On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Durrie Bouscaren welcome state Rep. Kirk Mathews to the program for the first time.
The Pacific Republican was first elected to the Missouri House in 2014, winning the open House seat that was once held by House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka. He recently won re-election without any significant opposition.
Before he entered electoral politics, Mathews owned a health-care company that employed physicians in 19 states. According to his House biography, Mathews wrote a book on recruiting physicians who work in hospitals and served on the Public Policy Committee of the Society of Hospital Medicine. After selling that company in 2011, Mathews became a licensed real estate broker.
In some ways, Mathews’ entry into state legislative politics was unexpected. As Jones was prepared to leave the Missouri House due to term limits, another Republican, Dennis Broadbooks, was the only candidate to file for the heavily Republican seat. But Broadbooks unexpectedly withdrew, which prompted Mathews to file in his place. He went onto win election to his seat with little organized opposition.
Mathews has served on the House Budget Committee, which could take on an increasingly important role next year as Missouri’s budget situation faces immense challenges.
Here’s what Mathews had to say during the show:
- Mathews was an early supporter of Gov.-elect Eric Greitens. And he says he’s excited about what the Republican’s administration will be mean for legislative Republicans. “Having a majority in both chambers with a Democratic governor is like having a race car with the parking brake on,” he said.
- One bill that Mathews plans to take up next year is setting up a statewide regulatory framework from companies like Uber and Lyft. Currently, those companies are regulated by Missouri's various municipalities.
- He says major priorities for the legislature next year will include “labor reform,” which includes passing “right to work.” That bars unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues. He also expects lawmakers to overhaul the state’s statutes around civil lawsuits.
- Mathews says Missouri’s Medicaid program will get a fresh look from lawmakers, especially as the General Assembly tries to figure out how to deal with a challenging budgetary situation. “We can’t in my opinion just take the position that you stated that it’s ‘too deeply engrained, we can’t fix it,’” he said. “We’re going to try to do something.”
Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum
Follow Durrie Bouscaren on Twitter: @DurrieB
Follow Kirk Mathews on Twitter: @KirkMathews110
Music: “The Archers Bows have Broken” by Brand New