Missouri State Representatives Jean Evans (R-99), Bruce Franks (D-80), and Peter Merideth (D-78) addressed the St. Louis Regional Chamber’s Missouri Public Affairs Network on Friday, July 14. The three freshmen representatives on the “rising stars” panel led an engaging and insightful conversation which covered their first impressions of representing the St. Louis area in Jefferson City.
Rep. Evans said she was pleasantly surprised by how well her fellow legislators got along regardless of political affiliation. She added that the newly elected representatives in particular have expressed a desire to do away with partisan gridlock, so much so that they often cannot distinguish between Democrats and Republicans.
Rep. Franks spoke about his experience working across the aisle with Republican lawmakers, particularly given his party’s “super-minority” status in the Missouri House of Representatives. Franks said that working with lawmakers from across the state opened his eyes to the urban-rural divide. He also expressed gratitude for being able to work with an opposing party “that’s actually willing to listen,” noting the bipartisan effort to secure $4 million in federal funds for summer youth jobs in Missouri.
Rep. Merideth echoed his colleagues’ remarks about the sense of bipartisanship among the newest members of the Missouri House. Merideth said he was most proud of his work on HCB 3, a bill intended to extend community services to vulnerable populations which received bipartisan support, but was ultimately vetoed by the Governor.
All three representatives were asked to evaluate the Governor’s recently announced safety plan for the City of St. Louis. Rep.Evans expressed support for the plan, while Reps. Franks said the plan fails to address the root causes of violence. Rep. Merideth cited the negative impact of predatory ticketing practices on police-community relations.