Capitol Day Monday April 30th issues: Transportation Funding, Rock Island Trail, dangerous dogs, texting while driving

Bicycle, Pedestrian and Trails Day at the Capitol in Jefferson City is coming soon--Monday April 30th. State transportation funding, the future of the Rock Island Trail, stopping dangerous dogs, texting while driving, and safety of self-driving cars are among the issues we'll be talking about with legislators Monday.

Capitol Day participants are the mighty few who make a BIG difference
Capitol Day participants are the mighty few who make a BIG difference for bicycling, walking, and trails in Missouri

We'll also enjoy a Ride with Legislators from the Capitol to the Katy Trail and back.

Join us April 30th in Jefferson City--when you take the time to make those personal visits to legislators, it really makes a difference!

If you can't join us in person, please take a moment to call or email your Missouri Senator and Representative in support of our message (sample message below).

2018 Capitol Day Issues and Priorities

A summary of our priorities for the 2018 Missouri legislative session:

 State Transportation Funding

We support adequate funding for Missouri transportation, as recommended by the 21st Century Missouri Transportation System Task Force.

We support the comprehensive transportation approach of the Task Force. Just as pressing as the need to eliminate the deficit in state highways and bridge funding is the need to fund multimodal transportation needs in Missouri—which have been chronically underfunded for decades.

As a far outlier state in state funding for public transportation, walking, bicycling, and other multimodal transportation needs, Missouri harms its economy and drives talent and business to more competitive states.

Details: There are many, many bills introduced this year to deal with the Missouri state transportation funding shortfall.  A good summary of most of them is here under "Transportation Bills".

Most involve increasing the state fuel tax by 6-10 cents per gallon. One, HJR 84 creates a 0.4% sales tax to cover Missouri State Patrol costs, transferring the saved fuel tax dollars to MoDOT. Others increase motor vehicles fees to adjust for inflation. Yet others combine some of these ideas with a more comprehensive tax reform package.  The tax reform proposals are bills that can be passed by the General Assembly with the Governor's signature. Most other proposals are Constitutional Amendments that will require a vote of the people to implement.

All the proposals mentioned above create funding for the state road fund. Just one proposal has been introduced to create multimodal transportation funding, as recommended by the Missouri 21st Century Transportation Task Force.

The multimodal transportation funding amendment, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Corlew, was voted down on the floor of the House during debate on the House tax reform bill, HB 2540.


Rock Island Trail State Park

We strongly support the creation of the new Rock Island Trail State Park, which together with the Katy Trail State Park will create an internationally significant 500+ mile statewide trail loop and tourism destination in Missouri.

Rock Island Trail communities have been working for the creation of the trail for over 25 years because of the important economic benefits it will bring the Rock Island communities.

Ameren is poised to donate the Rock Island corridor—property worth millions of dollars—to the state of Missouriwith a deadline of February 2019 for Missouri State Parks to receive the donation.

Rock Island Trail State Park is strongly supported by the affected communities.

Funding for trail construction will come from local communities, private donations, and other outside sources. State Parks simply needs to devote resources to accepting and administering the trail.

Details: Missouri State Parks is currently creating a detailed plan for accepting the 144-mile section of the Rock Island RR corridor as a State Park.

They plan to make a decision to accept or not accept by December 2018.

Support from legislators is crucial.  If your legislators would write a note to Missouri State Parks leadership indicating they support State Parks accepting the Rock Island corridor, that would be very, very helpful.


HB 2245: Loose dogs causing injury (Rep. Rone)

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. Just the out-of-pocket medical costs for those emergency room visits total $1.4 million annually.

An unfortunate loophole in current Missouri law means that owners of dogs that bite are held responsible, but if dogs cause injury in some other way, for example, by running loose in front of bicycle riders, the same law does not apply.

HB 2245 closes that loophole by making dog owners responsible for injuries caused by their animals,whether by biting or any other way. We strongly support HB 2245.

