On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome state Rep. Travis Fitzwater to the program for the first time.
The Holts Summit Republican represents the 49th House District, which covers parts of Callaway and Cole counties in central Missouri. Before running for office, Fitzwater worked for the Missouri Pharmacy Association, first as the marketing coordinator, and, later, chief operating officer.
Fitzwater first ran for office in 2014, when then-Rep. Jeanie Riddle left to seek a state Senate seat. While the 49th District’s voters lean Republican, Fitzwater had a tough battle against former House majority leader and Democratic Rep. Gracia Backer, whom Fitzwater ultimately defeated.
Since getting elected, Fitzwater was appointed as the vice chairman of the House Workforce Development Committee, which handles bills related to state job training programs. He’s sponsored legislation that would allow nonprofit groups to run “adult high school” programs for people didn’t receive a high school diploma. That bill is awaiting action in the Missouri Senate.
Here’s what Fitzwater had to say during the show:
- He is a strong backer of legislation establishing a statewide regulatory framework for ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft — effectively barring cities from regulating the companies. “The idea is that we don’t want municipalities to shut down these innovative technologies when we have a statewide framework that puts some pretty good regulations on these companies,” he said.
- On its face, Fitzwater said St. Joseph Republican Sen. Rob Schaaf’s decision to stop filibustering a prescription drug monitoring program is “encouraging.” But he said Schaaf’s insistence that the final bill require doctors to use the database could be a “poison pill for the bill.”
- While House members were able to place more money in the state budget for higher education (though it has not gone through the Senate yet), Fitzwater said universities and colleges will still end up taking a financial hit this year. “I think you’d have to cut the K-12 funding that we put in and put into higher ed if you want to make a dent,” he said. “And I think that’s going to be hard to do on a large scale.”
- Fitzwater has high marks for how GOP Gov. Eric Greitens has conducted himself in his first few months in office. “We’re three months in,” he said. “This is a new situation. We have a governor who hasn’t been in a governing role before. So there’s certainly a learning curve.”
Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum
Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies
Follow Travis Fitzwater on Twitter: @travisfitzwater
Music: “Narcolepsy” by Third Eye Blind