In 2019, State Rep. Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, will make history.
He’ll become the youngest representative and first from Springfield to serve as speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives. Coincidentally, he’ll also preside over the 100th General Assembly as the governmental body celebrates its centennial.
“Obviously, it’s one of those pretty exciting, life-changing moments for me,” Haahr says.
But more than that, he says, is what the designation means for the Queen City.
“We’ve become the economic driving force for the state,” he says. “We’ve boomed bigger than any other area. It’s reflective of where our place is in the state in general.”
An attorney by trade who joined Lathrop Gage LLP in July 2017, Haahr was elected to the House in 2012 and is slated to become speaker in January 2019 after two years as speaker pro tem. He’ll succeed Rep. Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff.
“It’s a full-on learning experience. It’s an opportunity to shadow the current speaker for a year,” said Haahr, who was elected in September 2017 by House leadership as the speaker-in-waiting.
The 134th District representative covering a portion of Greene County, Haahr will spend the rest of his time as speaker pro tem talking with potential new representatives to encourage them to run, help them raise money and become elected. The idea is to get a good team in place when Haahr takes over as speaker. Before that, though, there’s another session.
As speaker-in-waiting, Haahr will be unlikely to personally file legislation, but he’s looking forward to another year of business growth with a supermajority Republican legislature.
In the 2018 session, Haahr says the House likely will tackle labor, occupational licensing and transportation reform, as well as updates to the state’s utility grid and efforts led by Gov. Eric Greitens to reduce regulations and state-sponsored incentives for developments.
“We’ll see how it plays out. I’d assume it will be a big fight in the legislature,” Haahr says of plans to cut low-income housing and historic tax credits.
In November 2017, Haahr was one of three who earned the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Spirit of Enterprise Award. The state chamber cited Haahr’s work promoting right-to-work and minimum wage legislation. He earned a 100 percent rating from the chamber during the 2017 session.
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