Elected officials returned to Jefferson City Monday to resume the legislative session after their week off.
The first bill of this year was signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson, which dedicated a portion of Lindbergh Boulevard in St. Louis to Cloria Brown, a former St. Louis representative. Brown passed away in March after battling cancer.
” It was an honor to sign today’s bill that will help ensure Representative Brown’s legacy lives on with St. Louis County residents and all Missourians for generations to come, ” Parson said in a statement.
The dedication bill is the only one signed by Parson so far this session. No other bills have been passed by both chambers.
Seventy-three House bills have been sent to the Senate after passage, and 35 Senate bills have moved to the House.
Minority Floor Leader of the Senate Gina Walsh, D – St. Louis, said it’s been a slow start.
” It’s been kind of slow, but that’s good, ” Walsh said. ” Over here in the Senate that’s good, because we’re more deliberate. ”
Numerous bills and pressing issues remain unaddressed by both chambers heading into the second half of session, which ends May 17.
One topic that needs to be addressed is funding for transportation infrastructure. At his State of the State address, Parson revealed his plan to fund bridge repairs with $350 million in bonds.
Rep. Cody Smith, R – Carthage, proposed another way of getting the money: take $100 million from general revenue. It would be the first time that general revenue money would be used for transportation infrastructure since 1921.
” The solution to fix our roads isn’t to go further into debt, but instead to invest wisely and responsibly in our transportation network with the funds we have available, ” said Smith, who is the chairman of the House budget committee.
One senator filed a bill that would raise the gas tax.
The proposal from Sen. Doug Libla , R – Williamsville , would increase Missouri’s gas tax by two-cents a year until it reached 23 cents per gallon. The current tax is 17 cents per gallon and has not increased since 1996.
In November, voters denied Proposition D with 53.6 percent of the vote. The measure would have incrementally increased the gas tax up to 27 cents per gallon and more.
” I don’t think the language in Proposition D was very clear, ” Walsh said, adding she supports Libla’s bill. ” It’s more of a users fee than anything else, because ( Libla is) talking about a gas tax. Our gas tax is one of the lowest in the nation. ”