Legislature Doesn't Serve Missouri's Transportation Needs; Sales Tax Proposal; A Few Senators Blocked a Bill That Would Let Voters Decide

Article excerpt

The Missouri Legislature has once again failed to address the critical statewide transportation issue that is important for safety, economic development and the quality of life in our state. Success or failure of an important transportation bill on the final day of the 2013 legislative session hinged on the objections of fewer than five senators. These few individuals blocked the Senate from providing the citizens of Missouri with the opportunity to make a choice concerning their transportation future.

I served on the speaker of the House's Blue Ribbon Transportation Commission last year. In a series of hearings across the state, countless business and civic groups and interested individuals attended to describe the transportation needs in their area. At each hearing, the list of needs grew longer. It became very apparent that the citizens of the state cared about transportation safety and development by taking their time and effort to have their voices heard at these hearings.

Sens. Mike Kehoe and Ryan McKenna are to be commended for reaching across the aisle and introducing a bipartisan bill in the Legislature to address these needs. Senate leader Tom Dempsey also was instrumental in the effort. Utilization of a temporary 1-cent sales tax to fund the needs expressed by the public was deemed to be the most equitable future funding format for all citizens and for all modes of transportation. It is rare when the Missouri Transportation Alliance, Missouri Farm Bureau, St. Louis Regional Chamber, AGC of St. Louis, organized labor and Citizens for Modern Transit all agree on an issue, but all of these groups, including many others across the state, supported the concept of allowing the voters to decide. The bill also was passed by both the House and Senate transportation committees with recommendations to move the issue forward.

Sens. John Lamping, Robert Schaaf, Ed Emery and Dan Brown disagreed. Their filibuster during the final week of the legislative session killed the bill. …