State Lawmakers Start New Session

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JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri lawmakers began a new session Wednesday at the state capitol. Members of the House  and Senate gathered to discuss what would be expected in the upcoming legislative year.

Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, said health care is an important topic for the economy of the state. He said the failure to expand health care will cost mid-Missouri millions of dollars.

"In terms of the economy, health care expansion is certainly the most important," said Rep, Kelly.

He said he plans to sponsor a bill to help push for health care expansion.

"It's a victory right now of fantasy over fact. The facts are that it is vital to our hospitals in mid-Missouri and it's even more important to rural hospitals. To not do it would cost the demise of some rural hospitals in Missouri," Rep. Kelly said.  

Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, said his focuses are a bond bill and ethics reform.

He said he will file for ethics reform to extend the amount of time lawmakers would have to wait to become lobbyists after they leave office.  

"That will hopefully close some laws in our ethics law in the state of Missouri," said Rep. Rowden

Both representatives expressed the importance of the reappearance of the bond bill. Rep. Rowden said the Republican party has a greater chance of passing the bill this year rather than in the past.

"It's one of those things that gets overlooked just because it's not a terribly partisan thing, there's a lot of support for it. It just didn't make it across the finish line last year," Rep. Rowden said.  

He also said there are a handful of big tasks to tackle this session.

"It's important for our leadership to work to prioritize things well," said Rep. Rowden. 

Other topics of discussion this session may include income tax cut proposals, education, school transfers, labor unions and gun laws.

Minimum wage increased by 15 cents on Jan. 1 of this year, but some legislators want to continue to push for even higher wages.

Republicans hold the majority in both the House and the Senate. The House has three vacancies, while the Senate has one vacancy.

Gov. Jay Nixon is set to release his budget recommendations January 21. He is also expected to give his state of the state speech that night.

KOMU 8 News will have a team of reporters at the capitol covering the 2014 session. Stay with for continuing coverage of some of the key issues for mid-Missouri.