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Opinion: An exciting time for Missouri

By Crystal Quade and DaRon McGee

January 9, 2019 will usher in Missouri’s 100th General Assembly; with it arises new Democratic leadership. As Missouri’s House Minority leaders, we are excited to meet the will of the people with authentic representation and active engagement in transparent legislative work. We will prioritize the interests of working-class Missourians, continue to emphasize transparency in both our legislative work and campaigns, and lead the work to ensure dignity returns to the Capitol.

Missouri’s Democratic leadership recognizes the importance of representing our constituents first. We believe our role as representatives must center around honesty and clarity, and our representation must stay true to the wishes of our voters. Luckily for us, it’s not difficult to understand the priorities of Missouri’s voters; we need not look further than recent ballot initiatives. In August, Missourians voted to strike down Right to Work legislation with a 65% majority. The November midterms revealed even more about Missouri voter values when 62% of Missourians voted to raise the minimum wage, 65% voted in favor of medical marijuana, and 62% voted to clean up dark money politics and bring forth transparency through Amendment 1.

The Democratic caucus is committed to ensuring that the needs of our constituents prevail. Recent Missouri legislative sessions have often ignored the wishes of the voters, and current events suggest this will continue to be a difficult battle. Despite the fact that Missourians overwhelmingly voted against Right to Work, legislation is already resurfacing. We believe this to be a slap in the face of the people we were elected to represent; defying the will of the people to protect the interests of the few is a disgraceful act of self indulgence that we can never support. Instead, Democratic leadership promises to consistently hear the voices of our constituents – respecting how they vote, reading their letters, listening to their phone calls, and having those crucial one-on-one conversations. Missouri voters have already made their voices heard on Right to Work; Missouri Democrats are listening.

Additionally, in voting so overwhelmingly to clean up politics in Jefferson City, it’s clear that voters object strongly to politicians whose donor lists are riddled with secret large-scale donors, and who focus more on the desires of dark money interests than their voters. It is clear that voters believe Jefferson City needs to be more transparent and  increase integrity in all that we do. Our goals will always reflect those of our constituents. The Democratic Caucus already had a longstanding policy that our work as legislators is subject to sunshine laws, and we will continue to be committed to transparency.

In that way, Missouri’s House Democrats also hear the voices of Missourians on the many other issues that matter to their every day lives. We look forward to working with the Governor and House Republicans on their promised investments in infrastructure and workforce development. We also hope to work on meaningful bipartisan reforms to our criminal justice system that treat all Missourians fairly while keeping our communities safe.  We will continue to fight every day for accessible and affordable quality healthcare for all Missourians, quality education for all of our kids, and for a tax structure that allows us to responsibly invest in Missouri’s future without putting all of the tax burden on working families.

This is an exciting time for Missouri. With a record number of millennials in the legislature’s leadership, this session is unprecedented and will undoubtedly bring insight and perspective from Missouri’s most diverse generation in history. It is crucial to ensure all priorities are reflected in our legislature as we face a bold new transition to a new generation of leadership, both within the capitol and throughout the state.

The results of the recent elections showed us that Missourians agree with Democrats on a number of issues. Citizens stood firmly with workers and their rights by defeating Right to Work, we agreed that workers deserve to be paid fairly, and we demanded our leaders clean up the culture of corruption in state government. We showed compassion and care for others by legalizing medical marijuana. As the new face of the Democrat party, we are excited to continue working on these issues and remain committed to working across the aisle to ensure that our Republican colleagues hear your voices. Missouri voters are engaged, committed, and demanding to be heard; Missouri Democrats are ready to be your megaphone.