The Missouri House Speaker wants his chamber to send an ethics bill to the Senate quickly.

Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson addresses the House on January 3, 2018 (photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) says the ethics legislation sponsored by State Rep. Justin Alferman (R-Hermann) is one of his top priorities.

Richardson says he plans to send it to the Missouri Senate next week.

“I’m very optimistic that we’re going to continue a good, strong working relationship with the Senate and I’m hopeful that we’ll see the Senate be able to take up and pass that bill,” Richardson says.

The House passed the Alferman bill 149-5 last January, but it died in the Senate in May 2017.

The Alferman bill bans gifts from lobbyists. It includes exemptions for flowers, plants and any gift that would be given to all 197 state lawmakers, such as the upcoming “Taste of Jefferson City” meal event.

Speaker Richardson, who briefed the Capitol Press Corps on Wednesday’s opening day at the Statehouse, says he wants to continue to focus on making Missouri the most competitive economic environment anywhere in the nation.

“That means we’re going to take a strong look at our tax policy in Missouri,” says Richardson. “We’re going to continue our efforts on tort reform, labor reform.”

Richardson also says a top GOP priority will be passage of legislation sponsored by State Rep. Patricia Pike, R-Adrian, which requires the Missouri Department of Public Safety (DPS) to develop human trafficking hotline posters for locations such as hotels, motels, strip clubs, airports, train stations and emergency rooms.

The Missouri Highway Patrol Troop F Honor Guard presented the flags at Wednesday’s opening session (January 3, 2018 photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

In addition to briefing Capitol reporters, Richardson also addressed the Missouri House during Wednesday’s opening day. During his short speech, the Poplar Bluff Republican emphasized the importance of bipartisanship.

Richardson praises House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City, saying he admires her. They were both elected to the House in 2010.

“We may and have had many issues where we (he and Beatty) disagree,” Richardson says. “But at the end of the day, I believe we will still be friends who are united in our desire to serve the people of Missouri.”

Beatty also briefed the Capitol Press Corps on Wednesday, surrounded by other House Democrats.

Republicans control the Missouri House 112-46.

Beatty says she has a good relationship with Richardson, saying they meet regularly and that he has an open door.

Missourinet then asked Leader Beatty about the relationship between GOP Governor Greitens and her and other House Democrats, and how often they meet.

Beatty and other Democrats laughed, before Beatty confirmed she’s only met once with Greitens.

“I think you’ve probably noticed from a few of my press releases we don’t really have a whole lot to talk about,” Beatty says.

House Democrats say they’ll focus on promoting fiscal responsibility in 2018, while working to ensure that Missourians’ basic needs are met.

“Democrats have proposed a comprehensive package of legislation to address the opioid addiction crisis, and finally we’ve also filed a comprehensive ethics package,” says Beatty.

Missouri Democrats are pushing legislation to prohibit government officials or employees from using data-purging applications, while conducting public business.

That would include the Confide app, which automatically destroys text messages after they’ve been read.

House Majority Leader Rob Vescovo’s (R-Arnold) office says Governor Greitens will deliver his 2018 State of the State Address on Wednesday January 10 at 7 p.m. in Jefferson City.