By Kyna Iman
The First Regular Session of the 99th General Assembly will convene Wednesday, January 4th. Members of the General Assembly will be sworn in and Speaker of the House, Todd Richardson and Senate Pro Tem, Ron Richard will lay out their priorities in welcoming speeches.
Inauguration festivities begin Sunday, January 8th and Governor-Elect Eric Greitens as well as the other newly elected statewide officials will be sworn in at noon Monday, January 9th on the steps of the State Capitol. The events of the day will conclude with the traditional ball in the Capitol Rotunda.
Newly Elected Legislators and Leadership
Forty-four new members were elected to the House of Representatives (this includes those elected during session last year in special elections.) Current House statistics: 117 republicans, 46 democrats; 125 men, 37 women. The Senate will have six new freshman senators, five of which served in the House. Bill Eigel is the only Senator-Elect that is brand new to the legislature. Current Senate statistics: 24 republicans, 9 democrats and 1 vacancy (Sen. Parson was elected to the office of Lt. Governor) A full list of house and senate members is available at:
Directory of House members: http://www.house.mo.gov/member.aspx
Directory of Senate members: http://www.senate.mo.gov/2016-senator-listing-2/
The day after the November 8th election, incumbent and newly elected legislators met in Jefferson City to unofficially elect majority and minority caucus leadership. Senate majority leadership positions remained the same except Sen. Hegeman will replace Treasurer-Elect Eric Schmitt, as Majority Caucus Chair. With the resignation of Senate Minority Leader Joe Keaveny, Democrats selected Sen. Gina Walsh as the Minority Floor Leader. Sen. Jamilah Nasheed is new member of minority leadership and will serve as Minority Caucus Whip.
House republicans selected Rep. Elijah Haahr as the new Speaker Pro Tem. Haahr will replace Denny Hoskins, who was selected to serve in the Senate. Rep. Glen Kolkmeyer will replace term-limited Rep. Shelley Keeney Taylor as House Majority Caucus Chair. With Jake Hummel winning his election to the Senate, democrats selected Rep. Gail McCann Beatty as their new Minority Floor Leader. Representatives Michael Butler, Randy Dunn, Kip Kendrick, Daron McGee and Deb Lavender were also selected to serve in minority leadership positions. Below is a full breakdown of all leadership positions:
Senate Majority Leadership Senate Minority Leadership
Senate Pro Tem – Sen. Ron Richard Minority Floor Leader – Sen. Gina Walsh
Majority Floor Leader – Sen. Mike Kehoe Asst. Minority Floor Leader – Sen. Kiki Curls
Asst. Majority Floor Leader – Sen. Bob Onder Minority Caucus Chair – Sen. Jason Holsman
Majority Caucus Chair – Sen. Dan Hegeman Minority Caucus Whip – Jamilah Nasheed
Majority Caucus Secretary – Sen. Jay Wasson
Majority Caucus Whip – Sen. Brian Munzlinger
House Majority Leadership House Minority Leadership
Speaker of the House – Rep. Todd Richardson Minority Floor Leader – Rep. Gail McCann Beatty
Speaker Pro Tem – Rep. Elijah Haahr Asst. Minority Floor Leader – Rep. Ginal Mitten
Majority Floor Leader – Rep. Mike Cierpiot Minority Caucus Chair – Rep. Michael Butler
Asst. Majority Floor Leader – Rep. Kevin Austin Minority Caucus Vice-Chair – Rep. Randy Dunn
Majority Whip – Rep. Delus Johnson Minority Caucus Whip – Rep. Kip Kendrick
Majority Caucus Chair – Rep. Glen Kolkmeyer Minority Caucus Secretary – Rep. Daron McGee
Majority Caucus Secretary – Rep. Mike Bernskoetter Minority Caucus Policy Chair – Rep. Deb Lavender
Legislators Already Looking at 2018 Senate Seats
As we have seen every year since the passage of term limits, immediately after members are elected they look ahead to the next elected position and begin fundraising. This year is no different, except some are trying to generate as many “unlimited contribution” checks as possible before newly passed contribution limits go into effect. Six senators will be term limited in 2108 and several house members have already announced their interest and some formed campaign committees.
As Promised Republicans Pre-file Priority Issues
Pre-filing began December 1st and approximately 300 bills and resolutions were filed in the first two days; 180 of those were filed by senators. Republican leadership announced the day after the election they would move quickly on their priorities which include: tort reform; eliminating right to work, allowing local governments to opt out of prevailing wage; education reform, eliminating burdensome regulations on business, and ethics reform. Many of these bills were introduced and passed in previous sessions but did not get over the finish line because of Governor Nixon’s veto pen and the failure to garner enough votes for a veto override. Governor-Elect Greitens wants to pass judicial reform by eliminating the Nonpartisan Selection of Judges Court Plan. A constitutional amendment has been pre-filed and is expected to be debated this session. Greitens also campaigned on “cleaning up Jefferson City” by strengthening legislation passed last year to address the revolving door of legislators becoming lobbyist. The bill signed into law this year requires legislators to finish their terms and wait six months before registering as lobbyists.
Republicans will also work to find a solution to the deteriorating transportation infrastructure. Many ideas have been proposed and debated but those that passed the Senate were tax increases and did not pass out of committee in the House.
Expect to see legislation return that would overhaul utility infrastructure and encourage investment in the electric grid to replace a decades old infrastructure. Legislation to address failing gas, sewer and water infrastructure is also expected.
Following are links to a list of pre-filed bills:
Governor-Elect Greitens Begins Transition
The transition has begun from Governor Jay Nixon’s administration to Governor Eric Greitens’ administration. Greitens will be the first governor in a century without prior experience in elected office, but he has selected former elected officials to serve on his transition team to help set up his administration. Members of his transition team include: Former Senator Jane Cunningham, Former Treasurer and Senator Sarah Steelman and her husband David Steelman, Former Senator Jim Lembke, Former Senator John Lamping and Former Representative and House Budget Chairman Rick Stream.
Greitens Will Start His Term With A Budget Shortfall
With the phase-out of the Corporate Franchise Tax passed by the legislature in 2011 revenue was down $90 million last year and more than $35 million so far this year. This along with other factors has House Budget Chairman Scott Fitzpatrick estimating a budget shortfall of approximately $200 million. Fitzpatrick has indicated on Twitter he will be looking at cutting entitlement programs in DSS to help balance the FY18 budget. We will see if the House, Senate and Governor’s office will be able to come to a revenue consensus for the 2018 Fiscal Year.
2017 Dates of Interest
Wednesday, January 4 12:00 p.m. – Session Begins
Monday, January 9 12:00 p.m. – Inauguration
(Tentatively 7:00 p.m.) Inaugural Ball
Monday, January 16 No Session – Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Monday, March 20 – 24 Legislative Spring Break
Sunday, April 16 Easter
Monday, April 17 Easter Break
Friday, May 12 6:00 p.m. – Session Ends