Mo. General Assembly begins 2011 session | St. Louis Public Radio

Mo. General Assembly begins 2011 session

Jan 5, 2011

The Missouri General Assembly has begun its annual legislative session in Jefferson City.

New Republican leaders in both chambers emphasized job growth as their top priorities.

The new President Pro-tem of the Missouri Senate, Rob Mayer (R, Dexter), again touted his proposal to turn the Show-Me State into a right-to-work state, a move strongly opposed by labor unions.

Senate Minority Floor Leader Victor Callahan (D, Independence) says becoming a right-to-work state would not create new jobs.

"You don't create jobs by making it easier for companies to fire people," Callahan told reporters after the Senate's opening session.  "You don't create jobs by replacing a $25 an hour job with two $7.50 an hour jobs."

Callahan would not comment on whether Democrats would use the filibuster to block passage of any right-to-work legislation in the Missouri Senate.

Meanwhile, new House Speaker Steven Tilley (R, Perryville) pledged to foster a business-friendly climate in Missouri, and promised to balance the state budget without raising taxes.  Minutes after being sworn in, he also offered an olive branch to the now-smaller Democratic minority when announcing rule changes for how the House is run.

"You will see several distinct changes, one of which removes partisan control from committees and reinstitutes the power of the minority leader to appoint his chosen members to a committee," Tilley said during his opening address.

Democrats were less than enthusiastic, though, when Tilley also urged House members to pass legislation requiring drug testing for welfare recipients.  The measure died during last year's session.