State moves in different direction than Columbia on recent bills

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COLUMBIA - As the legislative session continues, a growing number of bills appear to go against different proposals the Columbia City Council votes on or discusses.

Bills that have gained attention in the past few weeks center on plastic bags, "Ban the Box" ordinances in Missouri cities and the ride-sharing service Uber.

All three are issues the city of Columbia discussed prior to the introduction of those bills at the state level.

"I want to retain the rights of cities to be able to have a community discussion and legislate on those issues," Fifth Ward Columbia City Councilwoman Laura Nauser said.

In March, State Representative Dan Shaul told KOMU 8 News said his proposal to prevent plastic bag bans was not directly in response to Columbia's recent debate on a plastic bag ban that ended up failing.

Shaul's bill does not specifically point out Columbia, but it still follows months of debate at the city level.

In mid-March, Nauser and fellow Columbia City Councilmember Michael Trapp held a news conference discussing their opposition to a recent bill that would prevent other Missouri towns and cities from passing ordinances similar to "Ban the Box."

"Ban the Box" is an ordinance the city council approved in late 2014 that would prevent Columbia employers from asking about an applicant's criminal history during the application process.

"I really try to stay out of state issues and focus on our own issues of governance, but the actions of the state have really impacted our local municipality," Trapp said.

State Representative Caleb Rowden sees the situation differently.

"I believe it is currently lawful for the conversation to happen at the state level, and I think that's where it should happen," Rowden said.

Overall, Nauser said she thinks the state legislature should focus on other issues as the legislative session continues.