licensure. Local municipalities would be able to prohibit the cultivation and sale of marijuana with a 2/3 vote in the general election. Licensed entities must be at least 60 percent owned by individuals who have been Missouri residents for a minimum of three years. No provision allows for individuals to cultivate marijuana in their residence and sale hours are limited. According to estimates provided to the Secretary of State’s Office, state government entities
marketplace that is growing very rapidly we felt like a statutory approach is more appropriate than a constitutional approach because the probability that you might need to tweak something at some point is relatively high,” said Brown. He said that the chance of being a perfect day one is pretty low. But the advantage the measure has as a statutory change could also be considered a disadvantage: the legislature can make changes. If Missouri’s lawmakers choose to, they could strip away a majority of the law, as legislators in other states are in the process of. Amendment 2 The constitutional amendment put forth by New Approach
Missouri will be the first marijuana-related question to show up on the ballot. “Of the three initiative petitions, we are the first on the ballot which was a strategic move,” said Cardetti. “New Approach Missouri and the backers of Amendment 2 are a coalition of veterans, health care providers, and patients with one very important goal: make Missouri the 31st state that allows state licensed physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients with serious and debilitating disease.” The measure creates a framework where physicians may recommend marijuana or marijuana products to treat nine qualifying conditions — such as PTSD, seizures, cancer, and epilepsy — and “any other chronic, debilitating or other medical condition...” at the professional judgment of the physician. Oversight of the program would fall to the Department of Health and Senior Services. The department would be able to limit purchases to 4 ounces of marijuana per patient every 30 days, with exceptions if doctors recommend a higher dose. “This is a medical marijuana program. [DHSS] has experience working with health care providers and that is exactly what they would be doing here,” said Cardetti. Patients would be required to obtain a medical marijuana card, at a cost of $25 annually, to enable access to treatment. A 4 percent excise tax in addition to local and state sales tax would be added to all marijuana products. The excise tax would go directly to the Missouri Veterans Health and Care Fund and all other excise taxes would be prohibited. This measure would require DHSS to approve 1 cultivation center per 100,000 residents, 1 manufacturing facility per 70,000 residents, and at least 24 dispensaries in every congressional district. Cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensing facilities may not be established within 1,000 feet of a church, school, or daycare. Those with medical marijuana cards would be able to cultivate up to 6 flowering plants for personal use. According to estimates provided to the Secretary of State’s Office, this proposal could generate annual taxes and fees of
$18 million for state operating costs and veterans programs, and $6 million for local governments. Annual state operating costs are estimated to be $7 million. “Missourians want certainty on this issue, patients want certainty on this issue,” said Cardetti. “Ours is the only initiative that would put funding towards helping veterans in Missouri, and we think that is desperately needed.” Amendment 3 Also called the Bradshaw Amendment, the proposal spearheaded by Springfield attorney and physician Brad Bradshaw would legalize medical marijuana and imposed the largest tax of any of the proposed measures. This constitutional amendment would create the Biomedical Research and Drug Development Institute, which would oversee medical marijuana research in Missouri. The research board would be composed of nine members — all physicians, pharmacists, or holding a doctorate in a related field — receiving an annual salary equal to that of the Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice. It would be up to the board to determine which ailments would enable a person to have access to medical marijuana. The research board may limit marijuana purchases, but not less than 3 ounces every 30 days. The board must issue at least 50 manufacturing licenses and allow one dispensary for every 20,000 residents in a county. Patients would pay $100 annually for identification cards. A 15 percent excise tax would be charged at the retail level. A separate excise tax of $9.25 per ounce on flowers and buds and $2.75 per ounce on leaves would be charged. Only 25 percent of a physician’s income would be allowed to come from treating qualifying patients. Physicians would not be able to issue certifications in excess of 25 percent of prescriptions written in the previous year. According to estimates provided to the Secretary of State’s Office, this proposal could generate annual taxes and fees of $66 million. State governmental entities estimate initial implementation costs of $186,000 and increased annual operating costs of $500,000.
Could Jefferson City be home to the next Missouri River port? BENJAMIN PETERS A new effort to fund a regional port district in the heart of the Show-Me State is moving to the next step after gaining the support of local governments. The Cole and Callaway County Commissions joined the Jefferson City Council in early July in supporting the effort, spearheaded by the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce, to move forward to find funding to help realize the project to establish a port authority on the Missouri River, saying it’s the chance to take advantage of what the river can offer. The Jefferson City Council unanimously approved a resolution in the first week of July authorizing a partnership between the city, Cole County and Callaway County to establish the regional port district, which will be called the Heartland Port Authority of Central Missouri. The proposed idea consists of two different plans. The first would build a port on the Missouri River in southern Jefferson City, adjacent to the Missouri National Guard’s Ike Skelton Training Facility. The second option would build ports on that same site, as well as on a site along the Missouri River near OCCI Inc. on the Callaway County side. Proponents of the plan say that dry bulk commodities would be handled at the south site using conveyor systems, while commodities moved by crane would be handled at the north site. The first plan carries an expected cost of $54.77 million, while the second option carries a price tag of nearly $60 million. It’s also expected that there would be an additional $10 million cost for roadway improvements and $1 million to pay for engineering and planning services to build
those roads. The Callaway County Commission, Cole County Commission, Jefferson City Council and the Chamber hired Atlanta consultancy firm Cambridge Systematics last year to conduct a feasibility study of a Missouri River port, which found that a Jefferson City port could potentially create more than 4,000 jobs, as well as generate an economic impact of between $200 million and $581 million, over a 25-year-period. The two counties and the city are seeking about $900,000 in federal grant money, which they say they will match 20 percent if they receive it. Jefferson City and Cole County would pay $75,000 each, and Callaway County would pay $37,500, but if they do not receive the grant, each entity would pay double the amount. Still, some local leaders have concerns. Cole County Western District Commissioner Kris Scheperle voted against the measure back on July 3, saying that he supported the idea but was concerned about the money requested by the chamber for capital improvements and design work, and saying private funding could help. With a 2-1 vote, however, the $150,000 requested by the Chamber was approved, most likely coming from the county’s general revenue funds. The next step came on July 26, when a public hearing will be held on the matter at Jefferson City’s city hall at 7 p.m., where public comments, both written or spoken, will be accepted. After the public hearing, a grant application to help fund design work on the port project will be sent to the Missouri Department of Transpiration. A decision on whether the Chamber gets the grant is expected in September.
HOUSE PHOTOS/TIM BOMMEL (HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS) SENATE PHOTOS/SENATE COMMUNICATIONS EDITED FOR GRAMMAR.
BRIAN MUNZLINGER State Senator, 18th District Q: What’s the best lesson learned or advice you received as a legislator? A: Be truthful and respectful, have fun, and don’t take everything personally. Q: What would you say your greatest accomplishment as a lawmaker would be? A: Agriculture is critical to the state of Missouri, and by conveying that message to my colleagues, we have worked together to help provide quality food for Missourians; after all, everyone eats. In regards to legislation, I feel the most important bill I passed involved controlling the costs of oral cancer treatment. We all know people with cancer, and that bill could help lessen the stress of going through treatment. Q: What will you do next? A: I hope I can somehow be of benefit to Missouri agriculture; meanwhile, I am looking forward to being a grandpa!
Q: What is one thing you wish you had accomplished? A: I wish I could have passed the joinder/venue bill in my final session. Q: What do you see as the top issues for Missouri going forward? A: In the coming years, Missouri must somehow control Medicaid costs, while still providing reliable access to healthcare. In agriculture, increasing our production of value-added products will be important to our future economy. Q: What is one piece of advice you would share with the younger legislators still in office or those looking to run for office? A: For younger legislators or those looking to run for office, I advise you to get to know legislators in other bodies, and don’t jump too quickly to conclusions; take time, and look for the truth. There are always two sides.
Q: If you could change one thing about the legislature, what would it be? A: Extend term limits. Q: Would you consider running for any other offices in the future? A: No. Q: If you could have a one-onone conversation with your voters, what’s the one thing you want them to know about you? A: I have worked very hard to represent the people of the 18th District. Q: How has this role serving changed you? A: My years in office have caused me to look at the big picture to create long-term solutions for the State of Missouri. Q: What do you hope you will be remembered for? A: I hope to be remembered as a good legislator and Ag Chairman.
State Representative, 154th District Q: What's the best lesson learned or advice you received as a legislator? A: To learn as much as possible in the short time you are there. Q: What would you say your greatest accomplishment as a lawmaker would be? A: I would hope that I made a name for myself as being fair, honest and have the integrity to rank with the many other Missourians who served in this body. Q: What's the funniest story you have from your time in the legislature? A: Too many to just pick one Q: Who do you most admire as a legislator? A: Lt. Gov Kehoe. He is able to work out things on that Senate floor that most would have just walked away. This year, he and I had a pretty good argument about some legislation and I feel we both responded to that incident in a fair and honorable manner. Q: What will you do next? A: I am the Director of Outreach for the Missouri School Board Association
Q: What will you miss most? A: Making history in some way. It happens every year in that building. Q: What was the toughest moment or decision for you personally as a state lawmaker? A: Voting non-CBD oil Q: What do you see as the top issues for Missouri going forward? A: 1. Rural broadband 2. School safety 3. Economic development Q: What is one piece of advice you would share with the younger legislators still in office or those looking to run for office? A: Give it 100 percent, because before you know it, you are termed out. Q: If you could change one thing about the legislature, what would it be? A: Term limits. Q: Would you consider running for any other offices in the future? A: I never can rule it out.
