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Politically Speaking: Rep. Evans on bridging the party divide in Jefferson City

State Rep. Jean Evans, R-Manchester, is stepping down to become Missouri Republican Party's executive director.
File photo I Tim Bommel I House Communications
Rep. Jean Evans

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jenny Simeone welcome state Rep. Jean Evans to the program.

The Manchester Republican is serving her first term in the Missouri House. She represents the 99th state House District, which takes in Manchester, Valley Park and Twin Oaks.

Evans won a four-way Republican primary last year, which was tantamount to victory in a district that tilts toward the GOP. Before she entered elected office, Evans worked as a realtor and a financial advisor. She also coached volleyball for Westminster Christian Academy.

Since joining the Missouri House earlier this year, Evans sponsored bills to raise the age someone can get married in the state from 15 to 17 years old. Evans is also carrying a bill aimed at expanding the use of hemp oil (known as CBD) to treat serious diseases. Currently, the substance can only be used to treat epilepsy.

A few highlights from the show:

  • Evans said she comes from a Democratic leaning family. But one of the reasons she became a Republican is because “I want change and I feel like we’ve become the party of change.”

  • She said she’s forged solid relationships with House members of both parties, adding that lawmakers can find ways to work together even if they disagree sharply on key issues.

  • One instance of sharp divergence was on legislation that would bar cities from raising their minimum wages. Evans supports that bill, which would effectively nullify an ordinance raising St. Louis’ minimum wage to $11 an hour. “We both want to help the community, that’s why it gets personal,” she said. “Because both sides feel that the other side doesn’t get it, the other side wants to hurt … and that’s why it gets heated and emotional.”

  • Evans said Missouri is gaining a reputation for being a haven for forced child marriages. She also says that there are long-term consequences for minors that marry so young. “What I learned through this process is that women who marry before the age of 18 are much more likely to end up in poverty, addicted to drugs, and in an abusive situation,” she said.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jenny Simeone on Twitter: @jnnsmn

Follow Jean Evans on Twitter: @MORepEvans

Music: “Hole Hearted” by Extreme

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.

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