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State representatives liberal with pats on the back

Margaux Harris sits alongside her grandfather, state Rep. Mike Lair of Chillicothe, as the two watch from his desk Friday, observing the vote on a House bill displayed in real time in the closing minutes of the last day of the Missouri Legislature's 2013 session.

Margaux Harris sits alongside her grandfather, state Rep. Mike Lair of Chillicothe, as the two watch from his desk Friday, observing the vote on a House bill displayed in real time in the closing minutes of the last day of the Missouri Legislature's 2013 session. Photo by Kris Wilson.

The Missouri House of Representatives celebrated the end of the 2013 legislative session Friday in the House Chamber with the traditional cheers and toss of papers.

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Paper thrown in the air by lawmakers following the Missouri Legislature's adjournment Friday is seen strewn on the floor in this view through a door into the House Chamber.

“Overall, I think we did some fine work,” said Rep. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane.

Riddle, whose district includes parts of Cole and Callaway Counties, said the Second Injury Fund was a major issue to address and accomplish.

“I applaud (Sen. Scott) Rupp and (Rep. Todd) Richardson’s stellar work on that bill,” Riddle said.

If passed by Gov. Jay Nixon, the workers’ compensation legislation would double fees for businesses in order to replenish a fund for workers who suffer serious job-related injuries or illnesses.

Riddle’s priority as a lawmaker — legislation to repair and renovate Fulton State Hospital — was attached to bonding legislation that died in the Senate.

“We’re going to keep plugging along,” Riddle said of her Fulton State Hospital priority.

Rep. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, said he was pushing for success of the bonding proposal.

He also said he hopes Nixon approves the part of the proposed 2014 state budget that is set to fund capital improvements, including a $38 million state office building on the old Missouri State Penitentiary site.

House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, applauded Rep. Jay Barnes on his work as chairman of the House’s Government Oversight and Accountability committee and for his work with the Welfare to Work Act.

“Rep. Barnes was instrumental in pushing back against a flawed approach that would have circumvented the intent of the federal Welfare to Work Act, which was promoted by President Clinton throughout his presidency and would have doomed countless Missourians to a lifetime of poverty,” Jones said.

Barnes, R-Jefferson City, also filed a Medicaid transformation bill during the session, and while the bill passed one House committee, it failed to pass another. The legislation would have made fewer Missourians eligible for Medicaid and would have allowed those no longer eligible to qualify for subsidies within a state health exchange to help offset the costs of private insurance plans.

Rep. Rocky Miller, R-Tuscumbia, said he thinks the General Assembly did some good things for economic development.

“Today (Friday) we had some tax credit caps go through, which I was glad to see,” he said.

He’s proud of a few of his own bills, beach policy legislation and another bill that includes broadband initiatives and cellphone tower expansion policy. The bills are currently awaiting Nixon’s signature.

“I’m very happy, especially being a first year,” Miller said. “Of course, there’s hills and valleys, but overall I think I was able to find my way.”

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