Local lawmakers prepare for legislative session

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COLUMBIA - Ahead of the upcoming legislative session on Wednesday, mid-Missouri lawmakers are sounding off on some of the major topics on the agenda for this year.

One major issue is the rules on redistricting as laid out by the Clean Missouri Act. Voters approved Clean Missouri in 2018, which provides that districts were drawn proportionally to the population and does not allow either party to have an unfair advantage.

Rep. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia, said that's how the law should be.

"The redistricting reform is a good non-partisan approach," he said. "It ends gerrymandering, and the attempts to to undo clean Missouri will be attempts to gerrymander again."

Rep. Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport, said those opposed to Clean Missouri don't want to undermine voters. However, he said voters may not have completely understood what they were voting for.

"I don't think one office should dictate how districts are drawn. I don't think that's appropriate," Basye said. "I believe that if we had that in front of the people, that and that by itself, I don't think the outcome would be the same."

Another issue from 2018 that will return to the legislative agenda this year is a fuel tax to fund road and bridge repairs. 2018's Proposition D proposed a 10 cent increase in fuel taxes but was turned down by voters.

Both Kendrick and Basye said they believe a fuel tax is a good solution. In order to make sure the new fuel tax bill passes, Basye said Missouri voters need to be able to understand the language better.

"I think if we can put a "clean language" proposal on the ballot, so people can understand that the the revenue from any tax increase is going to go strictly for roads and bridges, I would hope that it would pass," he said.

Another highly contested issue in the legislature this year is gun rights. Nearly 30 bills filed this year propose either a restriction or an expansion of gun rights in Missouri, from concealed carry, to storage and possession.

Both Basye and Kendrick said the state needs to look at solutions beyond gun control to end violence..

"There's not going to be one bill or two or three bills that are a solution to a major problem," Kendrick said. " I hope that we can take a look at this through increased funding for public safety."

The legislative session begins this Wednesday at noon.