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Springfield-area Representative provides updates on the legislative session and efforts to improve the Southwest Missouri region

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State Representative Melanie Stinnett (District 133) joined Chamber members on June 5 to reflect on the 2024 State Legislative Session.

Stinnett represents parts of Greene County in the Missouri House of Representatives, which includes a majority of west Springfield. During her inaugural two-year term, Stinnett focused on several issues important to the business community, including the removal of workforce barriers, healthcare opportunities, strategic budget investments, and more.

In addition to her work in the legislature, Stinnett possesses a background in healthcare as a speech-language pathologist and former owner of pediatric speech therapy clinic, TheraCare. Her passion for pediatric care and creating opportunities for children with disabilities led her to pursue policy work and influenced her interest in legislative service.

“I decided to run for office, and I didn’t know if I would be a good legislator, but I felt like up until this point, God had placed my steps where I needed to be,” she said. “And if that is where I needed to be, it would happen.”

Through her own lived experience of choosing to stay in Springfield, Stinnett highlighted the importance of investment in talent attraction and retention at the state level.

“In 2006, I made a big decision to move to Springfield and make it my home,” she explained. “What keeps me here are all the things that make Springfield a great place to live, like the job market, opportunities for my family and the ability to open my own business. Ultimately, what brings people to Missouri and what keeps them here are what we need to focus on in the legislature.”

Motivated by these priorities, Stinnett noted several accomplishments from the 2024 legislative session that she believes will help move the state forward, including veteran suicide prevention efforts, tax reductions on signing bonuses for members of the Armed Forces, educational assistance for the Missouri National Guard, enabling the City of Springfield to pursue a land bank (championed by Rep. Bill Owen), and authorizing Rep. Alex Riley’s Regulatory Sandbox Act to allow for increased innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities in Missouri.

In addition to these statewide and regionally-significant legislative accomplishments, Stinnett noted several bills that she personally contributed to, including House Bill 727, which provided a correction to the education funding formula and Senate Bill 1111, which addressed accessibility issues in providing childcare to children with disabilities.

As the business community and state continues to prioritize workforce development investments, Stinnett identified the “hidden workforce” as part of Missouri’s ongoing efforts to increase labor participation, which extends to those with mental and physical disabilities. Stinnett actively advocates for legislation that would address the barriers in place for these individuals. In her first term, she worked to pass the Missouri Ticket to Work Health Assurance Program, which provides medical assistance through MO HealthNet for employed individuals with disabilities.

Additionally, the workforce barrier of limited educational opportunities hits close to home for Stinnett, who shared that her own pursuit of a doctorate degree was hindered by the lack of available programs in Missouri.

“Each bill that I file has a lot to do with my personal experiences,” she said.

In the 2025 legislative session, Stinnett aims to change this by championing the topic of doctoral degree authorization opportunities across the state, with the goal of fostering a more robust and educated workforce pipeline.

Additionally, Stinnett expressed her willingness to get involved with ongoing legislative priorities presented by the community, such as modifying term limits and childcare tax credits.

“I feel honored to serve Springfield in the way that I do, and blessed to be able to carry the things that matter to you and our community into the capitol,” said Stinnett.

Several business leaders and community partners in attendance thanked Representative Stinnett for her efforts on their behalf, acknowledging her hard work to address shared priorities during her inaugural term in the House.

Thank you to our Inside the Issues sponsor: Hahn DeBoef Government Relations

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