2017 Legislative Session: With one week to go, what is the status of key bills affecting bicycling, walking, and trails?

With just one week left in Missouri's 2017 legislative session, we have had some really important bills moving--some very good and some very bad. Where are they now?

It looks the effort to stop Missouri State Parks from accepting the Rock Island Trail corridor has been turn aside, several bad bills that could effect bicycling and walking have been stopped or never introduced (always the best outcome), and the General Assembly could take one small step towards address state transportation funding.

Details follow . . . 

HB 698: Stopping acquisition of new State Parks lands - and stopping the state from accepting Rock Island Trail - is amended to allow the Rock Island Trail to move forward

Two pieces of good news on HB 698, which posed a very severe threat to the Rock Island Trail early in session:

  • The Missouri Rock Island Trail Inc and MoBikeFed worked extensively with bill sponsors and supporters on this important bill.  The outcome was an amendment on the House floor that allows the state to accept new state park lands if they are donated. The amendment passed by an overwhelming margin.

    The amendment is, in essence, an exception that was carved out specifically to allow Missouri State Parks to accept the Rock Island corridor donations later this year. This exception was passed by the House by an overwhelming margin--showing real support from the Missouri House for the Rock Island Trail.
     
  • Due to a serious of disagreements within the Missouri Senate, very few bills have been moving forward this year. With just one week left in session, will HB 698 find time on the Senate floor?  Perhaps not.

Current status: Passed by the Missouri House. No committee hearing or floor vote in the Missouri Senate yet.

Statewide Funding for Transportation - a Task Force to be appointed, and we have worked to ensure that bicycling, walking, and transit will be represented on the Task Force

HCR 47, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Corlew, will create a statewide task force to make recommendations on Missouri transportation funding. After encouragement from MoBikeFed and other bicycle, pedestrian, and transportation organizations from across Missouri, Rep. Corlew amended the language to clarify that the task force is to work on transportation funding broadly, including walking, bicycling, and transit, and not highway funding alone.

Current status: HCR 47 has passed the Missouri House and has received a hearing and a "do pass" recommendation from the Senate Committee.  It has support of Senate leadership and is waiting for a vote on the Senate floor.

HB 1134 - Closing a loophole regarding injuries caused by loose dogs

HB 1134, sponsored by Rep. Andrew McDaniel of Deering (far SE Missouri), closes a loophole regarding loose dogs that bite or injure while on public property. 

The bill was created at the behest of a MoBikeFed member who suffered serious injuries while bicycling when a loose dog ran in front of him.

Dogs running out in front of bicyclists injure 450 Missourians annually—counting only those injuries serious enough to require an emergency room visit. This is one of the top six causes of injury to people who bicycle. The out-of-pocket medical costs for those emergency room visits total $1.4 million annually.

This is an important issue and one that MoBikeFed strongly supports.

With just one week left in session, this bill probably will not move in 2017--it has made no progress in the Senate.  But it made excellent progress for a first-year bill and sets us up to move it forward in future years.

Status: "Do Pass" recommendation from House Committee, no House floor vote or Senate Committee hearing.

Hands Free Device Usage/Texting and Electronic Messaging While Driving/Distracted Driving

Missouri is now one of just four states that allows drivers to text while driving. Texting while driving and other similar electronic distractions now cause a disproportionate amount of injuries and fatalities on the road. People who walk and bicycle take on a disproportionate share of those injuries, and for that reason we support the current effort in Missouri to join the 46 U.S. states that restrict texting while driving and support hands-free use of cell phones and other electronic devices while driving.

This issue continues to garner strong interest, and several variant bills have been introduced by several Senators and Representatives from across the state. Almost any of these proposals will improve safety for Missourians who use our roads and streets.

2017 saw the strongest statewide coalition ever come together in support of this effort.  However, one or two key state legislators are still blocking progress on these bills.

This issue has been identified by our members as a top priority

  • HB312 (Representative Walker) - SUPPORT (preferred version)

  • HB546 (Representative Hansen) - SUPPORT

  • SB165 (Senator Schupp) - SUPPORT

  • HB378 (Representative Brown) - SUPPORT

  • HB284 (Representative Brown) - SUPPORT

  • SB253 (Senator Nasheed) - SUPPORT

Ban on study or discussion of toll roads passes in Missouri 2018 budget

We worked with our allies on the statewide Mercury Alliance to oppose a proposal in the House Budget to disallow MoDOT and other state agencies from even discussing or studying the possibility of toll roads in Missouri.

We have very few options for funding transportation in Missouri, and toll roads have been very successful in helping to cover highway and bridge costs in certain situations in other states.  Toll roads can present certain challenges and problems for some communities--but it is by studying and discussion of these issues that they can be identified and, eventually, solved.

But the Missouri House wanted to completely stop not only specific toll road proposals, but even discussion or study of them.

It is smart to keep all of our transportation funding options open, and even people who generally oppose tolling might find some options they can support if the opportunity for study and discussion of the issue remains open.

Unfortunately, the effort to continue the discussion failed and the final version of the Budget approved this week by both the House and the Senate included the prohibition on study or discussion of toll roads.

Bicycle bans, ATVS on the Katy Trail, onerous bicycle requirements: NONE in 2017!

Over the past several years, we have seen some form of bicycle ban, onerous bicycle operator requirements (hi-vis vests, 15-foot flags, bicycle insurance), ATVs on the Katy Trail, and other anti-bicycle legislation introduced each year.

NO bicycle bans in 2017. Hurray!
NO bicycle bans in 2017. Hurray!

In 2017 we saw NO such bills introduced.

This is major progress in Missouri--as legislators have learned that introducing anti-bicycle bills is both time-wasting and counterproductive for the communities they represent. 

Most often, those communities are working to promote the city and the region as a great place to live and to visit--and an anti-bicycle message undermines all of that.

Your outreach to your state elected representatives over the years has helped to educate them on this important issue.  And it paid some real dividends in 2017.

Thank you!

Many thanks goes to our many members and allied organizations who have contacted legislators and visited legislators throughout the session and at Capitol Day on April 10th.

We have seen little positive movement on our priority issues this year, but at the same time we have been able to stop or turn aside several very negative bills

When we reach out and make that person contact with our elected representatives, it really does make a difference.

Thank you!

 

Working to create a world-class transportation system for walking and bicycling and improve safety for all who use our states roads--including people who walk and bicycle--is a key goal of our Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri.

Our work with the Missouri General Assembly and our annual Legislative Platform are an important in helping us reaching those goals. Between 1995 and 2016, new fewer than fifty-two of the proposals that we have supported or opposed in our Legislative Platform have been approved or defeated, respectively.

Your ongoing membership and generous financial support help turn our Vision into reality, and turn our Legislative Platform into law!

 

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