On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome state Rep. Gina Mitten to help break down Gov. Jay Nixon’s final State of the State address.
A Democrat, Mitten is a lawyer and resides in Richmond Heights. Before she was elected to the General Assembly in 2012, she spent eight years on the Richmond Heights City Council. She received her law degree from Washington University.
After seeking out a vacant House seat in 2009, Mitten ran in 2012 to represent the 83rd District – which didn’t have an incumbent because of redistricting. She outflanked fellow Democrat Jim Trout, and now represents a district that includes parts of St. Louis, Brentwood, Maplewood, Richmond Heights and Webster Groves.
Mitten was one of the first Democrats to call for then-House Speaker John Diehl to step down from his leadership position last spring after the Kansas City Star reported about his sexually charged texts with a college-age intern. She also serves as the ranking Democratic member of the House Government Oversight and Accountability Committee, the place where ethics-related bills were sent this year.
Here’s what Mitten had to say during the show:
- Mitten said it was “disappointing” Gov. Jay Nixon didn’t use more of his State of the State speech to talk about issues emanating from the Ferguson unrest – or the Ferguson Commission report. “I think a lot of the points that came out of the Ferguson Commission are important issues that we need to be looking at,” she said. “I also believe there are ways to find some compromise across the aisle on some of these points, not all of them, but certainly on some of them.”
- But Mitten didn’t think it was constructive for House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, to criticize Nixon’s lack of engagement with the legislature. “When the governor has engaged, it hasn’t always been a positive experience – let’s put it that way,” she said. “There’s a super Republican majority there. So, again, trying to engage and trying to make legislation better or come to compromise is not always successful when there’s that imbalance of power.”
- She said she didn’t think Republicans handled the process well in overhauling the House’s internship program. “In fact, I would say it was handled abysmally,” she said.
- Mitten said a recently passed bill instituting a “cooling off period” for lawmakers to become lobbyists doesn’t go far enough. “If the Republican leadership is going to say we need a lobbyist ban or we need to stop this revolving door, then it needs to apply to everybody,” she said. “It needs to apply to people in office today. I don’t like the idea that we’re going to pass a law that only applies to folks prospectively elected. If this is an issue that’s important enough, then it should apply to everybody.”
Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum
Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies
Follow Gina Mitten on Twitter: @gcmitts
Music: “Ashes to Ashes” by David Bowie