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Politically Speaking: Reps. Arthur and Carpenter on how St. Louis, Kansas City fare in legislature

State Reps. Jon Carpenter, D-Kansas City, and Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City
Photos by Tim Bommel of House Communications & Jason Rosenbaum
State Reps. Jon Carpenter, D-Kansas City, and Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome state Reps. Lauren Arthur and Jon Carpenter onto the program.

The two Kansas City Democrats represent portions of Clay County. Arthur was first elected in 2014, while Carpenter won his first race in 2012.

Arthur and Carpenter are part of the House Democratic minority, and said the best way to influence legislation is work behind the scenes with Republican colleagues. But they’ve also played a role in opposing key GOP priorities. For instance, they joined with legislators from the St. Louis area in unsuccessfully opposing a bill barring cities from raising minimum wages within their borders.

After August 28, St. Louis’ minimum wage will go from $10 an hour to $7.70 an hour. Kansas City voters just approved a minimum wage hike this month, but the state law will prevent it from going into effect. 

Arthur and Carpenter also opposed Gov. Eric Greitens’ budget that cut health care services for 8,000 people. They backed a plan to shift unused money from state boards and commission to reverse those reductions. Greitens vetoed that plan, calling it a short-term solution to a longer-term problem. 

Here’s what Arthur and Carpenter had to say on the show:

  • Arthur supports a special session to reverse the in-home care cuts. But she acknowledged it probably won’t happen, since there’s too much Republican opposition. Roughly 150 out of 197 lawmakers would have to agree to call themselves back to Jefferson City. “The cuts mean that more people are going to end up in emergency rooms or institutions and ultimately Missourians are going to be the ones footing that bill,” Arthur said.
  • Both lawmakers said they’ve worked well with St. Louis’ legislative delegation. Carpenter said St. Louis lawmakers were helpful on passing legislation to issue bonds for a performing arts center in Kansas City. Greitens vetoed that legislation.
  • A group called Raise Up Missouri is behind a statewide ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2023. Carpenter says he’s optimistic it will pass, pointing to the success of a 2006 ballot initiative that boosted the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour.
  • Arthur is the treasurer of the Missouri Democratic Party. She said Democrats might be able to gain ground in the 2018 elections now that Republicans control in Washington, D.C., and Jefferson City. “There’s no one to point to anymore,” she said. “And it’s our responsibility to make them own it, but also show what Democrats can offer.”

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Lauren Arthur on Twitter: @RepLaurenArthur

Music: “Hands Away” by Interpol and “Bling (Confessions of a King)” by The Killers

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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