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Ideas Contrast in Mo. 8th District Senate Race

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Photos from the Missouri Senate, Missouri House and the <i>Kansas City Star</i>
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Matt Bartle, Bob Johnson and Reed Chambers II, candidates in the Republican Missouri 8th District Senate primary.

By Steve Bell

Kansas City, MO – Incumbent Matt Bartle may have set a freshman senator record for sponsoring bills including proposals to ban SCNT stem cell research, make abortion illegal, and bar Planned Parenthood instructors and materials from sex ed classes.

Bartle:
If those stands result in my being turned out and somebody else replacing me, I'll be able to look back and confidently say, Hey, I didn't let them bully me into abandoning positions that I know my constituents support.

On the stem cells issue, Bartle emphasizes that he does not oppose all stem cell research.

Bartle:
I've supported legislation that would provide support and encouragement to cord blood banks because when a baby is born that blood that is found in the unbilical cord is particularly rich in stem cells. Those are adult stem cells, even though they come from an infant. They're not embryonic stem cells.

Bartle says he is proudest of winning mandatory DNA sampling for all Missouri felons, limiting billboards for adult-themed businesses, and his work on the new school foundation formula. He says education is the most important issue of this campaign.

Bartle:
It is exceptionally important that over the next four years that the state continue to fully fund that foundation formula in order for the school districts in the 8th Senatorial District to thrive.

Bartle also favors making I-70 six lanes with a concrete divider all the way across the state and providing incentives to health care providers to create lower-cost clinics to take the burden off of emergency rooms - and to encourage people to take steps to prevent Type II Diabetes and smoking-related illnesses, which he says are bankrupting the health care system.

Representative Bob Johnson is challenging Bartle, positioning himself as a moderate Republican with a strict definition of limited government.

Johnson:
I think that many of those Republicans who say they are for limited government, though, do vote to put prosecutors in someone's bedroom, their hospital room and now in the research labs. So I am one who talks about limited government and actually votes against these intrusive kinds of laws that have been getting passed.

Johnson agrees with Bartle that funding for public education is the number one issue. But he takes serious exception to the incumbent's stand against embryonic stem cell research.

Johnson:
I think we should be encouraging scientific research. And, frankly, the Midwestern values would encourage it. This concept of wanting to interfere in those values and that research - I don't think they represent true Midwestern values.

Johnson also wants to develop an electronic remote sensing system to promote home self-care management as an alternative to nursing home confinement and eminent domain legislation that includes a firm definition of blight like the one in the House bill he sponsored. Johnson had this answer for conservative republican leadership has criticized him for being too willing to compromise.

Johnson:
I haven't been elected in the 23 years I've served in the General Assembly to represent the Republican Party. Nor have I been elected to represent the Democrat Party. I've been elected to represent real everyday citizens who live in the neighborhoods in eastern Jackson County.

Like Bob Johnson, challenger Reed Chambers is for the November ballot measure to protect all stem cell research not prohibited by the federal government. But Chambers has a different set of top priority issues. His number one is better area emergency preparedness.

Chambers:
The very worst disaster that will hit the state of Missouri, according to the experts, is the super-magavolcano at Yellowstone National Park. It is forecasted that Kansas City will be inundated, and all of Jackson County, with volcanic ash, with 5,000 deaths predicted for Kansas City alone.

Some geologists say there could be a supervolcano eruption within the next 20 years. The National Geological Survey's forecast is a slight possibility in the next 2,000 years. But Chambers there isn't enough cooperation among first responder agencies to handle any true disaster.

Chambers:
Each agency is free of its own volition to have a mutual aid contract or not, and what we've got is turf war rather than cooperation.

Chambers would also try to take advantage of an 1820 federal law promising Missouri a canal. Following the Missouri-Kansas state line, it would branch off the system of canal locks and dams that follow the White and Arkansas Rivers from the Mississippi River to Tulsa. Chambers says it could be self-financing if lakes are developed along the route and lakefront property sale proceeds go towards the construction. He believes it would have big economic benefits like those in Tulsa got from their canal.

Chambers:
Their canal gave them 54,000 direct jobs over a period of 10 years, with an annual payroll of $78 million.

Chambers also has unique positions on the issues Bartle and Johnson consider top priority. He would help fund Medicaid expansion by creating a mandatory state smoking permit for tobacco users. On education, Chambers says he favors measures to facilitate home-schooling, including a Missouri virtual university that would allow students to complete academic work all the way through graduate or medical school without ever setting foot in a classroom.

Matt Bartle, Bob Johnson and Reed Chambers face one another in the August 8th Jackson County Republican primary.

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