The 2020 legislative session in Missouri got off to a hot start this week. The St. Louis Regional Chamber hosted its annual Missouri Lobby Day in Jefferson City on January 14th, Governor Mike Parson gave his annual State of the State address on January 15th, and the Regional Chamber testified for a total of five priorities throughout the week.
The Missouri Lobby Day delegation of Regional Chamber members and investors kicked the week off by advocating for the Chamber’s 2020 policy priorities in Jefferson City. The Regional Chamber joined with partner organizations and local chambers of commerce to meet with Governor Parson, members of his cabinet, and leaders in both the Missouri Senate and House of Representatives.
The first stop for the delegation was at the Governor’s Mansion for lunch. Missouri Governor Mike Parson was gracious enough to address our delegation the day before his State of the State address and gave great insight into what his priorities would be in 2020. “If we are to move Missouri forward, it will be through education, and it will be through workforce development and transportation. You cannot have one without the other and be successful,” said Parson.
The delegation also heard from Missouri Department of Economic Development Director Rob Dixon and his priorities for the new year. Director Dixon also touched on many of the positive impacts from last year’s session and the new initiatives the Department hopes to make this session.
After lunch, the delegation stormed the Capitol where we shared the Chamber’s priorities with the General Assembly. The Regional Chamber’s topline priorities include economic development, workforce development, and transportation and infrastructure. More specifically, the delegation was assigned breakout groups which included economic development, expanded workforce, tort reform, innovation, transportation & infrastructure, and a regional issue-focused group.
The delegation also had the opportunity to hear from top executives and legislative leaders about their vision for the future of business in Missouri. In addition to meeting with Governor Parson and Director Dixon, the delegation met with President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, and Attorney General Eric Schmitt. In all, the delegation met with over 20 legislators from the St. Louis region and across the state to advocate for policies that will make St. Louis a more attractive place to live, work, and invest.
After a busy Lobby Day, the Regional Chamber hosted a reception near the Capitol where a number of statewide officials and members of the General Assembly met with our delegation. Those in attendance included Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, and State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick.
The day after the Regional Chamber’s Lobby Day, Jefferson City saw even more buzz as the Governor delivered his State of the State address to both chambers of the General Assembly, members of the Governor’s cabinet, the Missouri Supreme Court, and statewide officials. Among the highlights of the address, the Governor touted the major successes from 2019 including the $1.5 billion investment General Motors is making in Wentzville, MO. The Governor’s speech focused on four main areas: stronger communities, workforce and education, infrastructure, and government reform.
In an initiative to strengthen urban communities, the Governor is working with the Mayors of St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, and Columbia to provide greater protection for crime victims and witnesses, more mental health resources and services, and stronger laws to target violent criminals. The Governor will continue his focus on increasing opportunities for high-demand jobs and early childhood education that aims to bolster the state’s present and future workforce. He also announced the approval of the Buck O’Neil Bridge project in Kansas City and called for more investment in Missouri’s infrastructure. Finally, under the Governor’s efforts to reform state government, the Governor announced savings of $84 million in the Medicaid system and his desire to fund a $100 million “rainy day fund” for the state.
The Missouri Legislature is officially off and running and 2020 has the potential to be another special year for the St. Louis region. In addition to Lobby Day and the Governor’s State of the State address this week, the Regional Chamber was hard at work testifying for a variety of bills that will help make our region the best place to do business and the easiest place to work. We hope to see you in the Capitol!