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Politically Speaking: Rep. Unsicker reflects on eventful first year in Missouri House

State Rep. Sarah Unsicker

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome state Rep. Sarah Unsicker to the program for the first time.

The Shrewsbury Democrat was first won election in 2016 to represent the 91st House District, which takes in portions of St. Louis and St. Louis County, including most of Webster Groves, Shrewsbury and Crestwood.

Unsicker is an attorney who chose to run for the seat after state Rep. Jeanne Kirkton left the House due to term limits. She squared off against Republican Greg Mueller, a member of the Webster Groves City Council.

While Mueller was well-supported financially, Unsicker ended up winning by a fairly comfortable margin. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton ended up winning most of the 91st District, making it one of the few places in the state where Donald Trump’s presence on the ballot likely hurt down-ballot GOP contenders.

Since joining the Missouri General Assembly, Unsicker has served on the House’s fiscal review and rules committees. Those two panels play a big rule in determining the cost of legislation — and figuring out which bills end up making it to the floor for debate.

Here’s what Unsicker had to say during the program:

  • Unsicker doesn’t support reducing a property tax break for elderly renters, known as the circuit breaker, to restore cuts to in-home health care services. That’s a proposal that a number of House Republican embrace.
  • Instead, Unsicker says lawmakers should consider paring down an incentive for businesses to turn in their taxes on time. She says it costs the state around $117 million a year — more than enough to restore the in-home care cuts.  “Consumers don’t realize that not all of those sale taxes they pay are going to the government,” she said. “Two percent is going back to those businesses that pay in a timely manner.”
  • Unsicker said she’s worried that more housing discrimination will occur now that the state lost funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Earlier this year, HUD canceled a contract to hear housing discrimination cases after Gov. Eric Greitens signed a law making it more difficult to successfully sue for discrimination.
  • She said Democrats will introduce legislation next year to increase Missouri’s minimum wage. Democratic activists and organized labor groups are getting behind a ballot initiative to gradually boost the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Sarah Unsicker: @SarahUnsicker

Music: “You’re Dreaming” by Wolf Parade

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