Murphy is keeping busy in the Legislature – St. Louis Call Newspapers
Vaccine event, food events return Murphy’s 94th
Photo by Erin Achenbach
Rep. Jim Murphy had a busy legislature in 2021, dealing with state oversight of public health ordinances and setting up a mass vaccination event. He also ran a series of food campaigns in South County to help with food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In November, Murphy defeated the director of the Mehlville Board of Education, Jean Pretto, by 52.92 percent to 47.08 percent. The 101st General Assembly began on January 6th and ends in May, provided that there are no special sessions.
Murphy’s House Act 75 requires local government agencies to get state permission to extend public health or safety closings and has passed the house and could happen in the Senate. The bill is a direct response to COVID and St. Louis County.
“Bill # 1 … is my progressive priority bill that will apply in some local governments,” Murphy said. “This one will get through pretty quickly.”
The bill is still pending in the Senate, but “there’s a lot of support for it,” Murphy said. “I just want a little bit of control.”
Other priorities include a bill that will remove income taxes for those working from home due to the pandemic.
Murphy was disappointed with the slow roll-out of vaccines in the St. Louis area, and South County in particular, and last month urged County Executive Sam Page and state officials to hold a mass vaccination event in South County. The state hosted a Johnson & Johnson event on April 3, attended by volunteers from the Mehlville Fire District. The county soon followed with a mass vaccination event at South County Tech and a permanent vaccination center at the Kennedy Recreation Center.
Giving back is one way to bring unity in times of division, and Murphy also plans to continue to focus on grocery giveaways. Legislators have partnered with Operation Food Search to host at least 15 events at various Mehlville schools.
“I have so many community volunteers taking care of this and that brings you back to reality,” Murphy said. “We have good people in this part of the forest.”
Murphy was one of several lawmakers to sign a letter from Rep. Justin Hill in which they were not confident about the 2020 election results after President Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump last November. Every other Republican legislature in South County signed the letter as well – Rep. David Gregory; Rep. Michael O’Donnell; and Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman.
Murphy said he signed Hill’s letter not because he believed there was electoral fraud, but because he believes states did not obey their own electoral laws.
“The election was undoubtedly by a large margin legitimate, but still… it needs serious thought and not just brushed aside as partisan. … It can happen the other way around, ”he said.
Murphy said he wished the public debates had more nuance instead of painting everything with a broad brush: “I’m turning 70 … and I’ve seen some interesting times … but I’ve never seen the vitriol and hatred we see right now.”