Nearly 2,000 bills were proposed by lawmakers in the 2019 legislative session and less than 100 of those were passed by both the House and Senate.

Some of the biggest issues tackled by Missouri lawmakers included sweeping abortion reform, bonding issues for transportation and infrastructure repairs and workforce development.

The five local lawmakers representing Franklin County, all Republican, voted along party lines on the issues which grabbed the largest headlines.

State Rep. Aaron Griesheimer, who represents the 61st House District, which encompasses portions of the city of Washington, Franklin, Osage and Gasconade counties, recently wrapped up his first session.

In March, Griesheimer sent out a survey to see how well his votes matched the opinions and beliefs of the roughly 10,599 constituents who received the survey.

“I wanted to know where my district stands,” he said. “I want to make sure I’m voting along the same lines as the way they elected me to.”

Questions

Although the survey contained 15 questions, four of the more controversial issues received some of the widest and overwhelming margins.

Representing a generally conservative district, Griesheimer said most of the responses were about how he thought they would be and his votes this year mirrored that.

However, there were others that were a bit of a surprise.

For example, residents were asked if Missouri should establish a statewide prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) to allow pharmacists and law enforcement officials to identify abusive prescription practices.

Despite several legislative failures to pass a PDMP in recent years and opponents saying the list would violate personal privacy rights, 61st District voters were overwhelmingly in favor of PDMP.

Griesheimer said he supported the PDMP efforts in the House this year but the bill was filibustered in the Senate where it died.

Just over 80 percent of the total 740 responses to the survey, agreed a PDMP should be established. Sixteen percent were against and just over 3 percent replied they had no opinion on the matter. 

Abortion

During this session, the Legislature passed and Gov. Mike Parson signed one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the nation, and Griesheimer voted in favor of the bill.

The survey, conducted before the bill was passed, asked constituents if Missouri should adopt more restrictive or less restrictive regulations regarding abortion.

Of the 736 responses, 64.5 percent agreed abortion regulations should be more restrictive; 17 percent wanted less restrictive regulations; and just under 15 percent felt the current regulations in the state were fine as is.

Marijuana

In 2018, the Legislature passed bills legalizing the medical use of marijuana and the growing of industrial hemp in limited quantities.

Although the topic did not come up for votes this sessions, Griesheimer said he is opposed to legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

The survey asked residents if the state of Missouri should legalize the adult recreational use of marijuana.

The question included the caveats of age to possess the substance, quantity allowed and regulation of stores and growers.

Of the 742 total responses, 63.3 percent were opposed to legalizing the drug, and 33.5 percent would like to see recreational marijuana legalized.

Only 3 percent of responses had no opinion on the marijuana issue.

Charter Schools

Another issue that surprised Griesheimer was how closely the support for and opposition of charter schools came back.

In this session Griesheimer explained the original charter school bill allowed for the expansion of charter schools in St. Louis County and St. Charles County.  

“An issue arose because Augusta would have been included with St. Charles County,” Griesheimer said. “I had orchestrated an agreement to exempt the Washington School District but it never came to the House floor for a vote.”

The survey explained the charter schools are publicly funded, but are not managed by the local school board and are exempt from some state regulation. The charter schools are expected to achieve promised objectives.

Although the overall response was 44.08 percent opposition, or somewhat opposed to the charter schools, those in full or partial support came in at 43.9 percent, essentially creating a tie.

In this case, the additional 11.95 percent of those asked had no opinion on the charter schools, but if only a few of those answered in either support, or opposed, the numbers could swing drastically in either direction.