Elijah Haahr, a 35-year old Republican from Springfield, will be the next speaker of the Missouri House.
Haahr was chosen out of a field of three candidates by a secret vote of the 116 GOP House members Tuesday afternoon. The full House will vote to ratify his election in January 2019.
The current speaker, Republican Todd Richardson of Poplar Bluff, cannot seek re-election because of term limits.
Considered by many to be the most influential elected office in Missouri government, the House speaker wields tremendous sway over legislative action.
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Haahr, who was considered the frontrunner, represents south-central Springfield. He was elected to his first term in November 2012 and currently serves as speaker pro tem.
He previously served as chairman of the House emerging issues committee, which during his tenure as chair tackled a host of high-profile legislation, ranging from bills eliminating the local earnings tax in Kansas City to prohibiting local regulations on vehicle-for-hire companies such as Uber and Lyft.
But no issue garnered Haahr more attention than the 2016 debate over SJR39, a bill that would have asked voters to amend the Missouri Constitution to provide protections for certain individuals or businesses that cite religious beliefs to refuse service to same-sex couples.
It was easily the most contentious issue of the 2016 legislative session, with opponents arguing it was an attempt to enshrine anti-LGBT discrimination into the state constitution and proponents saying it was simply an attempt to protect religious rights.
In the end, Haahr voted in favor of SJR39. But it still died in his committee.
Over the last year, Haahr focused a lot of energy on the elimination of human trafficking, including chairing a task force targeting the issue.
In addition to his legislative duties, Haahr is an attorney with Lathrop Gage focused on product liability and personal injury. He graduated in 2008 from the University of Missouri School of Law.
He lives in Springfield with his wife, Amanda, and four children, Jackson, Reagan, Scarlett and Alexandra.