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Politically Speaking: Speaker Richardson on public service — and the 2018 legislative session

House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio
House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum is pleased to welcome House Speaker Todd Richardson back on the show for the fifth time.

The Poplar Bluff Republican is in his final year in the Missouri House. He has served as speaker since the middle of 2015.

Richardson made some news near the end of 2017 when he chose not to run against Democratic state Auditor Nicole Galloway. Instead, he stressed that he wanted to focus on making the most of the 2018 legislative session.

Some of Richardson’s recent predecessors as House speaker ended up running unsuccessfully for statewide or legislative office. By deciding against running for anything in 2018, Richardson can do his job without questions of whether his actions benefit his political ambitions.

It’s unknown what Richardson will do next. He could run for an open state Senate seat in 2020. And it’s not out of the question that Gov. Eric Greitens might pick him to become the next attorney general if Republican Josh Hawley defeats U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. For now though, Richardson said he’s focused on running the House — not running for office.

“At the end of the day, as I looked at the things that were most important to me over the next year, it was really finishing this job and doing it the way that I wanted to do it,” Richardson said.

Here’s what else Richardson said on the show:

  • Richardson said it may difficult for the legislature to send a gas tax hike to Missouri voters without making other types of tax cuts. “I think there’s always going to be reservations in this Republican majority about raising taxes of any kind,” he said. “I think there is a strong commitment to try to address transportation.”
  • He said there is an appetite among lawmakers to deal with some of deficiencies of Amendment 2, which placed campaign donation limits on state-based candidates. One thing that lawmakers may do this year is put donation caps on municipal and county candidates.
  • But Richardson said it will likely be a tough sell to require politically-active nonprofits to identify their donors. Richardson proposed such an idea in 2012, but crafting a bill was difficult because 501(c)(4)s are part of the federal tax code. “It’s a very complex issue to deal with,” he said.
  • Asked about Gov. Eric Greitens’ at times fraught relationship with the Missouri General Assembly, Richardson said “I’m not sure that this situation is particularly unique.”
  • “I think if you go back and look at the relationship that governors have had with the legislature and you look at it in other states, the legislature and the governor oftentimes have disagreements,” he said.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Todd Richardson: @rep_trichardson

Music: “Mt. Washington” by Local Natives

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