The second week of the 2021 legislative session was much more focused on practical legislative matters than in some past years, when the early days are often given over to ceremony. There was some of that, but the mood in the Capitol seems to be one of determination to make good use of our limited time.
One significant development this week was the announcement of committee assignments. I am pleased to inform you that I have been named chairman of the Senate Economic Development Committee. In addition to advancing economic development in our state, this committee is responsible for legislation aimed at creating and retaining jobs and promoting tourism. In addition, I will again help balance the state budget as a member of the Appropriations Committee. I have also been asked to serve on the Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment; the Agriculture, Food Production, and Outdoor Resources Committee; and the Insurance and Banking Committee.
Legislative activity continued with the introduction of more bills and resolutions. There are already more than 400 pieces of legislation before the Senate. To date, I have introduced 14 bills and one resolution for consideration in 2021. Several of these proposals are renewals of bills I sponsored last year but did not advance during a session cut short by the pandemic. I’m again calling for legalized sports wagering and video lottery terminals in Missouri. I’ve also proposed the adoption of a statewide biodiesel standard, which would create additional demand for Missouri-grown soybeans. Another bill would expand tax deductions for educational expenses, while another would increase educational programs for gifted students. I’ve also asked my colleagues to bring back the film and television production tax credit in order to bring economic activity to our state. The one resolution I’ve submitted would amend the Constitution to assert the right to hunt and fish in Missouri.
The week was not without pomp and circumstance, however. On Monday, Jan. 11, the governor took his oath of office during a rare outdoor joint session of the General Assembly, held on the south lawn of the Capital. The temperature was a bit chilly but the weather didn’t dampen the warm spirit of the audience. The sun broke through the clouds just as the governor took his oath. It was a fitting sign, as the governor promised better days ahead.
The ceremony, which also included the oaths of office for the lieutenant governor, state treasurer, secretary of state and attorney general, served as the kick-off event for Missouri’s bicentennial celebrations. Missouri was admitted to the Union on Aug. 10, 1821, and a series of events are planned to celebrate 200 years of statehood. The traditional formal ball, which usually follows the governor’s inauguration, has been rescheduled for August to coincide with the bicentennial anniversary.
Guests at the inauguration were treated to a flyover from a B-2 Spirit bomber dispatched from Whiteman Air Force Base. The appearance of this awesome aircraft, at the precise moment the governor concluded his oath of office, thrilled everyone in attendance.
A number of people have asked if it’s still possible to visit the State Capitol during this era of COVID-19. The answer is a resounding yes. Visitors are still welcome. We do ask you to be responsible, and not visit if you’re sick, but the building remains open to the public and we’d love to have you stop by our new office in room 423. This week, I was pleased to welcome a few visitors from the district and look forward to seeing many more as the session continues.
As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4302. You may also email me at email@example.com.