Missouri Governor Mike Parson’s State of the State address Wednesday in Jefferson City will look different than any other State of the State speech in recent history.
That’s due to COVID-19 precautions.
The Missouri House was not in session last week, due to COVID concerns. State Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester, announced Friday that he’s tested positive for COVID. State Sens. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, and John Rizzo, D-Independence, announced on Tuesday that they will both quarantine, after being in close contact with someone who’s tested positive for COVID. Rizzo is the Senate Democratic Leader.
The State of the State Address is significant, because it’s the venue where the governor outlines his 2021 legislative priorities and his budget blueprint. The speech is delivered in the Missouri House chamber, before a rare joint session of the Legislature.
While the 162 current Missouri House members will sit at their desks like normal, Missouri state senators and the Missouri Supreme Court judges will be seated in the right upper gallery, for coronavirus safety precautions. State senators normally sit in chairs set up on the House floor, near the dais. The seven Missouri Supreme Court judges normally are seated to the governor’s right, near the front of the House chamber.
Missouri Capitol technicians have also worked to finish a projector for the Capitol Rotunda, which will serve as an overflow seating area for those who can’t get into the House chamber on Wednesday. Parson spokeswoman Kelli Jones tells Missourinet about 50 to 75 chairs will be set up in the Rotunda area, while maintaining social distancing.
Because of COVID issues, attendance in the Missouri House chamber will be limited on Wednesday. The joint session is expected to begin at 3 pm. Governor Parson will speak sometime after that. Jones says the governor has recently practiced his speech in the House chamber.
Missouri’s current operating budget is about $38 billion, which includes two supplemental budgets with federal money. The State of the State highlight’s the governor’s budget priorities. We’ll also learn Wednesday whether or not Governor Parson’s proposed budget includes a pay increase for state employees. That’s a big issue in mid-Missouri. More than 14-thousand state employees work in Cole County, making state government Jefferson City’s largest employer.
House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, and other top House Democrats plan a press conference on Wednesday afternoon at 4, to respond to the governor’s State of the State Address.
Missourinet will have live coverage of the State of the State Address, beginning at 3 o’clock. Reporter Brian Hauswirth will also have live interviews with state lawmakers in both parties, after the speech. In addition to Missourinet, the speech will also be live-streamed on the governor’s Facebook page.
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