JEFFERSON CITY - A former state House Speaker has been chosen as the state Senate's Republican Floor Leader after only serving two years in the chamber.
The majority caucus picked Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, to lead and form the GOP's agenda on the Senate floor. Before being elected to the Missouri Senate in 2010, Richard served eight years in the state House. He was chosen as House Speaker in 2008.
Senate Republicans picked Sen. Tom Dempsey, R-St. Louis County, to serve as President Pro Tem.
Republicans have a two-thirds veto-proof majority in both legislative chambers after Tuesday's election. Republicans gained five seats in the House Tuesday night and now have 110 seats to the Democrat's 53. Republicans lost two seats in the state Senate, but still hold enough seats to override a governor's veto.
Speaker of the House Rep. Tim Jones, R-St. Louis County, said Wednesday that he was willing to work with Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, but is also willing to use the power of his caucus to override the governor if necessary. Dempsey did not specifically reiterate Jones' stance Thursday and said he hopes to work productively with the governor.
"We'll encourage the governor to communicate with us, and we'll certainly extend my hand to communicate with him, so that these priorities that are so critical to the state of Missouri are accomplished," Dempsey said.
During the 2012 legislative session, Dempsey repeatedly said he would have liked more input from the governor's office on important legislative issues, such as changes to the state's workers' compensation laws and fully funding Missouri's lower education foundation formula.
Dempsey said Thursday it is important for the House and Senate to work together to help Missouri.
"It's important to have a good working relationship with Speaker Jones and the Missouri House and so we will focus our attention on that as well so that our priorities can move through the House and be placed on the governor's desk," Dempsey said.
The Senate Democrats selected Jolie Justus, D-Jackson County, as their Democratic Floor Leader.
Justus said she has a great relationship with the governor and hopes to continue that relationship as the leader of the Senate's minority caucus. Justus also said Dempsey and her have worked well together in the past and they will continue to work together to move forward.
"Obviously we all know that the governor plays his cards very close to the vest, and that's how he governs," Justus said.
She said the Democrats are dependent on three things to regain a majority in Missouri legislation: campaign financing, term limits and redistricting.
House Democrats also elected Rep. Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis City, as the House Democratic Floor Leader. Hummel was elected to the state House in 2008.
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