OSAGE BEACH, Mo. – The Missouri Association of Counties voted on four resolutions Monday afternoon during the convention at the Lake of the Ozarks, approving all but one of the measures.
The three approved resolutions involved rebuking unfunded mandates of the state government and requests to fund infrastructure and highway improvements and the state’s 911 emergency system.
MAC Executive Director Dick Burke said the association scaled back from more proposals to send a clear message to those in Jefferson City to promote solidarity.
“We felt like sometimes we’re too fragmented, we’re asking for too much,” he said. “We kept it pretty simple… things that everybody is on board with so we will be getting the message to the Legislature and the new governor that these things are important to us.”
Both infrastructure and highway funding improvements have a large impact on counties, especially as some in the General Assembly have attempted to offload the cost of lettered roads on the state highway system to county governments as a way to decrease maintenance costs for the state.
“Even though it would be additional money, a lot of these counties can’t take care of and maintain these roads and they think a lot of these roads could go back to gravel,” Burke said.
For the 911 system, which has seen some legislative action in the past few cycles, Burke says the MAC is resolved to make Missouri a state that has a wireless recovery fee. The unfunded mandates are often small “nickel and dime” issues, Burke said, but they often add up into substantial costs.
However, perhaps the most noteworthy vote came on a resolution that would prohibit the legalization of either medicinal cannabis or recreational marijuana. MAC President-elect Wendy Nordwald said the Missouri Prosecutors Association had asked MAC to examine the issue at the conference and support the continued prohibition of marijuana or cannabis. However, when it came time to discuss the issue among the full board, multiple members cited personal stories about how medical cannabis affected their lives. Others mentioned the benefits that sales tax on cannabis products could bring, pointing to other states that have seen increased revenues because they had legalized the drug.
The resolution failed in what was a “clear vote,” according to Nordwald.
On election day, three states approved of recreational marijuana (Maine’s result on the subject may be close enough for a recount) and four states expanded access to medical cannabis.