Missouri General Assembly Begins 2013 Session

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JEFFERSON CITY - Members of the Missouri House of Representatives and Senate took the oath of office Wednesday as the 97th General Assembly began its 2013 session.

In the house, outgoing secretary of state Robin Carnahan addressed that body's members before they took the oath of office--the last time she will ever do so as secretary of state. Carnahan warned that difficult votes lie ahead and asked each representative to consider constituents' needs ahead of partisan goals.

After being sworn in as speaker of the house, Rep. Tim Jones, R-Eureka, said his primary goals for this session included changes to medical malpractice laws, tax credits and teacher accountability laws. He said he wanted to give local school districts more discretion over their curriculum and policies.

Both parties' leaders addressed the expansion of Medicaid mandated by the Affordable Care Act. Jones said Republicans recognize that the program will have to expand, but would prefer to expand the program to the elderly, children and the disabled.

House Minority Leader Rep. Jacob Hummel, D-St. Louis, disagreed. He said the state would lose billions of dollars in federal funding if Missouri does not expand its Medicaid programs. Hummel said he opposed Republican efforts to add in different options for those currently covered by Medicaid.

"I don't believe that another option is right for Missouri," he said.

Hummel also voiced his party's opposition to Republican income tax-cut proposals, saying it called into question Jones' commitment to education. On the subject of taxation, Jones said he would like to cut or cap meaningless tax credits but vowed to protect beneficial ones.