Q: If you could have a one-onone conversation with your voters, whatâ€™s the one thing you want them to know about you? A: That I worked hard for them Q: How has this role of serving changed you? A: I have had an adult career of serving the public, so I hope Iâ€™m the same guy I was back in 2012. Q: What do you hope you will be remembered for? A: I would love to be remembered as a Rules Chairman that people might compare to Gov. Mike Parson and Shannon Cooper. Q: What's one piece of legislation that should be passed but hasn't? A: Deregulating schools. We have to give people the freedom to teach our kids.
State Representative, 116th District Q: What’s the best lesson learned or advice you received as a legislator? A: Try to make friends, not enemies, because you’re going to need them. Q: What would you say your greatest accomplishment as a lawmaker would be? A: I think I’ve passed more bills than anyone in the past 16 years, but they fall into different categories. The one that is more emotional to me is the one that I did was to give permission to the Governor to lower flags at half mast, which had to be legislatively approved. Every time I see a flag at half mast, I know that a Missourian died defending this country, which is always ever-present. Q: Who do you most admire as a legislator? A: I would the spouses who had to stay home and put up with it all. They don’t want to be in it, and they have to put up with it and live the
life of a politician, always being in the limelight, and that’s not fair to them. But they put up with it, and most of them treat it as something like my wife calls it, as “my expensive habit.”
Q: What will you do next? A: I’m running for county clerk. I’m retiring from Edward Jones after 30-something years, they’re kicking me out of Jefferson City, and I want to continue doing public service. I don’t have to work, but I’m hoping to run and win this election for county clerk, and push this county forward. I’ve done the mayor thing, I’ve done the state thing, now we’re going to try and do the county. We were raised to a first-class county five years ago, and I would like to bring it up to first class in reality not just in status. Q: What will you miss most? A: I like to negotiate things, and I will miss the public speaking and negotiating bills.
Q: What was the toughest moment or decision for you personally as a state lawmaker? A: The toughest moment was when I lost the presidency in the Senate with four tied votes and we had to draw lots for who was going to the second in line to the governorship. That was a tough moment, but you just had to deal with it. It was very disappointing, but life moves on. Q: If you could change your vote on one piece of legislation, would you, and why? A: Not to my knowledge. I’ve voted thousands of times, and I’ve tried to always take my best shot. In hindsight, supporting the tax bill that Sen. Kraus that did some stuff that it wasn’t supposed to do, that was not a good decision, but there’s a few of those out there that have had unintended consequences, which you would have changed
your vote if you had known those at the time. Q: What is one thing you wish you had accomplished? A: I tried to get the MONA legislation through on its basic part, not allowing people to be fired strictly because they tell their employer that they are gay or lesbian is unacceptable. I did the bill a few years ago, I sponsored it 15 years ago against same-sex marriage, I’m not an advocate, but I try to treat people with respect. And firing people because they tell you they’re gay is not acceptable but it is legal. Q: How has this role of serving changed you? A: It’s made me a little more cynical, a little more jaded, but I appreciate the experience, and my constituents letting me do it.
Q: What's the best lesson learned or advice you received as a legislator? A: The most important lesson I learned as a legislator was to keep my word and not commit before having all the information. I learned every issue has a least two sides and to keep an open mind, respect the ideas and priorities of others and not be influenced by potentially self-serving outside sources. Q: What would you say your greatest accomplishment as a lawmaker would be? A: I think it would be impossible to distinguish any one bill or issue as being more important than another, but I believe the knowledge I have gained in many areas allowed me to address a variety of issues of importance to our state. I was fortunate to have learned a great deal of knowledge in many areas and subjects. Q: What's the funniest story you have from your time in the legislature? A: On my way to the Capitol, I stopped for gas and mistakenly left in a similar vehicle, (which was not mine.) I drove several miles before realizing I was in the wrong vehicle. Luckily, it belonged to an acquaintance, who was able to meet and exchange vehicles. Q: Who do you most admire as a legislator? A: In my 16 years in the legislature, I have served with many individuals who I admire very much. There are three in particular who come to mind; Senator Ron Richard whose vision and integrity was unwavering the entire 16 years I served with him, Senator Delbert Scott for his calm demeanor and delivery, and Senator Victor Callahan for his intelligence and knowledge of the legislative process. Q: What will you miss most? A: I will miss the people and relationships I have established. In the past 16 years, I have made some
very strong relationships not only with legislators and staff but also within my district with individuals I may never have become acquainted with if not for my job. Q: What was the toughest moment or decision for you personally as a state lawmaker? A: In January 2014, as session began, my wife was diagnosed with cancer, which required multiple surgeries and several weeks of treatment. I felt, at that time, my priority was to be there to support my wife but I was also committed to fulfilling my legislative obligations. That was a rough session. Q: What is one piece of advice you would share with the younger legislators still in office or those looking to run for office? A: My advice would be to take the job seriously but do not take yourself too seriously. Vote your conscience and always remember where you came from. Your district and your hometown will keep you grounded if you let it. Q: If you could have a one-on-one conversation with your voters, whatâ€™s the one thing you want them to know about you? A: I think over the past 16 years, my voters have gotten to know me pretty well. They may not have agreed with me on every issue but I hope they know I tried to listen, to be fair and to do what I thought was right at the time. Q: How has this role of serving changed you? A: Overall, serving in the legislature has been a humbling experience. I have learned to listen more and weigh all my options. I have even become a little more patient. Q: What do you hope you will be remembered for? A: I hope I would be remembered as someone who worked hard, served with honor and integrity and represented my voters to the best of my ability.
JAY WASSON State Senator 20th District
State Representative, 104th District What would you say your greatest accomplishment as a lawmaker would be? Working on the budget and finding ways to fund important items without additional GR or taxes. What do you hope you will be remembered for? Being fair to all my colleagues and a thoughtful, independent legislator who represented her district. What's the best lesson learned or advice you received as a legislator? Best advice was from former Senator Chuck Gross. He told me it is more important to stop bad legislation than to pass good legislation. What was the toughest moment or decision for you personally as a state lawmaker? Whether or not to be the first to publicly ask Governor Greitens to consider resigning. If you could change your vote on one piece of legislation, would you, and why? The bill a few years ago that changed gun laws. While I believe solidly in the 2nd Amendment, I believe we took an important tool from law enforcement. What is one thing you wish you had accomplished? Found a better way for initiative petitions to be placed on the ballot. I believe in citizens’ right to address issues via the ballot, but too many are not vetted properly, are unconstitutional and have no funding mechanism.
What do you see as the top issues for Missouri going forward? The obvious and immediate answer is funding for infrastructure. Also, addressing the crime problems of St. Louis and the
growing problems in our other metro areas. What is one piece of advice you would share with the younger legislators still in office or those looking to run for office? For newly elected members, take the time to listen and learn. Most likely your good idea has been tried before. Find a mentor. If you want to run, be prepared to spend a majority of your time away from your home and family and be dedicated to your responsibilities. None of this is about you. If you could change one thing about the legislature, what would it be? Term limits. I believe it’s critical that they are, at a minimum, increased to 16 years in one or both chambers combined. Who did you most admire as a legislator? All my colleagues who have been willing to give such a large chunk of their blood, sweat and tears to leave the state better than they found it. What will you miss most? The friends I have served “in the trenches” with. How has this role of serving changed you? I have a new appreciation for elected officials. You open yourself up to criticism from everyone, sometimes deserved, often times, not. And they don’t disappoint you. The vast majority of those who serve truly want to do the right thing by their constituency. What will you do next? It’s uncertain at this time, but I would like to find a way to use the knowledge I have gained about government and budgets. Would you consider running for any other offices in the future? It’s doubtful I would. But never say never!
PHOTOS/ALISHA SHURR (THE MISSOURI TIMES)
First Lady of Missouri
Mother. Grandmother. Wife. Christian. Volunteer. Advocate.
Retired from the banking industry, Teresa Parson holds a lot of titles. And in recent months, she added another: First Lady of the State of Missouri.
