JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri state senators and senators-elect caucused at the capitol building today (11/6) to choose leaders for the 95th General Assembly, which begins in two months.
The majority caucus unanimously endorsed current majority floor leader Senator Charlie Shields (R-Buchannan) as president pro tem, taking over for outgoing Senate leader Mike Gibbons (R-Kirkwood). Among a number of powers as Senate leader, the pro tem appoints committee members, assigns bills to committees and rules on points of order raised during chamber debate. (The caucus vote on this top Senate leadership post will be put before the full body in January.)
Current majority whip Senator Kevin Engler (R-Farmington) was tapped to fill the majority floor leader slot to be vacated by Sen. Shields. Among several duties, the majority floor leader sets the schedule of bills to be debated by the full body, the time allotted for floor debate on said bills, and the meeting times and dates of the Senate.
Senator Jack Goodman (R-Mt. Vernon) continues as assistant majority floor leader. Sen. Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles) will serve as majority “whip,” a caucus shepherding and marshalling position also found in congress. Senator Bill Stouffer (R-Napton), will serve as majority caucus chair. Senator Delbert Scott (R-Lowry City) continues as majority caucus secretary.
The minority caucus chose Sen. Victor Callahan (D-Independence) as minority floor leader, taking over for outgoing Sen. Maida Coleman (D-St. Louis), and as such will help set legislative priorities for the minority party and lead the effort to advance said priorities.
Senator Rita Heard Days (D-North St. Louis County) was tapped to fill the assistant minority floor leader position being vacated by outgoing Sen. Chuck Graham (D-Columbia). Senator Frank Barnitz (D-Lake Spring) continues as minority caucus chair. Senator Yvonne Wilson (D-Kansas City) continues as minority caucus secretary. (The Senate minority caucus does not employ a whip position.)
The majority-minority party ratio in the 34-seat Senate is currently 20-14. If results from the November 4 elections stand as is through any recounts (one may occur in the 1st District) and certification by the secretary of state’s office, the Senate member party ratio would be 23-11 in the coming year.
By the state’s constitution, Missouri’s lieutenant governor also serves as president of the Senate, and as such may preside over chamber proceedings. Peter Kinder (R-Missouri), took on these two posts beginning in 2005, and is slated to serve a second four-year term beginning in 2009.
The First Regular Session of the 95th General Assembly begins January 7, 2009. Bills pre-filed this year for the upcoming session will be numbered beginning December first. For more information about the events and legislation in the Missouri Senate, visit www.senate.mo.gov. To contact Senate Communications, call (573) 751-3824 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.