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Politically Speaking: Rep. Kelly Talks About Tax Cuts, Crime And Bonds

Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

This week, the Politically Speaking podcast team – Chris McDaniel, Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies – host state Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, currently the longest-serving member of the state House.

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Kelly, 67, served 12 years in the Missouri House from 1982-92, before term limits went into effect.  A lawyer, he then served as Boone County associate circuit judge, chairman of the Missouri Labor and Industrial Relations Commission and Boone County clerk.

Kelly, who returned to the Missouri in 2009, is retiring after the 2014 election. That will have given him 18 years in the House.

Kelly, the vice chair of the Democratic caucus, is considered among the House’s budget and legal experts.

Among other things, Kelly said on the podcast:

  • He laments term limits, believing that the eight-year limit in each chamber has prevented legislators from becoming familiar enough with state government: “There are too many things they don’t know.”
  • He believes that the limits have increased the power of lobbyists, bureaucrats and staff – and also the political parties. “In the bad old days…no one in their right mind would allow the political parties to tell them what to do legislatively,” he said.
  • He sides with Gov. Jay Nixon on the tax-cut fight, agreeing that the bill on the governor’s desk would eliminate income taxes on income above $9,000 a year because of a “fatal flaw.”  Kelly adds that he doesn’t believe most legislators were aware of the provision when they passed the bill.
  • He is critical of the governor’s actions, or inactions, on many other issues. Kelly said that Nixon has used his knowledge about the state budget, and legislators’ lack of it, to expand the power of the executive branch.
  • He chides the governor for failing to support a comprehensive bill, which Kelly helped draft, to overhaul the state’s criminal code. Kelly says the effort, which has been underway for years, could die after this session because most of the main sponsors are leaving the General Assembly.

Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter@csmcdaniel

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter@jmannies

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter@jrosenbaum

Follow Chris Kelly on Twitter: @repckelly

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.
Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.