Opinion: Reaching Compromise and Maintaining Local Control

   

On April 15, the Missouri Senate sent to the Missouri House of Representatives a bonding plan to help fund the repair and replacement of several of our state’s aging bridges. Senate Concurrent Resolution 14 proposes issuing $301 million worth of bonds to address the needs of 215 bridges across the state. The plan seeks to minimize long-term debt by requiring it to be paid off over the course of seven years, as opposed to the original proposal of 15. The issuing of bonds is also contingent upon Missouri receiving a federal infrastructure grant that will help pay for the replacement of the Interstate 70 bridge at Rocheport, Missouri.

I believe SCR 14 reflects a compromise that helps keeps our highways safe. It is no secret that our roads and bridges need to be repaired, and the longer we wait, the worse they will get. This bonding proposal will allow us to immediately address some of our infrastructure needs and free up funds for other projects. As this plan works to solve some of our infrastructure needs, other important projects in our local area have the potential to be prioritized and receive funding. At the end of the day, this plan is not a silver bullet for our transportation infrastructure needs, but it does move us in the right direction.

The Missouri Senate also debated Senate Bill 391 this week. This legislation prohibits local county commissions and health departments from regulating agricultural operations beyond state laws and regulations. I oppose this legislation. I support local control and believe it best to leave matters like this that have the potential to impact not just property owners, but the overall health of a community in the hands of that local community. It’s important to recognize that the same voters who are electing members of the Missouri General Assembly are also the ones electing these local commissions. If commissioners do something that the community doesn’t like, I believe the best remedy is for citizens to elect new commissioners, not for the General Assembly to intervene and prevent county officials from doing the job they were elected to do.

Just as SB 391 works to weaken our local governments, I believe it empowers the state, especially the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, to have more authority over our day-to-day lives. I have great hesitation about this. Additionally, by moving disputes to the state level as opposed to the local level, I believe it will be harder to address issues as they come up.