Missouri has long been a conservative state in its outlook, no matter the party in charge. So in January, when legislative leaders celebrated the 100th General Assembly and the 100th anniversary of the Assembly meeting at the Capitol building in Jefferson City, there were no fireworks over the Missouri River or a grand gala.
Instead, there was a special joint session of the General Assembly and a reception with a “massive” cake in the rotunda.
“It was like, you know, two-and-a-half feet tall by four feet long and served 400 people. So that was a lot of fun,” said Dana Rademan Miller, chief clerk of the Missouri House of Representatives. “We were looking for cost-effective ways to commemorate this date, this milestone date. And I think we achieved that.“
The General Assembly first met in St. Louis in 1819, two years before Missouri became a state. The capital then moved to St. Charles. Jefferson City became the capital in 1826.
Miller, who started as a Senate intern in 2001, said she’s seen two major shifts firsthand: the Republican takeover of both chambers after the 2002 elections, which coincided with the full impact of term limits.
The current Capitol is the third one in Jefferson City, and the one that’s endured the longest. The previous two were destroyed in fires. Visitors often marvel at the building’s high ceilings and historic artwork.
“This being a unique time in our state’s history, we’re on the verge of the 2020 Census, and we’re on the verge of a full Capitol remodel, which would change the makeup of the physical structure,” Holsman said, adding it “may be one of the last opportunities in a long time to change the makeup of the legislature itself."
And while the legislation has cleared committees this session, Priddy is skeptical it’ll make it to voters.
“This is not the first time that someone has proposed changing the makeup of the House and the Senate,” he said. “The problem is these people are not going to vote to put themselves out of office.”
The exterior work should be done in time for Inauguration Day in 2021, which is also the year of the state’s bicentennial.
Samuel King is the Missouri government and politics reporter at KCUR 89.3. Follow him on Twitter: @SamuelKingNews