The Missouri Times is speaking to new lawmakers this session. Get to know more of the “Freshmen to Watch” here.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Though he has worn many hats over the course of his career, freshman Rep. Dean Van Schoiack has to leave them in the office when he goes to the House floor.
Van Schoiack, a farmer, auctioneer, real estate broker, and public speaking teacher, said he was excited to get the chance to make his voice heard in the Missouri Legislature and provide assistance to the people of his district.
“There are a lot of great people here for the right reasons, to do the right things for the people of our state,” Van Schoiack told The Missouri Times. “It’s interesting work, and beyond the floor, it makes you feel good when you can help a constituent which a lot of people going into this job don’t realize going into it.”
This isn’t the first time he’s worked in the statehouse: Van Schoiack interned in the House while attending college 40 years ago — and even then he was looking forward to the chance to join the legislature.
“While I was attending the University of Missouri, I got ahold of my representative at the time, Jim Russell, and asked if I could intern for him,” he said. “I told him someday I might want to be where he was, and I got to see how the House works and what the job entails from that experience.”
Van Schoiack said he stepped back from politics to work on the family farm after school but was drawn back to the Capitol when the HD 9 seat came up for grabs last year. He decided to run when his wife, who he said isn’t a very political person, asked him what he would say if asked to run. After discussing the opportunity with his family and friends, he officially made his bid for the seat and earned more than 70 percent of his district’s vote.
Van Schoiack said he overcame a stutter in his youth by learning to slow down and plan what he was going to say ahead of time, a lesson he carried with him through his career and into his time in the statehouse. He avoided pre-filing bills this session, waiting for an opportunity to sponsor a unique topic rather than join on a subject multiple legislators were already tackling.
The Savannah Republican has two bills on deck this session: One would prohibit state agencies from placing cameras on private property without consent or a warrant while the other would remove the requirement for a certificate of need for hospitals or other health care facilities hoping to construct new projects, a bill he said would bolster Missouri’s health care system.
“Basically I picked up bills that nobody else was working on this session,” Van Schoiack said. “We’re 41st in the country for health care outcomes. This isn’t working. We need to open the market up and let our businesses and the market do what they do. My thought is to get the state out of the business of picking winners and losers and streamline the process.”
Of all the aspects that go into life as a legislator, Van Schoiack said the highlight was getting to help his district in any way he can.
“Trying to pass bills is just one part of the job, and it’s all about helping your constituents,” he said. “That’s what I most enjoy.”