With bouquets decorating the desks of the ladies and boutonnieres adorning the lapels of the gentlemen, the Missouri House of Representatives began its 2013 session at noon Wednesday.
Early efforts to assess the tone of the upcoming session proved elusive.
Newly elected House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, referenced the GOP's veto-proof super-majority, but also called for representatives from both parties to work together.
Among the lawmakers challenged to work together are 50 new House members.
"There are so many new lawmakers," one lobbyist observed, "and maybe more second-year lawmakers. And with so many of them changing offices, I don't even know where anyone is."
Tradition and decorum dominated the opening of a new session. Galleries filled with family members and well-wishers waved and captured the swearing-in ceremonies on cell-phone cameras.
The anticipated Republican nominations for temporary speaker and speaker were advanced, as were obligatory nominations of Democratic leaders.
The minority party nominees, as expected, graciously withdrew, but not before indulging in policy announcement about what Democrats will, and will not, support.
The proceedings built to a crescendo of applause when Jones - who recently toured the state in expectation of his elevation - was escorted to the dais and handed the gavel.
Jones outlined what he characterized as a "bold, ambitious" policy agenda focusing on "the triple E" - economic development, energy and education.
He touched on medical malpractice reform, a transportation bond program and education reform that includes more power for parents, although he failed to specify what that power might entail.
Finally, he challenged the members to work together. "Our work begins today," he said. "It begins now."
We welcome our Missouri lawmakers back to the Capitol for the 97th General Assembly.
We look forward to vigorous discussion and spirited debate on the issues. And we encourage legislators to set aside partisan and regional differences and to translate words of cooperation into action.