The legislature is asking voters whether they want to increase Missouri’s gas tax to pay for road and bridge work and to boost support of the Highway Patrol.
The House voted 88-60 to complete passage of House Bill 1460. It would ask voters in November whether to increase the state’s fuel tax by two-and-a-half cents a year for four years – a ten cent total increase by July, 2022. The current tax is 17-cents per gallon.
If passed, projections are the increase would generate about $421-million when fully implemented. $128-million would be for local governments for road construction and maintenance. The remaining $293.3-million would be appropriated by the General Assembly between the Department of Transportation to be used solely for road and bridge work, and the Highway Patrol.
Kansas City Republican Kevin Corlew chaired the 21st Century Missouri Transportation System Task Force. It recommended a gas tax increase to help support transportation funding. He said whether such an increase will happen should be up to voters.
HB 1460 was originally a bill that would waive state tax liability on cash prizes awarded to Olympic medalists. Another provision in the bill would create an “Emergency State Freight Bottleneck Fund,” that would pay for road projects costing $50-million or more that would relieve bottlenecks or delays of 20 minutes or more on Missouri roads.
The bill would also allow alternative fuels to be taxed at a substantially equivalent rate by 2026.
Because it was changed to include the ballot language for the gas tax, the language voters will see on the ballot will also ask them whether the state should waive tax liability for Olympic medal winners and could include language about the Bottleneck Fund as well.
Neely said some of the things HCB 11 would change in Missouri law are “quick” or “simple” fixes that could have significant impacts, especially in situations in which foster children have been described as, “falling through the cracks.”
HCB 11 includes language that would update background checks on foster families so that the Children’s Division would know immediately if a foster parent is charged with a crime that would disqualify him or her from being a foster parent. Current law only allows checks every two years.
HCB 11 would also expand assessment and treatment services for children in foster care. It would require such services for all children in foster care – currently it is required only for those under the age of ten – and would require that those services be completed in accordance with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ periodicity schedule. Currently children are screened every two years.
The original sponsor of that language is Representative Lauren Arthur (D-Kansas City), who said it would ensure that children in foster care receive more appropriate care, and the comprehensive screenings will in turn save the state money by catching medical conditions earlier and aiding in preventative care.
Current law prevents Missouri Social Services workers from investigating reports of abuse of Missouri children in foster care if the abuse doesn’t occur in Missouri, and prevents them from communicating with counterparts in other states about abuse or potential abuse. Christofanelli said his bill would remove those barriers and fix what he called a, “bureaucratic technicality.”
Some lawmakers expressed concerns with the portion of the bill because other states might release information about abuse claims – particularly unsubstantiated claims – that Missouri would not release. They expressed a desire to see that concern addressed before the bill could become law.
The House is prepared to vote on whether to send HCB 11 to the Senate. The bill is broadly supported, including by Columbia Democrat Martha Stevens, who sits on the Special Committee to Improve the Care and Well-Being of Young People.
– Allow a child who is homeless or in the custody of the Children’s Division, but the whereabouts of his or her immunization records is unknown, to be enrolled in school for up to 30 days while efforts are made to find those records, and if needed, another 30 days after that for the child to get caught up on immunizations (found in House Bill 2139 sponsored by Representative Lynn Morris, R-Nixa)
– Define when juvenile courts have jurisdiction over a child under 21, streamlining situations in which a child is in a safe situation but juvenile court involvement is interfering with the family (found in House Bill 1728 sponsored by Representative Bill Lant, R-Pineville)