Eight counties | 36 cities | one region

a voluntary council of local governments
serving the missouri meramec area.

MRPC discusses state priorities

For immediate release

For more information, contact
Bonnie Prigge or Caitlin Jones

ST. JAMES— Five of the Meramec Region’s state representatives discussed the region’s state priorities for 2022 with the board of the Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) during its board meeting on Jan. 13. Rep. Bennie Cook, Rep. Bruce Sassmann and Rep. Ron Copeland were in person at the meeting and Rep. Nate Tate and Rep. Jason Chipman joined via Zoom. They spoke to the board about their views on upcoming legislative issues, and the board shared its 2022 legislative priorities. 

Each year, the MRPC board compiles a list of legislative priorities it considers important to the region and delivers those priorities to the legislators who serve residents of the region. 

The top priorities for 2022, as voted by MRPC board members are:

  • In regional transportation: MRPC fully supports the MoDOT and MRPC planning framework process and transportation priorities put forth each year; supports a state appropriation to cities and counties to address local transportation issues including updating existing bridges, low water crossing and chip and seal roads to ensure access for emergency vehicles, school transportation and access to emergency services; and assist in finding additional funding for highways 63 and 50. 
  • In regional economic development: MRPC supports a coordinated approach to the expansion of broadband and internet services in rural communities across the state to maximize the dollars available and reduce duplication of efforts with the goal being affordable high speed internet of at least 100 MBPS upload and download to all Missouri households; supports fully funding regional planning commissions; and fully support Fort Leonard Wood and recognize it is an economic development engine for Missouri.
  • In health care and social services: MRPC supports funding more mental health programs to ensure access to those programs; providing funding for more senior services such as meals on wheels, elderly transportation and senior centers; and increasing state funding for Public Health at the local level.
  • In environmental issues: MRPC supports programs that provide incentives for market development and strive to establish more markets for recyclables in Missouri in order to create jobs and support local resource recovery programs; increase funding for Missouri State Parks through appropriations; and support efforts to eradicate feral hogs in Missouri.
  • In education: MRPC requests that Missouri ensures the state board of education is neutral politically and focuses on policies that will build and train an exceptional workforce for the industries of the future; raise the states per-student rate to the rural school districts 8% and require the increase to go to teachers and staff (not administration) salaries; continue expanding Technical Education, certificate programs and two year colleges and degrees; and conduct formal study of teacher salaries and develop a plan that would result in Missouri being in line with neighboring states.
  • In local government: MRPC supports ending unfunded mandates; providing more grants or low interest loans available to small municipalities with smaller operating budgets for things such as improving roads, cleaning up properties, updating sewer systems and updates to infrastructure; and allow counties to amend their own budgets as they have a need and see fit. 
  • In general: MRPC supports working toward providing competitive salaries for state employees; ensuring full disclosure of all political contributions; opposing efforts to reduce funding law enforcement; and repeal or lengthen term limits.

The board approved the full list of priorities during its December board meeting. A report detailing all of MRPC’s legislative priorities was delivered to legislators serving the region Jan. 25 at the State Capitol. 

The legislators both in person and on Zoom discussed the various bills they are championing including term limits, environmental issues, law enforcement, the effects that will happen to their districts due to redistricting and their appreciation for the information MRPC shares with them from the region.

In other business, the MRPC board:

  • Held a moment of silence for Marcus Maggard, who served as the tourism representative on the board and passed away at the beginning of January;
  • Heard an update from Bonnie Prigge, MRPC executive director, about ARPA funds and the new infrastructure bill; and  
  • Was updated on the state’s acceptance of the Rock Island Trail into the Missouri State Parks system. 

Formed in 1969, MRPC is a voluntary council of governments serving Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Maries, Osage, Phelps, Pulaski and Washington counties and their respective cities. Steve Vogt, representing the city of Belle, serves as chairman of the board. A professional staff of 36 offers technical assistance and services, such as grant preparation and administration, housing assistance, transportation planning, environmental planning, ordinance codification, business loans and other services to member communities.

To keep up with the latest MRPC news and events, visit the MRPC website at www.meramecregion.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/meramecregion/.


Cutline: Rep. Bruce Sassmann (left), Rep. Bennie Cook, and Rep Ron Copeland attended MRPC’s January board meeting to discuss the MRPC 2022 state legislative priorities with board members. Rep. Nate Tate and Rep. Jason Chipman attended via Zoom.