The Missouri Times is speaking to new lawmakers this session. Get to know more of the “Freshmen to Watch” here.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — For freshman Rep. Bishop Davidson, the decision to run for office came last-minute — but he’s already making waves a few months into his first term in the statehouse.
Davidson’s decision to vie for the HD 130 seat coincided with other developments in his life, including the launch of his tutoring and original-curriculum service and his return home. While his passion has long been education, he hopes to do his part for the state from the House floor.
“I moved back here, started Pelion Learning, and announced my candidacy around the same time,” Davidson said. “I always intended to be a teacher; this was a last-minute decision to run about a month before I announced my candidacy. We had a tight, competitive race and pulled it off.”
Davidson said he enjoyed the sincerity and relationships developed on the campaign trail, something he looked back at fondly amid the day-to-day bustle in the House.
Davidson has already been part of a prominent bill this session; his language was included in the bill seeking to create the Second Amendment Preservation Act, allowing state gun laws to supersede federal regulations. Handled on the floor by Rep. Jered Taylor, the bill passed the House early in the session and recently progressed out of a Senate committee.
Another bill from the Republican freshman would allow school districts to issue their own teaching permits for up to 25 percent of their faculty, allowing standards and qualifications to be determined on the local level. The bill was perfected in the House Thursday.
“This is a piece to the larger puzzle that I’m interested in, which is broad education reform,” Davidson said. “Not just reform outside of our districts and the way that we currently do education, but genuine reform within the district model that we already have in place. That stems from a passion for education in general and my teaching aspirations; my dad is a public school teacher and my mom works in education, so in a lot of ways I see myself as a product of public education.”
Davidson is no stranger to government. He volunteers as a city counselor for Missouri Boys State, an annual hands-on retreat for high schoolers to experience the process and functions of their own small government. He said the experience, both as a participant and a counselor, informed his educational and legislative ambitions.
“All of my policy talk has to be grounded in some sort of principle,” Davidson said. “When I did Boys State I enjoyed a lot of that already, and I got to get a taste of some of the relationship-building that would be necessary in a place like this. It amplified an interest that was already there, and to be able to come back perhaps increased my interest in education.”
Davidson said this was an important time to enter a career in the Capitol, an institution he hopes to see hold its own on the national stage.
“Now more than ever, the statehouse is probably one of the most important institutions in this nation,” he said. “We talk about a balance of power existing between the branches of government, and when we think about the separation of powers we normally think in these terms. There’s also an important balance between the federal government and the state, and I believe now more than ever statehouses have to reclaim some of their authority and restore a balance to a good federalist system.”