The Missouri legislature will begin its session January 6 with new leaders in both chambers, despite being the second regular session for this General Assembly, when normally each chamber’s leader would be entering his or her second straight session in that position. Both of them sat down recently with Missourinet.
Ron Richard (R-Joplin) was elected Senate President Pro Tem after the resignation from that position of Tom Dempsey, who is now the director of business development at the St. Louis based lobbying firm Gate Way Group. Richard becomes the first person in Missouri history to be elected both Senate President Pro Tem and House Speaker.
Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) became House Speaker on the final day of this year’s session following the resignation of John Diehl, Junior, after Diehl admitted to exchanging sexually-charged texts with an intern.
Richard said don’t expect a great change in the way the Senate runs under him from how it did under Dempsey.
“Consultants are speculating that I’m going to be the bad actor, I’m going to move the previous question, I’m going to act like I’m Speaker of the House. I suggest that they just watch what we do,” said Richard. “These consultants are paid to divide the House and Senate, you know. That’s how they make their money. The fact is the Speaker and I have a pretty decent plan on where we want to go and where we want to end.”
“I think you can look for clear, open, diligent debate,” said Richard, who sees the job of the Senate as slowing down the consideration of bills after the House works to get them out quickly.
“That’s not to say that I won’t use necessary parliamentary procedure if I think it is necessary, but I don’t anticipate it,” said Richard.
“Necessary parliamentary procedure,” could include the use of the previous question; a motion that if adopted shuts down debate and forces a vote on the item before the chamber. Some see the use of such a motion as an insult in a chamber where, Richard acknowledges, members expect to filibuster as long as they want for any amount of time.
“People have to understand that there is a balance with filibustering in the Senate and moving the previous question,” said Richard. “I will keep my arrow in the quiver that at some point in time I may or may not use the previous question as a balance. The fact is that open and fair debate, however long it takes, is fine with me, and I proved that as majority leader. My goal at the end of the day is you need to have your discussion, however long it takes, and have a vote.”
Richardson says his approach in the House will be, “to allow the process to work and try to create the kind of environment where our process works the way it was intended to. That’s probably going to be a little more bottom-up style than we’ve seen in this office in some other years and I think that’s what the House and the legislature needs right now.”
“I hope that the next session will be seen as one that was productive and one where the legislature was willing to tackle tough issues,” said Richardson. “I think if we do that, when it’s all wrapped up in May, we’ll be able to look back and say it was a productive session.”
Richardson and Richard talk with Missourinet in the videos below about funding for transportation infrastructure, what legislation will result from hearings over the summer on Planned Parenthood, the St. Louis NFL Stadium Deal, right-to-work, the budget and Governor Jay Nixon’s current budget restrictions, Medicaid reform, and the state’s role in and their positions on refugees entering Missouri.
Senate President Ron Richard:
House Speaker Todd Richardson: