House leaders, Senate Democratic leader reflect on their time spent in the Missouri legislature
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House leaders, Senate Democratic leader reflect on their time spent in the Missouri legislature

Date: May 13, 2014
By: Steven Anthony
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The 2014 legislative session ends Friday, May 16, at 6 p.m. signaling the end of a legislative career for two of the General Assembly's leaders.

House Speaker Tim Jones, R-St. Louis County, and Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, are barred from seeking reelection due to term limits.

On the subject of term limits, House Minority Leader Jacob Hummel, D-St. Louis City, who has one term left in the House should he win reelection, says term limits have done the state no favors.

"You lose people with institutional knowledge," Hummel said. "You lose a little bit of the camaraderie and you don’t build relationships as much as you did in the past. People aren’t allowed to work across the party lines now because of it. It’s really a loss to the state."

Hummel also talked about his greatest achievement while in the House.

"We increased the foundation formula for the first time in years, so schools are going to get more money, more money for higher education, more money for public education, for secondary education. I think that’s a great thing," Hummel said.

Hummel also discussed his role as the House minority leader.

"The learning curve is really really really important," Hummel said. "When you get here, you really have to sit down, pay attention, understand the legislation, and survey the legislature. In six years, I’ve just learned to look at things differently."

Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Jackson County, shared her thoughts on being a member of the minority for all eight years of her time in the Senate.

"We need to work harder to make sure we get more Democrats in the legislature," Justus said. "When you are in the extreme minority, you don’t have the opportunity to set the agenda."

Even though she's been in the minority her entire tenure, Justus said she helped pass major bills that helped her constituents and the state as a whole.

"I have a lot of bills that have significantly improved the lives of kids in the foster care system, worked hard to pass child care assistance bills, dozens of bills that help my city, Kansas City, and then of course passing the revision of the Missouri criminal code after eight years of work is a crowning achievement that I’m very proud of," Justus said.

Jones said he took one major thing away from his time as speaker.

"What I’ve learned from that is the best way to govern… is to do everything you can to have an agenda and be a bold leader, but always be willing to collaborate with your colleagues and build consensus wherever possible," Jones said. "Yes, you need to push sometimes, but sometimes you also need to reach out."

What is he most proud of during his time in the House?

"Overriding the governor on the first significant tax reform reduction bill in our state’s history in nearly a hundred years was a crowning achievement of sorts definitely," he said.

Jones also touched on one major issue he thinks isn't seeing the light of day in Jefferson City.

"Education reform is an issue that needs a lot more attention in this state. It has been an issue that’s been tough to tackle because the education establishment is not in favor of change," Jones said.

When asked about the current school transfer bill before the legislature, Jones said he could support the bill.

"I would be satisfied with this piece of legislation," Jones said.

Early in September, Jones said it was his intention to run for attorney general in 2016.

When asked if he still intended to do so, he gave no firm commitment.

"It’s my intention, still my intention," Jones said. "I haven’t made any firm decision on that yet."