Archive for the ‘Missouri Politics’ Category

Highway Commission Chief Says I-70 Toll Road Will Not Solve MoDot Money Problems
December 15, 2014

The head of the Missouri Highway Commission, Stephen Milleer, says converting I-70 into a toll road may improve the interstate, but would not help the state’s other highways or the state’s tight highway budget.
“This is not going to be a solution for all of our transportation needs. I-70 is just one project,” said Miller.
Governor Jay Nixon has asked the Missouri Department of Transportation to report to him by the end of the month on the potential for a toll-road on the rural portion of the interstate, about 200 miles.
In 2012, MoDOT produced a white paper on the same topic. It was entitled ‘A Public Private Partnership to Rebuild and Expand I-70 in Missouri’.
That report stated that the state already has all the necessary environmental approvals; federal permission to rebuild I-70 as a toll road and it “frees up money spent today on I-70 that could be used on other critical projects”.
The report also estimates auto would be charged about 10-15 cents a mile. That would add $20 to the car trip from Kansas City to St. Louis, at 10-cents a mile.
The report also says the rates for trucks could be” two or three times that”
The total cost for a revamped I-70 as a toll road was estimated at $2-to-$4 billion dollars at that time.
Miller says MoDOT started looking at the possibility of an I-70 toll road after the defeat of Amendment 7 at the polls in August. That was a sales tax increase for transportation in Missouri. One of the projects was adding a third lane to I-70 each way across all of Missouri.
The head of the Heavy Constructors Association in Kansas City, Ed DeSoignie was a member of a citizens panel that looked at the Missouri road system for the state legislature.
DeSoignie says the state’s transportation fund is in a crisis after the sales tax defeat. He claims the MoDOT finances are facing “falling off the cliff”.
Miller says MoDOT current budget of $485 million provides for maintenance or the current system and no improvements. He also warns that without help, that fund drops to under $400 million in 18 months. Both Miller and DeSoignie thinks the state will have to look at some other ideas.
“Any of those options are going to require the public to fund it someway. Whether you call it a toll or a tax,” Miller said

Blunt, McCaskill & Hartzler Get New Committee Assignments
December 15, 2014

Missouri Republican senator Roy Blunt has been reappointed to the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to a statement from his office.
Blunt served on the same committee in 2011 and 201. He was also a member of the Permanent Select Committee on intelligence when he served in the House.
““I look forward to building on my experience working on these issues in the House and Senate. I also plan to stay fully engaged in the discussion surrounding the relocation of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and working to ensure that facility stays in Missouri,” Blunt said in a Statement.
Blunt has also served on the Senate’s Armed Services Committee.
With two major military bases in Missouri, the Army’s Ft. Leonard Wood and the Whiteman Air Force Base, military spending is important to the US economy.
Both Blunt and Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill have served on the Armed Services Committee together.
McCaskill today announced she would be the new ranking Democrat on the Senate’s Aging Committee. Democrats will be in the Senate minority for the next two years after the party losses in November.
Western Missouri Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler was appointed to lead the House Armed Services Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.
That panel will study and investigate problems of waste and abuse in the nation’s military.
” “I look forward to working with Chairman Thornberry as we work to make sure that our armed forces remain the best in the world,” Hartzler stated in a news release.

Ellington Wants to Dump Grand Juries
December 12, 2014

KC Star:
State Rep. Brandon Ellington said Thursday he wants to abolish grand juries in Missouri.

The Kansas City Democrat said he’d filed a bill to do so. If the General Assembly agrees, the proposed constitutional amendment would go on the November 2016 statewide ballot.

Ellington’s bill comes on the heels of a highly controversial grand jury decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

“Trust in the legal system requires an open and transparent process,” Ellington said. “Grand juries, by contrast, operate in secrecy and under the complete control of prosecutors, undermining public trust in the system.

“In light of the biased grand jury proceedings that took place in the Michael Brown case, Missourians should have the chance to consider whether the antiquated grand jury process still serves a legitimate purpose in our modern criminal justice system.”

Ellington noted that use of grand juries dates back centuries. They’re used to determine if the evidence is sufficient to proceed with prosecution.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/the-buzz/article4429137.html#storylink=cpy

Nixon Revives I-70 Toll Road Idea
December 10, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is reviving the potential for tolls on Interstate 70, asking state transportation officials to analyze the option as part of a plan to rebuild the cross-state highway.

Nixon sent a letter Tuesday to the state transportation commission requesting a report by the end of the year on the possibility of using tolls “to improve and expand I-70 and to free-up resources” for other roads and bridges.

Highway officials have said the heavily traveled interstate between St. Louis and Kansas City is in need of a complete makeover and have talked for years about widening it to six total lanes.

Voters in August defeated a proposed three-quarter-cent sales tax for transportation that would have helped finance a $1.5 billion rebuilding of I-70 along with hundreds of other projects. That led some state transportation officials to warn of a potential rise in traffic fatalities and bridge closures if Missouri is unable to pay for needed maintenance.

As recently as a few years ago, Missouri was spending $1.3 billion annually on roads and bridges due to a surge of bond-induced revenues. But contracts are projected to fall to $325 million by 2017 and remain at that level. The department has said it needs to spend at least $485 million annually just to keep roads and bridges in good repair – and that doesn’t account for any major new projects.

Blunt & Roberts-Former Intell Members-Blast Torture Report
December 9, 2014

Here is former Intelligence Committee member Roy Blunt’s remarks provides by Blunt’s office:

Former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts criticized. It, too.
Back in 2003, it was reported that Democrats asked Roberts to look into the methods of enhanced interrogation that were in use.
He did not.
Here are his remarks Tuesday:
“The release of this flawed and partisan study poses an immediate and direct threat to Americans overseas and those serving our nation in harm’s way. This is a liberal political exercise that serves no purpose and will damage the national security of the United States at a time when the threat of terrorism and terrorists groups, like ISIS, grow more dangerous by the day. The release of this dated study damages our efforts to fight terrorism and will cause those who serve in the Intelligence Community to become risk averse, shaking the faith these brave men and women have in their mission and in our government. I encourage Americans to read the Minority Views for a much more accurate assessment of the facts.”

Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill:

“This is a gut-check moment for our country-a test of whether we can hold to our values as a true and open democracy.

“One thing that separates America from most nations in the world is our ability and willingness to hold our government accountable. That’s what this report represents. And it is something that would never happen in countries such as North Korea, China, or Russia.

“The world knows that the United States engaged in torture. Engaging in such practices damaged our nation and tarnished our values. But failing to hold our government accountable would do permanent damage to those values and diminish even further our standing in the world.”

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