ST. JAMES— The Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) board was joined by three state legislators serving constituents within the region for its December 8 meeting. Sen. Dan Brown, Rep. Tom Hurst and Rep. Steve Lynch each spoke to the board about their views on the upcoming legislative issues, and the board shared its 2016 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 2016, as voted by MRPC board members are:
- In regional transportation: If funds become available, MRPC encourages the development of statewide corridors and supports the four-laning of highways 63 and 50, increased funding for public transportation and continued funding for the Missouri Moves Cost Share Program with revisions so the program is not weighted toward wealthier communities and funding is extended so recipients have two years to complete projects.
- In regional economic development: MRPC supports providing state funding for infrastructure projects with a focus on rural areas, that the legislature recognize and support Fort Leonard Wood as one of the state’s prime industries and state funding to carry out activities that promote regional economic development.
- In health care and social services: MRPC supports funding to rural hospitals and clinics, the adoption of a prescription drug monitoring program and an incentive/funding program to provide residency slots at rural hospitals.
- In environmental issues: MRPC opposes any changes that would divert funds from the solid waste management districts, re-establish tire recycling services similar to the one provided by Missouri Vocation Enterprises and invest state dollars in loan and grant programs to improve water systems and treatment facilities.
- In education: MRPC requests that the state legislature will fully fund the Foundation Formula for Public Education – especially fine arts programs, build partnerships between schools and business/industry sectors, develop opportunities to teach skilled trades and improve workforce readiness.
- In local government: MRPC requests the legislature address the disparity of the county prosecutor salary and pension, support amendments to the prevailing wage laws to eliminate requirements on public works projects of under $250,000 and support legislation to allow counties the same ability to amend their budgets to adjust to changing economic conditions.
- In general: MRPC encourages the support of legislation to make the Missouri driver’s license a valid form of identification to comply with federal requirements.
The board approved the full list of priorities during its December board meeting. A report detailing all of MRPC’s legislative priorities will be delivered to all legislators representing residents of the region in late January.
Topics discussed by area legislators in attendance included Medicaid expansion, the importance of state support for Fort Leonard Wood, right-to-work and the idea of toll roads in the state.
In other business, the MRPC board:
- Approved a ranking of transportation needs within the region, as recommended by the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC)(see related story);
- Agreed to move the February 2016 meeting of the TAC and MRPC board to Feb. 16 to avoid conflict with a statewide county commissioner training; and
- Approved the November financial report and approved contracts
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. A professional staff of 24, directed by the MRPC board, 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. Maries County Presiding Commissioner Ray Schwartze serves as MRPC chairperson.
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/.
Rep. Tom Hurst, Sen. Dan Brown and Rep. Steve Lynch spoke with the MRPC board about upcoming legislative issues during the Dec. 8 meeting at Meramec Regional Planning Commission.