OUR OPINION: New session, new hope

"An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in.

A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves."

-- William E. Vaughan, American columnist and author

The new year brings with it a new legislative session and an optimism that our legislators will be returning to the Capitol with a renewed resolve to improve the quality of life for their fellow Missourians.

But with any resolution for a new year or a new legislative session, the trick is acknowledging why a change of direction is needed and then staying resolved to meet that goal.

The last legislative session was best described as a slog, a period of hard and persistent work with little to show for the effort. Tension and acrimony permeated both chambers of the General Assembly, resulting in filibusters, periods of grandstanding and ineffective efforts to really serve the interests of Missourians.

But a new hope has been expressed about this new year and new legislative session.

"For last year's words belong to last year's language.

And next year's words await another voice."

-- T.S. Eliot

The welcome sentiment expressed by Mid-Missouri legislators about the session that begins today is that maybe the General Assembly has learned its lesson from last year.

One legislator, Rep. Rudy Veit, noted the atmosphere seemed more congenial already.

In a manner in which we all can understand, he likened the experience in the Legislature to his experience of growing up with eight brothers and sisters. It's unrealistic to expect that you always will get your way, he said; sometimes, you have to do what it takes to get along.

Fellow legislator Dave Griffith expressed a similar sentiment. "It is my hope there will be more of a spirit of cooperation to move important legislation that is important to all citizens in the state."

Sen.-elect Travis Fitzwater clearly laid out the motivation behind that new approach: "We must function well. Missourians are demanding we step up and get things done."

"You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step."

-- Martin Luther King

Some of that new optimism is based on confidence in the leadership in the House and Senate, which seems to be more focused on working on issues that directly affect Missourians, rather than ideology.

But success will require buy-in from the rank-and-file of both chambers in order to see these optimistic resolutions become a reality. As last year proved, even a small handful of legislators can derail an entire session if they so choose to do so.

But as with any new year's resolution, the path to success is to stay focused on the goal and to put the work in every day to reach the destination you are seeking.

Missourians deserve nothing less.

The work starts now.

-- News Tribune

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