The State of Missouri is composed of several unique regions, requiring ample representation in the state government. For this reason, our state has one of the largest general assemblies with 197 combined senators and representatives. Due to the shear abundance and diversity of legislation passing through the assembly each session, legislators often must rely on external guidance to be adequately informed.
Based on public information, we can gather information about the educational background of the legislators. As of April 17, 2020, there are 4 total vacancies – 3 senate and 1 house – leaving 193 members of the 100th General Assembly (2019-2020). The Senate is composed of 23 Republicans and 8 Democrats. Only 20 senators list their educational background in their public bios, and of those that do, only two senators (6%) have a background in STEMM at any educational level (Senators Emery and Hegeman). In the House of Representatives, there are 114 Republicans and 48 Democrats, and 125 report their educational backgrounds. Of those listed, 36 members (22%) have an educational background in a STEMM discipline in some capacity; however, only 1 has a research-based PhD (Representative Proudie).
House of Representatives Educational Backgrounds
Most advanced degree
Associate Degree (AA, AS, ABA) – 8
Bachelors Degree (BA, BS) – 57
Masters Degree (MA, MS, MPH, MBA, etc.) – 31
Doctoral Degree (PhD, EdD) – 6
Law Degree (JD) – 19
Medical/Vet Degree (DVM, DO, MD, DC) – 4
Senate Educational Backgrounds
Most advanced degree
Associate Degree (AA, AS, ABA) – 1
Bachelors Degree (BA, BS) – 10
Masters Degree (MA, MS, MPH, MBA, etc.) – 5
Doctoral Degree (PhD, EdD) – 0
Law Degree (JD) – 3
Medical/Vet Degree (PharmD) – 1
While there are several legislators with advanced degrees and STEMM backgrounds, few remain practicing scientists or engineers and are not familiar with the most up-to-date scientific information. Further, partisan politics may prevent these legislators from acting as an expert source of information to their peers. Because of these factors, the MOST Policy Fellows add additional scientific capacity to the General Assembly and help to advise legislators without scientific backgrounds on STEMM related issues.