Missouri’s 4th Congressional District: Hartzler, Simmons and Koonse

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Posted at 1:12 PM, Sep 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-14 14:51:09-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — 41 Action News wants to help you make an informed decision during the 2020 General Election on Nov. 3. We reached out to the campaigns for Missouri's 4th Congressional District candidates. Here's where Democrat Lindsey Simmons and Libertarian Steven Koonse stand on the issues.

Republican Vicky Hartzler's campaign did not respond to 41 Action News' requests. We've compiled her answers to the best of our abilities based past statements and voting history.


Do you believe wearing masks should be a requirement, recommendation or neither?
Simmons: "Mask mandates should be left up to the county public health officials based on guidance received from the CDC. Currently, the White House's own statewide report on Missouri says that a mask mandate is necessary to stop the spread of community transmission. We must listen to our healthcare experts on this issue. And right now, we need folks wearing masks when they leave their homes."
Koonse: Recommendation.
Hartzler: Did not answer.

What role should federal officials play in the response to the COVID- 19 pandemic? Information only, guidelines only, mandatory requirements for businesses but not individuals, mandatory requirements for businesses and individuals (subject to policymaker approval), or none of the above?
Simmons: "Federal officials have an important role to play in the COVID-19 response plan. We need funding for state and local governments. We need contact tracing. We need appropriate PPE for our frontline workers. We need additional support for workers, we need housing relief for families, and we need additional support for small businesses, independent contractors and our family farmers."
Koonse: Guidelines only. "States should provide the recommendation to wear masks based on Federal Government guidance. The Federal government has the resources to determine the lethality of the virus and where spikes are occurring. With this information the state's can balance the interests of the schools and business in recommended safety measures."
Hartzler: Did not answer.

Should locally owned small businesses receive a higher priority for CARES Act funding than publicly traded or multinational corporations?
Simmons: Yes.
Koonse: Yes. "The Federal Reserve is printing and appropriating money to buy corporate bonds. So as a legislator l would direct CARES Act funding to small businesses."
Hartzler: Did not answer.

Do you believe Americans should receive a second $1,200 Economic Impact Payment, otherwise known as a stimulus check?
Simmons: Yes
Koonse: No. "It seems that the short term stimulus doesnt get us to a 100% economy. The stimulus checks just tide us over until the next check is needed. Rather, going into debt to repair and upgrade the infrustructure will lower the unemployment rate and wages wil be spent on the vulnerable small businesses."
Hartzler: It is unclear whether Hartzler believes Americans should receive a second $1,200 stimulus check. 41 Action News found that Hartzler voted against The HEROES Act, which would provide Americans with a second $1,200 stimulus check; however, the bill also expands the Paycheck Protection Program, eliminates cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatments, and expands paid sick days, family and medical leave, unemployment compensation, nutrition and food assistance programs, housing assistance, and payments to farmers. It is unclear which part of the bill Hartzler did not agree with.

Considering the pandemic, do you believe K-12 classrooms should reopen in the fall?
Simmons: "School reopenings should be consistent with the CDC guidelines and guidance from the White House. We must also understand that not all school districts have the same resources. Parents deserve flexible options to make the best decisions for their family. But the top priority at this time is keeping our kiddos safe."
Koonse: Yes, with a virtual option. "The school districts are better informed on their ability to provide virtual learning. The parents are in the best position to advise the schools as to the risk they'll accept for their children in order to reopen the schools."
Hartzler: 41 Action News believes Vicky Hartzler would answer "yes, with a virtual option." In an op-ed for the Columbia Daily Tribune, Hartzler wrote, "Students desperately need the ability to return to classrooms in August... I applaud the active steps that school officials in Missouri and across the country are taking to ensure the right policies are in place at each school to keep our kids safe. These measures include limiting visitors on school campuses, reducing the use of lockers and hallway spaces and giving parents and students the option to continue online instruction if the parent or student is a highly vulnerable individual."

If students return to the classroom in fall 2020, do you believe they should be required to wear masks?
Simmons: "Mask mandates at schools should follow CDC and White House guidance. At this moment, because Missouri has been declared by the White House to be in a "red zone" for community transmission, students attending school in person should wear masks."
Koonse: Yes.
Hartzler: Did not answer.


Do you support the repeal of the Affordable Care Act?
Simmons: No. "As the daughter of a woman who is afraid to retire because of the high cost of healthcare, I know the struggle adequate and affordable and accessible health insurance is for working families. We should not repeal the Affordable Care Act--we should build upon it and provide a public option for families. We have to stop government interference in the healthcare market. Not only should we allow the government to participate in the insurance market, we should allow the government to participate in the pharmaceutical market as well--by negotiating prescription drug prices."
Koonse: No. "There is no alternative to ACA for poor people, except to go without insurance. I would strive to make it work better and find ways to lower costs."
Hartzler: "President Obama’s namesake tax, Obamacare, forces Americans to buy government-approved insurance programs or else face an extra tax burden. The federal government should not force its citizens to buy a private product and then strictly mandate what is in that product," Hartzler posted on her website.


