The GOP picked up five House seats in the Tuesday's general election, giving them control of 110 of the chamber's 163 seats, a two-thirds veto proof majority. Republicans also control Missouri's Senate by a two-thirds majority. By having a veto-proof majority in both chambers Republicans do not necessarily need the approval of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon on legislation.
Current House Speaker Tim Jones, R-St. Louis County, was tapped to run the House in the next legislative session. Jones became Speaker in September when former Speaker Steve Tilley resigned to become a lobbyist. Jones said despite his party's two-thirds majority his chamber will work with Nixon.
Jones said he was willing to work with Nixon in the coming legislative session, but he also signaled that he would not hesitate to harness the power of his caucus to overcome Nixon's positions.
"The governor will need to understand the importance of true, actual negotiation during the legislative process as the 'checkmate' that he possesses, in the form of a veto, is now equaled by the overwhelming numbers that we have in the House and the Senate," he said.
Jones added that Nixon should engage the legislature before bills hit his desk rather than waiting to work out differences after a gubernatorial veto.
"I think a more efficient use of taxpayers' time and money would be to have a governor who does not hold his cards so close to his chest and is willing to come down and make his agenda known and his opinions known on specific legislation--if he has them, at the time he has them--so we can pass a bill one time and have it become law," Jones said.
In the press conference announcing House leaders Wednesday, Jones addressed the question of establishing a web-based health exchange and implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Jones said he will ask Nixon to seek a waiver from the federal government on establishing the exchange. Missouri voters passed a ballot measure Tuesday preventing the governor from creating such an exchange by executive order.
The House Republicans also elected Rep. John Diehl, R-St. Louis County, as their Majority Leader. Diehl will control the flow of legislation on the House floor next session.
Another St. Louis County lawmaker, Rep. Rick Stream, was tapped to head the powerful House Budget Committee.
This is the first time since 1930 the Republicans have controlled a two-thirds majority in the state House.