Mid-Missourians will chair the Legislature's Energy committees in both houses this year.
Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, is the new chairman of the Senate's Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment Committee, succeeding Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah, who left the Legislature at the end of last year because of term limits.
State Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey on Monday also tabbed freshman Sen. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane - whose district includes the Callaway Nuclear Plant - as a member of that committee.
Also Monday, new House Speaker John Diehl named Rep. Rocky Miller, R-Lake Ozark, to chair the House Regular Standing Committee on Energy and the Environment.
As in the past few years, Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, will chair the Senate's Appropriations Committee, which works with the House Budget Committee to write state government's operating budget for the next business year that begins July 1. Kehoe and Dan Brown, R-Rolla, remain as members of the committee.
And Dempsey, R-St. Charles, again named Brown to chair the Veterans' Affairs and Health Committee.
Kehoe remains a member of the Transportation Committee, which he's chaired the last few years. But the chairmanship was given to Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff.
And, Dempsey said, the committee has additional duties.
"I added the charge of Public Safety to that," he explained to reporters after winning the full Senate's approval of the change.
"That's not a big stretch, if you look at speed cameras and red light cameras - a lot of those things went to Transportation in the past."
In the aftermath of the Michael Brown killing in Ferguson last August, and the almost continual demonstrations that have occurred since then, Dempsey said he expects lawmakers will be asked to consider other public safety and law enforcement-related bills this year, including "body cameras and the use of force. Along with the Judiciary Committee, I'll be looking at the (Transportation and) Public Safety Committee to be hearing that legislation."
Dempsey, as the president pro tem, assigns legislation to the committees with the most expertise to consider them - although some cynics would argue that a Senate president pro tem or House speaker also can assign bills they don't like to an unfriendly committee that likely will block the measure from getting a hearing.
Dempsey doesn't see the committee changes as major ones.
"I think I was able to do a fair job in getting some of the new members on committees that they have a specific area of interest, or where they wanted to be," he said. "You never make everybody happy in this process, but I think we put the puzzle pieces together as best we could."
In addition to the Energy, Appropriations and Transportation committees, Kehoe will serve on the Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee.
Besides Appropriations, Schaefer will be on the Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.
Dempsey appointed Riddle as vice chair of the Seniors, Families and Children Committee. In addition to that and the Energy Committee, Riddle will be on the Financial and Government Organizations and Elections Committee and on the Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee.
Dempsey also named Brown to the Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources Committee and the Education Committee.
In both chambers, the committees review proposed bills and hold public hearings on them - often rewriting them or combining them with similar measures before they're sent to the full chamber for debate and, if approved, then sent to the other house.
In the House, Diehl, R-Town and Country, named a total of 55 committee chairs under a changed committee structure that includes 13 Select Committees designed to serve as an additional level of quality control.
In a news release, Diehl said each Select Committee will be based on a particular issue area - and will oversee several Standing Committees dealing with similar subject matter.
Diehl named Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, to head the Regular Standing Committee on Government Oversight and Accountability.
Rep. Diane Franklin, R-Camdenton, will chair the Regular Standing Committee on Children and Families.
And Rep. Caleb Jones, R-Columbia - who is an attorney - will head the Select Standing Committee on General Laws.