Missouri’s newest Speaker of the House Tim Jones was at Hoeckle’s Bakery in Perryville on Monday morning on the first stop of his four-day tour across the state, where he plans to visit 20 different small businesses and gathering places to meet constituents.
On this tour, he will be speaking to voters, community and business leaders to obtain their input about the important issues facing Missouri. Speaker Jones will also be conducting numerous media interviews along his route so that all Missouri voters can be informed regarding the challenges and potential solutions confronting their state legislature.
Jones was elected to the House in November 2006 and subsequently reelected in 2008, 2010 and 2012. He was unanimously elected as speaker in September for the remaining months of the 2012 session and has already been chosen as speaker-elect for the 2013-2014 General Assembly. Speaker Jones serves as Representative for the 110th District, which includes portions of Franklin and St. Louis counties. Jones is an attorney and currently resides in Eureka with his wife, Suzanne, and two daughters.
Former Speaker of the House Steven Tilley was just one of several political figures who attended the Hoeckle’s meet and greet.
“I’m blessed to be able to turn the gavel over to (him),” Tilley said. “There is nobody better in Jefferson City. He’s smart, conservative, will work hard and is a man of integrity and honesty. I feel he will build upon what I left, and do just as good a job if not better than I did.”
Others in attendance included Sen. Wayne Walingford, R-Cape Girardeau, Rep. Jason Smith, R-Salem, and Rep. Shelley Keeney, R-Marble Hill, as well as local business leaders Doug Schreiner, of Perryville Overhead Door, Citizens Electric Company CEO Van Robinson, Farm Bureau representative Brian Koenig and American Legion Post 133 Commander Brian Brickhaus, among others.
Jones said the focus of this legislative session would include three key areas: job creation, energy policy and education funding reform.
“Missouri government needs to find out how we can help our businesses perform better to keep the jobs in Missouri, and grow more jobs. Government can sometimes get in the way of job creation, so my goal is going to be to find out how government can be a facilitator and get out of the way to help our businesses move forward,” Jones said.
Point two was making sure to keep Missouri in step with the rest of the nation when it comes to alternative energy exploration.
“Here in the Midwest we have to have a strong energy policy,” Jones said. “We run on coal. My goal is to protect that fundamental natural resource, while still looking at all types of energy. We have a strong nuclear presence in this state. We have wind. We have solar. My goal is to have an energy policy that streamlines regulations, and makes it easier to harvest the energy we have here and produce more.”
Jones said education reform would be key to the future of the state. “The children of today are going to be the job creators of tomorrow. So we need to have a strong education system both in funding and in some reform, encouraging the best and brightest teachers among us to continue to build up their classrooms. Innovation and reform should be just as much a part of the education system as our entrepreneurial system.”
Jones said he had been traveling the state for the past two weeks with the newly elected legislatures in both the house and the senate. “We have 53 freshman house members and eight or nine new senators,” he said.
Tuesday’s tour continued through southeast Missouri, taking the speaker to Cape Girardeau, Sikeston, Poplar Bluff and West Plains.