By Susan Redden
Globe Staff Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Joplin area members of the Missouri House of Representatives on Friday said they are pleased about the amount of legislation that’s been considered in the early weeks of this session, and they were giving Sen. Ron Richard the credit.
Local legislators in recent years, including Richard when he was in the House, had complained about the Senate when measures they favored either died there or were returned loaded with amendments. Before a Carthage crowd where they reviewed the session thus far, they said much more legislation is being considered in the Senate since Richard took over as majority floor leader. In the post, Richard manages how much time is spent on proposed bills during Senate debate.
The lawmakers said he set the same tone when he was speaker of the House, before being elected to the Senate.
Richard, R-Joplin, said he’s pleased with the amount of legislation handled thus far in the Senate. And he offered a mild defense, saying he heard that he’s been described as “gruff” in the leadership post.
“I’m not gruff, but I want to get things done,” Richard said. “We’ve passed a lot more legislation this session, and that will continue. We’re going to have a functional Missouri Senate.”
Rep. Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, offered another one-word description: “focused.”
“He does want to keep things on track,” he said.
“There’s no nonsense; he tells it like it is, and he’s always been that way,” said Danny Hensley, of Carthage, who worked with Richard on a number of projects when Richard was Joplin mayor and Hensley was presiding Jasper County commissioner.
Richard also lobbied former colleagues now in the House leadership on behalf of local representatives who were named this session to be chairmen of House committees. Flanigan chairs the House Fiscal Review Committee and is vice chairman of the House Budget Committee. Rep. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City, chairs the House Veterans Committee. Rep. Bill Lant, R-Pineville, heads the Committee on Workforce Development and Workplace Safety. Rep. Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho, is chairman of the House Agriculture Policy Committee.
“I’m proud of all these guys; they’re making policy,” Richard said.
STUMPING FOR DAKE
Democratic state officials are planning trips to the area to support the candidacy of Charles Dake, who is running for the 157th District legislative seat that will be decided in an April 2 special election.
State Treasurer Clint Zweifel will speak on Dake’s behalf at a pancake breakfast fundraiser set for Saturday at the Mount Vernon Eagles Club, 1010 Breckenridge Road.
Breakfast will be served from 8 to 11 a.m., with donations going to the campaign.
The 157th District seat was vacated when former state Rep. Don Ruzicka, R-Mount Vernon, was recently appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon to the Missouri Probation and Parole Board.
Dake, a Mount Vernon veterinarian, previously won the seat in a 2006 special election and was narrowly defeated in November 2006.
He will face Republican Mike Moon, of rural Ash Grove, in the special election in April.
VOTE SPLIT IN SENATE
U.S. senators from Missouri were divided last week when a measure to authorize the federal Violence Against Women Act was passed 78-22. Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill voted for the measure, and Republican Sen. Roy Blunt voted against it. All Democrats in the Senate, along with 23 Republicans, voted in favor of the measure.
McCaskill also is asking supporters to sign a petition calling for passage in the House, where the authorization measure died a year ago.
Susan Redden is a staff writer for the Globe. She can be reached at email@example.com or 417-627-7258. Follow her on Twitter @Susan_Redden.