Jason Davidson, a Republican, is the first candidate to officially enter the race to replace term-limited Rep. Dave Muntzel as the 48th District Representative in the Missouri House of Representatives in 2020.

Jason Davidson, a New Franklin resident and Boonville school bus driver, is running to replace Rep. Dave Muntzel in the Missouri House of Representatives when he reaches his term limit next year.

Davidson, a Republican, established his campaign committee this week. He’s the first candidate to officially enter the race to replace Muntzel as the representative of the 48th House District, which includes parts of Cooper, Howard, Pettis, Saline, Chariton and Randolph counties.

Neither Howard County Republican Committee Treasurer Shawna Rye nor Howard County Democratic Committee Chair Mary Jarboe were aware of any other candidates who planned to run as of Friday afternoon.

Muntzel, first elected in 2012, will reach his eight-year term limit after the 2020 legislative session. After defeating Democratic opponent Ron Monnig with 60 percent of the vote in 2012, Muntzel ran unopposed in 2014, then won with 80 percent of the vote in 2016 and 74 percent in 2018.

Davidson served on the town council of Moffatt, Colorado, before he moved to Missouri in 2010. He lost a general election for Howard County Western District Commissioner in 2012.

Criminal justice reform and protecting property rights are two of Davidson’s main focuses, he said.

Davidson sees himself siding “95 percent of the time” with Rep. Cheri Toalson-Reisch, R-Hallsville, and Rep. Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport, he said. His main disagreement with recent actions the Republican-dominated legislature has taken is that their tax cuts didn’t go far enough.

He said he would propose a constitutional amendment to phase out income and property taxes, and have all levels of government in the state funded by a 5 percent sales tax. By investing that revenue instead of spending it right away, Davidson believes the state could build a large enough principal to fund the budget with interest. He said he’ll be working with conservative think tank Americans For Prosperity and other groups to work out a more detailed plan.

Having the lowest taxes in the nation would eliminate the need for cities to give out incentives to draw businesses to their communities, he said.

Davidson pointed to the Mamtek sweetener factory in Moberly as an example of the dangers of handing out incentives to draw businesses.

The Moberly Industrial Development Authority issued $39 million in bonds to help pay for the factory’s construction, but it was never completed. Local officials tend to focus on the number of jobs a business will bring, rather than doing due diligence to see if it’s a viable business, Davidson said.

The state needs to stop cities and counties from infringing on property rights, Davidson said. Health regulations targeting large livestock feedlots in Howard and Cooper counties go too far in telling people what they can do on their own property, he said. There should be stiff penalties if a manure spill gets into public water or affects someone else’s property, but governments shouldn’t tell people what to do with their property because something bad might happen, he said.

“If that’s the case, then we should ban cars altogether, because someone might drive drunk or crash,” he said.

If cities and counties keep imposing on property rights, there’s going to have to be state laws stopping them, like the law passed this year to stop counties from regulating livestock operations, he said.

“It’s the only way to keep things in check,” he said.

Davidson also believes there are too many people in prison for non-violent offenses, especially for marijuana possession. Prohibition didn’t work for alcohol, and it hasn‘t worked with marijuana, he said. Like alcohol, only adults should be allowed to use marijuana, and driving while high should be a crime, he said.

Fully legalizing marijuana would reduce the prison population, allowing the state to focus more resources on education and health care, Davidson said. It would also reduce crime centered around the illegal drug trade, he said.

“You’ve got people trespassing on other people’s property, on public property, growing marijuana to sell,” Davidson said. “Why can’t our farmers be doing that?”