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New commission to take on cybersecurity threats

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A new commission will evaluate Missouri’s technological infrastructure and identify cybersecurity risks under a bill signed into law Wednesday.

A provision included in SB 49 would establish the Missouri Cybersecurity Commission. The commission will operate under the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and analyze data from various state agencies, schools, and higher education institutions to identify risks and vulnerabilities in Missouri’s cyberinfrastructure. It will be required to file an annual report on its findings with the governor.

Rep. Bill Hardwick sponsored the legislation as a standalone bill this session and attached the language as an amendment, drawing on his experience with technology and cybersecurity in the Missouri National Guard

“The provisions in this bill give the state a way to focus on identifying where we are vulnerable across the whole of government and in private sector infrastructure and figure out what we can do to be proactive in keeping our state safe,” Hardwick said. “It is my hope the commission will represent a wide cross-section of experts from the government and private industry, and they provide the governor with the information he needs to make sure our state is prepared for future cyber threats of all scales.”

The commission would be made up of nine members, including one person each from the Missouri National Guard, the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), and the Highway Patrol. Members would be appointed by the governor, with no more than five aligned with one political party. 

The effort was bipartisan in the House: Rep. Ashley Aune, another freshman legislator, helped Hardwick with the language.

“The Missouri Cybersecurity Commission will work to protect our state from the ever-looming threat of cyberattacks on critical Missouri infrastructure, which several entities in our state have already faced,” Aune said. “I’m so grateful for the chance to work across the aisle with Rep. Hardwick and the bill sponsor to get this essential statute into law.”

New rules for docks, boaters

As people flock to the Lake of the Ozarks over the summer, new boating rules outlined in the rest of the bill seek to ensure property owners have access to their docks. 

The base of Sen. Justin Brown’s SB 49 prohibits boats from anchoring in a way that obstructs access within 100 feet of a dock without the owner’s permission and also restricts boaters from securing their craft or entering a private dock without the owner’s permission. Brown said the issues were brought to him by constituents from the popular summer destination and would not interfere with the right to fish off of a dock. 

“I have had many constituents from the Lake of the Ozarks reach out to my office regarding boat dock trespassing. Usually, boat owners are respectful of each other’s property, but a few inconsiderate boaters create problems for others by ignoring common courtesy and basic property rights,” Brown said. “This legislation clarifies what should be normal etiquette on the water, and provides the Water Patrol clear authority to issue a ticket when necessary.”

The restriction gained the support of many in the region: More than 80 witnesses, including realtors and business owners, testified in favor of the bill during its first committee hearing. 

Boat owners are also allowed to permanently register their craft at a cost three times the amount of a three-year certification and associated fees. These certificates can only be displayed on the registered vehicle and cannot be transferred to other vessels or owners. 

Another section of the bill removed a mandate requiring entities to sell six or more vessels or trailers in a year to be classified as a boat dealer for businesses selling boats for fisheries, chemical or biological research, or scientific sampling. 

This story has been updated. It was originally published July 14.