The Missouri Times is speaking to new lawmakers this session. Get to know more of the “Freshmen to Watch” here.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Rep. Neil Smith is a native of California but love is what kept him in Missouri.
“I got here 16 years ago, [and] I met my future wife. I was supposed to get on a flight and go back home, [but] I never did,” Smith told The Missouri Times. “I married her three years later, and we’ve been together 16 years.”
Smith, a Democrat, represents HD 67 which encompasses part of St. Louis County; he has lived in his district for five years.
Smith has always had an interest in politics but said it was his best friend, Rep. Jay Mosley, who convinced him to run for the House seat.
“Rep. Smith happens to be one of my closest friends,” Mosley, a Democrat who represents HD 68, said. “I knew he would be a good fit for his district. He has been passionate and instrumental in helping to get the vaccine to his constituents. He has also filed legislation that will benefit Missouri as a whole and is working hard to pass.”
Prior to serving in the statehouse, Smith spent 22 years in the automotive industry, and the only two bills he has filed thus far reflect that background. HB 809 mandates vehicle dealers apply through the Department of Revenue in order to collect sales tax on vehicles sold. HB 810 increases the administrative cap fees for motor vehicle dealers to $400 from $200.
A member of the super minority, Smith said he’s teamed up with Republican Rep. David Gregory on HB 1023, which is similar to his HB 810. He has co-sponsored Gregory’s bill.
“Even though I filed the bill, I knew if I wanted for the bill to go further than I could possibly get it — being a freshman and a Democrat — I had [to have] a seasoned legislator file the bill,” Smith said.
Smith said his work in the automobile business taught him how to be a negotiator and provided him with a strong ability to see both sides of an issue. Smith wants his constituents to know he has a cool, calm, and collected head on his shoulders, and he always has their best interest at heart.
“I’m not going to always vote the right way when it comes to my constituents and how their thought process is, but they can always rest assured that there is a thought process behind my vote.”
Smith said he is still trying to get his feet wet in the legislature but has really enjoyed getting involved, especially in committee. Smith serves on the Professional Registration and Licensing Committee and the Transportation Committee as well as the Special Committee on Small Business.
Elise Eaker studies journalism at Lincoln University. Prior to Lincoln, Elise graduated from Fulton High School. She is a native of Fulton.