Legislative update from Rep. Black

Rep. Rusty Black

Hello 7th District;

Here are some of the legislation that has recently been signed into law:

Funding for Roads and Bridges (SB 262)

SB 262 is meant to increase transportation funding for critical state and local infrastructure projects across the state of Missouri. The bill will generate the funding by increasing the state’s fuel tax by 2.5 cents per gallon each year for five years, beginning in 2021.

Gov. Parson said, "With nearly $1 billion in unfunded transportation needs each year, we can no longer wait for another day or another generation. We must change course and address these problems head-on. SB 262 provides vital revenue that will help us fund essential road and bridge projects all across the state. Quality roads and bridges increase the efficiency and safety of our roadways, invite travelers and business investment, and save Missourians money."

The governor noted that Missouri has the seventh-largest transportation system in the nation but only ranks 45th in available revenue per road mile. Over the last 25 years, the state has not significantly increased funding streams for state or local transportation projects, while the cost to maintain Missouri roadways has continued to increase significantly.

The bill could increase transportation funding by more than $450 million once its provisions are fully implemented. An estimated $330 million per year would be available for the State Road Fund administered by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), and nearly $125 million – approximately 30 percent of total revenue – would go directly to cities and counties for local transportation projects.

The bill also includes a provision to allow Missourians to avoid the increased fuel tax. Missourians that do not wish to increase their contributions to state and local roadway repair and replacement projects can submit the required documentation – including fuel receipts – to the Missouri Department of Revenue each year for a refund.

Protecting Children from Abuse (HBs 557 & 560)

HB 557 creates stronger protections for young people in unlicensed, faith-based reform schools. The bill was prompted by news articles detailing the mental, physical, and sexual abuse suffered by children in some of these schools. The bill aims to protect children by requiring all such facilities to notify the Department of Social Services of their existence, and requiring background checks for employees and volunteers. Additionally, it requires the schools to comply with health and safety standards, gives parents full access to see their children, and provides a method for children to be removed when abuse or neglect is suspected.

Supporting Law Enforcement (SBs 53 & 60)

Another provision in SBs 53 & 60 will create the Critical Incident Stress Management Program within the Department of Public Safety. The program will provide services for peace officers to assist in coping with stress and potential psychological trauma resulting from a response to a critical incident or emotionally difficult event. The bill also creates the 988 Public Safety Fund for the purpose of providing services for peace officers to assist in coping with stress and potential psychological trauma resulting from a response to such events. Additionally, the bill makes changes to peace officer licensure and commissioning requirements, and increases compensation for many county sheriffs.

Empowering Students to Succeed Academically (HB 349)

HB 349 is meant to empower parents to have access to schools and educational resources that will best meet the needs of their children. The legislation will create Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) to help parents afford the best educational opportunities for their kids. ESAs are meant to be “a lifeline” for many children in failing schools across the state. The accounts will empower “parents with choices and alternatives so they can find the fit that is best for them.” Missourians will be able to receive a tax credit for donating to educational assistance organizations, which will provide scholarships to eligible students for a variety of costs such as tuition, tutoring, and transportation. Scholarships will be limited to students in cities with a population of 30,000 or more.

As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact my office at the following: (P) 573-751-2917, (E) rusty.black@house.mo.gov; Social Media: Twitter: @rep_rusty Facebook: Rusty Black. 

My legislative assistant, Ashley Wright, or I will be happy to assist in any way that we can. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve the 7th District of the Missouri House of Representatives.