Democrats choose Harris as House minority whip

Tuesday, November 11, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 12:38 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 25, 2008

State Rep. Jeff Harris, D-Columbia, has been elected House minority whip.

Harris said his selection makes him the first state representative from Boone County in nearly 40 years to win a House leadership position. Harris’ fellow Democrats elected him to the job during a caucus in Jefferson City on Saturday.

Harris said his new job will give Columbia residents a stronger presence in Missouri government.

“It’s an opportunity to work for our shared values as a community and in our state,” he said. “We have a strong voice in Jefferson City already, and we will have an even stronger voice.”

As minority whip, Harris is responsible for organizing and leading debate on the House floor. He is also the House’s third-ranking Democrat.

“It’s a leadership role,” he said. “It means (taking) a little more active role shaping policy.”

The new job will take more of Harris’ time, and he might have to give up seats on some House committees. That, however, is a sacrifice he’s willing to make.

“I think it’s a good thing for our community to have a local legislator in a leadership position, even if it may mean shifting my existing committee responsibilities,” he said.

Harris serves on several committees, including committees on education, labor and health care.

As minority whip, he replaces Rep. Rick Johnson, D-High Ridge, who will now serve as minority floor leader. Former Minority leader Mark Abel resigned in October to run for state treasurer. Rep. Bill Ransdall, D-Waynesville, will continue to serve as assistant minority floor leader.

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