Legislative Column for the Week of Monday, May 6, 2013
Honoring Our State Capitol

On Feb. 5, 1911, the Capitol dome was struck by a bolt of lightning. The dried pine that made up the roof acted as kindling, and the ensuing fire burned so bright, citizens 20 miles away saw the glow of the flames. Despite the best efforts of firefighters and volunteers, the building was a complete loss.

From the ashes, we built our current Capitol, a building that covers three acres and has 500,000 square feet of floor space. It is regularly touted as one of the most beautiful capitol buildings in the nation. Citizens from all over the state visit it every day, to walk through the marble halls and consider the history found within these walls.

This Monday, May 6, I joined dozens of citizens and officials in celebrating the 100 year anniversary of our current Capitol’s groundbreaking. The ceremony was held in the rotunda, where I and others spoke about the awe we have for this hallowed building.

Appropriately enough, on the same day we were celebrating the Capitol, the governor announced he is releasing nearly $30 million in withheld revenue from the current year’s budget for structural repairs to the building, along with supporting a budget amendment that would provide $13 million for the planning and design of a new Fulton State Mental Hospital and $45 million for improvements at Missouri state parks. The move was done in response to the April revenue collections report, which shows a 27.4 percent increase over last April and 11.2 increase from last year.

I wholeheartedly support the release of revenue to repair our State Capitol. Since my time in the House, I have been a tireless advocate for restoring and maintaining our beautiful State Capitol building. The building has been in need of numerous repairs for years, some aesthetic, some much more serious, including fixing cracks in exterior walls, historic restoration projects and renovations to the Capitol dome.

These funds will go far in making much-needed repairs to our Capitol, which is more than just a state building. It’s a symbol of our state, of the value we place in democratic principles, and the pride we hold for the state we call home.

It’s also a piece of history, a testament to our past. The interior is decorated with artwork and architecture depicting themes, events and people of our state. Thomas Hart Benton, one of the most famous and respected American artists of the last 100 years, painted a mural portraying the social history of our state in the House lounge.

The Capitol fire was a tragedy. An even greater tragedy, however, would be letting our current Capitol fall apart because we were unwilling to fund its preservation. These funds are a wonderful first step in repairing and restoring the Capitol to its original grandeur. My support for this building, and the pride in our state it embodies, will continue.