Mark the mandates you support. Any mandate left unmarked will indicate you do not support it unless you check "Prefer not to answer." Some candidates provide additional comment below the chart.

Must be performed by a licensed physician
Must be performed in a hospital after a specified point in pregnancy
Gestational limits
State funding for abortions when the woman's life is in danger
State funding for abortions when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest
Coverage by private insurance
Individual health care providers can refuse to participate
Public institutions can refuse to perform abortions
Private or religious institutions can refuse to perform abortions
State-mandated counseling before an abortion
Waiting period between counseling and the procedure
Ban all abortions
Prefer not to answer
Did not provide answers

Simmons: "I believe Roe v. Wade was rightly decided and that it's not the government's place to make decisions better left to families. Further, we must stop promoting forced pregnancy as the policy of the United States."
Koonse: No additional comment provided.
Hartzler: "The fundamental right to life is unalienable. Abortion is one of the greatest injustices in our society today... We must protect life and speak up for the unborn. That is what I do in Congress," Hartzler said on her website.


Mark the mandates you support. Any mandate left unmarked will indicate you do not support it unless you check "Prefer not to answer." Some candidates provide additional comment below the chart.

Reporting mental health records to federal background check databases
Universal background checks
Gun safety training classes for concealed carry
Requiring a concealed carry permit
Right to carry confidentiality
Right to carry in restaurants
Gun dealer licensing
Firearm owner licensing
Firearm registration
Lost and stolen firearm reporting
Assault weapon ban
Restrictions on high-capacity magazines
Bulk firearm purchase restrictions
Waiting period
Local authority to regulate firearms and ammunition
Ammunition sale regulation
No gun control
Prefer not to answer
Did not provide answers

Simmons: "I support universal background checks on all gun sales. I support repealing the law that prohibits citizens from suing firearm manufacturers. I support requiring permits for conceal and carry. I support enforcing the laws already on the books and providing funding to do so. I support additional funding so that hunter safety courses are more widely available across the state."
Koonse: "If mental health records are reported to the Feds, mental health help won't be sought."
Hartzler: "I am an ardent supporter of our constitutional rights including the right to keep and bear arms guaranteed by the Second Amendment. This right is one of the fundamental principles of our Republic. The federal government should take no action to suppress this right or any right," Hartzler believes, according to a post on her website.


Several U.S. cities are now discussing reallocating some police funding to other forms of public safety and community support, including to social services, mental health & addiction resources, housing, and health care. Do you support redirecting some funding from local law enforcement agencies to support other government agencies funded by local municipalities?
Simmons: "We need to completely reform how we fund our county governments and our law enforcement agencies. Currently, counties depend on funds that come from the amount of beds they fill in prison. In fact, sheriffs run for office based on how much money they can bring in by locking people up. While there's good reason for some criminals to be placed in prison--we must consider alternatives for people struggling with drug addiction and mental health issues. We need to rethink what it means to "protect and serve" and also what it means to provide "justice" for citizens."
Koonse: No.
Hartzler: 41 Action News believes Vicky Hartzler would answer "no." In a tweet, she wrote, "I will NEVER support to 'defund the police.' I signed the #PolicePledge to oppose any bill taking away critical resources from our law enforcement officials. Our police officers deserve our support and our respect for keeping our communities safe from mob rule."

The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 could implement the following ways to reform policing and hold police officers accountable. Mark the mandates you support. Any mandate left unmarked will indicate you do not support it unless you check "Prefer not to answer." Some candidates provide additional comment below the chart.

Ban racial & religious profiling
Ban no knock warrants
Ban chokeholds
Mandate data collection on police encounters
Require body cameras
Limit military equipment used by police departments
Streamline federal law to prosecute excessive force
Establish independent prosecutors for police investigations
Prefer not to answer
Did not provide answers

Simmons: "We must ban no knock warrants, chokeholds, racial profiling, and the use of military weapons on civilian streets. We must also end qualified immunity."
Koonse: "A lot of police officers are former military. There, the concept is to defeat the enemy. I support the police officer's use of necessary force to bring the perpetrator to justice and avoiding harm to the officer. When the situation is thus clarified, the officers` officer should not go further and vanquish. I advocate training to enable understanding of the point the situation has been resolved and further aggression is not needed."
Hartzler: 41 Action News found that Vicky Hartzler voted against the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, writing, "While the Justice in Policing Act is well-intentioned, I could not support it in its current version because it ultimately diminishes law enforcement officials’ ability to keep our community safe and inadvertently would put many of my constituents in harm’s way by denying them safety equipment." She also supports qualified immunity, writing, "This legislation ends ‘qualified immunity,’ diminishing law enforcement’s ability to make difficult decisions in dangerous and unanticipated situations and drastically increases the threat of unwarranted lawsuits against these crimefighters."


