- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 6, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The latest on the start of the 2016 Missouri legislative session.

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5:15 p.m.

Missouri legislative leaders say providing resources to help with flood recovery efforts is a top priority.

At the start of the session Wednesday, GOP House Speaker Todd Richardson says the plan is to work with the administration to ensure needed resources are provided.

Missouri Department of Transportation spokesman Matt Hiebert says the agency still is assessing the extent of damage from the rare winter flood.

But Hiebert says the agency so far has identified three or four locations where pavement has been affected by the floods.

Ways to pay to fix roads and bridges and changes to ethics polices also were named by Republican leaders as top goals.

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4 p.m.

Missouri legislative leaders in both parties say they want changes to ethics policies and a way to pay for road and bridge repairs.

Lawmakers convened for the start of the 2016 session Wednesday.

GOP House Speaker Todd Richardson said in an address to the chamber that ethics was one of his main goals. Democrats also say changes to state ethics laws are needed.

The push follows the resignations in 2015 of two former lawmakers accused of inappropriate behavior toward interns.

Democrats on Wednesday also echoed calls from some Republican legislative leaders to find ways to increase transportation funding.

But while Richardson cited spending on Medicaid health care as a problem, House Minority Leader Jake Hummel says Democrats want to expand eligibility for the program.

Hummel also says it’s important to ensure communities have resources to deal with recent flood damage.

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12:15 p.m.

Three new Missouri House members are serving in the Legislature in the session that kicked off Wednesday.

GOP House Speaker Todd Richardson swore in two Democrats and a Republican on the first day of session. They were picked in special elections held because of vacancies.

Democrat Rory Rowland is serving in the suburban Kansas City seat vacated when Republican Rep. Noel Torpey resigned before the start of the 2015 session.

Democrat Daron McGee succeeds former Democratic Rep. Kevin McManus of Kansas City.

Republican Dean Plocher took the suburban St. Louis seat previously held by former GOP Rep. John Diehl. Diehl served as House speaker last session but resigned after admitting to exchanging sexually suggestive texts with a Capitol intern.

Republicans hold veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate.

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Noon

The 2016 Missouri legislative session has begun under new leadership.

Lawmakers convened around noon Wednesday for the beginning of the annual session, which runs through mid-May.

New leaders are in charge of both the House and Senate.

The 2015 session ended in disarray when former House Speaker John Diehl resigned. He admitted to exchanging sexually suggestive texts with a Capitol intern.

New Speaker Todd Richardson says tightening ethics laws is a priority this session.

Former Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey stepped down in August. He now works at a St. Louis-based lobbying firm.

His successor, Ron Richard, is the first president pro tem to have also served as House speaker.

Republicans hold a two-thirds majority in both chambers. This will be Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s last year in office.

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10:20 a.m.

The 2016 Missouri legislative session is set to begin under new leadership.

Lawmakers will convene Wednesday for the annual session, which runs through mid-May.

New leaders are in charge of both the House and Senate.

The 2015 session ended in disarray when former House Speaker John Diehl resigned. He admitted to exchanging sexually suggestive texts with a Capitol intern.

New Speaker Todd Richardson says tightening ethics laws is a priority this session.

Former Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey stepped down in August. He now works at a St. Louis-based lobbying firm.

His successor Ron Richard is the first president pro tem to have also served as House speaker.

Republicans hold a two-thirds majority in both chambers. This will be Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s last year in office.

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