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

State Rep. Brad Christ holds town hall to review 2023’s legislative session

South County representative highlights the highs and lows of this year’s session
State Rep. Brad Christ, R-Sappington.

State Rep. Brad Christ, R-Sappington, and this year’s Freshman Legislator of the Year, held his second ever town hall meeting at Sunset Hills City Hall Aug. 8 to discuss the highs and lows of the year’s legislative session, the bills he sponsored, and to give constituents the opportunity to ask questions and voice their opinions.

Christ, who represents the 96th Missouri House District which includes parts of Crestwood, Fenton, Sappington and Sunset Hills, was first elected to office in 2022.

To begin the meeting Christ went through a general overview of what happened in Jefferson City from January to May. He highlighted removing some financial barriers to adoption, extending Medicaid from 60 days to a year for postpartum care and more gradually transitioning people off welfare  – all bipartisan issues.

“When you hit a certain threshold of income, those government benefits drop off pretty hard,” he explained. “The benefit cliff bill makes it more of a gradual decrease, because a lot of folks won’t take a pay raise because … it actually harms them more to take the pay raise.”

The balanced budget that “fully funds education, increases teacher pay and makes wise investments in our state roads and bridges” was next brought up. Christ sits on the Budget Committee, so this was particularly important to him. He also mentioned that the state “protected kids from harmful surgeries and protected women’s sports,” referring to anti-transgender legislation and the ban on gender-affirming healthcare for minors that was signed into law in June.

Next, Christ went over a few pieces of legislation that he filed.

“I threw myself into some pretty controversial, contentious legislation, but I didn’t leave my four kids and career in St. Louis to go up there and twiddle my thumbs. I’m really trying to make some positive changes,” he said.

Much of this “controversial legislation” centered around backing law enforcement as that was one of his main campaign platforms. Christ, among other representatives, aimed to put the St. Louis City Police Department back under state control – though this was met from opposition on both sides and did not pass. Another issue he focused on was creating childcare options for law enforcement, as that is often a barrier to recruiting new officers which is a big problem in the city and county.

“The St. Louis County Police Foundation came to the Capitol and lobbied for a childcare center, and they offered a private match,” Christ said. “We were able to raise $6 million in the budget, and they’re private matching the $6 million.”

With this money a childcare facility for officer’s children will be built in either Maryland Heights or South County – the location is yet to be determined.

He also went over The Intern and Apprenticeship Recruitment Act – one of his bills that was signed into law on the day of the town hall, allowing a small tax credit for small, medium and large businesses when they hire more interns and apprentices. According to Christ, Missouri is the No. 2 state in the county for hiring apprenticeships, but “we really lag behind” when it comes to internships. This bill could incentivize companies to hire more interns, hopefully changing the current trend.

After Christ’s recap of the session, audience members were encouraged to ask questions. Topics ranged from taxing electric vehicles to gun laws to solar farms to the lack of business growth in the state. The tax freeze for seniors was brought up multiple times, to which Christ explained that the law was passed to allow the property freeze tax, but the individual counties have to activate and pass it.

“St. Louis Councilman Mark Harder submitted the bill to initiate that freeze of property tax procedures, and it got voted down 4-3. Now we have to get 5% of the signatures in the county … and then we put it on the ballot. So I’m confident it will go on the ballot, and I’m confident it will pass.”

He went on to say that he understands some municipalities’ concerns with the freeze, but not enough to vote against it.

“A lot of municipalities call me all the time. They…want to support their seniors, but it can financially hurt municipalities that rely on property taxes. I get those constraints and I get those concerns, but at the end of the day, I just couldn’t vote against some of these struggling seniors…those are the calls I get more than any calls … a senior saying ‘I’m being taxed out of my home.’”

Christ closed the conversation by sharing his goals for next session. He plans on continuing to tackle issues surrounding the police, as well as focusing on some new issues like school safety.

“A lot of shooting victims in schools pass away from bleeding out,” he explained. “The teachers and the staff at the schools don’t have proper CPR training or ‘Stop the Bleed’ training – if they had tourniquets, and Stop the Bleed training in every classroom, we could probably save half of these children’s lives.”

Another topic he  wants to address is human trafficking as Missouri is a hotspot for it.

“Missouri is the No. 3 state in the country of human trafficking. It’s a million dollar industry in the states, whether that’s child trafficking, adult trafficking or forced labor. We see a lot on our interstates, in our hotels and in our restaurants, that goes very unnoticed,” Christ said.  “It’s very real, so we’re going to try to pass some legislation on that.”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect that the Medicaid extension only applied to postpartum care. 

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