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Hough, Quade recap Missouri’s 2024 lawmaking session for Springfield childrens commission

Missouri state Rep. Crystal Quade (D-Springfield) and state Sen. Lincoln Hough (R-Springfield) smiled at members of the Springfield Mayor's Commission for Children at a meeting held at the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce on June 11, 2024.
Gregory Holman/KSMU
Missouri state Rep. Crystal Quade (D-Springfield) and state Sen. Lincoln Hough (R-Springfield) smiled at members of the Springfield Mayor's Commission for Children at a meeting held at the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce on June 11, 2024.

Meeting members of the Springfield Mayor’s Commission for Children on Tuesday morning, Democratic State Rep. Crystal Quade and Republican State Sen. Lincoln Hough recapped the latest lawmaking session in Jefferson City. Amid the conversation, they covered what legislators accomplished this year — and what they didn’t.

It was a meeting of minds — and of relative moderates — at the Mayor’s Commission for Children this week. Lincoln Hough and Crystal Quade both serve as lawmakers in Missouri’s fractious state capital. Eighteen childrens commissioners turned out for their talk on Tuesday, along with one reporter and one campaign staffer.

Both Hough and Quade have a track record of reaching across the partisan aisle in hopes of getting things done for Missouri’s people. And each has a reputation for serving up a bit of witty dialogue alongside political pronouncements.

Hough began the meeting by saying, "Crystal, I’ll let you kick it off, and then — "

Quade interrupted: “As always, I’m more prepared than he is," a one-liner that got commissioners laughing.

Hough replied, “I’ll try to collect my thoughts here, after, yes, a very interesting session."

“Yeah, I mean it was more traumatic for the Senate, obviously," Quade answered. "I think all of you in this room paid attention to what was going on, and it was really a whole lot of nothing. You may know this was the least amount of bills passed in Missouri’s entire history, and that counts the year that we took half of it off for COVID.”

Quade is House minority floor leader, representing parts of central Springfield. She’s running for governor in the Democratic primary after serving at the statehouse since 2016. We fact-checked her comment on the legislature’s productivity. St. Louis Public Radio reported that Missouri legislators passed 48 bills this year. The Missouri Independent reported that's fewer bills passed by lawmakers than any other year “in living memory.”

Hough said, "I’ll be honest, I think I still have, like, PTSD from session.”

He represents Springfield in the state Senate and has done so since 2018. The former Greene County commissioner is now running for lieutenant governor in the Republican primary.

Hough said these days, the state capital is divvied up three ways, politically speaking: “I feel like we have three parties, in Jefferson City right now. I mean, we have we have Republicans, we have Democrats, and then we have I mean, I'll call them rock-chuckers. Right. I mean, like, they're just hell-bent on causing dysfunction and messing things up.”

But the lawmakers counted some accomplishments this year, from their points of view. They cited a bill signed by Gov. Mike Parson to increase baseline teacher pay. Lawmakers approved a federal reimbursement allowance that funds $4.5 billion worth of Missouri’s Medicaid program for the poor. They also touted a bill to help prevent deaths by suicide in military veterans and another bill that would impose tougher penalties on people who shoot off celebratory gunfire.

Some bills didn’t happen. One “favorite” in this category, cited by Quade, was a record-breaking filibuster by Democrats. The parliamentary move blocked an attempt by some Republicans to reform Missouri’s ballot initiative process. The reform would have made it much harder to pass voter-approved initiatives like medical marijuana or Medicaid expansion.

Quade said, “You know, citizens use that, for so many things when the legislature is not doing what they want, when it's not functioning.”

Hough and Quade saluted the collaborative community spirit of Springfield and the Ozarks and expressed wishes for more civility around the state and among elected officials.

Quade said, “When we were debating childcare, tax credit conversation, we had some male colleagues talk to us about how it would be better if women were not working, and women were at home raising their children, because that's where they belong. Saying that to elected leaders in our state. And that was quite a very, I mean, it was a very frustrating day.”

Both lawmakers reminded the Springfield childrens commissioners about the importance of participating in democracy.

Hough said, “This is my PSA that elections have consequences. Right. And I mean, you all know that. I mean, every time I feel like I come to the chamber, and I talk with any number of people or any, any group, any association — and we're all over the state all the time now talking to folks — the people that we're talking to are more engaged, like you all.

"You all do your homework, you know what's going on, you know, who the — who the people are that are actually working for their communities. And then I think you know who the obstructionists are, right?"

Gregory Holman is a KSMU reporter and editor focusing on public affairs.