To the average person, that may seem like a lot for a person to handle. But the Bolivar native is taking it all in stride. She has a loving family, she works in support of causes she believes in, and lives her life for the Lord. All in all, she is living her idea of perfect happiness. “I am a woman of faith, I have a loving family, I had a great career, and I live in the State of Missou-
ri — which is my favorite state — in a country that is unbeatable,” said Teresa. “I think that I am living perfect happiness.” Teresa’s husband is Mike Parson, the Governor of Missouri. They have two children — whom she calls her proudest accomplishments — and five grandchildren. She works with at-risk high schoolers through Jobs for American Graduates and advocates for special needs children. That’s not to say her life has been without imperfections: she lost her brother in a road accident and has some small regrets. But as Teresa says, “there is going to be ups and downs in life. Be thankful for your blessings.” Teresa Parson is living her idea of perfect happiness. From growing up on a farm to working at a bank to being
the First Lady of her favorite state, the native of Southwest Missouri has had a “good life.” She is married to Mike Parson, the Governor of Missouri, and they have two children — whom she calls her proudest accomplishments — and five grandchildren. Her happiest and saddest moments involve her family. She is strong in her faith and an active advocate for children. GROWING UP Teresa grew up in Bolivar, Missouri, in Polk County. She was born and raised on a farm. Not only did her father raise dairy cattle but he also put in working a 40-hour work week off of the farm. This gave Teresa and her siblings time working in the
dairy barn. In the mornings, Teresa would help her mother make breakfast while her three brothers would milk the dairy cattle. In the evenings, once her brothers got into high school and started playing sports, Teresa would handle the milking. Some of her best memories growing up involve her brothers and a creek that ran through their farm. Nearly every afternoon in the summer they would run down the hill to the creek and take a dip in the water. “It was a good life,” said Teresa. “We had fun, we played outside from sunup to sundown. It was just a good life.”
CAREER She got her first job as a 16-year-old when she worked as a sales clerk at a department store after school and on Saturdays. This was when she first started interacting with the public in a professional capacity and she “actually enjoyed it.” As a math-loving individual, Teresa saw herself becoming a teacher when she was still in school. Though she went into banking instead, a move she called a “good fit” with the amount of math involved in her job. She stayed in the banking industry for 40 years before retiring in 2016. Teresa paired her years in the banking industry with an active and dedicated volunteer. She served on the boards of the Bolivar Educational Advancement Foundation, Bolivar Juvenile Detention Center, A+ Program, Industrial Development Authority, Bolivar Chamber of Commerce, and volunteering with the Relay for Life. THE GOLDEN RULE Her life has taught her “to treat people the way I want to be treated.” In the banking world, there is a point when she would have to tell someone ‘no,’ that she couldn’t do something for them. To Teresa, “there is a kind way of doing it and there is another way of doing it” and she always tried to be nice, kind, and treat them with respect. And that is how Teresa wants to be remembered: “As a person who treated everyone with respect. A lady that had good character, a faithful person who relied on the Lord for guidance.”
MARRYING MIKE It was through her job at the bank where she met her husband.
Gov. Parson had just bought his first gas station and Teresa was working the drive-through window at the bank. He would make his deposits each day at the bank and they got to talking and visiting a bit. “He went back to work and talked to the lady who was actually doing his books for him at that time — he didn’t know it at the time but she was my second cousin — so he asked Renee about me, if she knew who I was,” Teresa recounted. “Renee ended up giving me a phone call one night asking me if I would go out with her boss if he were to ask me. My reply immediately was, ‘Well, he’ll have to ask me himself to find that answer out, Renee.’ The next day he actually did call me and we did go out.” The rest, as the saying goes, is history. She didn’t know how to describe how she knew Mike Parson was “the one” saying “it was just something we both felt.” Teresa describes the Governor as loving, an honest man, and a patriot. FAMILY Now, they have been married for more than three decades. She said the births of her two children are the happiest moments of her life. She also calls her children her proudest accomplishments. “I’m very proud of the productive adults they have become,” Teresa said. Her parents, she says, have been the biggest influences on her life. They will be celebrating their 68th wedding anniversary this year, still living on their own, and they get out and go every day. “I have three brothers — I was an only daughter — and they taught my brothers and me that hard work never hurt anyone,” said Teresa. “I’ve had
a great life — I have a loving family, a loving husband — so I don’t have too many regrets.” But she said that everyone, if they are being honest with themselves, does have at least some small regrets in life. The trick, Teresa said, is to learn from them, move forward, and not repeat the same things again. That doesn’t mean her life has been perfect. In 2005, one of Teresa’s brothers was killed. He was working a wreck one night as an EMT and he had been hit and killed by a passing motorist. She said that there probably isn’t a day that goes by that something doesn’t remind me of him or I don’t think of him. TRANSITIONING WITH MIKE THROUGH THE RANKS She has never run for office herself but she has been alongside Mike Parson every step of the way, as the Governor transitioned from Polk County Sheriff to state representative to state senator to lieutenant governor and now as governor. She held the Bible during the swearing-in ceremony for both lt. governor and governor. Growing up, Teresa never saw herself being in the public eye. A small town farm girl, she did not think this was in the cards for her. “Life has definitely been a little different. Moving along with Mike has been great,” Teresa said. “Since Mike has been in politics for some time, I’ve gotten used to it, somewhat.” It is because her husband has been in politics that she knew what to expect coming into her role as First Lady. Though, having someone always with her is definitely different from her normal lifestyle and has taken some getting used to.
PHOTO/TIM BOMMEL HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS
PHOTO/TIM BOMMEL HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS
PHOTOS/ALISHA SHURR (THE MISSOURI TIMES) 30
Service is Sweet ALISHA SHURR
The First Lady of the State of Missouri may be an honorary title, but it is a role in the public eye and one Teresa Parson takes seriously. For her, it is important to be there with the Governor, be supportive. She is also using the role to advocate for children and help the citizens of the state. “I enjoy being with people and I enjoy making new relationships and new friendships,” Teresa said. “It has just been a joy.” Part her new role was playing host to the First Lady’s Pie Baking Contest at the 2018 Missouri State Fair. While the Governor did make a short appearance at the contest, Teresa took an active role in the contest. She assisted with a demonstration of making black walnut bars by passing out samples of the end product. Teresa handed out the awards for the top three pies in each category — cream and fruit, and then helped evaluate the top cream pie and the top fruit pie to determine the overall winner. The fruit pie - a berry pie - came out the winner. Teresa is also using her new position to focus on students and children. She has chosen JAG, which stands for Jobs for American Graduates, and children with special needs as
her two main areas of focus. “I’m a mother and a grandmother, children just touch my heart,” said Teresa. “[Children] are the next generation and they are our future. It is something I am interested in and if we can help them to
“I enjoy being with people and I enjoy making new relationships and new friendships. It has just been a joy.” become productive citizens in our state, that’s what we need to do. One of the initiatives in Mike’s office is workforce development and it graduates right into that because these programs do as well, to help them get into the workforce.” Working with student atrisk of not graduating high school was something the Parsons started while Mike was serving as lieutenant governor. The goal of JAG is to help at-risk students stay in high school and earn their diploma. JAG is a national network compromising of 33 state organizations and 1,162 program affiliates delivering services to approximately 57,000 students in the 201617 school year. The program in Missouri was established in 1981 and over the course of nearly four decades has had various levels
of engagement. JAG-Missouri has been housed under several different state agencies — including the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Missouri Department of Economic Development. It has also gone through various levels of funding, staffing, and school involvement over the years. As of July 1, 2017, the program began operating as a separate nonprofit organization under a Board of Directors. In recent years, the program has done well in the Show-Me State. For the class of 2015, JAG-Missouri finished first in the nation with a 99 percent graduation rate. For the class of 2016, the graduation rate was 98.75 and JAG-Missouri achieved the “5 for 5” designation, having met or exceeded the goals established by JAG National for graduation rate, total civilian job placement and military service rate, positive outcomes, fulltime jobs rate, and full-time placement rate. In the 2017-2018 school year, there were 26 programs in 22 schools. A significant increase from the fall of 2014 when there were six schools in JAG-Missouri. “I just hope to give these students some skills and some tools they need to become productive citizens in our society and to make it a better place for them,” said Teresa. She said success to her would constitute the students getting through high school, getting their diplomas, and entering into the workforce.
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Catch the Governor and First Lady on the special State Fair episode (August 19, 2018) of This Week in Missouri Politics!
Q&A with the First Lady If you could change one thing about Missouri, what would it be? I love Missouri. I’ve lived here all my life — born and raised in Missouri — so there are not very many things I would want to change. But probably the humidity. That’s the thing I would want to change the most, otherwise, it is just great. What’s the biggest misconception about you? This one is a little funny, I suppose. Probably the biggest misconception is that people think I am younger than Mike. And I am actually older than he is. What do you think is the most overrated virtue? Confidence, probably. I know it is a very important virtue but if you are overconfident sometimes you can make some rash, unwise decisions.
I think you have to keep it in moderation.
and just moved forward. She is definitely an inspiration.
What do you think is the most underrated virtue? I think humility. I think if you are humble and you have that, then everything in life will pretty well take care of itself.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life? Just showing someone respect. It doesn’t take much effort for us to show someone respect. And it definitely makes a big difference in the relationship you have with that person.