Details: A hearing on this bill was held in the House Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee on April 10th. This is good progress on this bill, in only its second year. We would like to see it voted out of Committee this year before end of session.

If your Representative is on the Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee please be sure to ask him or her to support HB 2245 and move it out of committee soon.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Capitol Day legislator packet (blue folder) has a typo on this bill number.  The correct bill number if HB 2245.


Distracted Driving / Hands Free Electronic Device Use

Texting while driving and driving while distracted are a major preventable cause of injuries and fatalities on Missouri roads. Missouri is one of just four states that still allows texting while driving.

We strongly support legislation to ban distracted driving practices, including texting while driving, and to require hands-free use of electronic devices while driving.

2018 bills include  SB 1050 (Sen. Schatz), HB 1600 (Higdon, “Fair Fare” Act), SB 749 (Wallingford), SB 755 (Schupp),  Sb 784 (Nasheed), SB 903 (Dixon),  HB 1292 (Henderson), and others.

Details: These bills have widespread bipartisan support. However, a few powerful key legislators have opposed these bills.  Much of the discussion in past years and this year has been in finding an approach that these powerful opponents can support.

The key approaches that have worked this year are the "hands-free" requirement in SB 1050 and the commercial driver approach (Fair Fare, HB 1600).

Senator Schatz has been one of the main opponents of previous attempts at distracted driving and texting-while-driving bills, so his sponsorship of SB 1050 and support of the "hands-free electronic device use" approach is a major breakthrough.

When you talk with your legislators about this issue, you don't need (or want!) to get into any of these technical details.

Just let them know that you are very concerned about the safety issues around distracted driving and texting while driving--which kill 9 people per day in the U.S.--and you strongly support laws that make it clear to drivers that these unsafe practices are not OK.


Self-Driving Vehicles

Self-driving vehicles have a strong promise of greater safety for all road users in the future. But in the present, current self-driving systems are not yet as safe as human drivers.  Testing self-driving systems on public roads requires strong oversight and safeguards.

Current self-driving technology has great difficulty recognizing vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians, people in wheelchairs, construction workers, first responders, and police officers directing traffic.  Automated driving systems need to demonstrate safety in these situations. Oversight committees need representation from these groups.

HB 2271 & HB 2267 (Rieboldt), SB 811 (Munzlinger)

Details: Emphasize that we are not against technology or autonomous vehicles, and--as many others--we hope that in the future this technology will greatly increase safety.

But in the present companies are asking to test unproven systems on our public roads and we need assurances that these systems are proven and safe before they are allowed on the road with us.

Experts in autonomous vehicle technology tell us that problems like maintaining lane position and detected and tracking other full-sized motor vehicles are far easier than detecting and tracking pedestrians, people who bicycle, motorcyclists, constructions workers, first responders on foot, law enforcement officers directing traffic, and other more difficult situations.

Legislators have often thought of self-driving cars in the car vs car situation of a drive on the freeway, but haven't thought through how commonly cars interact with pedestrians and people on bicycles on our city streets but also on our state and county roads.

HB 2271 creates a statewide "Automated Vehicle Safety Advisory Committee" and we need to be sure that people who walk and bicycle are represented on that committee.

Automated vehicle legislation looks like it is not moving this year; we need to start the discussion now to raise awareness for future years.

Sample message to your legislators in support of our Capitol Day visits

If you can't join us in person, please take a moment to call or email your Missouri Senator and Representative in support of our message.

Sample message:

Senator [OR] Representative X,

I live in your district in [YOUR CITY/TOWN] and I just wanted to write today to let you know how important bicycling, walking, and trails are to me.

[Tell a brief story or give a short reason or two why it is so important to you.]

Monday is Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Trails Day at the Capitol and I hope you'll support the issues they are talking about.  Please take time to read the materials they will leave at your office.




More information about Capitol Day & the main issues we'll be discussing




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