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Politically Speaking: Rep. Merideth on Greitens’ impact on last week of legislative session

State Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
State Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis

On the latest edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome state Rep. Peter Merideth to the program.

Merideth is a St. Louis Democrat who represents south-central portions of the city in the Missouri House. He was elected to his seat in 2016 and is running for re-election later this year.

The Missouri General Assembly is going into the final week of its regular session this week. It comes as lawmakers are mulling over whether to impeach Gov. Eric Greitens, who is set to go on trial this week on felony invasion of privacy charges. He's accused of taking a semi-nude photo of a woman he was having an affair with without her consent.

Enough lawmakers ended up signing a petition to start a special session on Friday evening. But Merideth and other Democrats believe impeachment proceedings should have started after a House report came out on April 12. That document featured a woman accusing Greitens of sexual and physical abuse, accusations that the governor denies.

(Merideth's appearence on Politically Speaking was recorded just hours before St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner dropped Greitens' felony invasion of privacy case.)

Merideth is particularly worried that Republicans who control the legislature are passing controversial legislation in the run up to the special session. That includes moving a referendum on “right to work” from November to August — and placing a constitutional amendment on the ballot to prevent that policy from being repealed. Right to work bars unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues as a condition of employment.

  • One of the reasons Merideth wanted to start impeachment proceedings soon was because he said there was enough evidence after the first House report for legislators to consider. “We had enough in the first report that our attorney general, who is notably the top of the Republican ticket and highest law enforcement official in the state, felt it was worth impeachment,” said Merideth, referring to Attorney General Josh Hawley.
  • Merideth noted, as other lawmakers have, that impeaching a governor requires a different standard than a criminal conviction. He added, though, that “I do think that some folks are underestimating how strong his messaging may become if he is acquitted on this first charge.
  • He said he is strongly opposed to a constitutional amendment that would no longer take non-citizens into account when determining Missouri’s population under the U.S. Census. Merideth pointed to another part of that measure that would effectively nullify an overhaul to the state’s redistricting process, known as Clean Missouri.
  • Merideth is playing a major political role in trying to increase the Democratic caucus’ numbers. But he said he’s not sure how Greitens’ woes will affect those efforts. “A lot of this is unpredictable and volatile,” he said. “And I think the public sentiment on the subject may shift quite a bit. But my plan is to continue to focus on the things we’re fighting for. It’s not these personality politics about who is at the top of our state and who is at the top of our country.”

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Peter Merideth on Twitter:@PeterForMo

Music: “Burn” by Nine Inch Nails

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.