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Politically Speaking: After very eventful first half, Sen. Sifton previews rest of 2018 session

Sen. Scott Sifton, D-Affton
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
Sen. Scott Sifton, D-Affton

On the latest edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back Sen. Scott Sifton to the program.

The Affton Democrat (who is now tied with state Treasurer Eric Schmitt for most appearances on the show with five) represents parts of south and central St. Louis County in the Missouri Senate.

Sifton is an attorney and former member of the Affton School Board. After an unsuccessful bid for the Missouri House in 2002, Sifton won an open seat in 2010 in a year that wasn’t kind to Missouri Democrats. Two years later, Sifton narrowly defeated incumbent Sen. Jim Lembke in one of the most competitive legislative races in the state. He won re-election in 2016 over Republican Randy Jotte.

Since joining the state Senate in 2013, Sifton has at times been a strong voice against the GOP majority. He’s participated in filibusters against major pieces of legislation. He’s also been able to get some proposals across the finish line, either through standalone bills or amendments.

Sifton, who is term-limited, nearly ran for attorney general in 2016, but chose to run for his successful re-election instead. That decision likely puts him in the mix to run for something in 2020, though he emphasized on the show that he’s focusing on helping Democrats in 2018.

Here’s what Sifton had to say during the show:

  • Sifton believes that uncertainty over Gov. Eric Greitens’ future is prompting the Missouri Senate to hold off controversial legislation. In fact, the most contentious legislative battle this year was over utility legislation — which Sifton contends showcased philosophical, as opposed to partisan, divides.
  • He predicts the Republican-controlled Senate has enough votes this session to require donors to politically-active nonprofits to identify themselves."I think you're going to see a concerted effort to get a dark money disclosure bill on the governor's desk this year,” he said. “And look, if he vetoes it, that's on him. We'll see what happens in September with the override vote."
  • Sifton sponsored legislation increasing criminal penalties for heroin dealers. He said there’s been an uptick in overdoses throughout his district. “I get that there’s demand for it, we need to cut off the supply. It’s illegal for a reason,” he said. “And I’m sorry, heroin dealers are basically murderers. Once somebody becomes a heroin addict, the odds that it will kill them are very strong.”
  • He said “it’s absolutely atrocious that any governor would leave the ethics commission without a quorum for a nanosecond.” Greitens hasn’t submitted nominees to the Missouri Ethics Commission, which can hit campaigns with penalties for campaign finance violations.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Scott Sifton on Twitter: @scottsifton

Music: “Bring Night” by Sia

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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