St. Louis Public Radio News
7:54 am
Wed January 7, 2009

2009 Mo. legislative session begins

Jefferson City, MO – The 2009 Missouri legislative session is underway.

Despite economic hard times, House and Senate leaders began the session by pledging to work together to hammer out a workable budget, spur the economy and help working families.

New House Speaker Ron Richard (R, Joplin) told lawmakers they need to rise to the challenge of doing more with less.

"My goal is nothing less than to make Missouri the most attractive location in the world to do business, to work, and to live," Richard told fellow House members.

Richard urged adoption of his proposed Family Recovery Plan, which focuses on tax relief, job creation, affordable health care, and investment in alternative energy sources.

House Minority Floor Leader Paul LeVota (D, Independence) pledged to cooperate with Republican leaders, but also warned them not to play political games.

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

LeVota also said that Democrats will dedicate themselves to holding both the Republican majority and incoming Governor Jay Nixon accountable to work together to find solutions to Missouri's problems.

In the State Senate, new President Pro-tem Charlie Shields (R, St. Joseph) told fellow Senators that they need to create a plan to make Missouri business-friendly, expand health coverage to more people, and build an educated workforce.

"While our current financial situation creates difficult choices, it also creates opportunities...we have the opportunity to use this (financial) crisis to make difficult decisions, but more importantly to focus on a long-term strategy to build the state Missourians want," Shields said.