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ABC 17 News “This Week” – Missouri Rep. Shamed Dogan

The Missouri General Assembly passed the state budget yesterday, and it’s on the Governor’s desk today. Missouri House Member Shamed Dogan joins us on “This Week” to talk about that budget, but I start our conversation by asking him the so-called “Free Jeff Mizanskey Bill.” I ask the the Representative what’s next for HB 978.

This is a transcript of our conversation:

Shamed Dogan: I’m very hopeful that it might get put on the calendar fairly soon, so that it can go to the floor for debate and I’ve been really pleased with the progress we’ve made on the legislation, and we also have a letter that’s going to be sent to the Governor in the next few days that has been signed 118 of my colleagues in the House of Representatives just to do the right thing and grant clemency to Mr. Mizanskey. And I think the more that people hear about this issue the more they get outraged first of all, and the more they want to take action to do something to free this man because I think we’re wasting tax payer dollars and it’s an injustice, as most people see it.

Joey Parker: You haven’t had a change to personally talk with the Governor about this?

Shamed Dogan: I have not. I’ve talked to his staff and they’ve been pretty good about getting back to me when I’ve asked questions

Joey Parker: I can’t imagine what would be the hesitation to granting clemency, but again, this is again talking to various people. When I did the story on Jeff Mizanskey I was trying to find someone who would support his lifetime sentence and I couldn’t find a single person.

Shamed Dogan: Right. It’s an issue that I think most people can be in agreement, no matter where they fall on the broader question of about what we should do about marijuana penalties. The idea of a life without parole penalty for the sale of marijuana is outrageous to almost everyone. And that’s why we’ve been able to get so many people from a very broad base of ideological places on the spectrum to sign this letter. Again, granting, asking the Governor to grant clemency.

Joey Parker: A lot of people get it confused and think, “a drug dealer.” And once again, even if he had been a drug dealer of any substance, in some states now he’d be an entrepreneur. But this isn’t about marijuana rights, it’s about human rights. You’ve said that before.

Shamed Dogan: That’s right. It’s about justice and it’s about saving taxpayer money because we’ve already spent close to half a million dollars incarcerating Mr. Mizanskey to this point, and he doesn’t pose a threat to anyone. He wasn’t violent, he doesn’t have any violent tendencies. He’s been in jail for 21 years and the worst thing he has done is have a messy cell. So if he gets out, I think he’s going to be a productive member of society. Instead of costing us money he’s going to be able to be a taxpayer and he has family that, and friends in the Sedalia area who will be a great resource to help him get back into society.

Joey Parker: you’re from Ballwin, when you go home, do you hear about this issue a lot?

Shamed Dogan: I do hear about it on social media, when I talk to some of my constituents and they are very, very in favor of this. I think that’s been one of the pleasant surprises, because as a conservative Republican from a very Republican district, I and some of my colleagues kind of had some trepidation at first that may the folks back home wouldn’t understand it. But when you talk to them and explain it they definitely get the issue, and they definitely agree that the Governor ought to do something.

Joey Parker: Another complicated story to understand is the budget. 26 billion dollars. Generally Assembly pushed it though of course, the Democrats saying it was jammed through. House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty who was here with us last week said, “Jamming through a budget while denying lawmakers and the public the chance to adequately review it is irresponsible and an irresponsible way to spend $26 billion in taxpayer money.” What do you say to that?

Shamed Dogan: I don’t share those concerns. I thinks it’s been a very fair process. We’ve kind of known what was going to be in the broad framework of the budget for a long time. Of course, whenever you have a budget, there’s going to be details that get hammered out minute. But everyone had an opportunity to contribute to that debate, and I believe that the Democrats are just angry about their numbers in the House. The fact that they’ve very out-voted often. I can understand that would get frustrating but I think it’s been a fair process.

Joey Parker: Is there a regret in this budget that you have…you wish would have passed?

Shamed Dogan: No, I’m pretty satisfied with it. I think it spends ta payer money responsibly. I think it gets our priorities right. There’s increased funding for education, both elementary and secondary education, as well as, higher education. I think education is a cornerstone of our economy and cornerstone of our democracy that needs to be funded well at the state level and we’ve done that with this budget.

Joey Parker: Alright, Shamed Dogan, thank you for joining us and we hope to have you again soon.

Shamed Dogan: Thanks for having me. It’s been a pleasure.

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