Do you believe the 1964 Civil Rights Act should protect gay, lesbian and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex?
Simmons: Yes, with no exclusions.
Koonse: Yes, with no exclusions.
Hartzler: Did not answer.

Should federal law protect LGBTQ people from discrimination when it comes to health care and health insurance?
Simmons: Yes. "We should treat all people with respect and dignity. Transgender troops should not be forbidden from military service. As a military spouse, I have stood with families who are part of the LGBTQ+ community as their loved ones deploy. It is disgusting that Vicky Hartzler and Donald Trump thinks their selfless service isn't welcome in the United States."
Koonse: Yes.
Hartzler: Did not answer.


Mark the mandates you support. Any mandate left unmarked will indicate you do not support it unless you check "Prefer not to answer." Some candidates provide additional comment below the chart.

Repealing criminal penalties for people apprehended while crossing the border
Banning sanctuary cities
Extending the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border
Increasing funding for the U.S.-Mexico border
Eliminating the Visa lottery
Implementing a merit-based entry system
Creating a path to citizenship for the current undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
Eliminating family detention for asylum-seekers while their claims are being processed
Limiting family detention for asylum-seekers while their claims are being processed
Prefer not to answer
Did not provide answers

Simmons: "When people come to America seeking asylum, it is not a crime. And regardless of the actions of parents, we should not place children in quaratined, metal cages and deprive them of comforts we provide to criminals in prisons. It's inhumane and it's unAmerican. We must create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the United States. We must also reform the entire immigration system. Right now the backlog requires some people to wait more than 20 years to receive citizenship--that is not an effective system. It doesn't help America secure its borders and it doesn't help families immigrating to our country. We must stop stealing money from military families and communities like mine to build an ineffective wall. The middle school on our base at Fort Campbell was denied funding because it was redirected to the wall. This is unconscionable."
Koonse: No additional comment provided.
Hartzler: "I am strongly committed to securing our border, stopping illegal immigration, and ensuring the safety of all Americans. A compassionate solution for the illegal immigrant population living and working in the United States can be accomplished without resorting to amnesty. Current illegal immigrants should not receive all the rights and privileges they would have been eligible for had they come legally. They should not be eligible for citizenship. To pardon lawbreakers and reward them with the objective of their crime is inappropriate and will accelerate the flow of illegal immigrants," Hartzler posted on her website.

Should undocumented immigrants be covered under a government-run health plan?
Simmons: "Yes, government healthcare should provide medicine to all human beings regardless of immigration status. The truth is when a person is sick they deserve treatment. And when that person walks into the ER they receive that care--regardless. By providing coverage to undocumented immigrants we actually lower the economic burden. Moreover, if we truly welcomed new people to our country, no one would be 'undocumented.'"
Koonse: Yes, all undocumented immigrants. "The virus does not discriminate. Undocumented immigrants should feel free to seek medical attention without fear of deportation."
Hartzler: 41 Action News believes Vicky Hartzler would answer "no." She wrote "current illegal immigrants should not receive all the rights and privileges they would have been eligible for had they come legally."


What is the most important issue of this election?
Simmons: "Finding a solution to COVID-19--both from the healthcare perspective and the economic perspective. The truth is that this is a public health crisis first and we will never reach economic stability until the public health crisis is resolved, or at least contained. It appears that the current office holders are completely unable to achieve that goal. And it's not helped when necessary relief goes to the hands of the rich and powerful first--like Vicky Hartzler who received half a million dollars while, according to the SBA Inspector General, rural businesses were denied that same support."
Koonse: "Failure to recognize increasing the debt and printing money will cause substantial inflation. Quoting from Article 1, section 8 of the constitution: "Congress shall have power . . . to coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of Foreign coin." The Fed has been purchasing corporate bonds and ETFs to compensate for business's inability to provide goods and services at volumes preceding the pandemic. So too much money is being provided to firms producing too few goods. This is a classic definition of inflation. Thus the value of money is being devalued by Fed actions. Additionally, the Fed's ability to print money and appropriate it to buy junk bonds, usurp the appropriation power given to Congress by the Constitution.The Fed should have a dependent advisory role to Congress which I will strive to legislate."
Hartzler: Did not answer.

Editor’s Note: 41 Action News has updated this story to include answers from Libertarian candidate Steven Koonse, for whom we could not initially locate contact information.

41 Action News is committed to providing comprehensive information on the 2020 primary and general elections with an emphasis on several key issues — the economy, the COVID-19 pandemic and race relations. Count on us to provide news and information to help you make an informed choice at the polls.