Legislative Column for the Week of Jan. 12, 2015
Lawmakers Return to Capitol for 2015 Legislative Session

Shown above, Sen. Ryan Silvey meets with a group of realtors from the Northland, who visited the Capitol this week.

Legislators returned to Jefferson City last week for the start of the First Regular Session of the 98th General Assembly. As the Senate President Pro Tem indicated in his opening address, there are a number of pressing issues before us this year. However, I believe one of our most important duties is crafting the state’s annual spending plan and continuing to focus on ways to make government more efficient and accountable to the taxpayers of this state.   

I’m excited to begin work in earnest as we consider legislation to improve state government. It’s an honor to represent the citizens of the 17th District, and one I do not take lightly. Most of our time in these initial weeks will be spent in committees, where we’ll consider proposed legislation and listen to public testimony.

Although committees rarely get as much focus as floor debate, these panels are where the bulk of legislative work is actually done. I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues as we vet measures to push our state toward the prosperity it can achieve.

Committee assignments for the 98th General Assembly were announced on Monday, Jan. 12. I will again serve as vice-chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is responsible for creating the Senate’s version of the state budget. It’s a privilege to continue working on this critical panel.

Next Tuesday, the Appropriations Committee will begin hearing testimony from state departments on their financial needs for Fiscal Year 2016. We will use that information when we start allocating funds.

I will also serve as the vice-chairman of the Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee, which reviews bills relating to the improvement of governmental efficiency and management and all legislation, except regular appropriation bills, that require new appropriations or expenditures of appropriated funds in excess of $100,000, or other circumstances.

I believe lawmakers have an ethical obligation to be responsible stewards of taxpayer money. After all, the state’s coffers are filled by the hard-working citizens of this state. Our duty is to appropriate those funds in the most fiscally prudent manner we can while maintaining critical state services. We have to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being used as effectively as possible. Furthermore, state departments must be held accountable for the general revenue they spend, and we need to guarantee they’re providing the best possible services to citizens.

On another note, I was pleased to meet with a group of local realtors from the Northland, who visited the Capitol to discuss issues important to them. I strongly encourage those from our district to contact me, whether by phone or email, with their questions and concerns regarding state government. My role as State Senator is to serve you, and I can best do that by being aware of how you all feel regarding the major topics before the General Assembly.

As always, I am here to serve the 17th District. I welcome any discussion, questions or concerns regarding Missouri government. Please feel free to contact me at the State Capitol: (573) 751-5282, ryan.silvey@senate.mo.gov, or by writing to Sen. Ryan Silvey, Missouri State Capitol, 201 W. Capitol Ave., Room 331A, Jefferson City, MO 65101.