Which historical figure do you most admire? Abraham Lincoln. He took our country through a very rough, tough time. Who do is your inspiration? I have a friend who is probably my biggest inspiration in life, she is always upbeat, she just looks at the bright side of every situation. Her name is Shirley. She is a widow — her husband passed away 15-years-ago from cancer. A couple years ago she lost her home to a fire and lost everything she had. Even through all that, she stayed positive
For your great-great-grandchildren reading this years from now: is there any wisdom you’d want to pass on to them? Always keep your family first, faith in your lives, and just be thankful for all the blessed things along the way. There is going to be ups and downs in life. Be thankful for your blessings. I hope my children work hard and make the most out of life because it is very short and very precious. QUESTIONS FROM ALISHA SHURR
for your active role in ensuring a bright future for Missouri
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FRESHMAN REPRESENTATIVES 99th General Assembly
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FRESHMAN REPRESENTATIVES 99th General Assembly
JEAN EVANS BENJAMIN PETERS
The Republican from Manchester was first elected to office in November of 2016, coming to the role of legislator after working as a real estate agent and investor, as well as coaching and officiating volleyball for 30 years. As a coach, competition and hard work is nothing new to Rep. Jean Evans, and that same drive is what has served her so well in her first term as a state representative. Among her peers, she has championed several measures, passing seven of her agenda items in her second year at the Capitol, working to push them across the finish line by whatever means necessary, be it through legislation she herself sponsored or as amendments to fellow legislators’ bills. Evans seems primed to be one of the vocal voices for women and children in the legislature going forward, through her experiences working with kids as a coach, or serving as a board member for Nurses for Newborns, or through legislation sponsoring legislation to ban pregnant inmates from being shackled or chained during labor, or her championing of the marriage licensing bill. The most telling part of Evans’ story as a legislator can be explained through that particular bill, her toughest battle when she took on the issue of marriage
licenses and the age at which a minor may be married. It was an issue that first came to Evans’ attention through various reports and conversations when she was still a candidate for the House seat. Missouri had the dubious distinction of having some of the most permissive laws in the nation relating to child marriage and had garnered a reputation as being a destination for underage brides, with 1,000 15-year-old girls marrying between 1999 and 2017. And with the issue of human sex trafficking becoming an issue of much importance in Missouri, Evans saw the opportunity to take the fight to a new level. The first year she served in the House, her legislation on the issue had little trouble passing out of the chamber, but never made it across the official finish line. In 2018, she returned to the table with the bill but found that it would be far more difficult to get it voted out the second time around, that what had received unanimous support last time would not be doing so again. Still, she wasn’t deterred and continued fighting for the bill at every turn. In the end, the measure crawled across the finish line in the final weeks of the session, thanks to some wheeling and dealing. For Evans, it was the biggest accomplishment as a representative. The bill she had fought for was signed into effect by Gov.
Mike Parson, placing a minimum legal age for marriage at 16 years, requiring signed approval of at least one parent to tie the knot at 16 or 17. But more importantly, marriage licenses will not be given to people age 21 and older intending to marry someone 16 or younger. “We are not going to allow adults to prey on children. Someone 21 is not going to be allowed to marry someone 15. We are not going to allow adults to legalize what is statutory rape,” Evans added. It was Evans’ ability to come to the table and work with colleagues that got the bill across the line, which Evans says is what makes the job so great. “I enjoy the job,” she says. “I love my past job, but this is so meaningful. Feeling like I can craft legislation that positively impacts people’s lives is really rewarding.” She says that the one thing everyone says is that the relationships are the most important part, which she wholeheartedly agrees with. “You build a reputation for yourself as someone who keeps their word, who deals honestly, and people can count on,” she said. “Building that trust is key, so people can look you in the eye and know that you’re being sincere.” But more than that, she’s not afraid to take risks or chances. It’s a mentality that throws back
to her experiences as a coach and player, and because of that, she knows that it’s not always about winning or losing, but playing the game the right way and know that she represented her constituents to the best of her abilities. Through all of that, she finished her first term with eight bills winding up across the finish line, one in her first year and seven in her second. She says she’s proud of that work but credits leadership for keeping things moving throughout the session. Looking forward, Evans says she expects to keep pushing forward with the Sunshine Law legislation she had sponsored, but says she also wants to put a focus on bettering things for Missouri’s business community, employers and employees alike. She points to St. Louis’ work with startups, saying that she wants to help these small companies grow and thrive in Missouri, that they are responsible for a lot of the state’s job growth. She also says she hopes to work with her colleagues on the issue of education reform. “We spend a lot of money on education, and we need to put out a better product,” she said. “There are inequities in education across our state and we need to vastly improve the opportunities for students.” Given her record, one thing seems to be certain about Evans’ attitude going forward: she’s here to compete… and to win.
FRESHMAN REPRESENTATIVES 99th General Assembly
BRUCE FRANKS, JR. DANIELLE MAE FRANKLIN “No one made it a point to educate us on politics and government,” Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. said. “There was no one that looked like me in legislating and no one who comes from the same place I come from. After the death of Mike Brown and protesting for 400 days straight it was like, ‘What’s next in policy?’ So, I accepted the challenge to run for representative.” Bruce Franks Jr. is finishing his first two-year term, representing part of St. Louis City in District 78. Along with his legislative duties, Franks is a small business owner, having operated Kwik Tax Services for six years in St. Louis.
Franks has stayed in St. Louis his whole life and continues to strive to make his community a better place. “I didn’t see the point in going somewhere else and fixing someone else’s community when I could stay and help the community that I grew up in.” In his first two-year term, Franks has accomplished a lot that he is proud of. He was able to put $9.5 million into the budget for youth jobs. He was also able to get his bill, HCR 70, passed and signed by the governor. The bill relates to youth violence, declaring it as a public health epidemic. “HCR 70 also involves Christopher Harris Day, which is on June
7th. It’s in honor of my brother, Chris, who was killed,” Franks said. “It’s a day of advocacy for violence protection, identifies youth violence has a public health epidemic and urges the state to promote trauma-informed education.” Franks has worked hard for his community and continues to do all that he can to represent his district and bring resources to his community. “I hope to work across the aisle to heavily focus on justice reform,” Franks said. “It’s a common denominator no matter where we are at in the state.” Franks also wants to work more to promote mental health awareness and get rid of the stigma that the black community
is facing, by helping facilitate necessary resources. One thing that Franks has learned in his first two-year term is that communication is the most powerful thing on earth. “I learned that you can teach an old dog new tricks. I’ve talked to many legislators that were stuck in their ways and I was able to talk to them, show them my perspective, and make them see where I was coming from.” Franks lives by the quote “it’s hard to forget where you come from.” It is a reminder to him of the work that can be done within his community every day. When he has spare time, he says that he still participates in rap battles and he goes bowling with his friends.
FRESHMAN REPRESENTATIVES 99th General Assembly
DAVID GREGORY DANIELLE MAE FRANKLIN
“I am most proud of the relationships I’ve built and the trust I’ve established with my colleagues,” Rep. David Gregory said about his first two-year term. “It’s an honor that people will trust me, especially with litigation issues, and know that I will shoot them straight.” Gregory represents parts of St. Louis County, District 96, for the Missouri House of Representatives. When he is not doing legislative duties, he works as a Civil Litigation Attorney in Clayton, Missouri. He received his bachelor’s in accounting, MBA, and Juris Doctor from St. Louis University. Born and raised in South County, Gregory has always had
ties to the area and has not had the desire to leave. “You know your neighbors and the police officers by name,” Gregory said. “I just feel like St. Louis is a perfect balance and blend of small town and big city. It’s the perfect place to live and raise a family.” David also said that with his family already being from there and living there, it just works out. There is a lot that Gregory has learned as a freshman legislator, but the biggest lesson is the relationship building. He said that no matter what line of work you are in, relationships are going to be a key aspect, “but I never realized how important they are and how pivotal they are until I became representative.” And he is excited to continue on the path of establishing more strong
relationships with his colleagues in his next term. “I want to heavily focus on legislation and getting my bills passed,” Gregory said when looking towards his next steps as representative. “I’m also looking forward to helping my colleagues pass their bills.” Gregory now has a better understanding of what legislation looks like and what it takes to get bills passed. He is ready to take the knowledge that he has gained in his two-year term and move to the next level in representing St. Louis County. Aside from collaborating with his colleagues and working to build strong relationships within the House of Representatives, Gregory said that his biggest accomplishment of the year was passing his first bill. The bill,
HB 1388, was passed in March of 2018. It focuses on Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and allowing amateur kickboxing and mixed martial arts to be put under state supervision. “The bill was not a top priority bill, but it was something that I was excited about. It was rewarding being able to get a bill passed on my own as a constituent and freshman. It was a big deal to me.” When Gregory gets some time to himself, he likes to listen to music and go on runs. “It’s a nice way to get away from everything for a while. A close second would be sitting on my front porch, drinking a beer, waving at people as they drive by.” Although Gregory is kept very busy, he is sure to make it a priority to spend time with his family.
