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Elijah Haahr Reflects On An Eventful Eight Years In The Missouri House

House Speaker Elijah Haahr brings down the gavel to end the 2020 veto session on Wednesday, Sept. 16.
Tim Bommel
House Communications
House Speaker Elijah Haahr brings down the gavel to end the 2020 veto session on Sept. 16.

House Speaker Elijah Haahr is the latest guest on Politically Speaking, where the departing lawmaker talked to St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jaclyn Driscoll about key lessons he learned from being the top GOP member of the Missouri House.

The Springfield Republican served in House leadership for four years, including the last two years as speaker. He is departing from the Legislature due to term limits in early January. House Majority Leader Rob Vescovo, R-Jefferson County, will succeed him as speaker.

Here’s what Haahr talked about on the program:

  • His biggest accomplishments, including the passage of legislation overhauling the criminal justice system in 2019.
  • The major events that happened during his term, including the rise of the Ferguson protest movement, the death of Tom Schweich, the near-impeachment of Gov. Eric Greitens and the COVID-19 pandemic that took over the 2020 session.
  • Some of the tough decisions he had to make as speaker, most recently when he chose not to consider several bills that would have allowed the attorney general to intervene in St. Louis murder cases under certain circumstances.
  • The pros and cons of term limits. While he noted that he may not have become speaker if term limits weren’t in place, Haahr noted that they have a lot of downside — especially when it comes to retaining institutional memory.

An attorney, Haahr was first elected to his post in 2012. He quickly rose up the ranks, eventually being selected to chair the House Emerging Issues Committee and being elected as House speaker pro tem.

He chose not to run for anything during the 2020 election cycle. At only 38, he’s not ruling out a run in the future but added he was thankful he didn’t seek another office while trying to steer the House through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jaclyn Driscoll on Twitter: @DriscollNPR

Follow Elijah Haahr on Twitter: @elijahhaahr

Music: “In the Red” by Audio Ammunition

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Jaclyn is the Jefferson City statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.

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