Click to hear KMZU’s Kristie Cross speak with District 39 Representative Joe Don McGaugh:

Joe Don McGaugh

State lawmakers have returned to Jefferson City today as the 98th General Assembly convenes.  Representative Joe Don McGaugh said the event will start with the swearing-in of new members.  “It’s fun because our families come to town,” said McGaugh, “My wife and kids and my parents will be there to see us take the oath.  We build a sort of comradery amongst family, so it’s good to see everyone.”

The day’s events will also include the election of the new speaker.  “We predetermine through caucus meetings who our new speaker will be and this time it will be John Diehl, “said McGaugh, “Then, both sides of the aisle will elect their officers and we’ll select a majority floor leader who, basically, is a sort of traffic cop on what bills come up for debate.  Also, our speaker pro tem is elected which is Denny Hoskins from Warrensburg.”

The past few weeks have seen the pre-filing of legislation that lawmakers hope to advance during the 2015 session.  McGaugh said his “political accountability in campaigning act” is among them.  “I think everyone is tired of dirty politics and politicians using their money, in my eyes, to slander their opponent or drag them through the mud,” said McGaugh, “Basically, my bill would keep people from putting out false advertisement within political ads.  So, no more saying things about the other guy that you know are not true in an attempt to gain an advantage on that person.”

The bill would allow a candidate or voter to file suit in the county in which the advertisement was published.  “That has drawn some criticism because people say it will pack the courts with these types of cases with candidates suing other candidates and voters suing candidates,” said McGaugh, “For me, I think the courts are a viable place for these types of disputes to be decided and for a judge and jury to decide what is true and not true, as far as political speech.  So, I don’t have the Chicken Little, the sky is falling outlook that this will bring massive lawsuits to Missouri, but I do think it sends a message to those running for political office that folks are tired of dirty politics.”

McGaugh filed similar legislation in 2014, but, according to the lawmaker, the idea seems to be gaining more traction towards approval this year.