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Southwest Missouri Representatives Reflect on the Session, Part 2

The legislative session ended last Friday. Here are more exceprts from conversations that KSMU's Missy Shelton had with state representatives from Southwest Missouri. She begins with Democratic Representative Sara Lampe of Springfield.

Shelton: Representative Lampe, for you, what have been the positive things about this session, the highlights?

Lampe: I think the highlights have been the collegiality with other legislators. Other great pleasures? It's so very exciting when you're able to speak on an issue that is bi-partisan and you're able to convince people that what you're talking about is the right thing to do. That's very exciting. Now, the other side of that coin is that there are times when it doesn't matter how good the argument is. You can be right on every point but if you don't have the majority of votes and people vote along party lines, it doesn't matter. The vote will go down and you're unable to get things done that should be done. It's been a lesson for me in power. And I mean that in terms of majority vote and the rule of the chair. There are voice votes I questioned. As a teacher, I'm always looking at fairness and 'Was that right?' But it doesn't really matter sometimes. Often people say, 'Well, this is the way it was when Democrats were in power and we're just paying you back.' Well, we need to get past that.

Shelton: You've already touched on this but what are some of the things, in terms of legislation that disappointed you this session?

Lampe: Two key legislative pieces that have been heartbreaking, and I really mean heartbreaking, not just sad but truly heartbreaking. The first one was the Medicaid vote to remove people who are in need of services provided by the state and to remove those people from those services. I truly believe the state's role in the lives of people has to do with making their lives better. And part of the infrastructure we vote on and the laws we pass are to create a better Missouri, a better place to live. And when we have people who have medical issues and they're unable to care for themselves, whether they're disabled or elderly, it's troubling to me that we believe they can make it on their own. I think the second heartbreaking vote had to do with us not getting it right on the formula. As a teacher, it reminds me of the student who turns in the book report but hadn't read the book. And so they got a few things right but they didn't get it exactly right. So

what masterful teachers are supposed to do is not just give a grade and move on but to hand that book report back and say, 'Read the book this time, work on it again. Good effort but let's try again and make some changes.'

Shelton: That was Democratic Representative Sara Lampe of Springfield talking about her disappointment with the education funding formula lawmakers approved. She also told me lawmakers need to be willing to spend more money on public schools. I also spoke last Friday with Republican Representative Dennis Wood of Branson...I made sure to ask him about the CAFO or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations legislation. What have been the highlights of the session for you?

Wood: The highlights for this session have been a lot of the things we haven't done rather than the things we have done. We've done some great things with the tort laws and I could start naming them like everyone else does. But I'm delighted we haven't done some things. We haven't removed the $500 limit on gambling. We haven't passed the CAFO bill, which I thought would've been hazardous for the waters of the state of Missouri. We haven't done some things and I think that's almost as important as the things we have done. I don't know whether that answers your question because you asked me what I thought were the highlights. I guess the highlights for me are what we haven't done. I think it's been a great year, been proud to be a part of this. We've had some good leadership, we've had some great participation and the cooperation between Democrats and Republicans has been outstanding with my friends on the other side of the aisle working together.

Shelton: As far as the CAFO bill, you mentioned that specifically, gives us a little background on why that is of particular concern to folks in Southwest Missouri.

Wood: Particularly for Southwest Missouri, but even for the whole state, we have to be really careful that we don't take the authority the county commissioners now have. The county commissioners can act