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100th General Assembly convenes Wednesday

100th General Assembly convenes Wednesday

January 6th, 2019 by Bob Watson in Missouri News

While a new legislative session will soon be underway inside the Capitol, work continues on the exterior renovation where tradesmen, carpenters, skilled artisans and more work to repair the weather-damaged exterior surface. The 100th General Assembly will convene at noon Wednesday.

Photo by Julie Smith /News Tribune.

The 100th General Assembly convenes at noon Wednesday.

That's "100th" since Missouri became a state in 1821 and a "general assembly" actually exists for a two-year period, changing after each general election.

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To commemorate the special event — after kicking off the legislative session in the usual way, with lawmakers meeting at noon in their separate chambers — the General Assembly will have a joint session Wednesday afternoon involving members of both chambers, so that they can take a picture of all who were elected to serve in the past two years of Missouri's second century of statehood.

For years, Missouri lawmakers came to Jefferson City only every other year, unless needed for "special sessions" called by the governor.

But as state government grew and budgets got more complicated, those extra sessions became more routine in the 1950s and 60s to the point where lawmakers just scheduled sessions — with the "first regular session" occurring in the odd-numbered years following a general election, and the "second regular session" occurring in the even-numbered years.

For years after becoming a regular thing, the odd-year sessions ran until midnight June 15, while the even-numbered year sessions ended at midnight April 30.

A 1988 amendment to Missouri's Constitution changed the schedule so that each year's session ends at 6 p.m. on the second Friday after the first Monday in May — this year, on May 17.

The Constitution also requires lawmakers to begin their work on the first Wednesday after the first Monday of January.

So last year's legislative session began on the earliest date possible — Jan. 3 — because the first Monday of January 2018 also was the first day of the year.

Because New Year's Day 2019 was a Tuesday, this year's General Assembly session begins on the latest start-date possible — Jan. 9.

This year also marks the second year of the second century that lawmakers have been meeting in the current Capitol.

Missouri's current statehouse — the third Capitol in Jefferson City — was completed in 1917, following a lightning-caused fire on Feb. 5, 1911, that demolished its predecessor.

Lawmakers met in the House and Senate chambers for the first time in 1918 — and the ongoing, $28.7 million in renovations to the building's extensive stonework and limestone exterior are designed to help it last at least another 100 years.

Here's the Legislature's planned calendar for 2019:

January

9 — First Day of Session, noon. Joint Session for 100th General Assembly picture, 2:30 p.m. Legislators' ball, Capitol Rotunda, 6:30 p.m.

10 — Governor's Prayer Breakfast at Capitol Plaza Hotel. Keynote speaker: Dr. Ben Carson, former presidential candidate and secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 7:10 a.m. seating, breakfast at 7:30 a.m. The Prayer Breakfast Committee's website shows the event is sold out, and no tickets are available for breakfast.

16 — Joint Session to hear Gov. Mike Parson's first State of the State address, 3 p.m.

21 — Martin Luther King holiday, no session.

TBD — Joint Session for State of the Judiciary speech by Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Zel Fischer.

March

14 — Spring break begins upon adjournment.

25 — Lawmakers resume session after spring break.

April

22 — Easter holiday, no Monday session.

May

10 — Last day to pass appropriation bills, by 6 p.m. (required by Constitution).

17 — Last day of session, at 6 p.m. (required by Constitution).

September

11 — Veto session to consider any bills passed during the 2019 session but vetoed by the governor.