JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Caleb Jones, R-California, accomplished at least one unique distinction in his sophomore term as a lawmaker. Jones may be the only lawmaker to take an issue from virtually unknown in the Capitol all the way to the Governor’s desk. Jones’ success on a bill permitting the use of CBD oil for medical purposes continues to solidify his status as one of the most skilled politicians in the House.
Jones called the bill the one thing he knew he could be proud of if his time in the legislature ended tomorrow.
“A lot of our issues can feel very abstract when we work on them here,” Jones said. “But some issues deal with people you know and love, and I know I’ll look back to that bill and be able to say I made a difference.”
Jones and Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, helped fast-track the legislation, which isn’t an easy thing to do in late April. Less than 30 days after the bill was filed, it was placed on the desk of Gov. Jay Nixon. Jones was able to convince his Republican colleagues that the bill was not a “medical marijuana” bill, and able to convince his Democratic friends not to eye any broader marijuana amendments in the Senate.
“He was a great partner in this process,” Schmitt said. “He navigated the bill through the House like the skilled legislator that he is. I look forward to continuing to work with Rep. Caleb Jones as the bill is implemented and can provide relief for thousands of Missourians living with epilepsy.”
Jones entered the year fresh off a leadership race for Speaker of the House. And while the races can sometimes get dirty, Jones maintains an excellent relationship with Speaker-elect and current Floor Leader, John Diehl. It’s a relationship that Jones says hasn’t been negatively impacted at all by their Speaker’s race.
“Nobody expected either of us to take a race for leadership outside of the race itself,” Jones said. “At the end of the day he and I are both dedicated to the caucus functioning well and passing good legislation.”
Jones has spent a lot of his time in behind-the-scenes efforts on bills on a wide range of topics. He’s worked on passing a sweeping local omnibus bill that touches on everything from fire sprinklers to sales tax exemptions for home sales. The bill has sales tax exemptions for used motor vehicles, and commercial laundries. As a back room negotiator, Jones has hands on many bills, but his name on only a few.
“It really helps you work with people in this building when people see that you’re more interested in accomplishing something than having your name on it,” Jones said. “If you’re here for the right reasons and you’re willing to talk to everybody you can get a lot accomplished.”
Collin Reischman is the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. To contact Collin, email email@example.com or via Twitter at @CMReischman