The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

December 9, 2012

Susan Redden: MSSU students sign as legislative interns

By Susan Redden
Globe Staff Writer

JOPLIN, Mo. — You could tell she was only half joking when JoAnna Derfelt, assistant professor of political science at Missouri Southern State University, said her students were “signing their lives away” on Friday, when six students signed agreements to serve as legislative interns in the upcoming session of the Missouri General Assembly.

Several interns who had worked at the Capitol earlier also were at event at MSSU’s Webster Hall. They said they wouldn’t trade the experience, despite long hours and a demanding workload.

“You learn so much about how government works,” said Jonathan Saunders, who had worked for former state Rep. Kevin Wilson, of Neosho. “You also learn they (legislators) are down-to-earth people who are working hard to get things accomplished.”

State Reps. Charlie Davis, of Webb City, and Mike Kelley, of Lamar, also attended the ceremony. Both had high praise for the MSSU interns.

“It’s a fantastic program. All of our colleagues are jealous of our interns, because they’re the best,” Davis said.

“Lots of times they’re at the office before we get in,” Kelley said. “They work hard, they work long hours, and they’re right in the middle of the legislative process.”

Interns introduced during the ceremony were Cory Garr, of Stover, who will work with Kelley; Laurnastet Alumbaugh, of Joplin, with Reps. Bill Lant, of Joplin, and Bill Reiboldt, of Neosho; Keegan Tinney, of Joplin, with Sen. Ron Richard, of Joplin; Tristan Routledge, of Joplin, with Davis; Brenna Barksdale, of Carthage, with Rep. Tom Flanigan, of Carthage; and Johnny Boyer, of Goodman, with newly elected Rep. Michael Butler, of St. Louis.

Derfelt said it will be the second time Routledge has worked as an intern, and that both he and Barksdale had delayed their graduations to be part of the program.

Child abuse committee

The legislative session hasn’t yet started, but work already is under way by a special committee named to look into child abuse and neglect reporting issues in the state.

The panel held its first meeting a week ago, according to Rep. Bill Lant, committee vice chairman who called for a legislative review of the current state system. Sen. Kurt Schaefer, of Columbia, is chairman of the 14-member committee, called the Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect.

Lant said he was pleased with the interest shown by committee members.

“There were about 30 people in the audience, and several people testified,” he said. “You could tell they really cared about the issue.”

Lant said the panel will be divided into two subcommittees. One will look into child abuse reporting and investigation, and the other will look into foster care and resources for adoption.

The committee will meet year-round until 2018.

“This gives us the opportunity to do the thing right,” Lant said.

House speaker to visit

Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones, of Eureka, will speak Tuesday in Joplin as part of a four-day tour of the state.

Jones will discuss priorities for the upcoming legislative session at 12:30 p.m. at Granny Shaffer’s Restaurant, 2728 N. Range Line Road. The session is open to the public.

First elected to the House in November 2006, Jones was unanimously elected as speaker in September for the remaining months of the 2012 session, then was chosen as speaker-elect for the 2013-14 General Assembly.

SUSAN REDDEN is a staff writer for the Globe. She can be reached at sredden@joplinglobe.com or 417-623-3480, ext. 7258. Follow her on Twitter @Susan_Redden.