Missouri Senate passes historic transportation funding proposal, first in Missouri history to integrating biking & walking

Today the Missouri Senate passed a historic transportation funding proposal by a vote of 22 to 10. If adopted by Missouri voters in November, it will be the first in Missouri history to completely integrate bicycling, walking, transit, and other modes of transportation alongside roads and highways in Missouri's state transportation funding system. 

Lewis & Clark Trailhed near the Missouri Capitol
Lewis & Clark Trailhed near the Missouri Capitol

Last year a similar proposal was filibustered by three senators--Lamping, Schaaf, and Emery--during the last week of session and ultimately failed.  This year, transportation supporters worked out a compromise, with the sales tax dropping from 1 cent to 3/4 cent.  The opponents agreed to drop the filibuster and HJR 68 passed by a vote of 22-10 after only a few minutes' debate.

What about biking and walking--are they still included?

Thanks to the work of thousands of supporters of bicycling and walking in Missouri who worked overtime a few weeks ago to defeat the anti-bicycle amendment to HJR 68 in the House, this version still includes language specifically listing bicycling and walking as transportation modes that can be funded with the new MoDOT, city, and county transportation funds the tax will generate.

That will become law, and bicycling and walking will be enshrined in the Missouri Constitution, if the transportation funding proposal is approved by Missouri voters in November 2014.

The overwhelming support shown for bicycling in the House, and the strong defeat of the proposal to remove bicycling from the proposal meant that no one in the Senate was inclined to attack the bicycle or pedestrian language.

What's next? Return to the House . . .

Because of the change made in the language approved by the Senate, HJR 68 now returns to the House for a final vote. The House is likely to take the bill up within the next few days and is likely to pass it--though anything in possible in the last few weeks of the legislative session.

The dynamics for the bill are much better this year than in 2013, when the proposal returned to the Senate near the end of the legislative session.  That allowed opponents to successfully filibuster the resolution.  

This year, HJR 68 returns to the House, which can only accept or reject the Senate's amendments and where no filibuster is possible.  That means the proposal is nearly certain to pass the House.  Only the timing is dependent on the whims of House leadership.

How did they vote?

Opponents of HJR 68 voted against the measure for a variety of reasons.  We were very pleased that several Senators who oppose tax increases on philosophical grounds were able to keep their opposition to the level of a "no" vote rather than rising to the level of a filibuster.

So supporters of HJR 68 were thanking both the 'yes' Senators and the 'no' Senators today.

For the record, here is how the Missouri Senators voted:

Yes: Chappelle-Nada, Cunningham, Curls, Dempsey, Dixon, Holsman, Keaveny, Kehoe, LeVota, Libla, Munzlinger, Nasheed, Parson, Pearce, Richard, Romine, Sater, Sifton, Silvey, Wallingford, Walsh, Wasson.

No: Brown, Emery, Justus, Kraus, Lager, Lamping, Nieves, Schaaf, Schaefer, Schmitt