State legislative sessions typically begin with much bi-partisan talk; talk that often fades quickly. It hasn’t taken long for the top Democrat in the House to issue a partisan challenge.

House Minority Leader Paul LeVota (D-Independence) called for change from past Republican policies during his opening day floor speech.

"Missouri has been moving in the wrong direction," LeVota declared in his opening day speech. "I understand this problem cannot be solved in one session, but the direction must be substantially and noticeably changed this year."

Later in the talk, LeVota’s comments turned more critical.

"No more arbitrary, partisan rulings from the chair," LeVota insisted, "No more conveniently not seeing a member who is trying to gain recognition and no more punishing a member by not recognizing them on the floor."

During the news conference afterward, LeVota objected to characterizing his words as partisan. He said the issues he raised are not partisan.

As for House Speaker Ron Richard, the Republican from Joplin brushed off LeVota’s comments.     Richard has attempted to build a tone of bi-partisanship and doesn’t believe LeVota’s speech undermines those efforts.

 Richard said he doesn’t care about politics.

"If you put me in a corner, I can be pretty political and I’ll be the meanest dog you ever saw," Richard told reporters, "but just don’t be me into that corner."

Republicans hold the majority in the House with 89 members. There are 74 Democrats in the House.

Download/listen Brent Martin reports (1:20 MP3)