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Senate committee hears steamboat museum bill

The Missouri Senate Committee on Economic Development considered a bill Tuesday that would see the state’s riverboat casino entry fee raised by one dollar, in order to fund a Jefferson City Steamboat museum.

Sen. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, sponsors the bill aiming to move the contents of the Steamboat Arabia museum to Jefferson City, as the owners of the Kansas City attraction have said they do not plan on renewing the lease that expires in 2026. Bernskoetter’s bill would increase the fee for entering a Missouri riverboat casino from $2 to $3 to fund construction and operation of a steamboat museum in Jefferson City.

Missouri Historian Bob Priddy, Steamboat Arabia Museum founder David Hawley, Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin and Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce CEO Randy Allen were among those who testified in favor of the bill. Mike Winter, executive director of the Missouri Gaming Association spoke against the bill.

“If we can’t find a home in the state of Missouri somewhere, somehow, some way, the collection will leave the state,” said Hawley. “We’re doing all that we can to keep it here at home.”

“No industry has capitalized on Missouri’s riverboat heritage more than the casinos,” said Priddy. “Over the past 25 years, they have made $32B on this state because of that heritage. We think it would be appropriate that people who make that kind of money off our heritage, do something to help preserve our history.”

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