The Missouri Legislature has taken its mid-term break, a
weeklong vacation that gives lawmakers time to plot courses for
their bills during the last half of the legislative session.
Bills identified by leaders as top priorities - campaign
reform, anti-crime measures and welfare reform - have advanced to a
point that final passage appears possible before adjournment on May
But two issues considered crucial to the St. Louis area may be
in trouble: Tougher auto emission inspections and financing for
By this midway point in the General Assembly's session, it is
best that a bill have made it through either the House or the
Senate to have a chance of final passage. That leaves the second
half of the session to get a bill through the other house.
But the auto emissions inspections and mass transit funding are
hung up in the state Senate and still face full scrutiny in the
House. The auto emissions inspection measure, sponsored by Sen.
Wayne Goode, D-Normandy, still needs first-round and then final
approval in the Senate.
The Senate has given first-round approval to a local-option
sales tax plan to fund MetroLink. But the bill, sponsored by Sen.
John Scott, D-St. Louis, is bogged down in the Senate Budget
Committee. And it still needs final Senate passage before going to
House Speaker Bob Griffin, D-Cameron, said last week that if
the Senate passes both bills, he will act to accelerate the
movement of both through the House.
"They will be put together as one bill to get the necessary
support for both," Griffin said in an interview last week.
"Different people want different bills. You bring the people who
want each of the proposals together and that creates enough support
The fate of the clean-air bill and rapid-transit funding are
crucial to the St. Louis area.
Federal officials have threatened to cut off hundreds of
millions of highway construction dollars and halt industrial growth
in the St. Louis area unless air pollution is reduced. The tougher
auto emission inspections, which the Legislature must approve, is
one way the state can respond.
But there is opposition. For example, Sen. Danny Staples,
D-Eminence, represents a district that includes southern Jefferson
"I have 20,000 people who are adamantly against it," Staples
said. "The threat of highway funding money is always there when Big
Brother wants something."
The future of MetroLink hangs on Scott's bill. The light-rail
service is operating with borrowed money, a $10 million loan from
the Missouri Highway Department. …