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Politically Speaking: Richardson says Missouri's economy will top General Assembly agenda

House Speaker Todd Richardson and Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard spent time talking in the Senate chamber on Wednesday.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | File photos
House Speaker Todd Richardson and Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard plan to focus first on economic issues.

House Speaker Todd Richardson joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum for the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast.

In his third appearance on the show, Richardson – a Republican from Poplar Bluff – lays out his key objectives for the coming legislative session. For the first time in eight years, the GOP will control the legislative and executive branches of Missouri state government.

Legislators will gather in early January, and Richardson says the early focus will be on how best to re-energize the state’s economy.

Republican leaders plan to take early action on “right to work," which would curb union rights in the workplace, and also will revisit “paycheck protection," which would impose restrictions or outlaw payroll deduction of dues for public employees.

Also on the docket: A look at the state’s prevailing wage law, which critics contend mandates unrealistically high wages for workers on public projects, and “tort reform,’’ which would place limits or caps on damages awarded in lawsuits.

Richardson also wants state government to expand benefits for paid parental leave and to look at ways to improve workforce development, such as job training.

Among the speaker’s other observations during the podcast:

  • He expects the General Assembly to look at ways to improve education in the state, including the expansion of charter schools;
  • He will call for more action on ethics and will seek legislation to bar all lobbyists’ gifts;
  • He expects legislators will get involved in crafting health-insurance alternatives for the hundreds of thousands of Missourians who may lose coverage if Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare;
  • He’s unsure of the impact of the new campaign-donation restrictions that just went into effect earlier this month.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Todd Richardson on Twitter: @rep_trichardson

Music: "King of Carrot Flowers Part 1" by Neutral Milk Hotel

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.
Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.