Missouri lawmakers pursue changes for road money, roads commission

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 12/16/2013

Among the issues likely to be considered early next year at the Missouri statehouse are transportation funding and who makes decisions about how the money is managed.

The first bill addresses concerns about the lack of money available for transportation work in the state.

Missouri sends 3 percent of the state’s sales tax on most purchases to the general revenue fund.

Sen. John Lamping, R-Ladue, filed a bill that would reroute a portion of the revenue to the state’s road fund. Specifically, one-half of 1 percent would be redirected to transportation over four years.

State officials in Missouri have spent much of the past year discussing possible solutions to the state’s long-term funding concerns. The General Assembly earlier this year failed to approve a plan to impose a 10-year, 1-cent general sales tax to benefit transportation work throughout the state.

The plan was estimated to raise nearly $8 billion in new revenue.

An initiative petition effort underway in Missouri would bypass the statehouse and ask voters to raise a 1-cent sales tax for roads, bridges and transit. The petition effort would keep the state’s 17-cent-per-gallon fuel tax unchanged and toll roads would be prohibited for the next decade.

All revenue from SB544 would be deposited into the state’s road fund.

Another bill would get more money out of some prospective drivers to help pay for road work. Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger, R-Lake St. Louis, filed HB1104 to require anyone taking the written portion of the state’s driver’s license exam more than once to pay $10.

A separate bill from Gatschenberger addresses concerns about driver distractions.

Missouri law now prohibits drivers under age 21 from sending text messages.

HB1106 would forbid all drivers from texting. Cellphone use while behind the wheel would also be off limits for all drivers unless a hands-free phone is used.

One more bill would change how the state’s Highways and Transportation Commission is setup. Rep. Shawn Rhoads, R-West Plains, offered a bill that is intended to make sure the six-member group appointed by the governor is more geographically diversified.

HB1050 would limit the commission to one member from each of the state’s congressional districts. The commission would also be expanded to seven members.

All bills can be considered during the session that begins Jan. 8, 2014.

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