The 2019 session began with Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft presiding over the proceedings. As we now have115 Republicans and 47 Democrats with one seat currently vacant. In the Senate, we now have a split of 24 Republicans and 10 Democrats. Next week we should be in full session mode and committee assignments should be given.
House Speaker Haahr Outlines Priorities during Opening Day Address
Following his election by acclamation, new House Speaker Elijah Haahr delivered an opening day address that outlined his policy priorities for the 2019 session. After thanking his family for the support they have given him as he has pursued a life of public service, the Speaker talked about how the first General Assembly two centuries ago represented a state of 66,000 citizens and the 100th General Assembly now represents a state of more than 6 million. Haahr reminded his colleagues that they are the voices of the people and the House Chamber is “a meeting place that unites us as a state.”
Haahr noted in his address that the state is at record low unemployment, the tourism industry is booming, and the state’s geographic location in the middle of the country gives it a natural advantage as it competes for commerce. Despite the success the state has seen, Haahr said the legislature cannot rest. He told his colleagues, “This year we will create bold solutions for the challenges faced by every Missourian.”
As Haahr outlined his priorities for the legislative session, he focused on:
· Passing policies that cultivate employers rather than control businesses.
· Building on the historic tax relief passed by the legislature and continuing to balance the budget without raising taxes on Missourians.
· Continuing the legislature’s commitment to fully fund the school foundation formula. Haahr noted that “the way we spend educational dollars is as important as how much we spend. We need schools that challenge yet support our students.”
· Developing 21st century colleges to help create a 21st century workforce.
· Continuing to lead the charge to confront the opioid epidemic raging across the state.
· Providing opportunities to those in a broken criminal justice system by passing more reforms that build on the reforms made last year to Missouri’s sentencing laws.
Haahr reminded his colleagues that they stand for every Missourian. “We stand for the innocent, the infirm, the born and the unborn,” he said.
Speaker Haahr closed his speech by saying, “Our birthright is not dictated by our birthplace. Our achievement is not conditioned by our income. Americans can do anything they set their mind to, and Missourians will show them the way. From growing families to the greatest generation, from entrepreneurs to empty nesters, we are the voice of Missourians pursuing the American dream. Let us join together, seize the opportunity, and be bold.”
House and Senate Members Hold Joint Session and Reception to Commemorate 100th General Assembly
After both the House and Senate wrapped up their typical opening day proceedings, the two legislative bodies convened a joint session in the House Chamber to celebrate the historic 100th General Assembly.
The opening of session in 2019 marks two milestone events in Missouri’s history. The First General Assembly of the future State of Missouri convened at the Missouri Hotel in St. Louis on Sept. 19, 1820 — nearly a year before the state was officially admitted into the Union. The General Assembly organized, held the inauguration of the governor and lieutenant governor, and elected Missouri’s two United States senators. The first legislature also designated St. Charles as the temporary capital and appointed a commission to report on the site for the permanent capital.
Just over 100 years later, on Jan. 8, 1919, the 50th General Assembly convened in the current Capitol for the first full session of the legislature in the new building. The session ended a seven-year period where legislative and executive functions were performed in temporary quarters until the construction of the Capitol was complete.
To commemorate these events, the General Assembly held a joint session upon the adjournment of each chamber’s regular session. The joint session was held for the sole purpose of taking a group photograph of the members of the 100th General Assembly. Following the adjournment of the joint session, a special reception in the third-floor rotunda was held to celebrate the milestones.