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Rep. Barbara Phifer talks about tumultuous start to Missouri legislative session

State Rep. Barbara Phifer, D-Kirkwood, represents a portion of St. Louis County in the Missouri House.
Tim Bommel
Rep. Barbara Phifer, D-Kirkwood, represents a portion of St. Louis County in the House.

State Rep. Barbara Phifer is the latest guest on the Politically Speaking podcast, where she talked about the raucous start of the 2023 legislative session, which included Republicans cutting off Democrats during a debate on state intervention of the circuit attorney’s office.

Phifer represents Missouri’s 90th District, which includes Kirkwood and Glendale. She was first elected to her post in 2020 and reelected to a second term last year. She serves on the House Transportation Committee and the Ways and Means Committee.

Here’s what else Phifer talked about during the show:

  • She was critical of GOP efforts to ban transgender girls from playing girls sports — and bar minors from getting gender-affirming care. Those bills have been advancing more rapidly through the legislature than in prior sessions.
  • Her assessment of Gov. Mike Parson’s proposal to expand portions of Interstate 70. Parson wants to spend around $870 million to add lanes in the St. Louis, Kansas City and Columbia areas.
  • Efforts that would make constitutional amendments more difficult to pass. The House recently passed a measure that would raise the threshold for passing an amendment from a simple majority to 60%. Missouri voters would need to approve that plan in order for it to go into effect.

Phifer is a Washington, D.C., native who spent nearly 40 years as a pastor in the United Methodist Church. She’s served in churches around Missouri, as well as in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Republicans represented the 90th District for many years until Deb Lavender won the seat in 2014 and was reelected by increasingly large margins. Phifer ended up defeating her GOP opponent in 2020 by more than 13 percentage points — a signal that the Kirkwood area is now firmly aligned with Democrats.

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Sarah Kellogg is a Missouri Statehouse and Politics Reporter for St. Louis Public Radio and other public radio stations across the state.