What a whirlwind week last week was! We drove to Jefferson City on Tuesday to be ready for Session to begin on Wednesday.

What a whirlwind week last week was! We drove to Jefferson City on Tuesday to be ready for Session to begin on Wednesday.

There was a reception for all members Tuesday evening and it really was strange to be there with all the new legislators. I could see how nervous they were and it reminded me of two years ago when we were brand new and didn't have any idea what to expect next.

It was great to be able to just relax and enjoy the experience this week. Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. there was a prayer breakfast sponsored by the area churches. It was a great service and each branch of state government was recognized and lifted up in prayer.

We then went back to the Capitol and attended our first ever super majority caucus meeting. We have 109 caucus members which is theoretically "veto proof" for the first time in Missouri history. We had 110 members but the Governor appointed one representative to a position on Paroles. There are many who see this as a cheap political trick to lesson the chance of a veto override. Let's wait and see if he appoints another one of us. We then adjourned to the House Chamber where we were sworn in. I cannot tell you what an honor it is for me to serve the 159th district. It's still hard to absorb all that has happened in the last three years. We were treated to some great speeches from newly elected Speaker Tim Jones and Speaker Pro Tem Jason Smith. Their speeches are available on the House website if you want to hear their uplifting vision for Missouri in the next couple of years. After the press conference, we rested for a couple of hours then the Speaker's office began calling us individually to the conference room to get our committee assignments. I was truly honored to be asked to serve as Workforce Development and Workplace Safety Chairman. The Speaker's priorities for economic development will all pass through this committee. Any bill concerning employment, labor or workplace safety is routed through this committee. I feel very fortunate as a second term legislator to be trusted with this responsibility. I was also appointed as a member of Transportation and Professional Registration.

Thursday morning I met with Sen. Dixon in reference to the sub committees for our Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. If you read my report last week, you know how worked up I got when I got the report from the Task Force on Child Sexual Abuse. Sen. Dixon served on the task force and he shared some things with me that I really didn't want to know. I guess I'm naive, but I just can't believe we are that depraved! There is plenty of work to do on that committee but we have 14 members that are single minded about fixing the system. If you want to see true bi-partisanship in action, come to one of our hearings.

Friday, we met with Dr. Speck and his staff and several of the directors. Usually these meetings are to underscore the need for additional funding for Higher Education. This was a different sort of meeting. Dr. Speck and his capable staff laid out a case for a more equitable division of State funds. It was a very good presentation and they sure had the facts to back up their requests. They shared several new programs with us. Some of them are in the works and others still on the drawing board, but it didn't take long to convince me that those guys are all about making MSSU an even better institution than it already is.

Potential Medical and Dental School affiliations, Advanced Nurse Practitioner degrees, a Masters program in accounting, and a new ROTC program for the National Guard are but a few of the great plans they have. Meanwhile, like a lot of other state institutions, they struggle to get additional funding for repair and maintenance of buildings that are approaching 40 years old. Rats! It only seems like yesterday to me when they were building the school. We may be able to help this year if the 7 percent increase in State revenue holds up.

We will be spending a great amount of time at the start of session on health care. Missourian's overwhelmingly voted against Medicaid expansion and the Governor didn't say one word about it while campaigning but now he is saying it will create jobs if we enact it. All we have to do is trust the Federal Government to do what they said they'll do. Right! If you really believe that, I've got some oceanfront property in Kansas I'll sell you real cheap! It promises to be an interesting discussion and I will keep you posted on the fun. This week we have inauguration and then we can get started.

Until next time, I am, and remain, in your service.
Bill Lant