Missouri House Republicans chose Rep. Elijah Haahr on Tuesday to succeed Todd Richardson as speaker, assuming the GOP keeps its majority in the lower chamber.
Richardson is barred from serving beyond 2018 because of term limits. Haahr, 35, will take over in January 2019.
The fifth-year Republican from Springfield is attorney at the law firm of Lathrop Gage, and beat out Reps. Robert Cornejo of St. Peters and Holly Rehder of Sikeston. He currently serves as Speaker Pro-tem.
The speaker is one of the most powerful elected officials in Missouri because he or she sets agendas and approves committee assignments for every state representative.
Haahr would not comment on any specific bills he’ll want advanced once he takes over, but said Tuesday he’ll chart a course similar to Richardson, as well as Gov. Eric Greitens.
“The priorities of Republicans are always going to be generally the same,” Haahr said. “We may have different ways to get there, but we want the same things. We want less government and we want to see labor reform and tax reform.”
Based on bills he’s previously sponsored, Haahr’s priorities include promoting the interests of home-schooled children, combatting human trafficking and advancing an anti-abortion agenda. He has also sponsored bills that would make it harder to amend the Missouri Constitution by requiring a 60 percent majority of voters to pass ballot initiatives.
Haahr said he also looks forward to working with the Senate, which hasn’t always been easy for House leaders due to filibusters and the slower work pace in the upper chamber.
“(One) thing to remember is this: It’s going to be a very different senate by the time I actually take over this role,” he said. “(There will be) new leadership in the senate and several members will term out, but I’m very excited to work with both the Senate and the governor.”
Richardson will remain House speaker until the 2018 legislative year ends.
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