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Politically Speaking: Senate President Pro Tem-elect Schatz lays out his chamber’s agenda

David Schatz
Senate President Pro Tem-elect Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan

Senate President Pro Tem-elect Dave Schatz joins Politically Speaking to talk about issues that may arise during the 2019 legislative session.

Schatz is a Sullivan Republican who represents all of Franklin County and most of western St. Louis County. He won a contested race for president pro tem in November, meaning he’ll appoint committee chairs and direct legislation to certain committees.

Schatz’s family owns a utility contracting business. He successfully sought a vacant House seat in 2010. He then filed to run for the 26th District Senate seat in 2014, which was occupied at the time by Sen. Brian Nieves. Nieves ultimately decided against running for re-election, while prominent GOPers like former House Speaker Tim Jones and former Sen. Jane Cunningham chose not to challenge Schatz in the primary. This effectively handed the election to Schatz, since winning the Republican primary in the 26th District is tantamount to election.

This year, Schatz easily won re-election over Democrat John Kiehne. He will be barred from serving in the Senate again due to term limits after 2022.

Since he entered the legislature, Schatz became a key player on bolstering funding for transportation. He’s been an advocate for requiring people to get a prescription before getting pseudoephedrine, an ingredient in cold medicine that’s often used for meth production.

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

  • Republicans hold a huge majority in the Missouri Senate, but passing major legislation is often difficult if enough GOP members band together to speak out. Schatz said he wants his caucus to know “that we’re all working together.” “We don’t want to exclude people or isolate people,” he said. “And when you do that, you see those people fracture off if they become disenchanted.”
  • Schatz is optimistic that lawmakers can pass a prescription drug monitoring program, especially since Sen. Rob Schaaf is leaving the Senate due to term limits. But he emphasized that there’s still opposition among Republicans to the idea aimed at curbing opioid abuse.
  • Gov. Mike Parson has said he won’t restart the low-income housing tax credit program unless lawmakers pass changes to the incentive. Schatz said it may be a good idea to place all qualified projects in a random lottery to decrease the chance of tax credits going to well-connected developers.
  • Schatz said it’s possible that lawmakers could put something on the 2020 ballot to overhaul recently-enacted changes to state legislative redistricting in Amendment 1. “Again, I can’t predict,” he said. “I don’t even know what specifically and how we will go about looking at some of the things that need to be changed.”
  • Amendment 1 also made clear that legislative emails are open records. Schatz said lawmakers would seriously consider making emails sent to lawmakers from constituents closed records. He also said the General Assembly may close records from nonpartisan staff to lawmakers regarding legislation. But he emphasized that lawmakers aren’t trying to make communications between legislators and, say, lobbyists unavailable.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Dave Schatz: @DaveSchatz26

Music: “Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down” by Interpol

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.