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Freshmen lawmakers make first appearance at Capitol

Freshmen lawmakers make first appearance at Capitol

November 29th, 2018 by Joe Gamm in News

District 59 Rep. Rudy Veit speaks to fellow representatives Wednesday during freshman orientation lunch at the Capitol.

Photo by Sally Ince /News Tribune.

The newest members of the Missouri House of Representatives began getting their first good look at the job Wednesday morning.

"They're giving us a 30,000-foot view of what to expect and what we're going to be doing," Dave Griffith said. "We've got three days of this."

Following three days of orientation in Jefferson City, the freshmen will take a caravan around the state.

Griffith, a Republican from Jefferson City, won the District 60 seat currently held by Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, during the Nov. 6 election.

Barnes is completing his fourth term. Term limits prevented him from running for re-election to the district, which includes most of Jefferson City, with the exception of the southeastern-most part of the city.

Attorney Rudy Veit, of Wardsville, a Republican and another new area lawmaker, also attended the orientation Wednesday.

"It's a lot like when you first get out of law school and you're going into private practice. You have to balance the priorities between your family and your job," Viet said. "We're learning how to pass a bill, where the resource staff is, where the legislative staff is, not to have too many expectations and how to try to get along."

The morning started with the new lawmakers undergoing training in breakout sessions in House hearing rooms. Leaders of several state departments gave presentations to the incoming lawmakers, Griffith said.

And much of Wednesday's discussions revolved around ethics and expectations, he said. New lawmakers not only are meeting their colleagues within their own parties, but their counterparts on the other side of the aisle, he added.

"The nice thing is the amount of respect and the decorum people are showing," Griffith said. "I was hoping for that. I really appreciate that."

The new lawmakers are being reminded that their conduct — inside and outside the Legislature — is being scrutinized, Veit said.

"Everything we do, like a judge — there is a certain level of conduct we are supposed to live by," Veit said. "How we conduct our lives. This can really trigger egos, and we need to keep those all in control."

Like Griffith, Veit is taking a seat — the 59th District — that has been held by the same person for the past eight years. Sen.-elect Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, was also prevented from running for re-election because of term limits.

The district includes a portion of eastern Jefferson City, most of Cole County and a portion of northern Miller County.

Bernskoetter won the Missouri Senate District 6 seat during the Nov. 6 election.

Election results are expected to be certified Friday.

The new lawmakers will be sworn in Jan. 9, the first day of the 2019 General Assembly.

The caravan trip around the state will give Griffith a chance to get to know other freshmen lawmakers better, he said.

"I'm looking forward to that," he said.

It's critical, Veit said, to go around the state.

"You don't understand the needs of any given area unless you go through it," he added. "And, it's hard to be mad at somebody you really know and work with and have to work with."