South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Koenig, Lavender are running for Missouri’s 15th District Senate seat

State Sen. Andrew Koenig, left, and Rep. Deb Lavender, right.

State Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester, will face Rep. Deb Lavender, D-Kirkwood, for his Senate seat in the upcoming election Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Koenig, 741 Sherwick Terrace, did not provide any personal information on his questionnaire. Koenig was first elected to the Missouri Senate in 2016.

Prior, he served in the Missouri House of Representatives from 2009 to 2016.

Lavender did not return The Call’s candidate questionnaire. Lavender has served as representative of the 90th House District since 2014.

What is your position on abortion?

Koenig: “I believe that life begins at  conception and all innocent life has dig nity and meaning and is worth defend ing. My wife Brooke and I are proud  adoptive parents and in the Senate I have  worked to make foster care and adoption  options more affordable and accessible …  I support increased funding for pregnancy  resource centers and resources for expecting mothers. 

What is your position on the death penalty? 

Koenig: “The death penalty should only  be used on the most heinous of crimes where the offender is undeniably guilty.” 

What is your position on tax-increment  financing? Are changes needed?

Koenig: “TIFs are often used to provide  allure to businesses looking at moving into  an area. The drawing of TIF districts to  appeal to businesses is an example of the government picking winners and losers  and manipulating taxpayer dollars to do so. I have worked diligently in the legislature to sponsor and pass TIF reform for the citizens of Missouri.” 

Would you support placing a consti tutional amendment before voters that  would repeal the supermajority require ment for school-district bond issues? 

Koenig: “Taxes should be hard to pass. I support requiring strict guidelines for  pushing new taxes onto the citizens in our state.”  

Are changes needed to the state’s foun dation formula for funding education? Koenig: “Missouri’s foundation formula  takes into account several factors includ ing student attendance, local property tax  rates, the number of students in the district  who need special education services …  While the formula is complex, it allows for  each district to be looked at individually.  During my time in the Senate, we have  passed a state budget every year that fully  funds the foundation formula.  

Are changes needed to the law allow ing Missouri citizens to carry concealed weapons? 

Koenig: “No, we have laws to protect  citizens and provide reasonable guidelines while also ensuring that the constitutional rights of Missourians are being protected and not infringed upon. 

Are changes needed to the state’s current Open Meetings and Records Law?

Koenig: “The state’s current Open  Meetings and Records Law provides adequate protection for Missouri citizens as long as it is followed and enforced.” 

What do you propose to generate revenue for road and bridge improvements?

Koenig: “Cutting government waste and better utilizing the funds currently available would be key to better funding road and bridges … In the Senate, I have been hyper-focused on cutting down on bureaucratic waste and finding better ways to utilize the revenue we currently have instead of increasing taxes on Missourians.

Are changes needed to the state’s eminent domain laws to prevent abuse?

Koenig: “Yes, eminent domain use  should be rare and not for private and corporate gain.” 

What will you do to improve Missouri’s economy? 

Koenig: “In the State Senate, I will work to reduce burdensome regulations on  Missouri’s business owners. I sponsored  and passed the first state income tax in  over 100 years to allow Missourians to  keep more of their hard-earned money.” 

Would you support legislation to facilitate a merger of St. Louis County and St.  Louis city?  

Koenig: “No.” 

Should there be a statewide mask mandate? 

Koenig: “No. While my family and I  wear our masks anytime we’re out and about, I believe in letting local municipalities dictate mask policies for their area is the correct approach so local elected officials can be held directly accountable to their constituencies. 

Do you support the changes the  Legislature made to the Sunshine Law in  2019, including exempting some legislative records? 

Koenig: “The change to exempt some legislative records occurred to make sure delicate, personal information that constituents communicate with their elected officials is safe and protected. All official records and schedules of lawmakers in Missouri are still subject to the Sunshine  Law.  

Should police departments be defunded?

Koenig: “Absolutely not. No society has ever been able to exist without law and order. It is government’s most essential function to provide basic protections to its citizens which cannot be done without police departments.  

What do you think of the leadership of  Gov. Mike Parson? 

Koenig: “Gov. Parson was brought into office under a difficult situation and welcomed with a global pandemic. This is an unprecedented time that we are all trying to navigate. I believe Governor Parson was right to leave as much control as possible to local authorities and elected officials to make the best decisions for their communities.

What will or have you done to work across the aisle in Jefferson City? 

Koenig: “In Jefferson City I have worked across the aisle on multiple efforts. I sponsored and passed a bill with bi-partisan support from my democrat colleagues to enable the testing of backlogged rape kits in the state of Missouri so that the culprits of this heinous crime could be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. 

What bill would you sponsor as your first legislation post-election? 

Koenig: “I would continue working on my legislation to reform the TIF process and ensure voters have a say in any attempt to raise their taxes. 

Should the Missouri Attorney General be given subpoena power to investigate Sunshine Law violations? 

Koenig: “First, I would like to see the Missouri Attorney General be granted the power to prosecute murders in the city of St. Louis since the current prosecutor is letting violent offenders off the hook left and right. 

With fewer than 50 percent of rural Missourians having access to high-speed internet service, should Missouri’s newspapers continue to be the medium in which all public notices required by law are published and distributed in print to provide due process to those persons affected by the public notices? 

Koenig: “Public notices are mandates and essential. How we do this should depend on the area and whatever medium is most taxpayer friendly while still meeting the requirements of state law.  We need to be working to ensure that all Missourians have the ability to access high-speed internet for work and school—whether they are in rural Missouri or St. Louis County.

Should members and staff of all public governmental bodies (including state, county and local, and public colleges and universities) be prohibited from downloading or using software designed to send encrypted messages by electronic means that automatically self-destruct on communication devices purchased with public money? In other words, should the Confide app or other such software be prohibited from use because such apps are capable of destroying public records that should be available to citizens? 

Koenig: “Yes. These apps destroy records that should potentially be available to the public via the Sunshine Law. 

Do you support right-to-work legislation? 

Koenig: “I have consistently supported allowing the people of our state to vote on this issue which they recently did and it failed.

What do you think of the state’s COVID-19 response? 

Koenig: “I think the state has handled the response to COVID-19 as best as possible with the information available to them at the time. We’ve seen now the impact that government mandated shutdowns have had on businesses all throughout the nation. I’m hopeful that by allowing local governments to dictate their policies, Missouri has been able to minimize the long-term economic turmoil that other states will see.  Additionally, we have been successful in preventing hospitals from becoming overloaded and not being able to successfully treat patients. 

What changes should Missouri make to its health-care system? 

Koenig: “Missouri should implement price transparency and allow for more competition in it’s healthcare system to provide the most access and affordability to Missouri citizens.   I support coverage for pre-existing conditions and lowering the cost of prescription drugs.

Do you support the changes to “Clean Missouri” that are on the ballot as Amendment 3? 

Koenig: “It was never “Clean Missouri”, it was a campaign intended to create a partisan redistricting process under the guise of lobbyist and campaign finance reform.  Those were just table dressing for what was really underneath and I welcome the opportunity for voters to express their thoughts on the redistricting process which I believe should be handled by a bi-partisan commission instead of a single elected official. 

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