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story.lead_photo.caption In this March 29, 2019 photo, state Rep. Sara Walsh, R-Ashland, speaks during debate over Missouri's state budget. Photo by Tim Bommel/Mo. House of Reps.

As their experience grows, so do expectations for state representatives from the Jefferson City area.

Each lawmaker is accepting additional responsibilities this year in the Missouri General Assembly.

Rep. Sara Walsh received an honor when she was chosen as interim speaker of the House of Representatives during the first day of this year's legislative session. Under the Ashland Republican's leadership, the chamber made official its selection of Rep. Rob Vescovo, R-Arnold, as speaker for the 101st General Assembly, which begins this year.

Walsh's responsibilities are far-reaching this year. She is to serve as majority caucus chair but also is to chair the Consent and House Procedures Committee, which is new. She will again chair the Subcommittee on Appropriations — Public Safety, Corrections, Transportation and Revenue.

Walsh, who is in her fifth year in the House, said she is grateful Vescovo has entrusted her to serve on five committees.

"I especially appreciate continuing to serve on the House Budget Committee, as well as continuing to chair (the appropriations sub-committee)," she said.

She said her parents taught her the importance of a strong work ethic and a positive attitude. Those attributes, she said, have led to multiple achievements or successes.

"Through hard work, heart and determination, I will continue to diligently focus on the tasks before me this year to the benefit of Missourians and my constituents," she said.

In addition to the previously mentioned committees, she again will serve on the Fiscal Review Committee and will join the Judiciary Committee.

She joins Rep. Rudy Veit, R-Wardsville, on the Judiciary Committee. Veit, who served on the committee last year, will act as its vice chair this year.

Veit is presenting a number of bills to the committee this year — several of which passed through the House last year but didn't get through the Senate.

He has worked closely on details of those bills with Rep. David Evans, R-West Plains, a retired judge who is the Judiciary Committee chair.

Veit will also serve on the Higher Education and Legislative Review committees and on the Special Committee on Government Accountability.

Legislative Review is a new committee this year, he said. Its intent is to focus bills.

"Our speaker wants our bills to come out of here with a little more clarity and a singular purpose," Veit said.

If amendments are added to bills on the House floor, Vescovo wants to make certain the amendments don't violate the "single topics" rule. If it appears an amendment changes the bill, Vescovo will send it to the committee to review.

With Higher Education, there are several concerns Republicans want to look at, Veit said.

"I truly believe we want to figure out a way to make our colleges cost less," he said.

He added reducing the number of hours required to receive a degree is important.

For example, Veit questions whether there are too many electives required to receive some technical degrees, such as in engineering. He'd like to see hours transfer fully and more easily than before — and to coordinate how hours transfer from two-year or technical colleges to universities and four-year colleges.

Veit will also serve on the Special Committee on Government Accountability, which will look at government efficiency and government waste.

Rep. Travis Fitzwater, R-Holts Summit, in his seventh year in the House, is to chair two committees, Fiscal Review and Ethics.

"Chairing the Fiscal Review Committee will allow me to have an impact on any bill that goes through the House that costs money," Fitzwater said. "This is an important role, as it will allow me to push a fiscally conservative message via bill-making."

Other committees Fitzwater serves on — especially Utilities, he said — are important for his own district.

He said he expects to be heavily involved in policy discussions and that Vescovo expects results from his chairs.

Rep. Dave Griffith, R-Jefferson City, will again chair the Veterans Committee as he enters his third year in the General Assembly. He served as the committee's vice chair his first year and chair for his second.

"Being a veteran, I believe the speaker has confidence in my experience and knowledge of veterans' issues," Griffith said.

He said he understands what veterans have endured and continue to endure. He is passionate about how legislation can improve veterans' lives.

In addition to the Veterans Committee, Griffith is to serve on the Corrections and Public Institutions Committee and the Administration and Accounts Committee.

This article was edited at 9:32 a.m. Jan. 25, 2021, to state Missouri's 101st General Assembly starts in 2021, correcting the erroneous number reported earlier.

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