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Freshmen Lawmakers Reflect on the Session

May 16, 2003
By: Missy Shelton
State Capital Bureau

Missouri's ninety freshmen lawmakers ended their first legislative session last Friday.

Missy Shelton asked some of them to reflect on their experiences.

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This group of newcomers is the largest freshmen legislative class in Missouri history.

Their comments about the session vary depending on their political party.

For example, Democrat Vicki Walker found herself in the minority party...

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But Republican Dennis Wood was in the majority party...

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Though Wood is optimistic about the possibilities afforded Republican lawmakers, he recognizes he and other freshmen went through five months of partisan bickering.

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The liklihood that the rhetoric will continue disappoints Democrat Vicki Walker.

She says she sees this year as a missed opportunity...She argues freshmen lawmakers were so driven by ideology, they failed to come together.

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Most of the bills that cleared the legislature this year were bills sponsored by Republicans.

And a handful of Republican *freshmen* saw their bills land on the governor's desk.

Bill Deeken sponsored the election bill that cleared the General Assembly.

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Republican freshman Bryan Pratt sponsored one of the most high-profile bills of the session...It was the bill that authorized the state to issue bonds to balance this year's budget.

Democratic govenror Bob Holden signed his bill without any public ceremony.

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Even though Pratt has some souvenirs to remind him of his first legislative success, he recognizes the challenges lawmakers faced during the session.

He says it didn't take long for him to understand that partisan politics often comes first.

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It was a harsh reality for Democratic freshmen Yaphet El-Amin.

She describes how she views the session.

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As for next year, most freshmen say they hope to see less partisanship and more cooperation.

El-Amin says as freshmen lawmakers now return to their districts, she hopes they are able to face their constitutents and themselves.

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