JEFFERSON CITY - For the first time in Missouri history, a former House Speaker will hold the Senate's top position as Senate president pro tem.
The day before the Missouri legislature convenes for the veto session, Republican senators have named their choices for new Senate leadership. The Republican caucus named their current GOP leader -- Ron Richard, R-Joplin -- to fill the Senate president pro tem vacancy left by the resignation of Tom Dempsey.
Dempsey resigned from the position with a year left in his term to take a job with a conservative advocacy group.
Richard was the floor majority leader under Dempsey. Although selected by the GOP caucus that commands a majority of the Senate, the full Senate must vote on his formal election when the veto session convenes Wednesday.
"I'm filling out Tom's final year, I mean committee chairmans are already appointed so that's not going to change, and I'm going to be fair like him on sending the bills to committees and trying to get priorities of the caucus and trying to get priorities of senators," Richard said.
Richard's selection came just two months after one senator criticized the Senate for becoming to House-like in its approach to concentration of power.
As the first to serve as leader of both the House and Senate Richard said he can't compare the two positions, because the job descriptions are different.
"Everybody has their own mind and their own way to do things over here, and the rules are different over here," Richard said.
Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, was elected by the caucus as the new floor majority leader, ascending from the assistant leader position.
"I'm not going to carry and file a bunch of bills because I think that's a conflict with trying to get time for members and their priorities," Kehoe said of his new role.
However, Kehoe said his priority will be transportation funding.
"As an overall umbrella, I think the transportation issue is the state's priority, I don't think it's just mine," Kehoe said. "As those issues come up and if the caucus continues to believe it's a priority like I believe they do ... I think transportation will continue to be at the front of what we talk about."
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