FRESHMAN REPRESENTATIVES 99th General Assembly
BENJAMIN PETERS Rep. DaRon McGee has dreamed of being a lawmaker for decades. He still recalls the field trips to the Missouri State Capitol back in elementary school and says that he knew then that he wanted to work in that esteemed building. “Like most legislators, you get a bunch of 4th graders coming down here for a field trip,” he said with a chuckle. “And years ago, I was one of those 4th graders, and I came in this building and fell in love with it.” And in 2015, he made that dream a reality. And while he may have been a freshman legislator in this last term, the Kansas City state representative has some noticeable distinctions from his fellow freshman class. McGee is, simply put, the senior among the 2017-2018 freshman class because of his “early start.” He says that learning the process shows each legislator that they don’t know as much as they thought before entering the office. “It’s just different once you’re elected,” he said. “You think you kind of know how things work because many of us have been involved in politics or government in some shape or form. It’s
just a different scenario once you are the one making a decision or casting a vote.” But that one extra year helped propel McGee into a position of importance among his caucus. McGee sits as the Minority Caucus Secretary, a position he was selected for in 2016 by his colleagues in the Democratic Party. “I was very lucky, I was very honored and blessed by my colleagues and caucus that, after one year of being elected, they voted me as the caucus secretary,” he said. “I don’t know that there’s ever been a legislator to do that, but I feel extremely blessed that they trust me enough to do it.” Naturally, running for leadership is much any other race, and one must campaign. McGee says that it was an opportunity to really get in touch with the caucus, to sit down and meet with them all. As secretary, McGee is expected to keep the correspondence to the caucus, as well as coordinating meetings and details. But more importantly, he has a seat at the table for the meetings to discuss caucus strategies with the other leaders. McGee also sits on one of the most important committees in the state: the House Budget Committee. That work, McGee says, is some of the most important
work that a legislator can do, and indeed, it is something he is most proud of. “It’s a lot of work,” he said. “The budget committee, to me, is very crucial because that is an area where the minority party can really have some influence because there’s so much more negotiation. You have the power of the purse, and it has the most impact on the state and the services we provide.” In the past session, McGee worked with Sen. Kiki Curls to ensure that $2.8 million would go toward access for recovery funds, money to help people who are struggling with addiction. “We want those people to have a safe and clean environment to go and get treatment, especially with opioids,” he said. “Before, it was a federal grant, and that grant ran out. Now, we’ve made it a statewide program that is available to citizens statewide.” McGee said that it was almost unheard of to see such a motion carry through like that proposed item, which had no lobbyist but really originated as more of a grassroots push, particularly in just one year. But another item that McGee has pushed for is a piece of legislation called “Blair’s Law”, which carried the number of HB 2302 in the 2018 legislative session.
Simply put, the bill sought to change the law to prohibit the firing of a weapon for celebratory purposes inside city limits. The reasoning behind this is that accidents do occur, and firing weapons into the air on the 4th of July or New Year’s always requires those to remember a simple truth about gravity: what goes up must come down. “It simply gives a prosecutor another tool in the toolbox to prosecute the people who do that,” he said. “Stray bullets can hit children, and I want to protect them.” McGee picked up the torch on the bill, which has been tried before with no avail, but in his hands, the bill moved further than it ever has before in the legislature - it passed through the House, with some help from fellow freshman Rep. Nick Schroer. He says he intends to sponsor it again, given the opportunity. McGee says he is also proud of his work with Rep. Jeanie Lauer in bringing 911 services to the entire state. Looking forward, McGee says he just hopes to continue serving in whatever capacity that might mean. His hope, he says, is that his constituents know that he is here to represent and work for them.
FRESHMAN REPRESENTATIVES 99th General Assembly
PETER MERIDETH ALISHA SHURR
A freshman legislator in the super minority party, Rep. Peter Meredith knew to get any change he would have to be as effective and able as possible. Not one to shy away from an uphill battle, the Representative from St. Louis hit the ground running. He has proved to be a thorn in Republicans sides, an adept budget mind, and is arguably one of the more eloquent debaters on the House floor. Part of what makes Meredith effective when it comes to debating the issues is that he doesn’t approach everything in a one size fits all method. His strategy is different for every debate depending on the goal and the issue at hand. “My approach depends on the debate and the goal,” said Meredith. Sometimes Meredith goes all in, using his voice to make strong points and being very assertive when he speaks, being aggressive in his approach. If he thinks there is no stopping a bill that he is
completely opposed to, Meredith believes one of the more effective ways in that scenario seems to be being a loud voice for the opposition and vigorously calling out the issues with the bill. On the flip side, he is not afraid to take a back seat in the debate noting that sometimes it is more beneficial for him to stay out the discussion completely. If Meredith thinks a bill has a reasonable shot at not passing, then he will take a more inquisitive approach being less aggressive. It also means a lot of behind the scenes talks with Republicans. And success for Meredith isn’t measured on how many bills be passes. “Sometimes [success] is killing a bill, sometimes it is getting an important change to a bill, and sometimes it is funding a priority,” Meredith said. As a member of the House Budget Committee, Meredith gets the opportunity to work with members of both parties to decide where the state funds go. He went into the committee expecting it to be pretty one-sid-
ed, with Republicans saying what they wanted to happen and it happening, but that turned out not to be the case. Meredith calls the bipartisanship in the budget committee, how much input even minority members have in that process, his biggest surprise in the legislature. “I’ve been really surprised at how much people on both sides of the aisle work together on the budget process, trying to fund the priorities,” said Meredith. “Once we get in that room and in that committee, it seems that we are all under the same limitations of revenue constraints and all largely agree we need to fund certain things. When we get together, it’s just a question of how we want to prioritize and balance the different needs of the people in the state.” As a member of the Democratic Party, his approach to the General Assembly is different than it would be as a member of the majority party. When most of the bills come from the majority side — in this case, the Republicans — it can
be difficult for people on the same team to be critical of each other. Thus, as Meredith sees it, it becomes the role of the minority to ask the tough questions and to spend a lot of time picking apart the problems. He also sees it important for Democrats to play the role of accountability in being very vocal, even on social media, when things aren’t happening in the best ways. “Because there is not a lot we can do in parts of the process, sometimes the most influence we can do is with our voice, and on social media,” said Meredith. Which, coming from one of the most progressive districts in the state can be a bit of a balancing act. Meredith wants to be a loud, strong voice for the progressives but still wants the capability of sitting down with members across the aisle to get work down. Forming relationships with Republicans outside of his “progressive bubble” is something Meredith didn’t hesitate to do.
FRESHMAN REPRESENTATIVES 99th General Assembly
DANIELLE MAE FRANKLIN “I want to work hard and stay busy. But I don’t want to be at the tip of the spear.” Rep. Dean Plocher said. Plocher is in his first full term of being State Representative for the 89th District and has served three years in the Missouri House, being elected in a special election. Born and raised in St. Louis, Plocher has always felt that St. Louis is home. Plocher went away for college to study Political Science at Middlebury College in Vermont. After graduating college, he was offered a job on the west coast which he did for two years. However, he could not see himself being there long term. “I wanted to challenge myself and have other options,” he said. Moving forward, he worked in the financial management industry. “It was clear that you either had to get your MBA or an advanced degree. Being practical, I saw that you could practice business with a law degree, but you can’t practice law with a business degree.” “I think long-term, owning my own company in some capacity would be something I’ve always had interest in. I don’t know what
that would be, but I decided to go to law school. And that was challenging and fun.” He now practices attorney and manages is own law firm, The Plocher Law Firm, in Clayton. Plocher attended St. Louis University School of Law and received his Juris Doctor Degree in 1997. “Some advice was given to me: you need to go to law school where you would like to live. And St. Louis was clear as the first choice.” Plocher decided to get into politics because of his children. “I enjoy politics, I enjoy history, I enjoy how the communities develop and how they evolve. But following what has been developing the last decade or so, it prompted me to get involved with my family.” Plocher is most proud of his family. “Family is something that clearly takes the most time. Your heart is in it all the time. It is also the most rewarding. Definitely my family, my wife and my two kids.” Plocher and his wife have an 11-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter. In their free time, the Plocher Family attends their children’s soccer, baseball, and basketball games. “I also enjoy taking them fishing, fly fishing in
particular.” The family is always out doing something. Whether it is recreational or related to Plocher’s job, they love to get outside and get moving. “They, fortunately, embraced this political job that takes up not just a regular workday but often involves the weekends and things like that. They’ve been great helps and assets in terms of their willingness to participate,” said Plocher about his son and daughter. Plocher never really thought that he would get into politics at this level. “I always followed politics. More particularly, more international relations, trades, things like that. State politics became much more interesting about 10 or 15 years ago. I started easing into it. I have only held this position one full term and so now state politics has taken on a greater role in my life and challenges.” “In terms of what I do next, I’m a lawyer with my own practice. I enjoy that. I always want to keep opportunities and options open while I can find a role to serve.” Plocher said that he just wants to have a place at the table where he can be a participant. “It’s 163 members, not just one party.” While in state politics, Plocher
doesn’t think that anything has come out of the blue or caught him off guard that he didn’t expect to have happened and it has been an all-encompassing endeavor that he has enjoyed. “With regard to this political career that I have, I don’t really view myself as a politician. The time commitment and the dedication of all the members of the house is significant. I knew that going in it would be one hell of a commitment. It has certainly lived up to that expectation and often exceeded that because of the different roles that we are expected to play. We have our role as representative, there’s a carrying legislator on the floor and working with the Senate. And that is also predominantly built upon relationships. And then the role as the rep. trying to get re-elected, and that is multifaceted as well, for better and worse.” Just like in earlier years, Plocher is still interested in the development and evolution of communities. In recent years, he has been watching the evolution of the house as it has become more rural. He believes that the challenges that St. Louis will face will also involve being rural in order to form and establish relationships with everyone.
