As mentioned over the last few weeks, the Chair of the Policy Development Caucus, Representative Jeff Messenger, has been touring the state gathering feedback from Missourians about road funding options. As promised, this week I will discuss the final two funding options, motor vehicle and driver’s license fees and changes to the open container law, in the first section of this week’s report.
In other news, CenturyLink recently announced that they will be awarding over $1.4 million in technology grants in the spring of 2018. The CenturyLink Clarke M. Williams Foundation’s Teachers and Technology grants are designed to help fund projects that advance student success through the innovative use of technology in the classroom. Grants will range from $500 to $5,000. Full-time classroom teachers in public or private PreK-12 schools located in CenturyLink’s residential service areas and core corporate locations (St. Louis County, MO) may apply for a Teachers and Technology Grant for the 2017-18 school year. Applicants do not have to be CenturyLink customers in order to apply for these grants. Applications will be accepted from now until Jan. 12, 2018. For more info, visit: www.centurylink.com/teachersandtechnology
Most recently, the Missouri Department of Revenue has contacted the legislature to provide an update on the implementation of REAL ID. As you may remember, during the 2017 legislative session, the Missouri General Assembly approved legislation to allow residents to obtain a photo ID that is compliant with the federal REAL ID Act. With the legislation approved this year, the federal government granted an extension to allow Missourians to continue to use their existing IDs as a valid form of ID until Jan. 22, 2018. However, in regard to travel after that date, the Department of Homeland Security has yet to announce an extension. More on this in the second section of this week’s report.
Transportation Funding Options
This week, I’ll conclude the outline of options available for increased funding of transportation in Missouri. Unfortunately, increased funding means increased taxes and/or fees somewhere. Therefore, to receive your thoughts on the matter, some options are being publicly discussed to find these revenue sources. Again, I am not endorsing any particular option, but rather I present these to get your feedback.
One potential option being considered is to increase motor vehicle/driver’s license fees and alternative fuel decal fees. A flat increase in driver’s license fees to $30 would amount to more than $37 million in additional funding, while a flat increase to $30 for passenger car fees would yield more than $111 million in additional revenue. Another variation of this funding option is to peg an increase in 6-year driver’s license fees to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Using a CPI of 2.2% plus a $2.25 convenience fee would increase the current $20 driver’s license fee to $25.50. This increase would result in approximately $16 million in additional revenue.
The final option being considered would be to change Missouri’s current law regarding open containers. Currently, Missouri is not in compliance with federal law pertaining to the regulation of open containers in moving vehicles. As a result, Missouri is required to transfer millions of dollars in federal highway dollars to roadway safety programs and projects. In other words, the money cannot be spent on road work or structural repairs. In FY2017, $21.4 million was transferred to safety programs that could have been spent on roadway/bridge reconstruction, if Missouri complied with federal law. This could be accomplished by legislative action.
This segment concludes the summary of the 8 main transportation funding options currently being considered by the Policy Development Caucus. Please send your thoughts and/or proposals to: DEAN.DOHRMAN@HOUSE.MO.GOV . Your thoughts concerning this issue are very important to the future of our state. I am collecting your responses and will collate them as we end this discussion. Thank you for your participation!
REAL ID Update for Missourians Planning to Travel in 2018
For Missourians wanting to fly and those wishing to visit military bases and federal facilities in 2018, it’s important to know that Missouri continues to await word from the Department of Homeland Security for an extension of the existing grace period that lasts until January 22. During the 2017 legislative session, the Missouri General Assembly approved legislation to allow residents to obtain a photo ID that is compliant with the federal REAL ID Act. Because the current version of the Missouri driver’s license is not compliant, DHS announced in January of 2016 that Missourians would not be able to enter federal facilities and would not fly domestically beginning in 2018. With the legislation approved this year, the federal government granted an extension to allow Missourians to continue to use their existing IDs for these purposes.
Now, state officials are optimistic that the federal government will allow Missourians to continue utilizing their existing IDs for travel until the new compliant IDs are readily available. However, DHS has yet to make an announcement regarding a possible extension, and Missouri may not receive word from the department until the end of the month. For now, Missourians should know their existing driver licenses will work to fly and to visit military bases and federal facilities until Jan. 22, 2018. The hope is that DHS will extend that deadline until March 2019 so that Missourians will continue to be able to travel without issue until they are able to obtain the new REAL ID-compliant driver licenses. I will keep you informed on this matter.
It is an honor to serve the 51st District in the Missouri House of Representatives. Each week I will issue a capitol report to keep you informed of activities in Jefferson City. Any concerns or issues you might have are of great interest to me. I look forward to your input and thoughts, so please feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions, concerns, or ideas to improve our state government and the quality of life for all Missourians. My telephone number is 573-751-2204 or you may contact me by email at email@example.com. Thank you for working with me to make Missouri a great place to live.