Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

January 12, 2007

Link from Legislators sworn in for 94th General Assembly

Both the Missouri House of Representatives and the Missouri Senate kicked off the first regular session of the 94th General Assembly on Wednesday, Jan. 3. The session began with the swearing-in ceremony, which included the 27 new House members and the five new Senate members.

The House will focus on education, health care and taxes as it begins the session. House Speaker Rod Jetton (R-Marble Hill) was re-elected to a second term as speaker and delivered an opening day address that featured priorities of tax cuts, fixing St. Louis schools, improving education and higher education funding, and making English the official language of all state proceedings. In the Senate, President Pro-Tem Mike Gibbons (R-Kirkwood), also elected to another term as the Senate leader, presented his goals for the legislative session, including reforming the Medicaid program.

In his opening day remarks, Jetton called on the House to support his plan to eliminate Missouri’s tax on Social Security benefits for seniors, and also noted the importance of senior nutrition. His remarks also included plans to protect teachers from disruptive students in the classroom.

Jetton also noted his support for improving college scholarships. “We should follow Georgia’s lead and provide a scholarship to all Missouri students who want to attend college in Missouri,” Jetton said. “Help me keep our best and brightest right here at home by passing a major college scholarship program this year in the Missouri House.” Several House leaders have been considering ideas for increasing scholarship and financial aid support for higher education, and this will emerge as a major focus in the coming weeks.

In news conferences following the opening address, House Republican leaders emphasized support for the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative and expressed confidence that the proposal to fund higher education capital improvements through a partial sale of MOHELA assets could be supported in the House. The House Democrats emphasized the importance of addressing recent cuts in health care services for seniors.

In his opening address to the Senate, Gibbons  spoke of the Medicaid program’s need for reform in the upcoming year, “with a focus on the people, rather than on big government, big healthcare providers, and big insurance companies.” Gibbons stressed a concentration on prevention and wellness, in addition to treatment.

Gibbons also mentioned the need to address the challenges presented by Missouri’s school districts, specifically the St. Louis City public schools. He asked the Senate to protect education and “have high expectations for academic achievement in all of our schools, so that nearly every student in Missouri graduates with a diploma.”