Blog Posts

Bringing Life Back to the Bootheel

The Game-Changing Measure Passed in Special Session

When Noranda closed last year, New Madrid and the surrounding areas saw 900 jobs leave. Since then, the economy in Southeast Missouri has been deeply crippled by the loss of its aluminum smelter production. The average household income has dropped $6,000 in New Madrid County. The 8th Congressional District is now the 11th poorest district in the country. Nine of the 10 poorest counties per capita income in the state are also in the 8th Congressional District. Families looking for work have been forced to leave the area or receive welfare. At some times, it seemed as if our area was never going to bounce back. Continue reading “Bringing Life Back to the Bootheel”


Job Creation – the #1 Priority

Building a Job-Friendly, Pro-Worker Environment

The first time I walked into the beautiful and historic Capitol building as an elected official, I thought, well what I am I going to do next? It didn’t take me long to realize what our state needed was exactly what I worked on doing as mayor of Joplin – job creation. Since that first day, my number one priority in the Legislature has been finding ways, some new and some innovative, to create jobs in our communities. Continue reading “Job Creation – the #1 Priority”

Finding the Right Balance

The Challenge and Tribulations of Crafting a $27.8 Billion Budget

The balancing act of finding ways to fund our public schools and still take care of those individuals who are the most vulnerable is not an undertaking I take lightly. First, we are spending taxpayers’ dollars. But, we are also looking for paths to best meet the needs of our constituents. No one priority should land higher on the list than the other. Continue reading “Finding the Right Balance”

Remembering Our Former Colleagues

We Have Big Shoes to Fill

This week, we took time out of our normal routine to recognize some of the men and women who have helped shaped the Show-Me State. On Tuesday, the Senate hosted a memorial service for the distinguished former senators who have passed away since April of 2014. Together with the families of the former senators, we celebrated the lawmakers’ lives and legacies and remembered their dedicated service.

After listening to the moving stories told by former Lt. Governor Peter Kinder and former Senate Pro Tem James L. Mathewson, it reminded me that my colleagues and I aren’t the first to sit in these seats, and we won’t be the last. These former senators showed a great deal of enthusiasm for Missouri. They made sacrifices, fought hard for what they believed in, and lived true to the duty of public service. They were mentors, friends, leaders, and we will be forever united together. Always a senator, they will always have a place in history.

Partisan politics aside, this ceremony helped me to remember why were are here in Jefferson City. Many of us ran for office because we believed in a better Missouri. We believed we each could make a small ripple that would eventually transform the Show-Me State.

We sometimes take for granted all of the beauty that surrounds us. This chamber is at the heart of what is the most beautiful capitol building in America. Inside these walls there is so much history. We are still making history today, and we must forever live under the weight of our decisions. Today we have the chance to determine how heavy our load will be. We get to decide how we will forever change Missouri.

This week reminded me that we have some big shoes to fill. In three weeks we will leave this building once again. Our job, at least for a little while, will be done. When we leave, will we be able to say we fought for what we believed in, that we paid attention to details? Did we have the courage to say what needs to be said? And did we rise to the grandeur of the occasion?

As I said in my opening remarks this January, I hope history remembers us for our respect for the institution and the traditions of the Senate. I hope we will be remembered for restoring civility while still speaking passionately about our convictions. I hope history will remember us as having the courage to speak up, and the courage to sit down.


The following members were recognized at this week’s memorial service:

Vince Baker
Mary Groves Bland
Harold Caskey
William Cason
Donald Gralike
John Johnson
Emory Melton
Edward Quick
John T. Russell
John Schneider
Betty Sims
Carl Vogel
Anita Yeckel

To read more about each senator who was remembered, visit the Senate Memorial page.

Senate Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin

District 32

Unleashing Innovation and Empowering Parents

How School Choice Can Strengthen our School System and Save Children from Failing

 It’s an issue our state has dealt with for decades – students trapped in failing school districts. From 2013 – 2016, nearly 20,000 Missouri students didn’t receive a diploma. They didn’t walk across the stage wearing their graduation cap with plans to continue their education. Instead they dropped out. Out of those who stayed and went on to college, 40 percent needed to take remedial courses in basic math and English just be on par with other students. Continue reading “Unleashing Innovation and Empowering Parents”

Religious Liberties – America’s Most Valued Freedom

Why the Senate Must Work to Protect Alternatives-to-Abortion Agencies

One of the most valued rights guaranteed to Americans in the Constitution is our right to freely exercise our religious beliefs without the risk of persecution from the government. I strongly believe that only a person’s conscience can tell them right from wrong, not the government, whether at the federal level, the state, or even local. I also believe there is an inherent dignity in every human being, and that Missourians are a compassionate people who sincerely want to live in a society that shows respect for each other – regardless of differences in beliefs. Unfortunately in some cities, our religious freedoms are under attack. Continue reading “Religious Liberties – America’s Most Valued Freedom”

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