At least one lawmaker was missing when Missouri's newly elected representatives took the oath of office.
Republican House member Keith Frederick of Rolla was not at the Capitol on Wednesday for the first day of the annual session.
Frederick's office assistant, Joyce Bush, said he was in Washington, D.C., bidding his daughter goodbye as she left on a yearlong mission trip. She said Frederick plans to be back Thursday to take the oath of office in Jefferson City.
Farmers across most of Missouri now are eligible for federal aid as a result of a natural disaster declaration by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Governor Jay Nixon said Wednesday the declaration means farmers can get emergency loans and other assistance from the USDA's Farm Service Agency.
The disaster declaration applies to 31 counties that have suffered extreme or exceptional drought, or have been in a severe drought for more than eight weeks. Farmers in an additional 32 neighboring counties also can receive aid.
Missouri lawmakers have convened their 2013 session with Republican supermajorities controlling both the House and Senate.
Republicans have made tax cuts one of their top priorities for the 97th General Assembly, which runs until May 17.
They also plan to pursue business-friendly changes to the state's legal system, a bonding proposal for colleges, job-protection changes for public teachers and potentially a new transportation funding plan.
Legal wrangling from last November's election has not prevented a southeastern Missouri Republican lawmaker from being sworn in to office.
Kent Hampton narrowly defeated Democrat Tom Todd in the 150th House District. Todd is challenging the election's outcome in court because some voters who live in a neighboring district were given the wrong ballots and vice versa.
Hampton, of Malden, participated when the newly elected legislators were sworn-in Wednesday for the start of the 2013 legislative session.
Missouri's finances could take a $60 million annual hit because of a recent 2 percentage point increase in federal Social Security payroll taxes.
State budget director Linda Luebbering says the lost revenues resulting from the federal Social Security tax already had been taken into consideration for budget projections. She says the reduced revenue should not come as a surprise to state officials.
The Social Security tax reverted to 6.2 percent this month after the expiration of a 2 percentage point cut that had been in place for a couple of years.
The Supreme Court is considering whether police must get a warrant before ordering a blood test on an unwilling drunken-driving suspect.
The justices heard arguments Wednesday in a case involving a disputed blood test from Missouri. Police stopped a speeding, swerving car and the driver, who had two previous drunken-driving convictions, refused to submit to a breath test to measure the alcohol level in his body.
Taxes and health care figure to play prominently in Missouri's new legislative session.
The 2013 session kicks off at noon Wednesday and runs through May 17. Republicans will hold overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate, but the governor's office will still be held by Democrat Jay Nixon.
Republican legislative leaders plan to pursue changes to the state's tax credit programs, as well as income tax cuts for individuals or businesses.
The Missouri attorney general plans to retry a northwest Missouri man after the state Supreme Court overturned his conviction for the 1990 murder of a neighboring farmer.
The state's high court ruled Tuesday that prosecutors had failed to share evidence that could have helped Mark Woodworth's defense against charges that he fatally shot Catherine Robertson and wounded her husband.
The court ordered Woodworth released unless prosecutors decide to retry him. Later Tuesday, a spokeswoman said Attorney General Chris Koster intends to retry Woodworth.
The Missouri state treasurer's office has returned nearly $20 million in unclaimed property in the first half of the fiscal year that began July 1.
Treasurer Clint Zweifel says in a release that his office has returned $19.5 million in 71,000 accounts. That's an increase of 11 percent increase over the first six months of the 2012 fiscal year. Last year, the office returned a total of about $39 million.
Zweifel says his office has returned $140 million to more than 450,000 account holders since January 2009.