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Freshmen to Watch: Senator Cindy O’Laughlin


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — For freshman Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin, three issues carried over from her campaign to the state Senate and drive her legislative priorities: education reform, entitlement revisions, and workforce development.

“I believe that they are foundational issues that we are not maximizing and — as in all things — if you have a good foundation, you can build on top of that, but if you have a foundation that is not solid, other things won’t work,” O’Laughlin told The Missouri Times in an interview.

Representing the 18th district, O’Laughlin believes in always having a defined set of goals for the state legislature and using her time in office to determine what legislation would be right for the state, often relying on her background as a business owner and resident of a rural area to direct her views on public policy.

“I can look at the budget, and I can look at legislative ideas, and I can pretty quickly determine what kind of an impact that’s going to have,” said O’Laughlin. “I think it gives me an ability to converse with fellow legislators and say, ‘Hey, you know on the face of this it might sound good, but I think it’s going to be detrimental in the end,’ and afterward we can work through that together.”

“I am dedicated to telling the truth as I see it…”

O’Laughlin is fascinated with the effects of policy on the individual and feels less government interference in business and the personal lives of citizens would greatly benefit Missourians. She said she ran for office to give the average person a voice who otherwise might not be heard in the political realm.

“Coming from a rural area and being a small business owner, I look at some of the policies or legislation that has been passed, and I think I’m not sure that everyone really understands the ramifications,” O’Laughlin said. “I think that we need more entrepreneurs and small businesses; we need less people who have to be connected to government in order to thrive.”

The senator has already sponsored two bills aimed at improving education and tax reform. SB 349 would require schools to have programs to help students with dyslexia, and SB 72 modifies taxes related to wind farms.

“I would like to keep those taxes local,” she said of SB 72. “I think if an area is going to alter their landscape forever to put in big wind turbines then they should be the people who also benefit from that through the tax revenue.”

While the legislative process can be disheartening, O’Laughlin recognizes it is all about finding common ground across the political aisles. Trusting that by being open with ideas and policy it can actually help solve problems at a faster rate.

“It can be very frustrating,” she said. “For one thing, everything’s a compromise — I knew that even before I came — and when you have real solid belief in a solution that you have it’s kind of hard [to let go of it], but you try to find common ground. I am dedicated to telling the truth as I see it, and I think that some people are more willing to revise that for fear that one party or another won’t like what they have to say, but I don’t think we can solve a problem that we can’t articulate.”