JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Speaker Todd Richardson opened the first day of the 2016 session Wednesday with the swearing in of newly elected representatives and a speech calling for statesmanship and action.

State Reps. Daron McGee, D-Kansas City, Rory Rowland, D-Independence, and Dean Plocher, R-Town and Country, were sworn in immediately after the Speaker gaveled in order. All three were elected in the Nov. 2015 special election.

The House session opened with the traditional quorum call, followed by a speech by Richardson, who opened with personal thanks and acknowledging the vast flooding throughout Missouri.

Richardson speaking
Richardson speaking PHOTO/TRAVIS ZIMPFER

“The job we do involves far more than making laws, it is a commitment and duty to the people we serve to do all we can do to help them during times of prosperity as well as times of need,” Richardson said. “Whether that’s the work we do in the halls of government, or rolling up our sleeves and helping volunteers to sandbag, our vow is to provide the help and resources necessary to allow Missourians to persevere even during the most difficult times.”

Richardson called on the transition to becoming a lawmaker but also alluded to the struggles.

“I hope that every member of this body remembers the person they were before they were elected, before your IQ grew by 40 points and your jokes got a whole lot funnier,” the Speaker said. “For the three of you who are new, you may have noticed that I have not referred to any current or previous member by their name. We don’t do that here.”

“…I don’t get in my car on Monday mornings and drive to Jefferson City to serve in a gridlocked legislature embroiled in controversy. Like each of you, I ran for office because I believed that in this House you could help make Missouri a better place to live, work, and raise a family. This institution should not and will not be defined by the actions of a few.”

The Speaker has vowed to refer each ethics bill filed to the Government Oversight and Accountability Committee, chaired by Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City.

Richardson also highlighted reform for the legislature to build upon within municipal courts, income taxes, and welfare.

Further, the Speaker highlighted concerns with the state’s economic growth and safety and calling for action.

From left, Rowland, McGee, Plocher are sworn in by the Speaker
From left, Rowland, McGee, Plocher are sworn in by the Speaker PHOTO/RACHAEL HERNDON

“Ultimately, the solutions to these problems will not be mine, rather they will be ours,” said Richardson. “We have the collective ability to solve the problems that now confront us. If we do not believe we are capable of it, surely no one else will.”

Richardson thanked his parents, Mark Lee and Kathy Richardson, his children, and his wife, Amber, at the start of his speech.

“I am a better person because of her,” he said. “She challenges me – she keeps me grounded – and has been a rock of support. Because none of you want to be on her bad side.”

The speech was followed by the traditional reading of the Bill of Rights. The reading of the 2nd Amendment received applause.

This will be the last House session for at least 25 representatives.

Richardson was joined by newly-minted Majority Leader Mike Cierpiot, R-Lee’s Summit, at the microphone.