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Politically Speaking: Missouri Chamber Chief Mehan Upbeat On Transportation Tax Prospects

St. Louis Public Radio reporters Chris McDaniel, Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcomed Dan Mehan, president of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to the Politically Speaking podcast.

Now based in Jefferson City, Mehan grew up in St. Louis, graduating from St. Louis University High. He worked on several GOP campaigns and had a job with Washington University when the state chamber came knocking in 1995 to offer him a position -- just weeks before his wedding. Three years later, Mehan was elevated to the chamber's top post as chief executive and president. He has held that now for 16 years.

The state chamber is the largest pro-business group in the state capital. Mehan, a registered lobbyist, oversees a staff that includes four other lobbyists.  Their job is to propose and promote legislation that the chamber believes will help business and block bills deemed anti-business. "It's much easier to kill a bill than to pass a bill,'' Mehan said.

On the podcast, Mehan said:

  • The downside of legislative term limits is the restriction on lawmakers to serving no more than eight years in each chamber. He laments "the power it gives the entrenched bureaucracy of state government'' because legislators often defer to the executive branch's stance because they don't know enough about an issue to object.
  • The chamber is pleased that Gov. Jay Nixon allowed a bill to become law that will change unemployment insurance requirements for former employees and end what the chamber viewed as abuses that hurt businesses.
  • It may take a Republican governor to finally get "right to work'' legislation passed in Missouri.
  • Amendment 7, the proposed transportation sales tax, is in a stronger position heading into the Aug. 5 election because opponents haven't raised enough money to conduct a counter-campaign.  The lack of well-heeled opposition also has helped the chances of Amendment 1, the proposed "right to farm'' change to the state constitution. Mehan says that proposal will curb the power of such groups as the Humane Society.
  • He predicts the legislature will overturn Nixon's veto of a bill to allow farmers to fence in and raise deer for organized shoots.

Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter: @csmcdaniel

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter@jmannies

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter@jrosenbaum

Follow the Missouri Chamber on Twitter: @MissouriChamber

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.
Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.