On Wednesday, January 6, new and returning House members took the oath of office and officially began the 2021 legislative session. The new session marks the start of the 101st General Assembly. The House begins the year with 114 Republican members, 48 Democrat members, and one vacancy.

Following the swearing-in ceremony, members elected Rob Vescovo of Jefferson County to serve as the new Speaker of the House. He then delivered a speech where he thanked members for their support and outlined his legislative priorities for the session.  His speech placed a heavy emphasis on education. He said, “If we want to better serve the people of our state, we must invest in our young people on the front end rather than pay the cost of incarceration on the backend when our system fails them. That is why we must support policies that focus on empowerment rather than imprisonment.”

Speaker Vescovo said he supports a tax deduction for foster parents and expanding the existing adoption tax credit to make adoption more affordable for Missouri families.  He also emphasized reducing regulatory red tape for businesses, common sense legal reforms to prevent job-killing lawsuits, making the state’s tax system fairer and more transparent, and ensuring members of the law enforcement community are properly trained and equipped to protect Missouri’s communities.

The Speaker of the House is the most influential position in the House, if not all of state government.  Speaker Vescovo was one of the first of my class I got to know, as we met while standing in line at the Secretary of State’s office waiting to file for election for the first time in 2014.  We struck up a strong friendship then, and I look forward to working under his leadership for the next two years to serve the people of northwest Missouri.

Until next time, health, happiness and prosperity to you and your family.