Missouri Rep. Travis Fitzwater visited the Fulton Kiwanis Club at 1851 Underground on Thursday.
Fitzwater's comments echoed his words to the Fulton Noon Rotary Club earlier this month, when he spoke about the protests related to the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and COVID-19.
On both issues, Fitzwater praised Gov. Mike Parson, as well as local leaders.
"I think our community did a great job of de-escalating those situations," Fitzwater said. "Police departments did a tremendous job joining where they could lending voice to the protests, but at the same time, ensuring that there wasn't gas thrown on the fire in a situation that's been heartbreaking in many, many ways."
Kiwanis members questioned Fitzwater on his time in office and budgetary issues. Fitzwater has served Missouri House of Representatives District 49 for six years.
"I can't believe how fast it's gone because the last couple months have felt like 10 years," he said. "I think you get in with these grand notions that you're going to have this massive impact and then you kind have to pull back and realize that you can have an impact, but maybe it's not as great or as quick as you'd like for it to be."
Calling government a "slow-moving beast," Fitzwater spoke of the importance of relationships and working together.
"Even when you disagree with somebody, you have to realize that you may have to work with them tomorrow," he said. "You have to really believe that their humanity transcends your political ideology."
Among his greatest accomplishments, Fitzwater lists a bill he worked on several years ago to set up schools to help adults get their high school diploma. Goodwill is a major supporter for the schools, established in St. Louis, Columbia, Poplar Bluff and Springfield.
"When I go into Goodwill in Jeff City or my wife goes to Goodwill and she buys something and she goes up to the register and sees a donation pot for adult high schools, it's a moment where you kind of feel like you've had this really significant impact," he said.
Another bill Fitzwater is proud of focused on science, technology, engineering and math curriculum for middle school students, as well as an effort to promote computer science credits for high school students.
In looking forward, Fitzwater noted the state revenues are down $500 million this fiscal year.
"$500 million is not insurmountable, but in the three or four months that we've been dealing with COVID for it to mess our budget up by that amount is pretty devastating," he said.
Fitzwater predicts the Missouri Legislature will hold a special session this fall to deal with COVID-19 and resulting budget issues.
The Missouri House of Representatives has eight-year term limits. This fall, Fitzwater is up for re-election and is currently running unopposed. If he is re-elected, Fitzwater will only have two years left in the House. He'll be leaving as district maps are redrawn reflecting the population changes in the 2020 U.S. Census.
Fitzwater mentioned an interest in running for the Missouri Senate once he hits his House term limit, but with redistricting planned, he isn't sure what the maps will look like.