2016 MO Legislative Session Roundup: ATVs on Katy stopped, $20 million highway/bike/ped/transit funding, several important bike/ped projects funded

We had some amazing legislative results in Jefferson City this year--thanks, as usual, to the many citizens and allied groups who took the time to contact their legislators, visit the Jefferson City for Capitol day, and support our work in Jefferson City.

Capitol Day participants made a huge difference this year
Capitol Day participants and those who contacted their state legislators made a huge difference this year

Highlights:

  • ATVs on the Katy Trail bill stopped. Many thanks to thousands of you who contacted your legislators and to thousands who signed the petitionopposing ATVS on the Katy, presented to House and Senate leadership in April 2016 by Reid Cranmer.

    Please note that bill sponsor Jay Houghton is committed to this bill. It did move forward through two House committees in 2016, an ominous sign. Houghton is already planning to bring it back in 2017. You can still sign the petition opposing it.
     
  •  15-foot flag requirement for bicyclists stopped. This bill, a new twist on previous bicycle bans, bicyclist fluorescent vest bills, bicyclists insurance requirements, and so on, turned out to be dead in the water, thanks to clear citizen opposition to this bad idea.
     
  • Bicycle ban stopped. In meetings with Rep. Bart Korman early in the 2016 legislative session, Rep. Korman promised to introduce the bicycle ban bill again.  The bill would prohibit bicycling on state highways whenever another bicycle path is within a few miles.  Our case to Rep. Korman is that simply introducing bills such as these--even though everyone knows they have little chance of moving forward in the end--is detrimental to both bicyclists and motorists and embarrassing to Missouri.

    Communities across the state are working hard to promote themselves nationwide and worldwide as bicycle and trails friendly destinations.  The negative publicity generated by bills like this undoes  all that work and reflects badly on all of us--while diverting our attention and time for working on positive solutions to our state's transportation issues. 
     
  • Historic first as $20 million Missouri Moves funding approved.  This is the first Missouri state transportation funding in modern history to allow MoDOT flexibility in using this funding for roads, highways, transit, walking, bicycling, or other multimodal transportation needs.

    June 15th, MoDOT announced Missouri Moves funding guidelines. Fully one-third of funding will be set aside for multimodal transportation, including transit, walking, and bicycling projects.  This is major, historic progress for Missouri.
     
  • Funding to fix Katy Trail gap in Sedalia approved. For years, local advocates and city officials in Sedalia have been working to address one of the biggest gaps in the Katy Trail--a 1.4 mile long on-road section of the trail within the city limits of Sedalia. They have created a plan, located land for the trail, worked with railroads and other adjoining landowners to create a solution, and as of early this year, they just needed the funding.

    And, thanks to the support of their local House & Senate members and others throughout the appropriations process, they got it. The funding of approx. $1 million was approved as part of the regular budget process. Especially key was the support and sponsorship of State Representative Nathan Beard of Sedalia and the support of Missouri State Parks.
     
  • A proposal to bring a state fuel tax increase before voters in November was defeated. Although MoDOT still faces a serious budget deficit that must be addressed within the next few years--the subject of numerous trial balloons this legislative session--the 5.9 cent fuel tax increase was the only idea that had real legs this year. The failure of this particular proposal at this time is actual a positive step. A few reasons:
    Senator Doug Libla of Poplar Bluff, a strong advocate for addressing Missouri's
    Senator Doug Libla of Poplar Bluff, a strong advocate for addressing Missouri's transportation funding situation
    • This funding proposal was for roads and highways only. Missouri faces a serious road funding shortage, but the situation for transit, bicycling, and walking is even more dire. We need a transportation funding solutions that meet the needs of all Missourians.
       
    • All signs indicated that the proposal was not supported by voters; it almost certainly would have gone down in flames in November.
       
    • For the first time in recent memory, we were part of a broad coalition of groups--and potential funders of future transportation initiative petition campaigns--who spoke about the need for flexible, multimodal transportation funding in Missouri. Most members of this group want to address Missouri's transportation funding crisis in a positive way, but were very lukewarm about taking the 5.9 fuel tax increase to voters, for the reasons outline above: It doesn't solve the full problem and is unpopular with voters

       
  • Spirit Trail funding approved. The Spirit Trail, planned to connect Warrensburg with nearby Whiteman Air Force Base. The funding is to help design and create a portion of the trail through Knob Noster State Park that is vital for the continuity of the trail.
     
  • Rock Island Trail supplemental funding approved. Thanks to the key support of Senator David Pearce, the 2016 budget includes $4.6 million in funding for signage, trailheads, and other improvements to the 47-mile Rock Island Trail section between Windsor and Pleasant Hill that is slated to open later in 2016.  The funding supplements the $18 million in funding for this section of the trail provided by Ameren as part of the Taum Sauk settlement.
     

Most of the other bills listed in our rundown of bills affecting bicycling and walking earlier in the legislative session were introduced, received a hearing a most, and then quietly died. This includes good ideas that have bipartisan support such as banning texting while driving, banning distracted driving, adding a specific distance to our current "safe passing of bicyclists" law, and increasing penalties for dangerous and unsafe drivers.

These are good ideas that we will continue to work with our allied groups to support and move forward.  But the general tenor of General Assembly right now, and particularly a significant group in important leadership positions, makes it very difficult to move this type of legislation forward in Jefferson City right now.  At some point in the future, the time will be right and bills like these will see the light of day.

Thank you!

Thousands of supporters of bicycling, walking, and trails like you, all across Missouri, have taken the time to contact their legislators, make a call, or visit Jefferson City for Capitol Day.

We had the support of dozens of allied groups and organizations who are working together, very effectively, to move these issues forward across Missouri and in Jefferson City.  Many thanks to the leaders and representatives of those many groups and organizations we have worked with this year.

That is the kind of support that makes progress like we made in 2016 possible.

Thank you!

 

Working to support legislative initiatives in Jefferson City that support our mission for more, better, safer bicycling, walking, and trails across Missouri is one of the most important ways we reach the goals outlined in our Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri. This year, legislative victories helped achieve our goals of improving safety for all road users and creating a seamless, world-class bicycle, pedestrian, and trails network across Missouri.

We have an active Legislative Platform that guides our legislative work and priorities in Jefferson City.

We also keep a tally of legislative initiative passed or defeated with our support. Since 1995, no fewer than fifty-two of the proposals that we have supported or opposed have been approved or defeated, respectively.

Your ongoing membership and generous financial support powers our legislative and advocacy work, as well as all the other work we do. Thank you!

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