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Freshmen to Watch: Josh Hurlbert


The Missouri Times is speaking to new lawmakers this session. Get to know more of the “Freshmen to Watch” here.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Rep. Josh Hurlbert, from HD 12, is bringing his experience from working closely with U.S. Congressman Sam Graves to the Missouri Capitol. 

Hurlbert was born in Smithville, which he represents, and has resided there his whole life. Prior to being elected to the statehouse, Hurlbert spent 11 years as a congressional staffer, and he has also served two years on the Smithville Board of Alderman. 

Hurlbert defeated his Democratic opponent in the election for HD 12 by a 30 percent margin last year. He said he was asked to run for office by his predecessor, Kenneth Wilson, who termed out of the House. 

“Ken and I ran against each other in the 2012 primary. … He beat me by 74 votes,” Hurlbert recalled. “It’s a good lesson in politics to not burn your bridges. … You don’t burn your bridges, and when you work together for the better of the community, you know, he asks you to replace him eight years later.”

Hurlbert said his family has always had a commitment to serving the community, and while he knew politics was something he wanted to be involved with, he didn’t think he would become a candidate. Hurlbert credited his faith with propelling him into the political world. 

“Anytime I try to get a different job or move out of the congressional staff side of it all, I end up getting right back in it,” he told The Missouri Times. “I applied for something, and it wouldn’t work out. God has a reason for me being here and being involved in politics.”

Hurlbert was homeschooled through high school and has sponsored HB 494 which would allow homeschooled students to participate in public school extracurriculars. A similar provision was attached to a massive education reform bill that drove debate in the upper chamber this week. 

“I grew up wearing Bulldog purple [in] different city leagues or rec leagues or anything else with other public schoolers, and when it came time to play in high school, and I was no longer welcome,” Hurlbert said. “It’s not out of the question to allow these homeschoolers to just come on in and join the public high school sports team. It’s not just sports, it’s extracurriculars in general. Homeschoolers are paying taxes into it and should be allowed that access to join with the other kids on the street.” 

Hurlbert said the two main priorities he’d like to work on while in office are economic development and transportation. He said he believes an investment in infrastructure is the purest way for government to drive economic development. 

Hurlbert also noted that the use of electric cars is increasing and called the fuel tax a “bandaid.” He says his long-term goal is to have a conversation about alternatives to the fuel tax. 

“Right now, MoDOT can barely keep up with maintenance, let alone actually take on projects that will help our communities grow, expand, and help attract businesses,” Hurbert said.  

“We’ve got to come up and start having a serious discussion about moving away from the fuel tax and on to something that’s a mileage-based user fee here in the next 10 years,” he continued. “That is my long-term goal, to have that discussion, especially as a member of the transportation committee that’s going to be pretty important.”

Hurlbert serves on the General Laws and Workforce Development committees, as well as the Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight.