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Readers: To Fund MoDOT Missouri Should Increase Fuel Taxes, Toll I-70, & Revise Our Open Container Law

The floor of the Missouri House of Representatives, 2011
The floor of the Missouri House of Representatives, 2011

The Missouri Department of Revenue needs more money, voters rejected a sales tax. The Missouri legislature continues to ignore the most obvious solutions. Readers in the Sunday Poll put the options in the right order:

Q: Of the following, what should Missouri do to solve MoDOT’s funding shortfall: (check all that apply)

  1. Increase fuel taxes 35 [38.04%]
  2. TIE  20 [21.74%]
    1. Revise Missouri’s open container law so we can receive additional federal highway dollars
    2. Toll I-70 between metro STL & metro KC
  3. Increase vehicle licensing/registration fees 13 [14.13%]
  4. Increase sales taxes 4 [4.35%]
  5. Nothing, stay the course 0 [0%]

Our fuel taxes are among the lowest in the country and our neighboring states — this is obvious.  Another is changing Missouri’s open container law — I mean actually having one:

Although a driver is prohibited from consuming alcohol while driving, Missouri has no general open container law for vehicles, a characteristic which Missouri shares only with the states of Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Mississippi, Virginia, and West Virginia. Any non-driving vehicle passenger thus is permitted to possess an open container and consume alcohol in Missouri while the vehicle is in motion, although 31 smaller municipalities, the largest being Independence and St. Charles, have local open container laws. The metropolises of St. Louis and Kansas City have no local open container laws, and thus the state law (or lack thereof) governs. This makes it possible for a passenger to drink legally through the entire 250-mile (400 km) trip across Missouri on Interstate 70between Downtown Kansas City and Downtown St. Louis, only closing his container while passing through the city limits of Independence, Bates City, Columbia, Foristell, and St. Charles.

As a result of having no state open container laws, under the federal Transportation Equity Act for the 21st century of 1999, a percentage of Missouri’s federal highway funds is transferred instead to alcohol education programs each year. Since 1999, the Missouri General Assembly has considered several bills which would have created open container regimens satisfying the federal law, but each one “failed due to weak legislative support.” Anheuser-Busch leads opposition to enacting a passenger open container law. (Wikipedia)


The federal law encourages states to outlaw open containers by changing the earmarks for transportation funding. Under TEA-21, federal standards require a complete ban on open containers in vehicles, and states not conforming must divert funds from road maintenance into alcohol education, enforcement and crash prevention. The Fed can’t tell states what to do, but they’re not against making this money-backed suggestion.

The rub is about $12 million less each year for road maintenance in Missouri, according to MoDOT spokeswoman Kristi Jamison. The trade-off is somewhat political; Missouri asserts its sovereignty by refusing to overstep the boundaries of private property, and the diverted money helps ameliorate drunk driving problems in the state. “One of the positive benefits is that it also goes to law enforcement to help with DUI enforcements, whether through overtime or equipment to help out,” Jamison says, and adds that the funds also contribute to 500 miles of guard cable on highway dividers. (Vox Magazine)

So millions every year aren’t being used to maintain our roads & bridges because an influential brewer wants to make sure passengers can consume their products?

— Steve Patterson


Sunday Poll: What Should Missouri Do To Solve MoDOT’s Funding Shortfall?

Please vote below
Please vote below

Today’s Sunday Poll question is about funding MoDOT:

The poll is open until 8pm, I’ll share my thoughts on Wednesday.

— Steve Patterson


Readers Opposed To New Missouri Law Commissioning Corporate Security

September 30, 2015 Crime, Missouri, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Readers Opposed To New Missouri Law Commissioning Corporate Security

The results from the Sunday Poll:

Q: Missouri’s Public Safety Dept can now commission corporate security advisors, include arrest powers.

  1. Strongly opposed 19 [50%]
  2. TIE 4 [10.53%]
    1. Somewhat support
    2. Opposed
  3. Somewhat opposed 3 [7.89%]
  4. TIE 2 [5.26%]
    1. Support
    2. Strongly support
    3. Neutral
    4. Unsure/No Answer

Overall those opposed far outnumber supporters — 68.42% to 21.05%.

The new applies to off-duty or retired police officers that work security for corporations like Anheuser Busch, Ameren, and even Metro.

“Metrolink has officers in that have authority in Missouri and Illinois, some are St. Louis City, some are St. Louis County, some are St. Clair so they’re all cross deputized so this simplifies that process,” said Hill.

But opponents like Patricia Bynes, the Democratic committeewoman for Ferguson, say the new statute gives security guards too much power.

“When you’re a police officer you have a certain jurisdiction that you have to police in, this goes beyond that as long as you work for a corporation in this state you have those powers in the state, that’s extremely scary,” said Bynes. (KMOV)

I don’t see anything good coming from this, only bad. Hopefully I’m wrong.

— Steve Patterson


Sunday Poll: Support Commissioned Corporate Security Having Arrest Powers?

September 27, 2015 Featured, Missouri, Sunday Poll 3 Comments

Recently the Missouri legislature overrode the veto of 10 bills, allowing them to become law. One,  SCS HB 878, relates to corporate security:

Gives the Public Safety Department authority to commission corporate security advisors. It would deny licensed corporate security advisers arrest powers unless they are commissioned by the department. It grants immunity to the department from lawsuits for commissioning corporate security officers. Nixon’s veto letter argued that the bill would give private security officers police powers including the power of arrest and to search private property. (Neosho Daily News)

So what do you think about this new law?

The poll will close at 8pm, answers are randomized.

— Steve Patterson

Please vote below
Please vote above

Readers: Missouri Should Join States, Like Oregon, Allowing Physician-Assisted Suicide For The Terminally Ill

September 23, 2015 Missouri, Politics/Policy 1 Comment

In the last year the issue of physician-assisted suicide has been in news again, prompted by the following video by Brittany Maynard.

After moving from California to Oregon, she ended her life on November 1, 2014. Her husband returned to California and pushed for legislation, which passed earlier this month:

The California Senate approved a controversial bill Friday that would legalize physician-prescribed life-ending medication for terminally ill patients. The focus now moves to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has yet to indicate where he stands on the issue. (Time)

I’ve supported right-to-die since the issue came into the public arena in the late 90s with Jack Kevorkian. While I don’t understand religious objections, I get other reasons:

Disability rights advocates and oncologists opposed the legislation, saying it takes advantage of the poor and vulnerable. (San Jose Mercury News)

I can see how someone wouldn’t want to be a burden on their family, not a good reason to die. On the other hand, we don’t know the pain & suffering they endure. Who are we to tell them they must continue suffering rather than dying in a more dignified manner?

Here are the results from the Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree? Missouri should join states, like Oregon, allowing physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill.

  1. Strongly agree 20 [47.62%]
  2. Agree 11 [26.19%]
  3. Strongly disagree 6 [14.29%]
  4. Somewhat agree 3 [7.14%]
  5. TIE  1 [2.38%]
    1. Somewhat disagree
    2. Disagree
  6. TIE: 0 [0%]
    1. Neutral
    2. Unsure/No Answer

Those voting on the agree side accounted for over 80% of the votes in the non-scientific poll. Strong support, but I don’t see this getting anywhere in Missouri.

— Steve Patterson