FRESHMAN REPRESENTATIVES 99th General Assembly
CRYSTAL QUADE ALISHA SHURR
If the topic of discussion on the House floor deals with poverty or working families, Rep. Crystal Quade will not hesitate to jump into the debate and try to shed some light on the issues from her perspective. She grew up watching her mother balance working overtime while trying to feed two children. Quade later saw her stepfather work his way up the factory ladder, his work ethic and dedication to there family helping drive her forward. Part of her understanding comes from being is the former director of chapter services at Care to Learn, a nonprofit organization that addresses the health, hunger and hygiene needs of economically disadvantaged children in several school districts across Missouri. “I am a social worker who has a deeper understanding of poverty issues than most. My legislative district is one that struggles a lot,” said Quade. “My biggest goal of
becoming an elected official was to bring that to Jefferson City and to change the conversation around working families and people who live in poverty.” While Quade hasn’t passed any of her own bills in the two years she has represented Missouri’s 132rd House District, she has worked to start the conversation on some issues and change the conversation on others. In the 2018 regular session, her bill dealing with child care subsidies made it out of two committees in the House. To Quade, having had that conversation multiple times, having people agree on the issue, and to start to have that conversation as a whole is a huge accomplishment and one she hopes to continue. “I do feel like I have really moved the needle on those conversations,” said Quade. Something that has helped Quade in her tenure is being a member of the House Budget Committee. She is also a member of the Subcommittee on Appropriations - Health, Mental Health, and Social Services.
With the budget covering the entire state government, those that sit on the committee learn a basic understanding of everything the departments do. According to Quade, being on that committee gives a deeper understanding of topics, a better insight into some of the issues, and a leg up. She takes the knowledge she acquires as part of the committee and uses it elsewhere. “It is the number one constitutional thing we are required to do. It is nice to be able to serve on the committee that is the one job as a chamber we are supposed to be getting done,” said Quade. “It’s a hard committee, it takes a lot of time but I enjoy every second of it.” Being part of budget has also led her to jumping into some issues she didn’t expect to when campaigning for office. Quade new what areas of interest she thought she would focus on but as she got to work, those focuses areas expanded to cover more ground than anticipated. Having been a legislative intern while in college, she came into
the job with some understanding of the procedures and processes in the building along with the fast pace environment. She also knew she was part of the minority party. As a member of the Democratic Party in a chamber where Republicans hold a supermajority, the job comes with its own frustrations, particularly when it comes to policy and things Quade would like to focus on compared to what ends up being the focus at any given time. Amendment trees at the end of the session, where bills are stacked on top of each other, is also another frustration for the Lady from Greene County. “That process just doesn’t seem like the right way to govern, we should be spending much more time vetting our policy and really making sure what we are passing is within the law and it is something we want to be doing versus stacking a bunch of policy onto one bill to get it through,” said Quade.
FRESHMAN REPRESENTATIVES 99th General Assembly
ALISHA SHURR Rep. Greg Razer went into the General Assembly fully aware of what it meant to be in the minority party. He knew that if he wanted to effect change it would have to start by building relationships with people on both sides of the aisle. And that is what he did. The Democrat from Kansas City has worked to foster friendships that cross the political divide that are built on mutual respect and mutual appreciation. And from there, Razer works to share his unique point of view. “I’m not afraid to cross the line on some of those issues and I feel like that translates into folk feeling comforting coming to talk to me,” said Razer. “If you are willing to talk about rural Missouri issues and [agricultural] issues, others think ‘maybe this guy isn’t so bad after all.’” Coming from a unique rural and urban background, Razer isn’t one too shy to cross party lines. He’ll dive into agriculture issues and issues that affect rural Missouri and the state as a whole. Though change, for a freshman representative especially, is slow
going. “It takes a year to find the bathrooms on that building, much less figure out how to pass a bill or the details of all the different pieces of legislation that come through,” said Razer, who was the Deputy Regional Director for U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill before running for office. It was fascinating, according to Razer, after the first year and then going into the second. The first year, every bill that came was a brand new bill, but by the second year, would recognize bills from the year before. Everything slowed down that second year, he noted. As part of the transportation committee when he’s talking about infrastructure, it’s not just big highway projects for his county but also the smaller bridges that need repairs in rural Missouri. Razer is proud of his advocacy for the state transportation system, trying to get more funding for the Missouri Department of Transportation so that the state’s roads and bridges can get the work they desperately need. He was able to work with the Democratic caucus to make sure as
many as possible were on board to get the referendum for additional funding on the November ballot. He is also working on what he calls “simple, common sense gun reform laws.” Razer wants to make sure that a responsible gun owner is selling to another responsible gun owner by attempting to close the loophole that doesn’t require doing background checks in individual-to-individual sales. “No one wants firearms in the hands of known criminals but we are providing them with the loopholes,” said Razer. But in all the legislation Razer works on, he is probably known the most for his relentless support and advocacy for the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act, or MONA. “Next year is 2019, let’s not get to 2020 and still be a state that openly allows discrimination against LGBTQ people. Not only is that wrong but it is embarrassing. It’s embarrassing if we can’t get this done by the year 2020. I would love to get this finished and move on to other issues,” said Razer. “We are nearly two decades into the 21st century, and in Missouri, you can still be fired
in your job for being gay, it is ridiculous.” The legislation, which has been introduced in the General Assembly every year for two decades, passed out of committee in the House this year. It is the second time that has happened. Beyond that public success, Razer says that perhaps the bigger success is the number of conversations he has had behind the scenes with people trying to understand the issue and how it affects their district, their constituents, and the state as a whole. Members of the majority party, from districts he would never expect, have pulled him aside wanting to have an honest conversation about the issue. And he attributes those conversations to the relationships he has built. To Razer, a lot of his success isn’t big bills he has passed or things that the public necessary sees, but rather the conversations he has with people to help move the needle. “Next year is going to be a new year, we are going to have new members and we are going to have to start those conversations over,” said Razer. “But I think I’m making progress, albeit slowly.”
FRESHMAN REPRESENTATIVES 99th General Assembly
CODY SMITH BENJAMIN PETERS
Rep. Cody Smith is often seen as a more quiet member of the legislature, but do not let that fool you. Smith is not typically seen speaking from a microphone on the House floor, nor is he making waves in his support or opposition to legislation. He didn’t pre-file any legislation before the start of his first term and has no expectations to have framed bills on his walls just yet. Instead, Smith’s quiet and calm presence is one of a calculating mind, one gathering as much information as it can on the topic at hand and learning as much as he can to make his assessments. It has not gone unnoticed. Just two years in his career as a state legislator, Smith has moved up from serving as a member of the House Budget committee to his latest appointment as the Vice Chair of that same committee, absorbing every opportunity to learn the processes and strategies to his respective chamber and position. He says that his main role now is to back up Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, the head of the House Budget Committee. Smith says that the opportunity to learn
under him is a truly great one, which he relishes. His bread and butter, simply put, is working with the budget, a priority that mirrors that of his predecessor, Tom Flanigan. Flanigan’s departure left some rather large shoes to fill, particularly as a budget hawk, but it’s a role Smith has stepped into with poise. “After Tom vacated my seat, that left a large hole in terms of presence from the southwest Missouri delegation,” Smith said. “It left a large void from far southwestern Missouri, so I felt a sense of duty to represent my district in the budget, and not really knowing that would be what I ultimately wanted to focus my energy on. He says that as he continued working on the budget, he became enamored with the most important - and one of the only constitutionally required - duty of the legislature. As a business-minded individual, Smith says he has always gravitated toward numbers, and that with the responsibilities of working on the budget, there also comes an opportunity to really affect policy in the Show-Me State. “You don’t get a better oppor-
tunity to affect policy than with the appropriations process,” he said. “And you don’t get a better opportunity to look under the hood of bureaucracy than with the appropriations process.” He says that, by nature, the job is a learning process, and that the new tasks each day presents new challenges - and opportunities for all involved. “I have a good understanding of the appropriations process from start to finish,” he said. “But I’m still learning about individual departments and programs, and I expect to continue learning more about those until I am term-limited in the House.” But Smith is not just a onetrick pony, and though he may not handle many bills, he’s not shy about taking on major pieces of legislation. Smith made waves this past session with his efforts to push forward reform on the issue of mandatory sentencing. His HB 1739 would give judges some leeway in placing mandatory prison terms or statutory minimum sentences in cases, particularly in the instances of nonviolent offenses. Smith says that alternative sentencing would help prevent people from entering a life of
crime as well as save the state some money and prevent the need to open more prisons. It’s an interesting transition to watch with Smith, a politician who came to the Capitol as a true outsider. He had little background or experience, but his candidacy quickly placed him in Jefferson City without the ties or backing that some of his fellow colleagues. Instead, he relies on his experiences, personal and professional, to help guide him. “Letting that kind of guide me through this has been helpful,” he said. “But now, I’m in a position where I am expected to offer more input, to be more vocal, and speak up a little bit more. And I have to push back against my nature to lean back and be observant, and instead be more involved.” Going forward, it should come as little surprise to see the soft-spoken legislator learning to change his stripes, but it should prove to be an interesting look as Smith opens up and shares his insights, as well as to watch his continued growth as he is groomed for what is assured to be a staple for the budget and southwest Missouri.
