(AP) – Missouri’s Republican legislative leaders vowed to push back against big government as they started the 2015 session Wednesday with their largest numbers of Republicans ever, a significant shift in power for a place once known as a swing state.
The state served as a reliable bellwether for most of a century, correctly in line with presidential races for decades until Missouri voters chose Republican John McCain in 2008. Time has only made the Missouri Legislature redder.
House Republicans outnumbered Democrats 117-45 during swearing-in ceremonies Wednesday, and the party also has a veto-proof majority in the Senate, with 25 Republicans and nine Democrats.
The GOP’s control of the Legislature “is a continuation of work started in the early 2000s, when our predecessors fought and won control of the House for the first time in decades,” said John Diehl, who was elected unanimously to serve as the new House speaker.
Although Republicans have their largest combined number of seats, their Senate total was slightly higher a few years ago and they had a slightly larger percentage of Republicans in the House in the 1920s, when there were fewer House seats.
Republicans plan to use their numbers to tackle such topics as changes to ethics laws, curbing municipal fines and overhauling a state law allowing students to transfer from failing schools – issues Democrats similarly outlined as important. But Republicans also pledged to resist the policies of President Barack Obama’s administration.
Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey said GOP lawmakers intend to “push back against the federal government,” particularly against the health care law and regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency.