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House looks to form Bicentennial Commission


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — With the 200th anniversary of Missouri’s statehood just three years away, the Missouri House is looking at forming a commission to advise and assist the State Historical Society of Missouri and the Bicentennial Alliance in the lead up to the day.

Rep. Travis Fitzwater

“The 200th anniversary of our state is going to be a big deal,” said Rep. Travis Fitzwater.

HCR 105, put forth by Fitzwater, would create the Missouri Bicentennial Commission to help with planning activities and events for the August 10, 2021 celebration.

“It’s pretty significant, going over the history and tourism will kind of be apart of this,” Rep. Jeffery Justus said.  “[This] could be a boost in a lot of communities…I think there is a chance it could bring a lot of people into our state who might not have normally come.”

Rep. Jeff Justus

Before the hearing started, Justus, who chairs of the Special Committee on Tourism, reminded those in attendance that in FY 2017 Missouri had 42 million tourists, bringing in $16.8 billion and that tourism in employees 313,000 people in the state. For every dollar spent on tourism, Missouri brings in $3.

Two years ago, the General Assembly directed the State Historical Society of Missouri to develop plans, ideas, and proposals to commemorate and celebrate the bicentennial. Numerous statewide, non-profit organizations and government agencies have formed the Bicentennial Alliance to create and promote statewide projects commemorating the bicentennial.

The commission — composed of a multitude of members from the Senate, the House, and the executive branch — will assist the historical society and the Bicentennial Alliance in the next stages of the celebration.  

“We have had meetings around the state, trying to plan the bicentennial,” testified Doug Crews, past president of the historical society. “You will see a state bicentennial license plate, I believe this year or maybe next year. That was part of the historical societies efforts. We are all in favor of this resolution.”

The Missouri Humanities Council is very much in support of forming the commission. No one testified against the resolution but Rep. Steve Cookson wanted to make sure that the commission will do something.

He recalled a committee formed a couple years back that the General Assembly has never heard anything more about.

“That’s my only concern,” said Cookson. “That we establish a commission but there is no follow-up with it.”

Those testifying said they would have no problem reporting back to the body.