Miller settling into new role as Missouri House’s chief clerk

The new chief clerk of the Missouri House brings to the job years of experience, a love for the legislative process, and a passion for history.

Dana Miller has been appointed to be the Chief Clerk of the Missouri House of Representatives. The House will vote on her appointment after the new session starts in January. (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Dana Rademan Miller was the House’s assistant chief clerk for the past six years.  She has worked for the House since 2001 following internships in the Senate and the State Historic Preservation Office.  The House will vote in January on her selection for the role of chief clerk.

Miller succeeds Adam Crumbliss who was the clerk for the past 12 years and recently accepted a position with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

The chief clerk is the nonpartisan top administrator for the House.  The office is responsible for making sure the lawmaking process complies with Missouri laws and the constitution, and for overseeing the chamber’s day-to-day operations.  It handles parliamentary inquiries; is responsible for the movement of proposals through the legislative process; and deals with legal matters involving the chamber.

“We’re not policy makers but we are policy facilitators,” said Miller of the office’s duties.  “It’s really kind of a neat job to have.”

The clerk’s office also heads up the extensive staff that the House has year-round that includes legislative and budget experts, printing and communication offices, and information technology and maintenance coordinators.

“We spend a good part of the year prepping for the session that starts and then we’re in session, and then we spend the months after session cleaning up the remnants of the session that’s just passed,” said Miller.  “I think any member [of the legislature] would tell you that even though we are technically a hybrid or a part-time legislature, being a legislator is a full-time job if you’re doing it properly, and I would say that the same holds true for the staff here in the building.”

The Missouri legislature has dealt in recent years with a number of scandals.  Perhaps most notable was the attention brought to the treatment of interns three years ago when a former House speaker and a former senator both resigned amid allegations of harassment.  Miller said she has no qualms about taking over leadership of the House knowing she could have a major role in responding to any future scandals.

“The General Assembly as a whole, we’ve evolved a lot over the last decade, especially last several years.  I think the culture has improved tremendously.  I think there’s always room for improvement,” said Miller, who credits former speaker Todd Richardson for improvements in that culture.

“I think when Todd Richardson came in he had made a promise to make this institution a better institution for the staff and for interns and for everybody in the building and I think he accomplished that,” said Miller.

It is the House staff that provides employees, legislators, and interns with sexual harassment training, partly in response to the scandal of three years ago.

As the House’s Deputy Chief Clerk for the past six years, Miller has worked with lawmakers like Representative Mike Bernskoetter in various procedural capacities. (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

“Are there going to be issues?  I think you can’t ever say there won’t be, but I think we’re in a much better place than we were a few years ago,” said Miller.

In addition to her degree in political science, Miller has a degree in history.  That interest has always been sparked by the Capitol itself.

“It’s just a monument and it’s a special building.  I’d say it’s probably one of the most architecturally interesting and classical buildings that’s, by the way, also an amazing art gallery and a museum,” said Miller.  “I don’t know that you could find another building in the state that really has all of the functions that this one has that is integral to the operation of state government.”

Miller came to the Capitol at a time when plans were being made to begin restoring it, but those plans were tabled by an economic downturn.  She watched as the condition of the building continued to deteriorate.  Then in 2012 she was appointed to the then-dormant Missouri State Capitol Commission, helped spur it into action, and was made its chair in 2013.

The Commission’s work contributed to getting underway the multi-year project to restore and preserve the Capitol.  That project continues with sections of the Capitol being wrapped in a tent that allows crews to work in all weather, and it recently saw the statue of Ceres being removed from the dome for the first time in 94 years so it can be restored in Chicago.

Miller and House staff are now busy welcoming freshman lawmakers to the Capitol and helping them prepare for the new legislative session that begins in January.