Jan. 29, 2007
For more information, contact:
Bonnie J. Prigge, (573) 265-2993
MRPC DELIVERS STATE PRIORITIES REPORT TO LEGISLATORS
ST. JAMES—Meramec Regional Planning Commission, during its regular board meeting December meeting, adopted its 2007 state priorities and on Jan. 23, a small delegation traveled to the Capitol to hand-deliver MRPC’s state priorities report.
Chairman Bob Reed of Washington County and Mary Heywood, at large commissioner for the unemployed, along with MRPC Executive Director Richard Cavender met with the region’s 10 legislator’s. They are Sens. Frank Barnitz and Kevin Engler and Reps. David Day, Belinda Harris, J.C. Kuessner, Tom Loehner, Robert May, Charlie Schlottach, Don Wells and Jason Smith.
“It was a pretty productive day,” said Reed, who is Washington County presiding commissioner. “It was a great opportunity to get one-on-on with our representatives and senators. We got the message out, and we wished that we could have spent more time with them.”
The “message” was the 27 priorities identified by the MRPC board and associate members as having the greatest impact on the region. This year, MRPC board members supported improvements to Highways 50 and 63, encouraged efforts promoting entrepreneurship, supported efforts to control health care costs and encouraged more funding for wastewater treatment facilities among other issues.
Each year, MRPC asks its board and associate members to identify the most pressing state issues effecting local communities. Those issues are summarized, and the board and associate members then prioritize them. The full board then recommends the top priorities for inclusion in its annual “State Priorities in the Meramec Region” report, which is hand-delivered to state legislators.
“Advocacy is an extremely important part of MRPC’s mission, and our board recognizes the importance of making our legislators aware of the problems facing their local governments and their constituents,” said Cavender. “When eight counties and 32 cities say an issue is important, that issue usually gets some attention. We have an excellent legislative delegation that is interested in their constituents, and we welcome the opportunity to work with them,” Cavender concluded.
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 52-member 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. More information is available online at www.meramecregion.org.
MRPC’s 2007 STATE PRIORITIES
• The Transportation Advisory Committee’s transportation priorities for the region as submitted to MODOT, including improvements to Highways 50 and 63 and continued upgrading of the region’s roads and bridges.
• The extension of Highway 72 in Rolla to Bridge School Road to create the fifth Rolla interchange on Interstate 44.
• The expansion of multimodal transportation options, including additional commercial air services, bus and train options.
• Passage of the primary seatbelt law.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ISSUES
• The development of initiatives that would encourage entrepreneurship or “grow your own” economic development.
• A greater financial investment in job training programs to ensure the development and maintenance of a quality workforce.
• The development of programs and initiatives that would help jump-start and revitalize stagnant communities.
• The development of a statewide economic development plan.
HEALTH CARE/SOCIAL SERVICES
• E fforts to control health care and long-term care costs and provide more affordable health care for Missouri residents and employers.
• Legislation that would benefit rural hospitals and encourage health professionals to locate in rural areas.
• Efforts to expand elderly and home health care options.
• Efforts to develop additional funding mechanisms to help small communities to afford wastewater treatment plants that will meet DNR/EPA’s pending discharge requirements.
• The development of alternative fuels using wood, hydrogen, wind and grasses.
• The development of partnerships among the state, local governments and regional planning commissions to develop litter control programs and clean up illegal dumps on public lands.
• State efforts to work in partnership with local solid waste districts to keep Missouri clean and to offer waste tire collection days.
• Efforts to ensure that rural areas receive their fair share of education dollars.
• Efforts to improve the quality of Missouri teachers and enact merit-based pay, based on qualifications, ability to teach and student performance and help provide the means to pay good teachers well.
• Efforts to encourage more vocational/technical training in junior high grade levels and encourage the use of new technologies in high schools.
• The abolishment of laws that require additional administrative staff in rural school districts, decreasing bureaucracy.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT ISSUES
• Full funding of state mandates on local governments.
• Full funding of regional planning commissions in the state. (Full funding for all 19 RPCs in the state is $560,000.)
• Initiatives that encourage regionalization of services across city limit lines, such as law enforcement.
• Legislation that erodes the local tax base.
• Efforts to regulate the interest and fees that payday loans and predatory lenders may charge.
• Efforts to continue to fund and increase funding to senior meal programs.
• Efforts to exempt Sheltered Workshop employees from participating in the spend-down provision of Medicare.
• Incentives to businesses who offer child care as “fringe benefit” of the job.