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MO General Assembly wraps first day of 2018 session

With 303 Senate bills pre-filed more than double that number in the House, the 2018 session of the 99th Missouri General Assembly is poised to be a busy one.

House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, said on Wednesday, “We will leave this chamber and this state in better shape than we found them.”

The regular session got underway at noon Wednesday.

There is plenty of new business on the legislative agenda this year, but there is still some unfinished business from the last session, such as considering lawsuit restrictions in the state. Tort reform has been a topic in the Legislature for years.

After discussion and debate in the senate regarding some of Gov. Eric Greitens’ recent controversial actions including his appointments to the Missouri Board of Education in order to oust its commissioner, senators held a joint news conference answering reporters’ questions rather than outlining priorities.

When asked about his relationship with Gov. Greitens, Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R, Joplin, he said, “It’s good.”

While not a ringing endorsement, Richard’s words were more complimentary than the assessment of some Democrat’s relationships with the state’s chief executive.

When Minority Floor Leader Gail McCann Beatty, D, Kansas City, was asked during Wednesday’s news conference about her working relationship with the governor, she and fellow Democrats laughed aloud. McCann Beatty said, “I have met with the governor exactly one time. Period.”

Tax cuts and a possible fuel tax increase for road improvements and infrastructure are also some of the big topics for this session.

Sen. Caleb Rowden, R, Columbia, said figuring out a way to pay for road improvements is important. He said, “I think every year that goes by that we punt and kick the ball away, I think it’s problematic for our state and the people who are driving (on) I-70 or Hwy. 63 or I-44 every day.”

After recently learning that the governor and his staff have apps on their personal devices that delete text messages, lawmakers will also likely address issues relating to government transparency and public records.

Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh, D, Bellefontaine, said there’s no legitimate reason for a public official to use apps like Confide.

The 2018 regular session runs until May 18.

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