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Best of the Legislature 2018: Sen. Bob Onder


One lesson the Bob Onder learned in his private life is the need for lawmakers to listen to the people, to trust the people, and to believe in freedom. The St. Charles County Senator also said he has learned not to rely on the government as an answer for everything. 

A physician and small business owner for more than two decades, Onder served one term in the House starting in 2007 and was elected to the Missouri Senate in 2014 and re-elected in 2018. 

“I think that thing that brought me to public service more than anything is a desire to give back…to try and make Missouri a better place and to give Missourians and all Missouri children the same opportunities that my family has been blessed with,” said Onder. 

As part of the aim, the father of six pushed the Missouri 21st Century Course Access Act across the finish line during the 2018 General Session. 

The measure allows all students, regardless of zip code, access to online courses to help make them career and college ready, according to Onder. He noted that in Missouri only a small percentage of students, about 10 percent, taken an [Advanced Placement] exam and according to recent ACT results only 22 percent of students are college ready.

Part of the reason so little students take the AP exam, Onder theorized, is that many districts don’t offer the courses the students need to prepare for the exam. In many cases, small school districts don’t have the resources to offer an AP teacher or a chemistry teacher or a coding teacher. 

“So with the 21st Century Course Access Act students will be able to take the courses they need to be able to succeed regardless of their zip code. Every Missouri students deserves an excellent education,” said Onder. 

Another bill he is proud of is the measure to reform public sector unions, the Public Worker Protection Act. He noted the changes make public unions more accountable to their members, to the people, and to the taxpayers. 

Going into the 100th General Session, Onder already knows what bill he plans to focus on to make “Missouri a better place.” 

He is planning on continuing to fight against sex trafficking. The bill aimed at fighting online sex trafficking is a state-level version of a bill passed through the United State Congress previously.

The legislation gives prosecutors the ability to fight websites, like Backpage, who profit from human trafficking. 

“The reason it is very important to pass a Missouri equivalent is that Missouri is one of the top ten hubs in the United States…95 percent of sex trafficking cases are prosecuted at the state level, not the federal level,” said Onder. 

When deciding his priorities, he looks at the needs of the people of this state, what are the problems that confront us. He noted some issues reoccur every year, like education and balancing a budget without increasing taxes. And new issues pop up with advancing technologies.

This piece is featured as part of the Missouri Times’ Best of the Legislature 2018 appearing in the January 2019 Missouri Times Magazine.