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Politically Speaking: Schaaf and Lembke preview the General Assembly's final week

Sens. Rob Schaaf

On this episode of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies break a bit of ground by welcoming two guests for one show – state Sen. Rob Schaaf and former Sen. Jim Lembke. 

Schaaf is a Republican from St. Joseph, Mo. He's a physician who has played a key role in health care policy over the past few years.

Schaaf was instrumental in revamping the state’s Medicaid program in 2007, and was an integral figure in the fight over a proposed private insurance program for the working poor known as Insure Missouri.

He’s emerged as a prominent opponent of expanding the state’s Medicaid program – and a proponent of reducing the power of a state board that licenses hospitals.

Lembke signed on as Schaaf’s chief of staff after the 2014 election cycle. The south St. Louis County Republican previously served one term in the Missouri Senate and four terms in the Missouri House.

During his tenure in the House, Lembke was one of the state’s leading opponents of embryonic stem cell research. When he got to the Senate, Lembke was at the center of a number of heated issues – including fights over tax credits, judge selection and unemployment benefit. Renowned for his tenacious campaign skills, Lembke narrowly lost to state Sen. Scott Sifton in 2012.

During the past legislative session, Schaaf joined a bipartisan group of elected officials who objected to funding a new professional football stadium in St. Louis without some sort of vote. He also put forth a multi-faceted ethics bill – including provisions that would re-establish campaign donation limits. 

Here’s what Schaaf and Lembke said during the show:

  • Schaaf says it’s possible for the Senate to take up “right to work” legislation in the last week of the legislative session. He added the only way to get that bill to Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk is through a procedural motion to quash a filibuster. Lembke added he’s not sure there’s enough support for the maneuver – known as a “previous question” – to go through.
  • Schaaf doubts that his multi-faceted ethics proposal will pass before the end of the session
  • Lembke said there are fewer senators are willing to “stand up against things that take away liberty.” He pointed to the support of some Republican lawmakers for a fuel tax increase that may end up making it to Nixon.
  • Schaaf says he’s not necessarily opposed to a new football stadium aimed at keeping the St. Louis Rams. But he is adamantly against “putting the state in debt for another $300 million without a vote of the legislature or of the people.” “That’s not acceptable,” he said. “It should never happen.”

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Rob Schaaf on Twitter: @robschaaf

Follow Jim Lembke on Twitter: @jimlembke

Music: “Bizarre Love Triangle” by New Order  

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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