JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — House Speaker John Diehl, R-Town and Country, told reporters today that his office had instructed several lawmakers and committees to take action on transportation, jobs, and a study of the economic impact of NFL teams in Missouri.
Diehl announced all three moves to reporters today following House adjournment. Diehl is asking Reps. Paul Curtman and Glen Kolkmeyer to hold joint hearing of their respective committees on Government Efficiency and Transportation. The joint hearings will be tasked with examining MODOT’s fiscal needs and exploring a variety of funding options to preserve and expand Missouri’s massive road system.
The joint hearings will be tasked with providing some recommendations to Diehl by the legislative spring break. Also on Diehl’s docket is a task force to be chaired by Rep. Jeanie Lauer, which is aimed at bringing business owners and representatives from the state’s universities together to coordinate curriculum and hiring practices for new graduates.
“There are thousands of jobs out there that are available to be filled today, but there’s not a qualified workforce to fill those jobs,” Diehl said. “At the same time, we graduate thousands of students from our universities that can’t find jobs. We need to start breaking down these silos. It’s going to require better communication between colleges, community colleges, universities as well as employers.”
Lauer’s task force will also be tasked with producing a report with recommendations to the legislature. Lauer told reporters she hopped to establish stronger connections between schools and employers so that students were graduating with the understanding that they were fully qualified to apply for specific jobs.
Finally, Diehl said the House would be exploring the economic impact of having an NFL team in St. Louis. Calling the recent coverage and discussions “mostly hypothetical,” Diehl said that Rep. Jay Barnes and his committee on Government Accountability would be studying the issue.
Barnes’ duty is threefold: to analyze what economic benefit Missouri as a state sees from an NFL team in St. Louis, the existing and continuing state obligations regarding the Edward Jones Dome, and an analysis of money the state has paid out versus earned benefit for the taxpayer. Diehl said the committee would be specifically tasked with examining the state’s role and obligations related to the Rams potential move from St. Louis.
All three announcements came following perhaps the busiest week of floor activity yet in the early weeks of the legislative session. House members finished the week by passing the Missouri Dairy Revitalization Act and a bill tying unemployment benefits to the jobless rate — both bills that Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed last year that the legislature fell just short of overriding.