Greetings, My Fellow Missourians

Each weekend while at home I read through all seven of the newspapers throughout District 125. I concentrate on the news of county commissions, cities and schools. One news item that I felt a need to respond to was from The Hermitage Index news article of the Hickory County Commission. It was about a grant application to seek funding to enact a 911 system for Hickory County. Monday morning, on my way to the Capitol, I stopped by the Hickory County Courthouse and briefly visited with presiding Commissioner Keith Mertz. I shared the 2018 legislation on funding 911 systems that was adopted into Missouri Statute. This new law had made quality emergency 911 services more readily available to all Missourians. It provides a method to increase efficiency, improve levels of technology, and provide enhanced 911 mapping and service to areas of the state that do not currently have it. It also gives counties additional options for funding their local 911 services, and gives local voters more freedom to approve the funding method that works best for their county. Counties can also join with other counties to create a district or regional co-op.

The heart of the issue is that most 911 services in Missouri are paid for by charges on landline phones. The amount of money each county receives to support local 911 has diminished because fewer and fewer people utilize landline phones. However, efforts to charge the increasing number of cell phone users has often met with too much resistance to pass. For years, Missouri has been the only state that doesn’t have a statewide 911 funding mechanism.

The funding mechanism in §190.460 allows Missouri to have 911 services statewide, including the counties that have no service at all. The law also allows counties to upgrade their equipment. The updated technology would allow emergency responders to do things like locate cell phones when a caller can’t give his or her location, receive texts, and other upgrades and functions that many counties haven’t been able to afford.

The new law allows counties and certain municipalities in Missouri to seek voter approval for a fee of up to $1 on any device that can contact 911. Areas adopting this new funding source would replace their current 911 funding source.  They would not be allowed to keep both. The law also creates a 3-percent charge on the purchase of prepaid phones to go toward 911 funding. A portion of that money would go to 911 services in the county the phone was purchased in, with the remainder of that amount going to a statewide fund to support and improve 911.

State Statute 190.455:

On Wednesday, during Cowboys at the Capitol I was able to visit with cattlemen from Regions 1 and 2. I always enjoy hosting these men and women while they promote their cause to the legislators.

Bill to Combat Drug Trafficking Headed to the Senate (HB 1450)

Another bill the Missouri House sent to the Senate this week would increase penalties for trafficking a dangerous drug, the use of which can easily result in overdoses.

The House voted to make it a class-B felony to knowingly distribute, make, or attempt to distribute or make, more than 10 milligrams of fentanyl or its derivatives. This would carry a penalty of five to 15 years in prison. Making or distributing 20 or more milligrams would be a class-A felony, carrying a sentence of 10 to 30 years in prison.

Law enforcement advocates have told lawmakers that fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It is being trafficked frequently in Missouri – particularly illegally made – and is often mixed with other drugs like heroin or cocaine, often resulting very easily in overdose deaths.

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.