FRESHMAN REPRESENTATIVES 99th General Assembly
BENJAMIN PETERS Curtis Trent is not one to shy away from a fight, but the Springfield lawyer and state representative knows that there are plenty of ways to win. He’s taken on several varied bills and duties in his two years, with one of those being one of the most pivotal moments in the history of the state. This past session, Trent found himself sitting on a special investigative committee looking into allegations against former Gov. Eric Greitens, joining the committee later on in the process. Trent said it was hard work trying to catch up, but in the end, the committee all had one goal: to get the entire story, and make the most accurate reports and do everything the right way in the most objective way possible. Trent ended up spending just a few weeks working on the committee, due to Greitens’ decision to step down, but Trent speaks highly of the committee members and their work over long hours with such a sensitive subject. “During the middle of session, I’m sure their own legislative priorities had to have suffered, but you wouldn’t have known it from looking at their output,” he said. “They still worked hard on a lot of bills and accomplished a lot, and I think that says a lot about the professionalism and integrity of those committee members.” But as a legislator, Trent says he’s become more comfortable in his role as time has passed. “I think it’s one of those things where the longer you do it, the
better you get at it and better understand it,” Trent said. “I’ve got a fairly good understanding, but it’s also one of those scenarios where the more you know, the more you don’t know. So you’re constantly learning and growing.” Trent has taken on some rather hefty bills in his two years in the Missouri House of Representatives, two of which have really caught the attention of the media and his colleagues. The first one was Trent’s handling of HB 1880 in the last legislative session, better known as the rural broadband bill. The bill had two components to it, with the first being a statement from the legislature to show their intent of pushing forward rural broadband, while the other sought to protect rural co-ops as they tried to use existing broadband capabilities to be used for residential and commercial use. “The nature of their connections, the cable that they use, has a lot more capacity on it than they actually need for their systems,” Trent said. “So they wanted to be able to open that excess capacity up for internet service providers or other entities that might want to utilize it. It would help cover some of their operating costs and also provide a nice opportunity to get high-speed internet to places that it might not otherwise be available.” This all came to a head when the companies began getting sued over the issue of land easements, but Trent’s legislation sought to clarify the issue and enable the companies to go forward without
additional penalties against them. Trent’s work on the bill lasted nearly the entire legislative session in 2018, and the representative from Greene County said there were several times when he believed the bill to be dead in the water. “There was actually quite a bit of work to it, but it passed with healthy margins in both chambers,” Trent said. “Those margins kind of masked how difficult it was because there were at least two points where I thought the bill was dead, being held up in other fights and falling prey to the process.” But the other piece of legislation he has ardently been pushing is best known as Hailey’s Law, named for the young girl, Hailey Owens, from his district that had been abducted and murdered. “There was an issue at the time with the speed at which the AMBER Alert was issued,” he said. It was hours before the alert was issued, though police had responded to the call of a kidnapping in minutes. Trent’s legislation would integrate AMBER alerts with the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s communications service, allowing it to interact with all law enforcement agencies. But it would also require the AMBER Alert Oversight Committee to meet on a regular basis. For Trent, it’s an important bill for several reasons. Firstly, it would speed up the process of getting information out in the case of an AMBER Alert, which law enforcement officials will
often explain that in these scenarios, every second counts. Secondly, it would seek to keep these types of systems as up-todate with the latest technology as possible. But the final reason for Trent is more personal. He hopes that it serves as a memorial to Owens and that it helps prevent such another tragedy. “There’s no way to see alternate futures, but the chances for a better outcome would have gone up,” he said. “So it’s a bill that is very important to me, for public safety, and to create a legacy for this young girl, and I’m happy that everyone, including the police and Highway Patrol, has been great about trying to make the improvements occur.” And though the bill received bipartisan support, it has yet to cross the finish line, mostly because of technical issues such as conflicting legislation between the state’s two legislative chambers or running out of time. Trent also was the House handler of then-Sen. Mike Kehoe’s civil servant reform bill, which he believes will be a boon for state employment in years to come. “It’ll be some time before we see the full impact of those reforms, but I think it will enable state government to become more efficient and be beneficial for state employees,” he said. “It’s my hope that as the state government becomes more efficient, state employees could see a benefit in terms of their own pay and benefits from these changes.”
New radio show,
Show Me Missourah,
visits Gov. Parson’s home town ALISHA SHURR
A new radio show in Missouri is gearing up to give citizens a snapshot of every county in the Show-Me State. The program, adaptly called Show Me Missourah, will feature a different region each week, highlighting the history and future, one county at a time. Show Me Missourah traveled to Bolivar, the county seat of Polk County, as the show continues telling the history of the state of Missouri. At Smith’s Restaurant, host Scott Faughn sat down with some of the people who know Polk County best: Polk County Collector of Revenue Debbi Roberts-McGinnis, the President of the Polk County Farm Bureau Warren Drake. Polk County is located in southwestern Missouri just north of Greene County and is home to the current Governor of Missouri Mike Parson.
The county was founded by the state legislature on January 5, 1835, and, interestingly enough, it’s not named after President James K. Polk. Rather the county is named after the grandfather of the 11th President of the United
County — though the original boundaries have been reduced with the creation of Dade, Dallas, and Hickory Counties. The county’s namesake Ezekiel Polk, a colonel in the Revolutionary War, had three
area. The brothers submitted that the county be named after their grandfather. The City of Bolivar got its name in a similar fashion. Polk lived in Bolivar, Tennessee, and the Missouri town was given the
“I believe the launch of the new radio show will highlight the challenges county officials face daily, and the difference elected officials make for the betterment of the community across this great state and the fascinating history throughout each county of this state,” Nordwald said. States, Colonel Ezekiel Polk. As of the 2010 census, the population was 31,137. The northern part of Greene County was ceded to form Polk
grandsons: John Polk Campbell and his brothers, William C. and Ezekiel, all of whom moved to Missouri and settled in an area — the Campbells still live in the
same name. A majority of the settlers were from Tennessee and actually named the Bolivar, Missouri after the town in Tennessee. However, since the
town in Tennessee was named after Simon Bolivar the city is an indirect namesake of Simon Bolivar and there is a statue of him in the town. The country of Venezuela honored the Missouri town with the statue of Bolivar in a little more than 70 years ago. On July 5, 1948, U.S. President Harry Truman and the President of Venezuela were in the City of Bolivar. While the population of Bolivar was only 3,500 at that time, nearly 50,000 people turned out for the momentous event. “County by county”: Show provides state history radio and podcast offering “Missouri is an incredibly diverse state, from the truly Southern culture of the Bootheel to the Midwestern attitude of the grain belt and Great Plains,” said Eric Bohl, director of Public Affairs and Advocacy for Missouri Farm Bureau. “Introducing all parts of
the state to one another is a great way to celebrate our diversity and strengths.” The idea for the program in Missouri originated with Wendy Nordwald, the immediate past president of the Missouri Association of Counties and the current Warren County Assessor. While president of MAC, Nordwald represented Missouri on a national level, engaging in conversations with others across the United States. It was through those conversations she got the idea. “I found it was a great place to share best practices, without reinventing the wheel,” Nordwald said. “The platform is unique and provides local leaders with a networking platform to discuss challenges and issues facing counties in every state, and for attendees to learn from one another. Although there are no two counties exactly alike, many face similar challenges and can learn
from our experiences.” She learned some states were sharing with their constituents’ current issues facing them locally or statewide via a television program. She subsequently had lunch with Faughn, publisher of The Missouri Times and host of This Week in Missouri Politics, and mentioned adapting the idea to Missouri. “I believe the launch of the new radio show will highlight the challenges county officials face daily, and the difference elected officials make for the betterment of the community across this great state and the fascinating history throughout each county of this state,” Nordwald said. Show Me Missourah is sponsored by the Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Association of Counties, Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives and other advertisers. “We hope this show will raise the profile of the important work county officials do across the
state. They are leaders in their communities and have great stories to tell,” said Dick Burke, executive director of MAC. Helping share the story of all parts of Missouri shows the beauty of our rural areas and the positive values of our culture that are often overlooked, according to Bohl. Spreading this message to urban, suburban and other rural areas is valuable to Missourians. “Farm Bureau is proud to be a part of this show,” said Bohl. “Even our own team is looking forward to what we will learn about different parts of our state. It will be a wonderful snapshot of Missouri that we hope can be revisited in the future.” The show can be subscribed to in either the Apple or Android podcast store and followed on Facebook and Twitter. If you want to hear the show on your local station, contact Rachael at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHOTOS/PROVIDED BY THE CAPITOL COMMISSION
