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Politically Speaking: Sen. Rowden gives a preview on potentially raucous 2018 legislative session

Sen. Caleb Rowden, center, was elected to the Missouri Senate in 2016.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio
Sen. Caleb Rowden, center, was elected to the Missouri Senate in 2016.

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and KBIA’s Bram Sable-Smith welcome back Sen. Caleb Rowden to the show.

The Columbia Republican represents Missouri’s 19th Senatorial District. That includes Boone and Cooper Counties, which include the cities of Columbia and Boonville.

Rowden served for two terms in the Missouri House before getting elected to the Senate last year. He ran against Democrat Stephen Webber, who at the time was a state representative. The Webber-Rowden race became one of the most expense state Senate contests in Missouri history, with Rowden prevailing by a slim margin.

Since joining the Senate, Rowden became a member of the Senate’s economic development, professional registration and government reform committees. One of his big priorities is increasing the amount of time a legislator has to wait before becoming a lobbyist. He also handled House legislation aiming to scale back on the amount meals, entertainment and travel lawmakers can take from lobbyists.

Here’s what Rowden had to say during the show:

  • Rowden expects Gov. Eric Greitens’ interim appointments to take up a lot of the Senate’s time during the month of January. Some lawmakers are up with the GOP governor after he helped orchestrate the firing of Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven and took part in stopping state low-income housing tax credits from being issued.
  • But Rowden doesn’t necessarily agree that there’s “a wall” between the Senate and the governor. “We’ve got to continue to have that dialogue,” Rowden said. “And I think if that dialogue ceases to exist, I do think we have a real problem.”
  • He said lawmakers need to tread carefully before “decoupling” the state’s standard deduction from the federal deduction. Recently-signed tax overhaul legislation doubles the federal standard deduction, which led some Missouri lawmakers to worry if such a move will prompt the state to lose hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of revenue.
  • Rowden added that House and Senate budget staffers believe that the amount of lost revenue from doubling the standard deduction “may not be as big as initially thought because of some other things in the federal tax bill.”
  • Rowden believes lawmakers will move to limit that amount of money someone can donate to a municipal or county candidate. A constitutional amendment that voters approved in 2016 on placed curbs on state-based candidates. He’s less optimistic lawmakers will be able to place any restrictions on political action committees, which the amendment left largely unaffected.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Bram Sable-Smith on Twitter: @besables

Follow Caleb Rowden on Twitter: @calebrowden

Music: “Read My Mind” by The Killers

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