Business, jobs, economy top list of priorities for new legislature

A pro-business agenda highlighted Missouri’s top legislative leaders’ inaugural themes as Missouri’s General Assembly began its 2011 legislative session. Both chambers have the same priorities — job and economy growth — which emerged on the first day of session.

The Republican job promotion agenda was punctuated by a personal anecdote from the Senate’s new president pro tem, Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, about the sudden loss of his job.

“I understand the challenges and difficulties of losing your job … My children were young and it was incredibly stressful to not know right away how I was going to provide for my family. But that life-changing moment led me to go back to college and finish my undergraduate degree and later a law degree. It was tough, but today I own my own law firm. Things could have gone much differently for me, but because there were other opportunities available when my first career ended abruptly, I was able to bounce back,” Mayer said. “My experience is why making sure other Missourians have job opportunities available to them is so important to me.”

“Right to work” is high on the list of priorities for the GOP but Senate Minority Leader Victor Callahan, D-Jackson County, said the seven-member Democratic caucus believes it is not the best way to create jobs or invite new business into the state.

“‘Right to work’ is not going to create one job,” Callahan said.

The program would also cost hundreds of millions more in incentives that the state is neither willing nor able to provide to draw business in, he said.

On the other side of the Capitol, Speaker of the House Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, cited his five priorities for the House, with jobs, accountability and education topping the list — similar to the priorities for House Democrats. In an unusual move for an inaugural speech, Tilley threatened to grant subpoena powers to the budget committee chair to help root out more “waste, fraud and abuse.”

House Democrats of Tilley’s subpoena proposal. House Minority Leader Mike Talboy, D-Jackson County, contested the necessity and said he has not had any problems with a free-flow of information.

“I hope that it is not going to make things more partisan, and I hope that if they (Republicans) are going to have the subpoena power that they use it responsibly,” Talboy said.

Tilley acknowledged in his inaugural address that members of the House should be bipartisan role models for one another.

“As your speaker, I have a great deal of responsibility and therefore the largest role in leading by example,” Tilley said.

– Missouri Digital News