The drama surrounding Speaker of the House Dean Plocher has continued throughout the month of November as the House Ethics Committee held two hearings that reportedly focused on Plocher’s actions which we reported on last month. At issue are whether Plocher pressured staff to implement a costly IT program, the firing of his long-time chief of staff, and his requests for personal reimbursement for travel expenses, even though the expenses were paid for by his campaign and not him personally.

The issue of travel reimbursement caused the most uproar with Plocher’s fellow Republicans, as several House and Senate members issued statements calling for him to resign. The matter was discussed in early November at the House winter caucus meetings, where many members were critical of Plocher’s actions and implied that he should resign, but no one actually made the call to formally seek his resignation. Most Capitol observers believe the issue is mostly over unless additional information comes to light.

Other actions by Plocher caught the attention of the media this month, as he named his new chief of staff. Former Speaker of the House Rod Jetton was tapped by Plocher to replace recently fired staffer Kenny Ross who had served under four different speakers. Jetton was once a rising star in Republican politics, serving as a state representative from Bollinger County and leading the House as speaker for four years. He also orchestrated numerous republican victories in House races around the state, which helped the GOP gain supermajority status in the lower chamber. However, after he left office, he was investigated for bribery and conspiracy over fallout from large political contributions, but no charges were ever filed. In a separate incident, he pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge after being accused of drugging and assaulting a woman during a sexual encounter.

Senate Republicans recently held their pre-session caucus meetings at Beg Cedar Lodge south of Branson. The meetings give senators the opportunity to discuss their priorities for the upcoming session and hopefully set an agenda to avoid the in-party fighting that has plagued the senate in recent years. The disagreements have been between “Conservative Caucus” senate members and the remaining more moderate Republicans. However, most of the conservative members were not in attendance, so it remains to be seen if the gridlock will continue.

In other news, Governor Mike Parson recently announced the appointment of Ginger Gooch as the newest member of the Missouri Supreme Court. Gooch was currently a judge on the Southern District Court of Appeals and was a private practice attorney for many years before her appointment to the appeals court. The appointment of Gooch means the makeup of the court will be majority female, and it also gives southwest Missouri representation on the court as she resides in Springfield. Parson had stated recently that he felt that the southwest part of the state was underrepresented on the court.

Finally, House and Senate members are currently busy drafting their legislative priorities for the next legislative session, as prefiling of bills begins on December 1. Session begins at noon on January 3, 2024