Looking back over the last several months and how things have changed, I realize things will never go back to normal. That leaves us new challenges and new ways to deal with our daily lives.
I realize that I really like dealing with people. Standing 6 feet apart does not work very well, but I am making an honest effort to practice a lot more separation and respecting others' space.
The time between sessions is when us legislators use to get grounded in real life. We must go out and visit as many of our constituents as we can and be involved with them so we know what they want and their challenges. Expanded egos that come as part of being in the Capitol get brought down to a more realistic size.
I thought I was too old to pick up more bad habits, but unfortunately, I have attempted the game of golf again. Golf is fine when you play scramble because generally your participation is all that is wanted, and those who I play with do not have any great expectations of my skills. It is a very good opportunity to meet with a lot of the businesses, volunteers and people in the community.
I participated in the Chamber golf tournament, which again gives me a chance to meet with a lot of people I may not have met before. I have found that if I am willing to listen, a lot of people are willing to give me advice. It was a great event. I also participated in a golf tournament for Vitae that not only raises money for great pro-life activities but it is also another opportunity to meet a whole different group of people and hear their concerns and what is important to them.
I have had meetings with the Lions Club, various school teachers, leadership at the Capitol, Jefferson City Parks and Recreation Committee, people involved with Lincoln University, law enforcement and some of the superintendents to see what is important to them this next legislative session.
When we get to the Capitol, we spend way too much time on what I call "big donor bills" and not enough time doing the people's work. When I talk to constituents in my district, I find most of them have much more basic things they want done — ways to cut regulations, ways to streamline government, good roads, good education, and a good economic environment.
Social justice has also been an item that has been moved to the forefront. Just like the rest of politics, I have run into people on both sides of the spectrum. There is the group that wants to tear everything down and start new and the group that says nothing needs changing. On this issue, it seems as though 90 percent of the people I encounter are on neither extreme. They are just not heard as much. The majority of people I have encountered strongly believe we must protect our constitutional rights, protect our right to protest, and that we should have a society free of discrimination. The majority recognizes we cannot destroy our police force. In my discussions with law enforcement, they agree they need to take actions themselves, self-regulate and make sure we do have a law enforcement that respects individual rights and the Constitution. However, they also expressed concern about the ability to do their jobs and protect themselves without being overwhelmed with lawsuits. Law enforcement has a legitimate concern that they will be able to do their jobs adequately and that they will have the ability to protect themselves and other individuals without unnecessary litigation questioning every decision they make.
I was happy to be at a Special Olympics meeting for fall Special Olympic events. It was great to hear we are going to have some of these events in Cole County, even though it will be different. Every plan is subject to change because we do not know what the virus is going to do, but we cannot sit around and do nothing. Therefore, they are planning to have at least six sports including softball and bocce. Last year, there were approximately 500 children who participated in bocce, and we do not expect the same crowd. We do plan to have the games using common sense. These activities are so important to our Special Olympians, and they take great pride as they should in their accomplishments and in the challenge of playing the games. It is so great to see so many volunteers willing to step forward and continue in these trying times to make our lives as normal as possible.
While I do not have any opposition in this election, I realize I still must go out and keep in contact with my constituents, and it also gives me the opportunity to help other candidates running for office who believe in things my constituents want or need and will overall help me get the things done that will help the most. I have met with leadership so I can understand what their goals are and where we can work together. It is important we have good elected officials and good representatives. While here in Cole County, I believe our representatives are all on about the same page, not all candidates statewide have an agenda consistent with the general principles of the people of Cole County.
It is also a lot easier to work with representatives if you spend time with them and you learn to understand them. It is a simple fact, just as in the business world, that it is important we as representatives make connections. I know without help from friends and other contacts, I would never have been as successful in my law practice, and I believe that same theory is needed at the Legislature — that you learn to get to know your fellow representatives, respect them and treat them with courtesy. I know if I want to continue to represent you and understand your needs, I need to do more than just show up at the Capitol.
Thank you for your support and continued advice.
State Rep. Rudy Veit, R-Jefferson City, represents Missouri's 59th House District, and shares his perspective on statehouse issues twice a month.