A new session of the Missouri House is underway with Republicans ready to flex their increased muscle.
Secretary of State Robin Carnahan called the House to order shortly after 12-Noon. Carnahan presided until a temporary Speaker was chosen to conduct the elections of this new session of the House.
State Supreme Court Chief Justice Ray Price swore in the 163 members, including 78 freshmen. That number of newcomers increases by two if you count the two members who joined the House last year.
As expected, House Majority Floor Leader Steven Tilley, a Republican from Perryville, was elected Speaker. In his opening day remarks, Tilley asked his colleagues to look at each other not as Republican or Democrat, but as a dedicated citizen working to make the state better.
Tilley touted changes he had made as Speaker, such as naming committee chairmen prior to the start of the session and appointing three Democrats as committee chairmen. He announced that budgets for the leadership teams in the House will be cut by 10%. He said his office budget would be cut by 15%.
Tilley outlined what he calls the Show Me Solutions Initiative.
“Limited government, fiscal prudence, individual freedoms and personal responsibility, but it’s also ground in common sense,” Tilley told the chamber. “These are also ideas that are not entirely new, but with a change in focus I believe they are completely achievable because then we talk to Missourians across this state their call has often been to show me solutions.”
Tilley pledged to oppose any proposed increase in taxes. He stated that the top priority of the legislative session must be job creation, which he said would require improving the state’s business climate by cutting regulations, fees and taxes for small businesses. Tilley advocated requiring those seeking a state driver’s license to be able to read and write in English. Education reform would encompass reform of the teacher tenure track and end the social promotion of students. Tilley stated that welfare recipients should be required to pass drug tests.
The top Democrat in the House, House Minority Leader Mike Talboy of Kansas City, stated during his time on the House floor that he understands the call this year is to create jobs.
“But in our haste to make Missouri more business-friendly, we need to make sure that we avoid becoming anti-worker,” Talboy stated.
Talboy pledged that Democrats would be the loyal opposition though their numbers are dwarfed by those of the Republicans. Republicans enter this session with 106 members in the House. There are 57 Democrats.
The session runs through mid-May.