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Politically Speaking: State Rep. Deb Lavender gives Democratic view of session’s final week

File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back state Rep. Deb Lavender to the program.


The Kirkwood Democrat has served in the Missouri House since 2015, representing the 90th District, which takes in portions of Kirkwood and Glendale.

Lavender is a physical therapist who garnered a reputation for persistence, running for the House  in 2008, 2010 and 2012 and losing each time to then-incumbent Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood.

When Stream had to leave the House due to term limits in 2014, Lavender won the 90th District House seat against Republican Gina Jaksetic, but it was a narrow victory — making her a big Republican target in 2016. But she ended winning by a wider margin of victory over Republican Mark Milton.

The state’s rough budget situation consumed most of Lavender’s time during the current legislative session. She’s a member of the House Budget Committee, and successfully pushed through a number of amendments when the budget came up for debate in the House. She said that could be an indication that GOP leaders are comfortable with Democrats contributing to the budgetary process.


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

  • She predicts lawmakers will try to address two issues that have put Missouri in the national spotlight: REAL ID and prescription-drug monitoring. Missouri is the only state without a drug-monitoring database aimed at addressing abuse of painkillers. And it is among only a handful of states that have not approved REAL ID, which requires some changes in the state’s driver’s licenses as part of a federal terrorist-monitoring effort.

  • Lavender expects the House to vigorously debate legislation next week that would make it harder for someone to successfully sue for employment discrimination. Supporters say it would shield businesses from frivolous lawsuits. She said that Sen. Gary Romine’s bill is a bad deal for employees dealing with racism or sexism, as well as it being problematic that Romine’s rent-to-own business has been subject to a racial discrimination lawsuit. (Romine says the bill would not affect that case.) “We just feel that this is very targeted toward those civil rights gains that we’ve made over decades of time,” she said.

  • Lavender said a politically active nonprofit set up to push Gov. Eric Greitens’ agenda is compromising the Republican chief executive’s push for strong ethics laws. “I think it’s appropriate to put all your dealings on the table,” he said. “It should be open that people who is giving you money, how much money they’re giving you, what legislation we are passing or are not passing.”

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Deb Lavender on Twitter: @DebLavender

Music: “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince


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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