By BRENT MARTIN
St. Joseph Post
State Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer says a couple of changes have made all the difference in easing Republican tension this legislative session in Jefferson City.
Luetkemeyer says the session is benefiting from the absence of Congressional redistricting for one.
“I feel pretty optimistic about the outlook for the legislative session,” Luetkemeyer tells KFEQ/St. Joseph Post.
Luetkemeyer, a Republican from Parkville who represents Platte and Buchanan Counties, says he has already seen a big difference early on in the session.
“Certainly, the temperature in the Senate has gone down significantly compared to last year,” Luetkemeyer says. “We had a lot of tension in the Senate, much of that being contributed to by the fact that we were dealing with Congressional redistricting. Obviously with that issue not being on the table this legislative session it makes things a little bit less complicated.”
Another reason for optimism, according to Luetkemeyer, is a less contentious Senate leadership election in which Senate leader Caleb Rowden of Columbia was elected without opposition and Republicans chose Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin of Shelbina as Majority Leader.
“I ended up supporting both of them for their positions that they now currently hold and I think they’re going to make a great leadership team,” Luetkemeyer says. “I think they both have unique strengths that they will be able to play off of one another and really lead us forward into hopefully what ends up being a very productive session.”
Luetkemeyer says allowing factions within the party to have their say during leadership elections did a lot to turn the temperature down.
“They have their voice there, because you have people who I would say probably represent more the two major factions that have developed within the Republican Caucus,” according to Luetkemeyer. “So, everybody feels like they have a voice. They feel like they have a seat at the table. They feel like they are being heard. And, I think that is also contributing to the more collegial environment that we’re experiencing this session.”