Workforce Standards & Development - Chairman
Property, Casualty, & Life Insurance
Select Committee on Labor & Industrial Relations
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Pending its admission into the Union, Missouri's first seat of government was located in St. Louis in 1820. The first building to be occupied as a State Capitol was the Mansion House at Third and Vine. It was here that the constitution convention for the prospective State of Missouri was held. The second State Capitol building was the Missouri Hotel on Main and Morgan Streets in St. Louis. From September 1820 to June 1821 it was used by the first Legislature to count the returns from the election of the Governor and to elect David Barton and Thomas H. Benton as the first United States Senators. During this session, the legislature passed a bill designating the temporary seat of Missouri government to be in St. Charles. From 1821 to 1826 session was held in a brick two-story building that measured 20 by 30 feet. I'll bet it was a lot easier to heat than the one we have now!
In 1826 the Capitol was moved to Jefferson City in order to be centrally located within the state. The other requirement was to locate on a river to make travel to and from the Capitol easier. It's hard to imagine, but there were only rough trails and very few roads to follow and it could take Legislators and Judges weeks to get to the Capitol. As you can well imagine, winter travel was particularly rough. The Capitol building was built to accommodate living quarters for the Governor with two large rooms with a large fireplace in each room. The first floor room was for the Representatives and the second floor was for the Senators. Its total cost was $18,373 dollars. In 1837 an unattended fireplace started a fire, which totally destroyed the building. In just 17 years, Missouri had four different Capitols.
On June 24, 1915, nearly 2000 masons as well as dignitaries from across the state formed a two-mile processional to the new Capitol to lay the Cornerstone as 10,000 citizens looked on. It would take until July of 1917 for the building to be completed. On July 3, we will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of that celebration with another Cornerstone ceremony and placement of a time capsule. During my first term as a Representative, I wrote several reports on the building of the Capitol. This may be a good time to take another look at the history of our Capitol.
On the evening of February 5, 1911, a lightning flash struck the dome of the Capitol. At first the fire was no bigger than a man's hand, but with limited means to fight fire that far off the ground, it soon turned into a conflagration that could be seen for miles. The entire structure with most of its contents was quickly reduced to ashes with only the exterior walls standing. The Forty-sixth General Assembly, being in session at the time, passed an act authorizing $3,500,000 in bonds. This act was submitted to the voters at a special election on August 1, 1911, and was passed by nearly a 3 to 1 vote. A Commission Board was formed, led by the Governor and by October 6, 1912, the architectural firm was chosen. Less than five years later the building was completed. Remember, this was in 1912! There was no such thing as hydraulic cranes or backhoes. The job was done with men and mules and ropes and pulleys. They did use some steam engines to operate winches to move the heavier pieces of steel and marble but most of the work was done without mechanical help. The material was either quarried locally or moved by barge on the river and rail. The building stands upon 285 concrete piers of varying sizes, which extend to bedrock at depths of twenty to fifty feet. All these holes were hand dug and the dirt was removed by buckets and rope. It is 437 feet long by 200 feet wide in the wings and 300 feet in the center. It is 88 feet from the basement floor to the top of the exterior wall and 262 feet to the top of the dome. There are four stories plus the basement, it covers three acres, has nearly 500,000 square feet of floor space and has 9,000,000 cubic feet in the interior. It's cost, not counting the property and furnishings, was 40 cents a cubic foot!
Although the Legislature is only in Session from the 2nd week of January until the 2nd week of May, many committees hold hearings during the interim. This is the case with many issues that need more time to develop than we are able to devote to them during the hectic pace of Session. Some bills, like the current school transfer bill, take several years to create. The more contentious the issue, the longer it takes to work out all the differences.
My Child Abuse and Neglect Joint Committee has taken up the Juvenile Office system this year. We are meeting monthly in Jefferson City through November in an attempt to gain a better understanding of the Office and how it works. Missouri is currently the only State to use this system and though there are many other states that have shown an interest in duplicating it, they have not yet done so. One reason for this is that the Juvenile Office is regulated by the Courts. We have been dealing with challengers that contend that since the Officer is hired and fired by the judges and also prepare their cases; this could be a conflict of interest. This, and other issues are what we are looking at with this series of hearings.
Why does Missouri need Right to Work? Why are there 25 other states with Right to Work laws? How is this going to help us get more industry? These are just some of the questions I have been getting about the Right to Work bill passed by the Legislature and vetoed by the Governor. I moved to this great state in 1964 right after graduating from high school in Collinsville Illinois, a St. Louis suburb. At that time, St. Louis City had a population of over a million and the Joplin "metro" area claimed well over a hundred thousand residents. St. Louis had heavy manufacturing all over the area. There was a Fisher Body plant in the heart of downtown that employed over ten thousand and Chrysler at Fenton had nearly forty thousand employees. Ford also had a presence there and there were literally thousands of job shops supporting the auto industry alone. Now St. Louis city has less than a quarter million residents and the auto industry is all but gone. The Joplin area was blessed with big industry and a lot of jobs. There were over 3000 people working at Vickers, a hydraulic pump manufacturer, nearly 4000 at B.F.Goodrich in Miami, Eagle Picher had machine shops with 2,000 workers and several thousand more in battery divisions. We had 3 foundry operations, and every small town had some type of clothing manufacturer. The "new idea" was industrial parks and every city in the area was putting up spec buildings to attract new industry. Every town in the area had at least 2 or 3 major employers with at least several hundred workers each.