Yesterday afternoon, during a recess after the capitol power outage, I had the opportunity to talk with Representative Paul LeVota (D-52) in his office. Representative LeVota is the House Minority Leader. We spoke about the legislative session to date:
Representative Paul LeVota (D-52), House Minority Leader, in his office in the capitol building.
Show Me Progress:…This has been a remarkable session in many ways. How do feel about how it’s been going so far?
Representative Paul LeVota: Well, there’s been a lot of promise at the beginning of the session, to get some things done with the new governor and added numbers in the House. To me the Republicans haven’t been focusing on the issues that we need to get done. They haven’t passed the economic development bill. They thwarted efforts to have a restoration of some of the health care cuts. And in this last week we’ll, we’ll be talking about a big education bill, big health care bill, but really, none of the things that really the people in Missouri wants to do…
…SMP: In, in some ways there is a, a practical result to that in everybody’s district in the state. When we have representatives in certain parts of the state voting against bills that would help their constituents it, it’s sort of, you know, from an outsider’s perspective, it’s, it’s sometimes it’s, it’s, you can’t understand it. And I’m not sure that our readers sometimes understand what’s going on…
Representative LeVota: Well, I guess what they have to understand is the Republican caucus votes exactly the way, exactly the way the Republican leadership wants them to. Regardless of what the issue is. And that just consistently happens.
Now, the Democratic caucus votes their district. And as, I as Democratic leader try to get everyone to a common purpose, but really, they’re all individuals, and they all vote for their district. And that’s really how it’s supposed to be.
SMP: But, in the, in the long term, though, that [the Republican lockstep] has a negative effect on the state as a whole…
Representative LeVota: Yeah, it’s a complete, I mean, our system is designed to be an advocate for your area. And if you’re, if you’re gonna put your party above your area then you’re not really doing as you’re supposed to be doing. And, and the negative effect for the state. You, you know, you have political dogma rule the day as opposed to facts and figures and doing what’s right.
SMP: But there are real consequences for all kinds of people in all kinds of districts. People, access to health care, good school systems, and economic development.
Representative LeVota: Right.
SMP: House, is it Senate Bill 306? Yeah…
Representative LeVota: Senate Bill 306, the…
SMP: Is, is it, at some point, it’s getting worked on today, or…?
Representative LeVota: They’ll probably bring it up here this afternoon. Again, it’s, ideas that, that, you know, that hurt worker’s comp. They are taking money directly to the high risk pool, which helps, only helps insurance companies, doesn’t help people who need coverage. They do this health care savings account, which is impractical, unusable. And it’s just simply, is a way for them to pay back their own contributors and their philosophy of, that government shouldn’t be involved in health care at all.
SMP: And, and ultimately people will be without health care.
Representative LeVota: Right. People will still be without health care and we’ll,and, and the prices will still be high.
SMP: In, in general terms, in the 2010 election cycle, do you see some, some districts where Democrats can take some seats and, and do something about taking control of the House.
Representative LeVota: Well, yeah, the, the, they’re eight seats down, we have an opportunity there because there’s gonna be open seats. Also some seats to defend, but there’s about fifty plus of us who are term limited out. So there’s a lot of opportunities to put new people in here and for the Democrats to take control. And when that happens, when you get a house, you get real change. Mean, the Governor’s doing a great job saying a vision, saying great proposals, and they’ve stopped them every time.
SMP: Do you think that the, the opposition, of the [Republican] majority in the House to the Governor’s proposals is based more on opposition then…
Representative LeVota: Yeah. It’s just based on they don’t want Jay Nixon to succeed. It’s that simple.
SMP: And that hurts the…[crosstalk]
Representative LeVota: Yeah. And that hurts the state. I mean, they put him in office, pretty large margin. They, he campaigned on a vision of how to move Missouri forward and they’re not, simply not letting him do that.
SMP: Well, thank you very much for your time.
Representative LeVota: Thank you.