Representative Karla Eslinger Legislative Update

Another busy week in Jefferson City.  The highlight of the week was a visit by the Bakersfield’s 8th Grade Class.  I remember bringing my class to the Capitol and recall one student telling me years later that the trip to the Capitol was something they will always remember.  My hat is off to our schools that continue with this tradition.  I so enjoyed visiting with the students.  I wish to thank Mr. Helmke for working with our office to schedule the tour, pizza lunch and group picture.  I am looking forward to more school groups when we return from Spring Break. 

The following bill summaries are a few of the items discussed last week. For a complete list of all legislation activity please go to https://house.mo.gov/LegislationSP.aspx?focusedID=Bill List.

House Budget Chairman Unveils Plan to Fund Road and Bridge Im- provements without Raising Taxes or Incurring New Debt – HB 4

House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith unveiled a spending plan this week that makes a significant investment in state transportation infrastructure without raising taxes or incurring new debt for the state. Smith rolled out the committee substitutes for the appropriations bills that make up the Fiscal Year 2020 state spending plan, which includes a $100 million appropriation to pay for road and bridge improvements. 

Smith said the $100 million in general revenue will be dedicated to the State Road Fund for bridge projects in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, which sets the transportation projects the Missouri Department of Transportation will undertake. Smith emphasized the importance of crafting a plan that provides adequate funding for Missouri’s transportation needs without putting the state further into debt.

The funding allocation for transportation infrastructure is contained in House Bill 4, which is one of the 13 appropriations bills that make up the Fiscal Year 2020 state operating budget. The House Budget Committee will work through the bills next week and consider potential amendments. The House will then take up the bills on the floor during the week of March 25-29.

House Members Move to Create Stiffer Penalties for Poaching – HB 260 (https://house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills191/hlrbillspdf/0841H.01P.pdf)

Members of the House of Representatives have approved legislation that would create stiffer penalties for poaching certain animals. 

Supporters say the bill will address an issue that currently exists where it’s cheaper for a non-Missourian to come into the state, poach an animal, and pay the fine than it is to buy an out-of-state hunting tag. The bill would increase the fines for poaching wild turkeys, deer, elk, black bears, or paddlefish in Missouri. Specifically, it would make the fines range from $500 to $1,000 for poaching a wild turkey or paddlefish; between $2,000 and $5,000 for poaching a white-tailed deer; and between $10,000 and $15,000 for poaching a black bear or elk.  

Missouri in 2011 began bringing elk into the state from Kentucky with an aim of reestablishing the population of the animal here, and an eventual goal of having an elk hunting season. The Department of Conservation says elk hunting could begin as early as next year and that could bring millions of dollars into the state, but the sponsor said poaching is hurting the chances of that happening, and the current fines for poaching are not a deterrent.

When a fine is collected under HB 260 that money would go to the school district in which the poaching incident occurred.

Missouri House Approves Important Workforce Development Bill – HB 469 (https://house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills191/hlrbillspdf/1063H.02P.pdf)

Legislation is now headed to the Senate that would allow the Missouri Department of Economic Development to improve and consolidate its workforce development programs. House members approved the bill that allows the department to consolidate three work force training programs into the Missouri One Start program.

The bill sponsor said the consolidation of the programs will allow for more flexibility and efficiency, and will allow more businesses to take advantage of the program. He noted that the changes will be possible without the need for additional funding. “This is our Department of Economic Development coming to us asking us to allow them to be more efficient and run better,” he said.

REAL ID-Compliant Driver Licenses to Soon Be Available

Missourians received good news this week as the Missouri Department of Revenue announced that it is on schedule to offer REAL ID-compliant driver licenses and non-driver identification on March 25. The REAL ID-compliant forms of identification will be necessary effective Oct. 1, 2020 for residents to fly domestically. 

The revenue department director said, “We look forward to being able to start offering REAL ID-compliant driver licenses and ID cards on March 25. However, we want to stress to our customers that there’s no immediate need to rush to apply because the current Missouri-issued license and ID card will afford the same access as a REAL ID-compliant license or ID card until October 2020.”

Effective Oct. 1, 2020, individuals will also be required to present a REAL ID-compliant driver license or ID card, or another form of acceptable ID, to access federal facilities, including military bases and federal courthouses, and to enter nuclear power plants.

Visit https://dor.mo.gov/drivers/real-id-information/ or a complete listing of acceptable documents for REAL ID-compliant license and ID card processing, as well as other important information regarding REAL ID. For more information about the REAL ID Act, visit U.S. Department of Homeland Security website at http://www.dhs.gov/real-id.

As always, I appreciate hearing from folks back home and especially when they come by and visit at the capitol.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or if I can be of service.  It is an honor to represent the great folks of the 155th District.  Thank you.

Please contact me at: 201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 400CB, Jefferson City, MO  65101-6806 phone:  573-751-2042, email: karla.eslinger@house.mo.gov