Missouri House OKs bill increasing Legislature's transportation role

| 4/7/2003

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, staff writer