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Robinson, Tilley complete ‘freshman year’

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a three part series that deals with Rep. Brad Robinson and Rep. Steve Tilley’s first legislative session. Thursday’s story will focus on the legislators’ triumphs and struggles while in session.

By CHRIS CLINE

Daily Journal Staff Writer

If Brad Robinson and Steve Tilley were professional baseball players this would be known as their rookie seasons. The two freshman legislators recently wrapped up their first legislative session as state representatives.

While this was Tilley’s and Robinson’s first year in office, the similarities stop there. Tilley, R-Perryville, knew coming into the legislative session that his Republican party had control of both the Missouri House of Representatives and the Senate as well as the governor’s mansion.

“For the first time in a long time, Republicans had the majority in the House (of Representatives), the Senate and held the Governor’s position,” Tilley said. “I knew coming in that we wanted to reform the state budget and make Missouri a more business friendly state. I was hopeful that we could get tort reform passed. However, I never thought that we could accomplish what we did.”

Tilley’s first legislative session earned him “Freshmen Legislator of the Year” honors. Tilley received the award for his work on child protection and safety.

“I am very honored by this award,” Tilley said. “I only hope that we continue to take steps to ensure the safety of our children during the next legislative session.”

Robinson was sitting on the other side of the fence as a member of the Democratic Party.

“Being part of the minority, we picked our battles early on,” Robinson said. “It was frustrating at times because I would have ideas that would have been good for the 107th, but because of party lines they didn’t fly. I’m not afraid to work with the other side. I used the knowledge that I had from my years of service in county and in city government, but as far as being a state legislator, there is no golden rule what it is like.”

Tilley said Rep. Bob Johnson, R-Lee’s Summit, served as a mentor for him.

“Bob (Johnson) was my seatmate,” Tilley said. “He has a very good understanding of the legislative process. His help accelerated my learning curve of the entire process.”

Robinson also said Rep. Martin Rucker, D-St. Joseph, took him under his wing.

“I had the privilege of becoming friends with Martin (Rucker),” Robinson said. “We sat next to each other on the House floor. There were times during this past session when things got tough. During those times Martin and I would have late night chats.”

Robinson said when he first went to Jefferson City as a legislator he got goose bumps.

“When I saw the Capitol and thought to myself I am here representing the people of the 107th District – that was special,” Robinson said. “The first three months of the session was a learning curve for me. I constantly was asking questions. I’m not very good at delegating responsibilities. If I do something myself, I know it’s done the way I want it done. I’ve learned that you have to place trust in other people. At first I was spinning my wheels. When I got to work in the morning, I would have more things on my desk than I had the night before. I had to delegate. I would consider my staff to be top notch. They helped me tremendously.”

Tilley said one of the biggest challenges of being a state representative is being away from home.

“While in session I am in Jefferson City four days a week,” Tilley said. “I am there Monday morning through Thursday evening. I stayed in a hotel that many of the other representatives stayed at.”

Robinson said while in session he was in Jefferson City Monday through Wednesday.

“My days would start at 6:30 a.m. and would sometimes go past midnight,” Robinson said. “I rented the basement portion of a home with another representative. That was nice because when I would leave the Capital I could get a sense of normalcy.”

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