(The Center Square) – Missouri legislators praised last year’s accomplishments and expressed hope for the 2024 legislative session as it started on Wednesday.
“I know we can work together and get things done,” Speaker Dean Plocher, R-St. Louis, said during the opening session of the state House. “We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again. And when we do, we will keep Missouri moving forward and meet the challenges of our state and seek the opportunities to continue to make Missouri the best place to live, the best place to work and the best place to raise a family.”
Both party caucuses held press conferences after adjournment. House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, and a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor, expressed optimism despite the predictions of gridlock during an election year.
“As you all know, there are a lot of elections coming up and a lot of Republicans in primaries in our future,” Quade said. “There are a lot of things that have happened over the past few months, pitting our Senate and House chambers against each other more so than usual. We are apprehensive about what the Republican majority will be able to accomplish this year, but we are hopeful that there may be some room for some bipartisan things to do.”
Plocher, a candidate for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, also mentioned the upcoming elections as a challenge.
“In this election year, I’m confident we will do all we believe is the right thing and I want each of us, Republicans and Democrats, to come together and vigorously debate the laws that affect our citizens,” Plocher said. “Last year, we worked together to pass good laws. We had fair, open and honest debate on key bills that passed the House.”
Plocher expressed appreciation for Quade and Majority Leader Jonathan Patterson’s teamwork.
“Despite our many disagreements, they worked together and we all got along,” Plocher said. “We must continue to treat each other as friends, respect each other’s intentions, and work together to improve our great state.”
Plocher listed several priorities for this year, including education and property tax reform.
“I will be forming a special committee to review the reassessment process in Missouri and find a way to control these unabashed increases,” Plocher said. “We must all work together to protect our homeowners and particularly our seniors and those on fixed incomes.”
Quade said fixing a property tax bill passed last year by the legislature will be a priority.
“Will work to take the next step on property tax relief for senior citizens by fixing last year’s well intentioned, but deeply flawed, bill to ensure it applies uniformly across the state and in a way that doesn’t decimate local budgets,” Quade said.
Both leaders said education will be a focus, with Plocher emphasizing a bill of rights for parents and Quade promising a review of funding for teacher salaries.