Power Profile: House Speaker Elijah Haahr
In the Missouri State Capitol, he is known as “Mr. Speaker,” the man who oversees the work of all 163 members of the Missouri House of Representatives. But he introduces himself simply by his first name, Elijah, a state representative who appears to love his job and the variety of work it represents.
Elijah Haahr (R-District 134, Springfield), became acting Speaker in November 2018 when his predecessor left the House to take on a new job. He was then elected to the top post at the start of the 2019 legislative session. With one full session under his belt, he sees his new job as quite fulfilling.
“There is a huge variety of work, spanning the gauntlet of issues,” Haahr said. “And the issues change every hour, every minute.” As for his House colleagues, he notes that they are “163 of the finest people I’ve ever met.”
His positive attitude about life stems from his early years. He was homeschooled and says he was very fortunate in that his father was an education major and his mother a social worker. With the foundation they provided, he soared through his higher education years. He was president of the student body at Missouri Western State University and graduated with honors from the Missouri School of Law in 2008.
A civil litigation attorney with Kutak Rock, he is licensed to practice law in Missouri and Oklahoma. He was first elected to the Missouri House in 2012.
As House Speaker, he works closely with Gov. Mike Parson on issues of importance to the state of Missouri. He helped push the governor’s priorities of infrastructure and work-force development in the 2019 regular session. He proudly points out that the governor’s workforce development proposals were passed by the House all before spring break. By the end of the session, an infrastructure bill providing a half-billion dollars in transportation improvements was also passed, leading to an additional $81 million grant from the federal government to replace the I-70 Missouri River Bridge in Boonville.
The Speaker knows the value of infrastructure improvements and was pleased to see the passage of SB 564 in the 2018 session. That bill paved the way for Ameren Missouri to develop its Smart Energy Plan investing more than $6 billion over the next five years in the state’s energy grid and creating new jobs in the process.
Passage of that energy legislation was “great for the state,” Haahr said. He notes that passage of that legislation is used to pitch new business development for the state. “Now, not only do we have competitive energy rates but an improving utility infrastructure.” The Smart Energy Plan, he notes, goes along with his own legislative philosophy.
“We need to look at not just what is good currently, but what will be good 15-25 years from now,” Haahr said. He praised the energy legislation as “forward-thinking, to help us meet the challenges for the next decade.”
The Speaker said he has learned much about investor-owned utilities since he was first elected and has been pleased to tour Ameren Missouri facilities and to compare operations there versus public-owned utilities that operate in his hometown of Springfield. Maintaining infrastructure for all utilities in Missouri is “critically important,” he notes.
He had kind words, specifically for Ameren Missouri. “I want to say, ‘thank you,’ for all the work they have done and for being such a great partner for the state of Missouri, and the people of the state.”