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Politically Speaking: Rep. Vescovo on legislative response to Stockley verdict, other GOP priorities

Missouri state Rep. Rob Vescovo, R-Jefferson County
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
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Missouri state Rep. Rob Vescovo, R-Jefferson County

On the latest episode of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome Missouri state Rep. Rob Vescovo, R-Jefferson County.

Vescovo is a second-term lawmaker who represents part of northern Jefferson County. He sponsored legislation that Gov. Eric Greitens signed cutting all state funding from local governments that require non-union construction workers to pay union dues when working on a local construction project.

Vescovo’s interview touched on the protests over Jason Stockley, a white ex-St. Louis officer, being acquitted of first-degree murder Friday in the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black. Prosecutors alleged Stockley executed Smith after a car chase and then planted a gun in his car. Stockley maintained that Smith reached for the gun and that he shot Smith in self-defense.

Vescovo discussed whether the frustration and criticism of the verdict will lead lawmakers to act. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner wants to mandate outside law enforcement agencies to investigate police-involved killings. St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones is seeking to clamp down racial profiling and reduce sentences for drug laws.

Here’s what Vescovo said during the show:

  • Vescovo said he’s not sure the protests are going to move Republicans: “I will listen to your cause and understand your cause more if you’re speaking to me than if you’re spitting in my face or tearing my room up.”
  • Republicans didn’t pass many new laws after Michael Brown’s 2014 shooting death in Ferguson. Vescovo attributed that to difficulty in getting bills passed through the legislature. “It’s not as if we’re not taking action on them. Lots of bills die. Republican bills die,” he said. “I had bills die this year. It’s very hard to get bills passed through the both chambers and onto the governor’s desk.”
  • Many Republican and Democratic lawmakers from Jefferson County are aligned with organized labor. But Vescovo said he strongly supports a right-to-work law, which bars mandatory union dues. The law, which is on hold, likely will go before voters next year.
  • He said lawmakers may consider other ways next session to curb unions’ power, including one barring automatic deduction of union dues.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Rob Vescovo on Twitter: @robvescovo

Music: “Lit Me Up” by Brand New

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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