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Politically Speaking: Missouri state Rep. Rehder expounds on personal push to curtail drug addiction

Holly Rehder, March 2017
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
Holly Rehder

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome Rep. Holly Rehder for the first time.

The Sikeston Republican is serving her third term in the Missouri House representing the 148th District in southeast Missouri, including parts of Scott and Mississippi counties.

Rehder grew up in poverty, and has been open about her family depending on welfare. She ultimately received a bachelor’s degree from Southeast Missouri State University. She’s worked in the cable industry since she was 19, and owns a company with her husband that installs telecommunication services.

Since getting elected in 2012, Rehder has been a primary sponsor of a prescription drug monitoring program bill. She’s often pointed to her family struggles with drug addiction: Rehder’s cousin died of a drug overdose, her stepfather sold drugs and her daughter battled drug addiction for years.     

“Since I was raised in it, I’m a little bit more of a mouthpiece to be able to explain, ‘Look, this is what it truly looks like,’” Rehder said.

Rehder’s House bill passed out of committee this year. She expects it to see renewed discussion when lawmakers get back from spring break. It's unclear whether the bill will make it through the Senate, as the chamber has its own bill and her legislation. Rehder’s bill would allow physicians and other health professionals to access a patient’s prescription records, while the Senate provides more limited amounts of data to doctors.

Here's what Rehder had to say during the show:

  • Missouri is the only state without a prescription drug monitoring program. While some counties and cities have started one of their own, Rehder said that a statewide repository would be preferable. “[A physician] explained it in committee: He said ‘it is like I am shooting an arrow in the dark,’” she said. “Because I can prescribe something that could counteract and be lethal to the patient if I don’t know all the medications that they’re on.”


  • Rehder was also the House handler of the right-to-work bill, which bars unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues. Gov. Eric Greitens signed it into law about a month after taking office, ending a decades-long policy battle to implement the policy. She contends potential businesses wrote off Missouri because it was not a “right-to-work” state, and adds that lawmakers plan to re-evaluate the state’s prevailing wage laws, which often boosts pay in rural parts of the state for public projects.


  • With House Speaker Todd Richardson leaving office due to term limits in 2018, Rehder said she is mulling whether to run for his post. “Policy has been very important to me,” she said. “I believe in giving 110 percent. I put my head down and I work hard. I think when you have a huge majority in the Senate and a huge majority in the House and you have a Republican governor … you need someone who is very policy-oriented.”

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Holly Rehder on Twitter: @hrehder

Music: “Sparks Against the Sun” by Thursday


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