Missouri House Democrats are outnumbered by Republicans 116-47, but they say they’re excited and energized about the 2019 session.

The 163 newly-elected Missouri state representatives take the oath of office on January 9, 2019 in Jefferson City (photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, spoke to Capitol reporters after Wednesday’s opening day session in Jefferson City.

“Though few in numbers, we are bold and strong in our convictions. We are determined to act in the best interests of all Missourians,” Quade said.

She is also focused on expanding health care access for all Missourians and fighting legislative right to work efforts. Leader Quade said Democrats want to strengthen K-12 education and Missouri’s public colleges, along with health care issues.

“Access to affordable and quality health care for all Missourians and defending rights for all workers throughout Missouri,” said Quade.

She’s also filed legislation to protect taxpayers from a mistake made by the state Department of Revenue last year, that she said resulted in inaccurate withholdings from Missourians’ paychecks.

Missouri Legislative Black Caucus Chairman Steven Roberts, D-St. Louis, praised new House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, for calling for additional criminal justice reform. Representative Roberts said public safety increases when ex-prisoners find employment.

“I mean I think a priority of our state needs to be helping ex-felons, people who deserve that second chance to have the employment opportunities that they so desire,” Roberts said.

More than 90 percent of Missouri prisoners will be released to the community, at some point. Speaker Haahr told the House on Wednesday that the criminal justice system is “broken.”

Roberts notes state lawmakers overwhelmingly approved bipartisan legislation to expand Missouri’s treatment court system to all counties, during September’s special session. Treatment courts include DWI and veterans treatment courts.

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