JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — After the passing of former Rep. Cloria Brown, freshman Jim Murphy stepped up to represent the 94th district, looking to Brown for inspiration on many issues, including advancing workforce development.

Taking note of Murphy’s role in the community, it was Brown who made sure he would be the one to run in her place after she became ill, Murphy told The Missouri Times.

“I’ve been involved in the community for a long time. Politics is a part of that,” Brown said. “So I was familiar with the building, I was familiar with what we did, and frankly, I thought I was the best-qualified person, so I stepped up. It’s a difficult district, and I thought that it would take somebody that would be dedicated to the cause.”

“Cloria was an inspiration because she worked so hard for the district,” Murphy continued. “It’s going to take a quality person to live up to that standard, and then we needed that type of representation. I didn’t see anyone else that could do that, and I thought that I could do the job.”

According to Murphy, his background in business — particularly as the owner of Shopper’s Rule Inc. and his role as the vice president of sales and marketing at a former job — has helped him transition into handling state government and the decision making that comes with it.

“It’s not all that different than the business world,” Murphy said. “In the business world, everyday problems are coming at you, and you have to make decisions, and you have to be able to analyze the rights and the wrongs of those decisions. And that’s what we do here — we look at problems and try to find ways to solve them.”

When it comes to workforce development, Murphy looks to technology and believes the state should act as a regulator to keep everything together.

“So far we’ve been focusing on workforce development, which I think is important to the state,” Murphy explained. “I think that technology is driving the workforce at such a rapid pace that everything else is having a hard time keeping up. There’s a real disconnect between all of the facets involved, whether it be the employer, the education, or the workforce itself.”

“We need to be getting everybody together, and as we get into this deeper over the coming years, I think our role as communicators is going to be more important,” he continued. “That’s really where I’m focusing on.”

Thus far, two of Murphy’s bills have made it to House committees: HB 541 and HB 937. If passed, HB 937 would exempt legislative liaisons appointed to communicate between state agencies, departments, and members of the General Assembly from the state’s “legislative lobbyist” definition. The other bill would provide law enforcement the ability to forward certain cases to the state’s attorney general’s office.

As of Monday, HB 937 has passed out of committee; HB 541 remains in the House Judiciary Committee.

“One thing that happened with the Clean Missouri Act is the restriction from employees within the Capitol becoming lobbyists,” said Murphy. “The problem with this is that our legislative liaisons have been designated as lobbyists, and they have to register as lobbyists. We can’t hire anybody from the House or the Senate. We can’t hire anybody that has the experience that can fill that job properly. So one of the bills that’s moving along now is one that will declassify them as lobbyists. They don’t really advocate for things; they just give us information.”

As for HB 541, Murphy said it would provide a “check-and-balance that’s missing in our system.”

“Everything else in our government has a check while that doesn’t. So that’s a bill that I’m passionate about and would like to see go through,” Murphy said.