Politically Speaking: Rep. Alferman says overhaul of ethics in Missouri legislature is worth a fight

Mar 24, 2016

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome state Rep. Justin Alferman to the show for the first time.

The Hermann Republican is serving his first term in the Missouri House. His heavily-GOP seat includes parts of Franklin, Gasconade and Osage counties, and it takes in most of Washington, Mo.

Alferman is a native of Washington, Mo., the largest city in Franklin County. Before he went into politics, he worked in radio – and even interviewed Rosenbaum at Columbia, Mo., when the bespectacled reporter worked for the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Besides his pursuits in radio, Alferman worked on then-state Rep. Ed Robb's contentious and expensive re-election campaign against then-former state Rep. Chris Kelly. He also worked for state Rep. Brian Yates, R-Jackson County, and House Majority Leader Mike Cierport, R-Lee's Summit. He was also employed by the Missouri Republican Party, where he was involved with the redistricting process after the 2011 election cycle.

When then-Rep. Dave Schatz embarked on his successful bid for the Missouri Senate, Alferman ran for and won his House seat. Since that time, Alferman has handled several high-profile bills – including a lobbyist gift ban and photo identification requirement for voting. 

Here's what Alferman had to say during the show:

  • He disagrees with assertions (primarily from Democrats) that the redistricting process resulted in "gerrymandered" state House maps. "I usually ask people if they have a background knowledge of actually drawing maps," he said. "And nine times out of 10 when they say there's a partisan slant, they don't really understand what the process is."
  • Alferman says the lobbyist gift ban that passed out of the House "goes beyond even the most restrictive gift bans in the nation. ... And I believe that's where we wanted to be in the House position," he said. 
  • He sharply disagrees with the idea -- floated by a number of state senators -- that the ethics push won't do very much to change the culture of Jefferson City. "None of the ethics bills we have will prevent a legislator from acting inappropriately -- and that is exactly what happened with [House Speaker John Diehl] and [Sen. Paul LeVota]. Their actions were reprehensible," he said. "But to hide under that veil of saying, 'Well these don't address the atrocities we've had in the past two years, so we shouldn't do them at all' is absurd."
  • Alferman said a lot of House members are frustrated with how the Senate is operating this year -- especially since filibusters have slowed the progress of legislation. "It probably has to do with just the nature of the building. Things are supposed to be slower than they are in the House. But we've already sent over a good 100 bills that were on the floor of the Senate that could have been passed last year."

Follow Jason Rosenbaum: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies: @jmannies

Follow Justin Alferman: @justinalf

Music: "Prayers/Triangles" by Deftones