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After decades of contemplation and debate, a group known as Better Together is recommending an end to the “Great Divorce” between St. Louis and St. Louis County.Better Together is proposing an ambitious plan to create a unified metro government and police department and limit municipalities' ability to levy sales taxes. The plan would be decided through a statewide vote.Proponents contend it will scrape away layers of local government that has been holding the St. Louis region back. Opponents believe the plan will create an unwieldy and large centralized government that could be implemented against the will of city and county residents.

Politically Speaking: Rep. Windham On Trying To Make His Mark As A Freshman In The Missouri House

State Rep. Kevin Windham, D-Hillsdale
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
State Rep. Kevin Windham, D-Hillsdale

State Rep. Kevin Windham is the latest guest on the Politically Speaking podcast, where the Hillsdale Democrat talked about his first few months as a member of the Missouri House.

Windham represents the 85th District, which takes in roughly 20 municipalities in central and north St. Louis County. When he won his seat in 2018 at age 25, he became the youngest African-American man ever to get elected to the General Assembly’s lower chamber.

Windham is a graduate of Southeast Missouri State University. After college, he worked as a legislative aide to U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.

During the 2018 election, Windham beat three other candidates in the Democratic primary — which is tantamount to election in a district that leans heavily toward that party. He serves on committees dealing with transportation, local government and elections and elected officials.

So far this session, Windham has sponsored legislation making some changes to the A+ program — which provides state scholarship money to college students. It would require money from that program to be applied before any other funding source goes toward paying for a college or a university.

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

  • Windham is a  supporter of state Rep. Bruce Franks’ legislation that would allow someone who has committed a felony, but is on probation, to vote.Franks’ bill was heard in the House Committee on Elections in late February.
  • He is optimistic that some Republican lawmakers would be amenable to Franks’ bill, especially since both House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, and Gov. Mike Parson have talked about overhauling Missouri’s criminal justice system.
  • Windham voted against state Rep. Nick Schroer’s bill that would substantially restrict abortion throughout the state. Among other things, the O’Fallon Republican’s legislation would ban abortion if a doctor can detect a heartbeat or brain activity after around eight weeks of a pregnancy.
  • He’s not a fan of a Better Together’s plan to merge St. Louis and St. Louis County. Some detractors believe it will make it harder for African-Americans to win regionwide offices since the combined population of the city and county will be majority white.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Kevin Windham on Twitter: @KWindham85

Music: “I’ll Be Around” by The Spinners

Send questions and comments about this story tofeedback@stlpublicradio.org.

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