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House delegation outlines local priorities

House delegation outlines local priorities

January 9th, 2014 in News

Representatives from the Missouri House listen Wednesday to Speaker of the House Timothy Jones outline this legislative session's proposals.

Photo by Julie Smith

Local legislators say they weren't surprised by the four policy areas outlined in Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones' remarks Wednesday, the opening day of the 2014 session.

The policy areas Jones outlined include "growth and opportunity for all Missourians, guaranteeing access to a great education, generating affordable and abundant energy, and guarding and protecting Missouri values."

He said education reform is one of the House's top priorities.

Rep. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane, agreed that the issue needs addressed statewide, and Rep. Caleb Jones, R-California, said it's lawmakers' job to address it.

"It's our duty as people to make sure children are educated properly and have opportunities in life," he said.

Caleb Jones said his top priorities as a lawmaker this session are ensuring the government is less intrusive and enacting ethics reform.

Riddle's top priority is a new Fulton State Hospital.

"I want the new hospital for the state," she said. "It serves the entire state, not just the Fulton area."

She said the hospital's current facility is dangerous for employees.

"We not only need a new facility, but also need to review new policies," Riddle said.

Another issue on the House's agenda is medical malpractice reform, which Tim Jones calls "the true health care crisis in our state."

Riddle said it needs to be addressed because physicians have a difficult job right now, especially navigating Obamacare.

But, malpractice reform isn't the only health issue on local legislators' minds. Medicaid reform is, too.

"Obviously Medicaid transformation is one of the most vital issues facing Missourians," said Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City.

He said it's one of his priorities, and he will file several bills relating to the issue.

Rep. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, said one of his top priorities is making sure he can do what he can for state workers.

"We're hoping to get a comprehensive study (of state workers' salaries) into the budget this year," he said. "It will measure how we stack up to other states in terms of wages, benefits, the whole gamut."