CAPITOL RENOVATION UNDER WRAPS BENJAMIN PETERS
The Missouri State Capitol is well on its way to being restored to its former glory, with dozens of crew members rolling through the phases of the renovation project. The process is a long one, but it’s had plenty of solid moments as it has continued, and state officials have said that the project remains on schedule, with a completion date slated for December 2020. “A lot is going on right now, and a lot has already been accomplished,” Dana Rademan Miller, the chairwoman of the Missouri State Capitol Commission, said. Just this past July, leaders and donors met with architects and experts to discuss their visions for the Capitol, identifying their chief priorities for the projects, the most important of which was preserving the Capitol while maintaining and improving the integrity of the building. But the work, for the most part, is hidden in secrecy under the new white shrouds canvassing the building. No longer are the white columns visible to viewers, and Thomas Jefferson’s statue greeting people at the front is
now surrounded by scaffolding. This summer, the Capitol’s iconic dome was closed to visitors, with access to the small, circular observation deck and its scenic views of Jefferson City and the Missouri River now only accessible by a select few, mainly workers. The Whispering Gallery, however, still remains open, and will continue to be available to access. In short, the beloved icon of Jefferson City is under wraps, awaiting a grand reveal in the coming years. Miller explained that there are two major projects underway at the State Capitol. The first of these is the actual renovation and cleaning of the exterior of the building, which is being led by Chicago-based Bulley & Andrews Masonry Restoration LLC (BAMR). With protective covering around the areas, contractors are working to grind out joints and replace some of the stone with the selected Phenix Marble in a controlled environment. By placing the sheeting around the work areas, it allows the work to be done in spite of the weather, while also keeping a more moderate temperature for the workers in the hot summer months or
the cold of winter. Crews are also working on some of the balustrades and terraces, stone handrails and supporting posts around the edge of the walkways and stairs next to the Capitol. Along the way, Miller says that they have identified other small issues, including more water-proofing to be done. “That was one of those contingencies where you’re not expecting to find those kinds of things, but you do,” Miller said, noting that it hasn’t slowed the process, and some sections have even been completed. According to one of the lead construction managers, to date, approximately 1,000 stones have either replaced or reset, out of a total of 3,500 stones, roughly about 28 percent of the building’s stones. But the building will not be cleaned until after all stone repairs are completed. To do that, BAMR will use a biodegradable solution that is applied with a sprayer and agitated with a brush, then lightly pressure-washed with water. And this fall, the bronze statue of Ceres, the goddess of agriculture, seated at the very top of the dome, will be coming down for the first time in nearly a century
to be restored and refurbished. Miller expects that will be a spectacle for many in Jefferson City, though the details of how it will be done are still being worked out. Due to the height of the Capitol, airlifting may be the route chosen. The other project lies on the North Plaza, with the fountains, with a view overlooking the Missouri River and the railroad tracks running parallel. That project is expected to be completed sometime around the end of 2018. Contractors based out of Missouri are working there to remove the pavers, which will be replaced with Missouri Red Granite, matching those installed around the nearby Veterans Memorial. Miller says that the labor of love may come with a nearly $29 million price tag, but the hope is to ensure that one of Missouri’s iconic structures is still standing strong for decades to come. “With the sheeting going up, we’re literally wrapping the building up,” Miller said. “Once she’s done, we’ll unwrap her, and it’ll be really exciting to see what’s underneath all of the years of dirt and deterioration. It’ll be like brand new.”
ADVENTURE OF THE INTERIM
#FISHINGWITHRUSTY ALISHA SHURR
The day after the 2018 legislative session ended, most lawmakers took a breath of fresh air and enjoyed the opportunity to relax but not Reps. Rusty Black and Phil Christofanelli. Both were up before the sun and headed a trip to Canada that spawned a new Twitter narrative: #FighingWithRusty. The two Republicans from different parts of the state sit near each other on the House floor and both share an enthusiasm for fishing. The trip to Canada for an extended fishing adventure is one Black has made since he was in his 20s. For 2018, he invited Christofanelli along with him. The Representative from St. Peters soon learned “north” and “west,” common terms used when giving directions in rural Missouri, and that in Black’s terminology, “we’ll leave by 4,” means 4 in the morning. “There is nothing like being up there, miles away from civilians and any of the problems that come up in Jefferson City,” said Christofanelli. “It was a really relaxing trip but it was also a lot of fun.” “It was a good trip. We had a good time,” said Black. “The fishing was good...it was a perfect year to go up there.” Be prepared for the #FishingWithRusty Twitter narrative to continue next year, as Christofanelli has already made plans to join Black again and a few more member may tag along, too.
20 QUESTIONS WITH...
Rep. Steven Roberts 3.
1. What was the defining moment that caused you to want to run for office? When I moved back to St. Louis, I worked as a prosecutor in the Circuit Attorney’s Office. On my first day in Division 24 for arraignments, I saw young black men, like myself, in orange jumpsuits chained together. Day after day, I saw the same thing until it became apparent that this was the norm. That could have been me, if I had been born under different circumstances. Locking people up is not a solution to the problem. I knew that I could have a greater impact at the policy level. 2. Who do you admire most in your caucus and why? Representative Gail McCann Beatty, even
though the Republican Party holds a supermajority in the House and Senate as well as a majority of the state’s executive offices, Gail fought for our values with passion. I admire how she’s been able to keep our caucus focused, despite the challenges of being greatly outnumbered. What do you like most about your family? My parents encouraged our individuality, but what I value most is our cohesiveness. We have the usual good natured and sometimes very real sibling rivalry, but we are always, without fail, there for each other. Who inspires you? My mother is a doctor and has always remained committed to serving those in need. She partnered with Saint Louis University to provide a medical clinic for uninsured patients in North St. Louis. People who find a way to serve others and never give up, no matter what the odds, inspire me. What historical figure do you find the most fascinating? At this moment, Alexander Hamilton. I admire Hamilton’s drive, his ambition, his sense of duty and honor, but that may just be because I recently saw Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical. What is something you’ve had to unlearn since joining the state legislature? That this is a part-time job. What do you wish you knew more about? I wish I could learn another language, I hope to have some time to brush up on my Spanish before session begins. What frustrates you the most about working in the Capitol? Extremists, on either side of the aisle. Unwillingness to find compromise or a lack of empathy are some of the most frustrating issues I deal with.
9. What job would you be terrible at? Anything that requires thoughtless repetition. I would not enjoy being at a desk all day. 10. What is your favorite show to watch on TV and why? One of my favorites would probably be Game of Thrones. In these crazy political times, fantasy battles in faraway kingdoms are a great escape. 11. What is your favorite way to spend a weekend away from politics? Traveling, preferably somewhere I have never been, ideally near a beach. 12. What’s your dream car? Right now, a car that functions only as a car. Commuting back and forth to Jeff City, my car doubles as a closet, an office and in a pinch a kitchen/dining room and a dressing room. 13. What’s something you’ve wanted to try but haven’t found the time? Sleeping in. 14. What’s the best thing to happen to you this interim? My constituents giving me the privilege of representing them for another 2 years. 15. What is your go-to charity/ good cause? Last summer after speaking at the graduation for students of Yeatman-Liddell Preparatory Middle School, I learned that a significant number of students struggled to obtain basic school supplies - things I took for granted as a child. This lead me to start an annual back to school fair, where students would receive all the supplies they would need to be ready to learn on day one. Students and their families also met the firefighters and police officers who keep their neighborhoods safe. This year, we were honored to have the National Geospatial-Agency participate and share with students potential career opportunities at
the agency. Education made all the difference in my life and I believe it is the most important gift you can give a child. 16. What are some of your personal rules that you never break? Always keep your word and honesty is the best policy. 17. What’s one of your favorite quotes? “Justice will overtake fabricators of lies and false witnesses” - Heraclitus. 18. What’s your go-to fast food restaurant and what do you get? Nothing exciting, McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese - its fast and fills me up. When I was living in California it would have been fish tacos, there were great taco joints everywhere. 19. Who has been an absolute lifesaver at the Capitol? My Legislative Assistant, Ly Syin Lobster. She came to the job with a great set of skills, but nothing prepares you for the daily onslaught and chaos of working in the Capitol. Ly Syin is a quiet and humble person, so it is easy to underestimate her tenacity and overall ability to get things done. 20. What is one thing you hope to accomplish during your tenure in the House? There are so many important issues but reforming our criminal justice system is at the top of the list. There is no denying that the current system disproportionately and negatively impacts communities of color, the waste in lost human potential is absolutely staggering. Mandatory minimums for nonviolent offenses need to be eliminated, there needs to be increased funding for diversion and drug courts, as well as an end to money bail. As a nation, we can do a better job of holding to our basic principles of equality and justice for all.
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