The proper role of government has become a key issue in the three-way race to represent Missouri’s 33rd House District.
Incumbent Republican Donna Pfautsch of Harrisonville, who is nearing the end of her first term, is being challenged by Libertarian Matt Stephens and Democrat Syed Asif.
The district touches Interstate 70 east of Grain Valley and stretches south to near Harrisonville. It includes Harrisonville, Lake Lotawana, Pleasant Hill and part of Oak Grove.
Asif could not be reached for this story.
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Stephens said he is running because “both parties grow government, no matter what they say.”
He said he does not expect to win but decided to run to make a good showing for the Libertarian Party and its philosophy of “live and let live as long as you’re not infringing on someone else’s rights.”
He said two top priorities would be to bar the use of drones, which can be used by law enforcement officers, and to legalize marijuana and industrial hemp.
Pfautsch said she wants to continue in the House to address the concerns of her constituents with legislation such as a bill she introduced to help Harrisonville annex property for manufacturing sites. The bill smoothed the way for an understanding between the city and the county fire protection districts.
Both Pfautsch and Stephens were leery of the federal Affordable Care Act’s impact on the state. Pfautsch said she is willing to look at the case for expanding Medicaid but adds that reform is needed to get costs down.
“There needs to be some way to contain costs,” she said.
This became clearer, she said, when her husband recently had surgery to remove his appendix. “I don’t understand why everything needs to be so expensive,” she said.
But Pfautsch said she would have to see specifics before backing a particular plan.
Stephens objects to the federal law and said the state should do everything it can to block it. However, he added, people should not be cut off from health care in the meantime. In fact, Stephens said, the state Medicaid system might even have to be expanded until a better plan is found for health care coverage of the poor.
On the state income tax cuts, Stephens said the state government needs to make some dramatic spending cuts and should particularly look at how and whether the tax money is being spent in Missouri.
Pfautsch said the Hancock Amendment makes big tax cuts particularly dicey, since it requires voter approval to raise them again. She said that there are many safeguards in the tax-cut law recently passed, but still, “we should be careful because we are dealing with the lives of our citizens.”
On school funding, Pfautsch said more funding is needed, but more attention should be paid to how the top school administrators are managing the districts.
Stephens said he opposes the existence of the federal Department of Education.
“There is always a new set of hoops to jump through to get federal funding,” he said, referring to Common Core Standards on teaching that have been controversial.
Asif did not respond to interview requests.
Address: 1422 Norfolk Drive, Harrisonville
Occupation: Retired educator and gifted/talented facilitator in Harrisonville School District
Education: Bachelor’s and master’s in education, University of Central Missouri; 80 hours of continuing education since then.
Previous public experience: Missouri House, 2012-present; Harrisonville alderwoman and mayor pro tem, 2011-2012; former coordinator, Cass County Living History Festival; former chairwoman, Harrisonville TEAM 21 advising the city on its facilities.
LIBERTARIANMatthew (Matt) Stephens
Address: 1101 N. Independence St., Harrisonville
Occupation: Fork lift driver
Education: Some college
Previous public service: None
Website: Facebook: Matthew Stephens for Missouri House 2014