The Missouri House
overwhelmingly backed a bill April 3 that would give lawmakers
a greater say in who gets appointed to the Missouri Highways
and Transportation Commission.
The bill, which won
approval 151-3, would also create an outside inspector
general to “detect and prevent fraud, waste and abuse” in
the state Transportation Department.
Under HB668, House
and Senate leaders would submit nominees to the governor,
from which he could choose one to fill a vacancy on the
six-member commission. The nominee would then face confirmation
by the Senate.
Currently, the governor
selects nominees who are confirmed by the Senate.
The bill's sponsor,
Rep. Larry Crawford, R-Centertown, said the inspector general
that would be created by the bill would be outside the
department, working for lawmakers. The inspector general
could field citizen complaints and start investigations.
Rep. Bryan Pratt,
R-Blue Springs, who voted in favor of the proposal, told Land
Line while the bill doesn't accomplish everything he
would like to see done, it is a step in the right direction.
“This bill is an initial
effort to improve accountability for the highway commission,
which should increase citizen involvement in our road conditions,” Pratt
said. “We would be better served to get rid of the commission
in charge of roads and put someone at the executive level
in charge of the Transportation Department. That would
create public accountability, and I believe you would see
citizen involvement improve substantially.”
The bill now moves
to the Senate for consideration, which on April 1 approved
similar legislation – SB481.
--by Keith Goble,