Columbia Chamber of Commerce announces legislative priorities

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COLUMBIA – The Columbia Chamber of Commerce unveiled its priorities for the 2016 state legislative session.

Priorities were not limited to clear-cut business issues; instead they ranged from administrative issues to education to transportation.

Jerry Dowell, director of government affairs for the chamber, said the chamber began developing these priorities in August.

“What we’re trying to do is be more proactive instead of reactive… kind of talking about the issues that are important to the Columbia business community and our membership. And trying to get those in front of the general assembly so they know what we’re advocating for,” said Dowell.

Several House representatives also spoke at the chamber’s reception on Thursday. Both republicans and democrats emphasized the importance of issues like restoring the highway system and continuing support for the University of Missouri in light of the negative publicity it received in November.

Rep. Kip Kendrick (D-Columbia) and Rep. Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) both said they wouldn’t change any of the chamber’s priorities for this session.

As published by the chamber, top priorities include:

  • Extend term limits to 16 years in either the House or Senate or 16 years total in the Missouri legislature.
  • Support the exploration of various funding options such as an increased motor fuel, dedicated general revenue and/or toll roads for new construction and the maintenance of the existing interstate system in order to strengthen Missouri’s transportation system and provide consistency in funding.
  • Rebuild and maintain interstate 70 to increase personal safety and grow business traffic.
  • Opposing all efforts to shift the cost of the uninsured to businesses, as well as health insurance mandates that undermine the ability of employers to provide competitive health insurance at an affordable cost.
  • Secure $10 million appropriation for FY 17 to expand education and training for the University of Missouri Research Reactor.
  • Support state funding requests for core operations as well as new and continuing initiatives to help ensure the University can carry out its mission. Requests include $434.5 million base appropriation and $12.8 million in additional core funding needs.
  • Support 50/50 public-private matching partnerships for capital improvement priorities and bonding for maintenance and repair projects. The University currently faces a $1.6 billion backlog of renovation and repair projects on all four campuses, and continued support of bonding revenues can provide resources for the most urgent needs.

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