Missouri State Representative Kevin Corlew represents Missouri House district 14. Most of Representative Corlew’s district is in Platte County, but a small portion of it extends into Clay County. For more information on our Opinion Section and why we publish these newsletter from elected officials please click here.
Missouri Welcomes New State Leaders
Thousands of Missourians from across the state made their way to Jefferson City on Monday to join in the festivities as the state welcomed its new statewide officials. During the Inauguration, held on the front steps of the Capitol, Eric Greitens was sworn in as the 56th governor of Missouri. Joining him as statewide office holders are Mike Parson, who was sworn in as Lieutenant Governor; Jay Ashcroft, who takes over as Secretary of State; Josh Hawley, who is Missouri’s new Attorney General; and Eric Schmitt, who will now serve as the State Treasurer. They join Nicole Galloway, who currently serves as State Auditor.
I joined my legislative colleagues in participating in events throughout the day, including an interfaith prayer service, a ceremony to recognize Missouri’s military heroes, the Inauguration, and an Inaugural Ball in the Capitol Rotunda.
After being sworn into office, Governor Greitens delivered a short address in which he talked about the need to work together to move Missouri forward. As he told a crowd of thousands, “For decades, Missourians have talked about change. Now it’s time to fight for that change.” He added, “Our state’s world famous motto, ‘Show me’, reminds us that Missourians don’t much value big talk. Our state’s great history reminds us that Missourians have always understood that big achievements demand hard work. ‘Show me’ doesn’t mean ‘Give me.’ It means ‘prove it can be done, and we will do it.’”
That evening, House and Senate members joined the governor for the Inaugural Ball in the Capitol rotunda. Legislators and their families descended the staircase outside the governor’s office as they were formally introduced as members of the Missouri General Assembly. Governor Greitens and his wife then kicked off the ball by dancing to the Missouri Waltz. The festivities continued with a performance by country music recording artist, and Missouri native, Sara Evans.
House Gives Initial Approval to Gift Ban (HB 60)
A state House proposal aimed at banning gifts from lobbyists to elected officials received first-round approval from the Missouri House of Representatives on Thursday. HB 60 is nearly identical to a gift ban proposal filed in 2016, which was passed out of the House with 147 votes in favor.
House Bill 60, which I’ve co-sponsored, is meant to help restore the public’s trust in elected officials by limiting the influence of lobbyists. For too long Missourians have felt they can’t trust their government, and this ban will help restore public trust. Earning back this trust starts by getting rid of the undue influence of lobbyists. Missourians can be assured their legislators are fighting for them and not special interest groups
The legislation bans personal gifts from lobbyists to legislators. As the bill sponsor explained, the bill will eliminate the “personally consumable gifts from lobbyists to legislators.” For example, he said, “These are the one-on-one dinners; these are the press boxes at sporting events in the state. That’s what we’re trying to limit.”
The bill provides exemptions for certain expressions of condolence or congratulations, such as flowers or plants, that do not demonstrate undue influence. It would also exempt items such as recognition plaques given to lawmakers by organizations.
The bill would allow lobbyists to provide food or a meal within the state so long as all legislators in the General Assembly and all statewide elected officials are invited. This caveat is necessary to allow member-driven groups—such as area chambers of commerce and associations (e.g., associations that advocate for people with disabilities or for juvenile justice)—to continue to hold events in the state at which their members can inform legislators about issues that are important to them.
The ethics bill now requires one more successful vote in the House before moving to the Senate. House Speaker Todd Richardson has said he wants the gift ban bill to be the first thing the House sends the Missouri Senate this session. With the passage of HB 60, the House is taking steps to increase a citizen’s influence in government by limiting the power of special interest. If the General Assembly passes the legislation and the Governor signs it (which he has said he’ll do) it will represent the first lobbyist gift ban in Missouri history.