Depending on the time of year, you’ll either find Lincoln Hough dressed up in a suit and tie or dressed down in blue jeans and boots. The state senator representing Springfield is a longtime cattle farmer who feels at home in both worlds.
After three terms in the state House of Representatives and two years on the Greene County Commission, Hough says he’s found his sweet spot in the Senate.
“It fits my personality and my beliefs better than ‘we’re all on one side,’” he says of the Senate, which he views as having less partisan politics than the House. “There are very few policy stances that I have that I would say there is no room to negotiate.”
In November 2018, Hough narrowly beat Democratic candidate Charlie Norr to represent Springfield’s District 30. In his first Senate session, he prioritized education through sponsoring Senate Bill 68, which authorized $10 million for Gov. Mike Parson’s Fast Track workforce incentive program, and helped to secure a $10 million increase to Missouri State University’s core funding.
“We’ve got to train or retrain the workers that we have for the jobs that we can’t fill,” Hough says. “I absolutely believe in investing in people so that they can better themselves.”
It’s a concept he’s supported before. In 2012, Hough sponsored the bill to create the Missouri Works program, providing tax incentives to companies for job creation, retention and capital investments. Coupled with Fast Track legislation, SB 68 retooled Missouri Works and renamed it Missouri One Start, also giving incentives for General Motors Co. to expand its Wentzville plant.
Hough says his other day job started in seventh grade. That’s when his parents loaned him $450 to buy three heifers. Twenty-five years later, he now owns hundreds of cows spanning thousands of acres on various family farms in southwest Missouri.
“I can run around and feed hay with my feed trunk in three or four hours and feed everything I need to take care of,” he says. “If it was as labor intensive as it used to be, we’d all be broke. Or more broke than we are.”
Joking aside, he says the farming business is profitable but has suffered some with ongoing trade negotiations.
Looking to 2020, Hough says he is considering legislation to re-establish the Missouri High Risk Plan to offer insurance to those without access. He also has a key role on the Senate Appropriations Committee as its vice chairman.
“All of the things that we talk about go through the budget,” he says. “There’s no better way to be an advocate for what you believe in or your priorities for your community, and in the state as a whole, than to be involved in how that money gets carved up.”
Surgical tech workers are in high demand, officials say.