For immediate release
Jan. 26, 2017
For more information, contact
Bonnie Prigge at (573) 265-2993
MRPC discusses priorities with federal legislative liaisons
ST. JAMES—Staff from four federal congressional leaders met with the Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) board to discuss priorities at its Jan. 12 meeting. In attendance were Kristen Wright and Justin Klocke, representing Sen. Claire McCaskill; Sarah Graff, representing Sen. Roy Blunt; Bennie Cook, representing 8th Congressional District Rep. Jason Smith; and Jim McNichols, representing 3rd Congressional District Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer.
While the conversation touched on many topics, large focus was paid to healthcare reform and overregulation of business, banks and agriculture. MRPC board members reminded legislative staff about the potential of Fort Leonard Wood as an economic hub and for expanded military missions.
The board also shared its federal legislative priorities with the legislative staff. 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 Chairman Ray Schwartze, Executive Director Bonnie Prigge and Assistant Director/Environmental Programs Manager Tammy Snodgrass during a trip to Washington D.C. in March. The trip coincides with the national policy conference of National Association of Development Organizations (NADO).
MRPC’s top federal priorities are:
- In general concerns: to encourage all parties to work together, to lower the salary threshold for exempt employees in the overtime rule, and to overturn the “Citizens United” supreme court ruling that protects political spending by corporations;
- In transportation: to provide sustainable funding for the nation’s transportation infrastructure, encourage federal funding for improvements to highways 50 and 63, and establish federal funding for freight corridors identified in the Missouri State Freight Plan;
- In economic and community development: to continue to promote Fort Leonard Wood, provide more federal assistance for public infrastructure; provide high speed internet to all residents, and make adjustments to the Davis/Bacon Act to allow small rural communities to waive the prevailing wage requirements for projects costing less than $250,000;
- In health care and social service issues: to repeal or correct nonworking components of the Health Care Reform Act, continue to fund quality health care for the uninsured, underinsured and the underserved population, and keep the General Leonard Wood Army Hospital open and operating as a key piece of healthcare services for military retirees and the region, while funding a universal healthcare information exchange for patient health records;
- In energy: work toward energy independence, encourage construction and use of nuclear power with safe and economical disposal of spent fuel and continue to oppose Cap and Trade legislation;
- In homeland security and emergency preparedness: support continued funding and expanded missions for Fort Leonard Wood, ensure rural regions receive adequate resources and access to homeland security and emergency preparedness programs and build on the skills of regional planning commissions to coordinate homeland security and emergency preparedness activities on a regional basis;
- In education: support technical training initiatives, encourage greater emphasis on reading, writing, math, fine arts and science skills and encourage additional funding to assist students with federal grants and loans; and
- In local government: eliminate unfunded federal mandates to states, develop and implement a plan to collect sales tax on Internet sales which will be redistributed to state and local governments and preserve the current tax exemption for municipal bonds.
In other business, the MRPC board:
- Approved a revised budget for MRPC with the revision being a net increase in revenue of $3,439 for FY 2016-17. MRPC expects revenues of $1,862,579 and expenditures of $1,845,203, leaving a balance of $17,376;
- Approved a change in the Mobility Manager job description, which will now be a Senior Mobility Coordinator;
- Learned that the American Red Cross will be replacing the cots in the Homeland Security Mass Care trailers with newer versions. The old ones, approximately 100, will be donated to other emergency services in the region and around the state;
- Discussed plans for the MRPC Day at the Capitol, scheduled Jan. 24;
- Learned that Meramec Regional Development Corporation still has funds to spend on small businesses needing loans; and
- Learned the Meramec Regional Community Foundation (MRCF) grant cycle is open.
The next MRPC board meeting will be held on Feb. 16, one week later than the regular meeting due to a conflict.
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 25, 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.
To keep up with the latest MRPC news and events, visit the MRPC website at www.meramecregion.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/meramecregion/.
Federal legislative liaisons met with the Meramec Regional Planning Commission board to discuss priorities at its Jan. 12 meeting. In attendance were Sarah Graff (left), representing Sen. Roy Blunt; Justin Klocke and Kristen Wright, representing Sen. Claire McCaskill; Bennie Cook, representing 8th Congressional District Rep. Jason Smith; and Jim McNichols, representing 3rd Congressional District Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer.