For immediate release
For more information, contact
MRPC visits with congressional staff members
ST. JAMES— Staff from all five congressional offices serving the Meramec Region joined the Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) board for an exchange of ideas during its Jan. 14 meeting.
In attendance were Kristen Wright, representing Claire McCaskill; Jordan Wood, representing Sen. Roy Blunt; Eric Harmon, representing 8th Congressional District Rep. Jason Smith; Austin Kramer, representing 4th Congressional District Rep. Vicky Hartzler; and Matt Thompson, representing 3rd Congressional District Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer.
“We are very pleased that our entire congressional delegation was represented and able to provide updates on work in Washington D.C.,” Said Bonnie Prigge, MRPC executive director.
The conversation included many topics such as the recently passed highway transportation bill, internet sales tax collection, student loan relief, postal service, unfunded federal mandates and support for Fort Leonard Wood.
The board shared its federal legislative priorities with the congressional staff. Federal issues in the region were identified by the board and selected priorities by survey. The board gave final approval to those priorities during the meeting. The priorities are voted on by the board and were given final approval during the meeting. The list will be presented to federal legislators by MRPC ChairmanT.R. Dudley and MRPC staff during a trip to Washington D.C. in April. The trip coincides with the national conference of the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO).
MRPC’s top federal priorities are:
In transportation: Provide enhanced and sustainable funding for the nation’s highway, aviation, prioritized specific freight routes and transit needs and find a means to fund the Federal Highway Trust Fund; encourage federal funding for improvements to Highways 50 and 63, which are identified as freight routes in the Missouri State Freight Plan, in the Meramec Region.
In health care and social services: Equalize Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates for rural and urban hospitals.
In energy: Aggressively encourage construction and use of nuclear power with safe, economical disposal of spent fuel. In particular, continue to support research and development of small modular nuclear reactors.
In homeland security: Support for continued funding and expanded missions for Fort Leonard Wood. This base is strategically located, with no encroachment issues and is a leader in Inter service Training.
In education: Encourage greater emphasis on reading, writing, math and science competency. Also encourage the emphasis of reading and writing as they relate to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
In local government: Support fully funding state mandates on local governments. For example: jails, education, wastewater treatment facilities, and judicial expenses, i.e. per diem for prisoners in county jails.
In general concerns: Encourage all parties to work together for the betterment of our country.
In economic and community development: Make adjustments to Davis/Bacon Act that allows small, rural communities to waive prevailing wage requirements for all projects costing less than $250,000.
“It is great to see that our priorities are so closely aligned with yours,” Chairman Dudley said to the staff liaisons.
In other business, the MRPC board:
· Learned Cheri Tune, at-large for labor, resigned. The External relations Committee is looking for a replacement;
· Finalized details for MRPC’s Day at the Capitol, planned on Jan. 26;
· Rescheduled the February board meeting, due to the conflict with the Missouri Association of Counties (MAC) mandatory training for county officials, to Feb. 25. The Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) will meet at 4 p.m. with MRPC meeting at 7:30 p.m.;
· Approved the 2015-16 revised mid-year budget for MRPC and MRB;
· Approved the regional transportation needs, as prioritized in December; and
· Learned that Meramec Region Community Foundation (MRCF) is accepting community grant applications until Jan. 29.
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.