Welcome to 2019! The new year brings new opportunity and many changes, and Jefferson City is no exception. There will be several changes when we reconvene the General Assembly. One significant change is in my office.
If you have called or emailed my office over the last three years you undoubtedly had contact with Dylan Bryant, the office Legislative Assistant. Dylan has moved to Health and Human Services, and on to new challenges. He will be the deputy chief of Vital Records. Although I’ll miss his company and efficiency, I’m excited for his new opportunity.
However, not to worry, the office is covered. The new Legislative Assistant is Markus Vest, a veteran LA around the capitol building, a former National Guard sergeant, and an efficient office manager. I know we will be successful with Markus in our group, and I’m looking forward to a great session with him as the office anchor.
Also, when we swear in on Jan. 9, there will be 60 new members in the House. That is correct, well over a third of our 163 members will be brand new when they raise their right hand on Wednesday. We often say that learning to be a state legislator is like drinking from a firehose. Funny, yes, but it is also the truth.
The freshmen already had their tour, met most of the House leadership, and received a bit of the local flavor from all corners of the state. They also spent some time touring the Capitol building, learning where the hearing rooms are, how to be recognized on the floor as well as introducing bills and amendments, and participating in some mock committee hearings. They have received a copy of the House Rules from the 99th General Assembly to begin their study: we will have a few rules changes in the new General Assembly, but they are basically the same from term to term.
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges for a new member is learning everyone’s name. As a senior, I have 60 new names to deal with. This may seem like a giant task; but think about 163, plus 34 senators, plus staff! Then a new member must learn the procedures, not just the floor, but filing a bill, getting it heard in committee, herding it through the Floor Calendar, trying to get enough votes, and then the work really begins when it goes to the Senate! However daunting this seems, the new members I’ve met seem very ready to take up the task at hand and become successful legislators. I’m looking forward to working with them!
On an historical note, this will be the 100th Missouri General Assembly. We will wrap up 200 years of government by the time we end next year. One of the early stops I made as a legislator happened to be in St. Charles to visit the original meeting place of our first legislature. There, on the second floor in a cozy room where those first representatives came together to launch our journey of statehood. They sat on stiff wooden benches, kept their spittoons handy (chewing tobacco was common in 1821), and began to add form to the barebones government of the new state. Granted, I have two degrees in history, but I find this sort of thing to be pretty exciting stuff!
When we swear in Wednesday at noon, I hope all the legislators feel the energy that the first group must have felt. It’s always history when we make laws, but milestones are worth commemorating. If you have the opportunity, make a trip to your statehouse this year, and please stop by to visit. I always enjoy company!
It is an honor to serve the 51st District in the Missouri House of Representatives. Each week I will issue a capitol report to keep you informed of activities in Jefferson City. Any concerns or issues you might have are of great interest to me. I look forward to your input and thoughts, so please feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions, concerns, or ideas to improve our state government and the quality of life for all Missourians. My telephone number is 573-751-2204 or you may contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for working with me to make Missouri a great place to live.