SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — As lawmakers in Jefferson City head into a new week, many people from around the state and right here in the Ozarks are going to be keeping an eye on popular topics.

Education, gun safety and abortion are just some of the highly debatable topics.

Republican State Representative Bill Owen represents Greene County in District 131. Owen said each term he is able to serve is “humbling,” adding that with each term he is able to serve, he gets more experience to lean on.

“You’re more prepared each time you come in,” Owen said. “You have more of a basis to draw from. so it really benefits you in your ability to have a better handle on the state government and the issues that deal with our state.”

Using his past experience as a guide, Owen said there were issues on his agenda that need to be addressed. 

While not getting too specific on which issues were prioritized the most, Owen said that Republicans were working through the term to address the issues.

Newly elected Senate President Caleb Rowden says one of the general assembly and the state’s education department’s biggest concerns are failing students.

His answer is that pay and funding should be based on performance. 

Owen said he is going to have the opportunity to lead the front on some issues this coming session.

“There’s some issues that need to be addressed, and so we have been working through the interim trying to prepare legislation to address some of these issues and I’m going to be handling some of that and I’m looking forward to that opportunity and ready to get going,” Owen said.

Right across the aisle, serving her first term in the Missouri House of Representatives is the Democratic Representative for District 136 in Springfield, Stephanie Hein.

Hein said she’s looking forward to finding common ground with her fellow lawmakers across the aisle.

“The Democrats have really worked hard to come up with a culmination of priorities this legislative session and I think we are going to see some good work happening across the aisle to find some common ground,” Hein said.

Hein defeated Republican Craig Fishel in a tight race for District 136.

Hein laid out some priorities on which she could potentially work: investing in Missouri, working to save lives, defending democracy and protecting the freedom of Missourians.

She said she has heard from multiple industries about the lack of qualified workers in the workforce.

Education is an area of concern for both Democrats and Republicans as they work to find common ground to improve the education system.

Hein says her background in education is pivotal for understanding all sizes of Missouri school districts.

“To see them struggle; it’s heartbreaking right?” Hein said. “We have to make sure those educators are supported.”