The House Speaker, Tim Jones, was in Joplin on Tuesday morning on part of his tour of the state manufacturing facilities. We took a tour of the Bemis packaging plant and then gathered for lunch and heard his comments on his priorities for the upcoming session. His priorities are Economic Development, Energy, and Education. He didn't go into great detail on each subject but did say that one thing we absolutely had to address was tort reform. When the court ruled against our malpractice limits, they just encouraged more doctors to leave our state. We are already feeling the effects of this in rural areas where we didn't have enough primary care to begin with. I would expect this to be one of the first priorities in January.
We started Wednesday morning in Pineville with Senator Blunt taking a tour of the old courthouse. Raylene Lamb did a great job of explaining the progress in restoration of the building and our future plans for the museum. She emphasized the need for sponsors for the upstairs courtroom restoration and hinted that the Senator might help us find some willing souls. We then traveled to Joplin's East Middle School where the Senator and Rudy Farber along with other dignitaries, unveiled I-49 highway. It was pointed out that additions to the interstate system are a rarity and that I-49 had been in the works since 1970. The designation will help our area with economic development now and in the future. The section opened this week was from Kansas City to Pineville. I-49 will eventually stretch from Canada to the Gulf.
Friday, I was privileged to teach a group of 4th grade students a little about Missouri government. We were at Tri-Way Elementary in Stella and I was able to hold their attention for about 20 minutes explaining how an idea becomes a law. We started with the idea of making it legal to chew gum in school, and after explaining the entire process of committee hearings and floor debate in the House and Senate, we arrived at the Governor's desk where he vetoed the bill! The kids were disappointed, but the teachers sure got a kick out of it.
We are traveling to Jeff City Monday for our first caucus meeting. Speaker Jones will be spelling out his plan for the next two years. We still don't have our committee assignments but they should be coming soon. I'll have a full report next week. Until then, I am, and remain in your service.