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Haahr takes over as Missouri House speaker

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Rep. Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, became speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives sooner than expected.

Haahr today succeeds Rep. Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, who was selected as director of the MO HealthNet Division of the Missouri Department of Social Services, according to a news release. Richardson’s position as head of the state’s Medicaid program became effective today.

Haahr, who was first elected to the House in 2012 and has been speaker pro tem for the past two years, previously was slated to become speaker in January 2019.

“I am excited to serve in this capacity as we prepare for the 2019 legislative session,” Haahr said in the release. “This early experience of leading the office of the speaker will ensure we hit the ground running in our mission to deliver bold, 21st century solutions to meet Missouri’s challenges.”

Haahr, an of-counsel attorney with Kutak Rock LLP’s Springfield office, becomes the first Missouri speaker from the Queen City. At 36 years old, he’s also currently the youngest speaker in the country, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“Watching the people of Springfield working together to move our state forward is a constant reminder of the honor and responsibility I have in representing this exceptional community in the Missouri House,” Haahr said in the release.

The transition to speaker comes five days ahead of the November general election, in which Haahr is being challenged by Democrat Derrick Nowlin for the 134th District seat.

Missouri House Communications Director Trevor Fox said if Haahr loses his re-election bid, he would continue to hold the speaker post until January, when the General Assembly convenes and would select a different successor for Richardson.

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