Missouri 2013 Legislative Session Wrap-Up: Bicycle ban defeated, $8 billion proposal includes bike/ped, anti-harassment, and more . . .

What happened during the 2013 legislative session--which recently wrapped up the 2013 veto session?  What major events affected bicycling and walking in Missouri?  What happened with the issues and initiatives in MoBikeFed's Legislative Platform? Was the work you did in visiting Jefferson City for Capitol Day or the Legislators Ride worthwhile?  Did the calls and letters you made to your elected representatives really make a difference?

Was your financial support of and membership in MoBikeFed--which above all supports our lobbyist in Jefferson City and the Federation's work in support of his legislative advocacy--really worthwhile?

Here are all your answers--what happened in 2013 at the Capitol:

Defeated Bicycle Ban Proposal

Thanks to early action by MoBikeFed and tens of thousands of calls and letters from bicyclists from around the state, this year’s bicycle ban proposal, to disallow bicycle use on any roads or highways paralleling a trail, was defeated soundly. 

Bicycle ban in Missouri is now banned
Bicycle ban in Missouri is now banned

The bill was introduced with a few sponsors, but never even received a hearing.  House and Transportation Committee leadership made it clear to sponsors that they were not interested in moving forward with even a hearing on such a bill.  Work by our lobbyist in Jefferson City was absolutely essentially in communicating the problems with this legislation to our legislative leaders.

Introduced: First ever transportation funding bill in Missouri history introduced, that fully integrates funding for bicycling and walking, and will double the amount of funding for biking and walking in Missouri.

Since the inception of Missouri road and highway funding in the early 1900s, any use of the funding for anything other than roads and bridges has been banned by a section of the Missouri constitution. This is the number one cause of Missouri’s poor bicycle & pedestrian infrastructure over past decades.  MoDOT felt—with very good justification—that they were restricted from considering bicycle and pedestrian spending of any state dollars, even when it was part of a road or bridge project.

Missouri has been facing a transportation funding crisis for the past several years, and MoBikeFed has been working hard, together with our allies from across the state, to position bicycling and walking as an important part of any solution to the impending funding crisis.

Our decade-long efforts to bore fruit in the proposal that was introduced in the 2013 Missouri legislative session. The $8 billion, ten year proposal will provide funding for MoDOT, cities, and counties through a 1 cent sales tax. 

The proposal would bring about $800 million annually to MoDOT, cities, and count
The proposal would bring about $800 million annually to MoDOT, cities, and counties

For the first time in Missouri history, bicycling and walking are fully integrated into a proposal for Missouri’s transportation funding.  Bicycle, walking, and transit will be listed specifically in the Missouri constitution as transportation modes on equal footing with roads, bridges, railroads, and ports. 

Adding support for bicycle and pedestrian transportation at the very highest level of Missouri government will change everything in MoDOT’s attitude towards biking and walking—and in fact, it already has, as MoDOT works to set its plans and policies for the new funding plan.

The proposal passed both the Senate and the House during the 2013 legislative session, but died on the final day of session when a final needed vote in the Senate was filibustered by four senators.

However, the proposal is not dead: A nearly identical plan is now in preparation as an Initiative Petition.  It will require passing a vote of the people to become law.  It will appear on the November 2014 ballot.  Best projections now give it a very strong possibility of passing.

Defeated: Bill to restrict funding of bike/ped organizations by cities and state agencies. 

By a very close vote in the veto override session of the 2013 legislative session, a veto of SB 265 was upheld.

MoBikeFed had opposed SB 265 because it contained an obscure provision that was uncertain in its meaning, but was presented by supporters as banning any government or agency in Missouri from working with or contracting with nonprofit groups to work on sustainability issues—such as biking, walking, trails, and community livability. 

The St. Louis trail network was given as an example of Agenda 21 proliferating i
The St. Louis trail network was given as an example of Agenda 21 proliferating in Missouri

For that reason, we and many other similar organizations across the state asked Governor Nixon to veto the legislation, which he did.

We also asked legislators to uphold the veto.  The initial vote to pass SB 265 was overwhelmingly positive in both House and Senate, with veto-proof majorities.
We and other groups interested in the issue realized it would take just a few supporting Senators or Representatives switching sides to uphold the veto.

We contacted legislators asking them to do just that—and in the end they did.  The measure failed to override the veto by a mere four votes.

So the bill is defeated for 2013 but is likely to return in future years.

Setup for future years: Anti-harassment

We made good progress on several points of our legislative platform--which always take several years of careful setup and cultivation before they become a bill, and then several more before that bill is passed.

Our top priority for the immediate future is promoting bills banning harassment of and throwing objects at bicyclists and pedestrian. This is a very important issue to our members--who rated it number one by far in our surveys on legislative issues.

Our strategy now is to work for more anti-harassment laws in Missouri cities, while we build support for the idea in the General Assembly for the future.

If you'd like to help, send information and sample language for city anti-harassment ordinances to your local city council member. We also have an entire page of recommendations for cities.

Creating a world-class bicycle and pedestrian network is one of the top priorities of MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri. That means bicycle bans must be stopped, sufficient funding must be available, efforts to stop the work of bicycle, pedestrian, and trails organizations must be opposed, and harassment of bicyclists and pedestrians must stop.  Your support for MoBikeFed's Vision made all that happen in 2013!

Want better bicycling and walking in Missouri?
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