The 2017 legislative session began Wednesday. This session, like every session, will bring many new changes and opportunities. Senator Ron Richard was elected by the entire senate to serve as the President Pro Tem. Senator Richard is focused on economic development, keeping and growing businesses already in-state, and making Missouri the most attractive location for new businesses. As the only person ever to serve as both the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tem of the Senate, Ron possesses the leadership, vision, experience, and perspective to ensure the senate works closely with the house and the new administration to bring about much needed reforms.
Based upon conversations with the governor-elect and the speaker of the house, I look forward to jobs and economic development, in the form of regulatory reform, labor reform, and tort reform, to be the early focus of legislative efforts. Majorities in both chambers, as well as the governor-elect, campaigned and won decisively on these reforms. As has been his custom previously, Senator Richard referred bills to committee on the second day of session, ensuring that committee chairs can begin hearings soon on important topics, ultimately moving those bills to the floor for discussion and action very early in the legislative session.
Early in 2016, I attended a series of forums on the proposed Rock Island Trail. In these meetings a number of concerns were raised, but two of the most prominent related to property taxes on the rail-bed and fencing along the rail-line. On Thursday I filed two pieces of legislation to address these concerns. Senate Bill 250 will ensure that those who own property bisected by the rail-bed will not have to pay property taxes on the rail-bed. Senate Bill 251 requires the Department of Natural Resources to maintain fencing along the boundary of individual landowners and the trail. Should the Rock Island Trail project go forward, these are important protections for landowners.
Monday presents the opportunity to view first-hand one of the most unique and wonderful attributes of our government: a peaceful transition of power. Without physical confrontation or coercion of any sort, a new Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, and Treasurer will be sworn in to assume the duties of their office. Living in Jefferson City, it is possible to take these transitions for-granted because we grow accustomed to them happening, but the fact that a peaceful transition of power is normal is a blessing from God. These events are open to the public, and I encourage you to come and experience them. Whether you come to the inauguration, the ball, or any other event, please feel free to come by your office in room 321. For a schedule of inaugural events go to www.newmissouri.org or call the office 573-751-2076.
I seek, and value greatly, your insights and perspective on issues that are important to you. Every year I endeavor to actively participate in conversations and listen to both sides of every issue, whether or not I have a definitive position on the topic. In addition to your insights and perspectives, I greatly value your prayers on behalf of my family and me, as well as on behalf of every member of the legislature.
State Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, represents Missouri's 6th District.