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Politically Speaking: Republican Bill Eigel seeks big policy changes in Missouri Senate

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Dale Singer welcome Republican Bill Eigel to the program for the first time.

Eigel is a St. Charles County-based businessman who emerged victorious in a highly competitive GOP primary for the 23rd District Senate seat.He faces Democrat Richard Orr this fall, but the 23rd District seat is considered to be a decidedly Republican seat.

Eigel is an Air Force veteran and the owner of St. Louis Skylights. He was stationed in Turkmenistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, which gave him some insight about state politics.

Eigel said he was not very engaged in politics until two things happened: He experienced a spike in his health care premium after the Affordable Care Act went into effect. He also heard a GOP state representative on the radio supporting a sales tax increase for transportation projects. Both events prompted him to get more politically involved.

In a three-candidate contest, Eigel narrowly edged state Rep. Anne Zerr, R-St. Charles, and Wentzville Municipal Court Judge Mike Carter. Should he defeat Orr later this year, Eigel will succeed former Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, who resigned from office last year.

Here’s some of what Eigel had to say during the show:

  • One of the biggest differences between Eigel and Zerr was their take on right to work, which would bar unionized entities from requiring workers to pay dues or fees as a condition of employment.Eigel is a supporter of the policy, while Zerr (and Dempsey) voted against it when they were in the legislature. “We need right to work. I believe that having economic freedom will attract business from around the country,” Eigel said.
  • But he agreed with Dempsey that “right to work” is not the “be all, end all” policy for the state. Eigel says lawmakers need to pursue big changes to the state’s tax code and ethics laws.
  • Eigel says he’s amenable to gradually replacing Missouri’s income tax with a sales tax. He adds that he would make up for the lost revenue by cutting out “waste” throughout state government. “From a realistic perspective, I think that we can get rid of the income tax in Missouri,” Eigel said. “But it can’t come all at once. We can’t do it in a manner that disrupts the state budget that maybe we saw in other states.”
  • Eigel says he supports barring lobbyists from giving gifts to lawmakers and wants to extend a “cooling off period” before a former legislator can working as a lobbyist. But he’s opposed to campaign donation limits, contending that they won’t be effective at keeping money out of politics.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Dale Singer on Twitter: @dalesinger

Follow Bill Eigel on Twitter: @BillEigel

Music: “The National Anthem” by Radiohead

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Dale Singer began his career in professional journalism in 1969 by talking his way into a summer vacation replacement job at the now-defunct United Press International bureau in St. Louis; he later joined UPI full-time in 1972. Eight years later, he moved to the Post-Dispatch, where for the next 28-plus years he was a business reporter and editor, a Metro reporter specializing in education, assistant editor of the Editorial Page for 10 years and finally news editor of the newspaper's website. In September of 2008, he joined the staff of the Beacon, where he reported primarily on education. In addition to practicing journalism, Dale has been an adjunct professor at University College at Washington U. He and his wife live in west St. Louis County with their spoiled Bichon, Teddy. They have two adult daughters, who have followed them into the word business as a communications manager and a website editor, and three grandchildren. Dale reported for St. Louis Public Radio from 2013 to 2016.