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Mo. lawmakers choose new General Assembly leaders

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – New members of the Missouri House and Senate gathered with veteran lawmakers today to choose new leaders and to begin preparations for the 2009 legislative session.

Ron Richard of Joplin, who had already been nominated for House Speaker, told reporters that he intends to champion traditional GOP issues.

"Unlike Washington DC, we haven't forgot we're Republicans...we're here to stand true on what we believe: Low taxes, education, energy, economic development, which I've had some interest in...we're (going to) stay true on some issues that we believe got us here, that's (gotten) us here since 2002," Richard said.

As for working with a Democratic governor, Richard said that he carried former Governor Bob Holden's economic development package for him in the State House, and that he can also work with incoming Governor Jay Nixon.

Republican leaders in the Missouri Senate have chosen Charlie Shields of St. Joseph as President Pro-tem.

If elected by the full Senate, which is expected, he would replace Mike Gibbons, who left the Senate due to term limits.

Gibbons lost the State Attorney General's race this week to Democrat Chris Koster.

Victor Callahan (D, Independence) was elected Senate Minority Floor Leader. He replaces outgoing St. Louis Senator Maida Coleman.

Kevin Engler (R, Farmington) was chosen as the new Senate Majority Floor Leader.

House Republican leadership positions remain the same: Bryan Pratt of Blue Springs is Speaker Pro-tem, and Steven Tilley of Perryville is House Majority Floor Leader.

House Democrats re-elected Paul LeVota of Independence as Minority Floor Leader and J.C. Kuessner of Eminence as Assistant Minority Floor Leader.