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New leadership takes control of Mo. legislature with "enthusiasm, energy and excitement"

January 23, 2003
By: Valerie C. Green
State Capital Bureau
Links: Infobox on the legislative leaders

JEFFERSON CITY - Fresh young faces dominate the lineup of leaders that took control of the Missouri legislature this month

The young leaders are enthusiastic, energetic and excited according to Speaker Pro Tem Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill.

"You are going to see a lot of younger people jumping up into leadership positions sooner and sooner," Jetton said. "With term limits, representatives don't have the time to wait to get into leadership."

House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, 39, Speaker Pro Tem Rod Jetton, 35, and Majority Floor Leader Jason Crowell, 30, are the three top and the three youngest members of the leadership. Of the seven top leaders in the House and Senate, all are less than 55 years old.

The leadership is also full of members who practice law when they are not serving in the legislature. Hanaway, Crowell, President Pro Tem of the Senate Peter Kinder, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gibbons and Senate Minority Leader Ken Jacob all have law degrees.

"The fact that many of us are lawyers doesn't mean anything," Crowell said. "It's no different than if all of us were teachers or doctors."

Jetton, who is a real estate broker, said lawyers naturally gravitate toward leadership positions because they are trained to understand the law.

"It takes more work for us non-lawyers to read the bills and understand the complex language of legislation," Jetton said.

The eastern half of the state is well represented in the top leadership of the General Assembly as well. Three leaders are from the St. Louis area. Three are from the Cape Girardeau and southeast Missouri region. The other is Sen. Jacob from Columbia.

"Regional interests don't play into our positions," Crowell said. "All areas of the state are represented well."