JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Bonnie Linhardt has worked as a legislative assistant for Rep. Bart Korman, R-High Hill, for all four terms. In that time, she has been a source for policy advice, sometimes disagreeing with her boss on pieces of a bill.
“Because of my advocacy background, he relies on me a lot,” she said.
Linhardt worked as the Advocacy Director on Policy and Laws for American Heart Association for nine years, part of a 15-year career with the American Heart Association.
Two of Linhardt’s major projects as advocacy director were a law about establishing immunity for “Good Samaritans” that use automatic defibrillators and trying to increase the tax on tobacco.
The defibrillator bill took nearly five years to pass. This was surprising given the nature of the bill protecting people trying to save someone’s life.
“There’s always somebody against something,” she said.
The American Heart Association’s consistent lobbying opponents were tobacco companies. Linhardt clearly remembers a situation where tobacco lobbyists were arguing with then Senate Pro Tem Mike Gibbons about giving Missourians the freedom to smoke cheap cigarettes.
“What about my freedom to not have smoke blown in my face?” was the internal question Linhardt asked.
Korman’s priorities are quite a bit different, with the representative specializing in transportation issues.
“He really sees that the Department of Transportation is losing money, but the maintenance goes on, the roads need fixing,” Linhardt said.
Interstate 70 runs through Korman’s district, which is kind of a problem for Linhardt when there are any proposals for tolls. She fielded quite a few constituent calls railing against a potential tollbooth.
However, Linhardt does not mind fielding constituent calls. She has actually used her background in policy to turn some of those responses and complaints into bills.
When she’s not in Jefferson City, Linhardt spends time at her farm. She and her husband have 30 head of red pole cattle. The red pole breed is somewhat unique to the U.S.; the cows are known more for milk production than for meat. Linhardt said she has relationships with many fellow breeders. The Linhardt’s are traveling to Nebraska in July to meet with other breeders.
Linhardt’s favorite activity is spending time with her five grandchildren: two 8-year-olds, a 7-year-old, a 5-year-old, and 3-year-old.
Linhardt’s favorite president is Abraham Lincoln. Her favorite television show is “NCIS,” her favorite movie is “Gone With the Wind,” and her favorite book is “Decision Points” by George W. Bush.