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Who does Missouri state Rep. Cody Smith, R-Carthage, think he is?

Does he think he knows better than the majority of Missouri voters? Or does he think if he doesn’t agree he can just overturn the results of the ballot box? Isn’t Missouri a democracy?

Many times the candidate or policy proposal that I favored was rejected at the polls. I accepted it. Why does Smith think he doesn’t have to do the same?

Currently, he is trying to overturn the will of the voters of Missouri in two different areas. He is trying to stop the gradual raising of the minimum wage to $12 an hour and the expansion of Medicaid that was passed as an amendment to the Missouri Constitution. Both of these were passed by Missouri voters.

Smith is trying to stop the yearly 85-cent raise in the minimum wage in Missouri. He says he is protecting jobs. There is no study that correlates a spike in unemployment with a raise in the minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage does not cause unemployment. Smith is trying to protect profit margins at the expense of labor. The minimum wage in Missouri is being raised only 85 cents an hour each year until it reaches $12 an hour in 2023. Smith claims the Legislature has the power to overturn the will of the voters because it was only a statute and not a constitutional amendment.

So our vote doesn’t count?

Smith is also effectively trying to overturn an amendment to the Missouri Constitution passed by the voters. Besides trying to undercut raising the minimum wage, Smith is trying to undo Medicaid expansion. He says Missouri doesn’t have the money to expand Medicaid. This is patently false. Gov. Mike Parson’s budget paid for the expansion without cutting any programs.

Washington University’s Center for Health Economics and Policy stated that Medicaid expansion in Missouri would be revenue neutral and could create cost savings. That is because the federal government will be paying 90% of the cost. It is estimated that it will bring $1 billion in federal money to Missouri in health payments. Also, Missouri currently has a budget surplus.

Smith claims he wants to help the federal government not go into debt, but the Missouri Legislature is not reluctant to accept other federal aid when it matches legislators’ desires.

Why should anyone vote in Missouri if a state representative can blithely disregard their majority opinion? Smith should be voted out of office, but of course, that will be next to impossible because the Legislature overturned the will of the people who voted for an end to gerrymandering voting districts.

Mary Gaarder lives in Joplin.

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