Following a candidate forum the News Tribune held at Jefferson City Hall, the newspaper sent out additional reader-submitted questions that had not been asked because of time constraints.
Here are the responses from Kevin Nelson and Sara Michael, the Democratic candidates for the Missouri House of Representatives District 60 seat.
Responses appear in the order the candidates appear on the Aug. 7 ballot.
Answers may have been edited for length and clarity.
From readers: Nearly 20 years ago, a legal settlement was reached between 46 state attorneys general and major tobacco companies to partially reimburse the states for Medicaid costs incurred while treating smoking-related health conditions caused by their products. After that time, a couple of "Little Tobacco" companies came into being. Every state except Missouri enacted amending legislation to require them to reimburse the states' Medicaid costs. Missouri was sued over the 'loophole' in 2003 and lost. The state is at risk for a lawsuit for each of the subsequent years to a total of over $1 billion in payments forfeited. For several years, bills have been filed to close this loophole, but it has never been brought to a floor vote. Would you support or oppose state legislation to close the loophole which allows non-participating manufacturers to sell cheap cigarettes and places the state at risk for additional lawsuits?
Nelson: Explaining the tobacco loophole controversy is complicated, the answer as to fixing it is not. We must. Missouri is the only state that hasn't closed the loophole. Essentially, Missouri receives $130 million a year from the tobacco settlement. Every year we do not close the loophole, we are open to lawsuits that can reduce or cost our state millions of dollars. It is good, smart financial policy to close this loophole. This is a risk of our own making, and it must be eliminated.
Michael: Inaction and a lack of common-sense approaches to finding solutions for our state have compelled me to seek this position. The failure to put our people and our state above special interests jeopardizes the safety and security of the most vulnerable every day. When those companies that target our citizens with cheap options to an already unhealthy habit, and then use their lobbying power to avoid contributing to the cost of treating their own consumers walk the hallways of the Capitol spouting fear of a "tax increase," I will oppose their efforts and support action to close this loophole.
From readers: Will you accept money from the National Rifle Association? Explain.
Nelson: No. I believe you can still defend the Second Amendment and not have to get paid by the NRA. The NRA has some controversial views that do not align with mine. The percentage of Americans who believe we should expand background checks prior to purchasing a gun is reported to be as high as 93 percent. The NRA opposes expanding background checks, even with its own members favoring the checks by 83 percent. I also support a ban on the sale of bump stocks which are used to produce an automatic effect on nonautomatic weapons. The NRA does not back this ban.
Michael: No. Although I am a gun owner and a supporter of the Second Amendment, I do not believe that the National Rifle Association and its policy positions are something that truly serve the people of the 60th District. I oppose their actions in instilling fear and division in this country and our great state. The people of the 60th District deserve someone who will stand up to special interests and work to take action to make their lives better or prevent action that makes their lives worse.
From readers: Do you support de-funding Planned Parenthood? Explain.
Nelson: No. As a nurse I know the value of regular checkups with a health care provider. I see no value in decreasing women's options for affordable, high-quality health care services. Planned Parenthood offers a variety of health care services to both women and men. Services such as cholesterol and diabetes screenings and many forms of cancer screenings. It also provides public education in the forms of parenting classes, childbirth classes and both birth control education and abstinence education.
Michael: No. While a Catholic and a supporter of life, the services provided by Planned Parenthood go well beyond what many have serious issue with. The women's health services, preventative care, cancer screenings, and availability to treatment for illnesses at a reduced cost are vital to our most vulnerable citizens.