By Heath Clarkston
COLE COUNTY FINALIZING STORMWATER ORDINANCE UPDATE
Over the past five years the Cole County Public Works Department has been working through the language on a proposed ordinance that would keep Cole County in compliance with the federal Clean Water Act regarding waste water, stormwater and other hazardous waste related issues from runoff from a property into our state’s streams, lakes and protected waters. This issue has been lurking for many years and must be established to remain in compliance with regulations governed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Recently, the Cole County Commission and Director of Public Works sought and received comments from throughout the county and presented the issue to the HBA Board. This issue has been presented before numerous groups including the HBA and appears ready for approval. With that stated, we expect the Cole County Commission to take final action on this ordinance in December.
The intent of the new ordinance as it relates to the HBA is for the management of construction site stormwater runoff. Regarding land development, the ordinance applies to activities that disturb more than 1 acre, or activities that are part of a larger common plan of development, and any activity that involves the construction or re-construction of an existing stormwater drainage facility.
As noted above, these changes are necessary to meet federal and state compliance for land development and will ultimately benefit our community in the years ahead with more planning and fewer water issues that are very common for our land topography. In the weeks ahead, we plan to highlight the changes that you may see that may have a direct impact on your future construction activities and would like to help assist all members in their effort to be compliant in the years ahead. We do not expect this ordinance to be too burdensome as the Department of Public Works is committed to assisting as much as needed.
MISSOURI LEGISLATIVE SESSION PRE-FILING BEGINS ON DECEMBER 1
On December 1st, the Missouri General Assembly will begin pre-filing legislation for the 2022 Legislative Session that will begin on January 5, 2022. Once pre-filing begins, our office will immediately begin reviewing all bills filed and will advise you of all issues of interest in the weeks ahead.
2022 LEGISLATIVE SESSION: DATES OF INTEREST (Tenative)
December 1, 2021 – Pre-filing of bills
January 5, 2022 – First Day of Legislative Session
January 17, 2022 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day (no session)
February 21, 2022 – President’s Day (no session)
March 7-11, 2022 – Senate Spring Break (no session in Senate)
March 14-18, 2022 – House Spring Break (no session in House)
April 17, 2022 – Easter
April 18, 2022 – Easter Break
May 13, 2022 – Last Day of Legislative Session
HOUSE BROADBAND COMMITTEE UPDATE
A Special Interim Committee met for its sixth monthly meeting on Monday, Nov. 22, in the state capitol to hear testimony on Broadband Development in Missouri. The hearing represented the final time for live comments by witnesses prior to the committee compiling and submitting its report to the state and to the General Assembly by the end of December. Committee chairman Louis Riggs (R-Hannibal) said he expects four or five legislative recommendations to emerge from the committee’s work.
Assistant Chief Engineer Eric Schroeter of the Missouri Department of Transportation testified about the department’s role in fiber optics installation on select routes in the state. Schroeter said MoDOT has installed and owns 1,300 miles of fiber optics cable in urban areas (approximately 1,100 miles in the St. Louis area) to connect traffic signals. And MoDOT allows public utilities to install cable at no cost in “six-foot utility corridors” in rights-of-way along Missouri interstates that have parallel outer roads.
Chris Chinn, Director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, and Tim Arbeiter, Director of Broadband Development for the Missouri Department of Economic Development, were the final two witnesses at the hearing. Chinn said only 42 percent of Missouri farmers have access to broadband, and the need for high-speed, affordable internet is vitally important to every farm and ranch in Missouri.
Arbeiter said the state has requested $400 million in ARPA funds for internet expansion, and the funding is expected to be in the state’s next budget, about 67 percent for access and increasing infrastructure; 28 percent for adoption and helping Missouri citizens to connect to the internet; and five percent for assistance and technical support.
If the spending authority is granted in the next budget, state agencies will be ready to go on July 1, 2022, for the first wave of ARPA funds for broadband to begin, Arbeiter said.
The federal infrastructure bill signed by President Biden on Nov. 15, includes $42.5 billion targeted to states for broadband, Arbeiter said. $100 million per state will be distributed, but the remaining funds will not be available until the FCC releases its new internet-coverage maps sometime in 2022.
Director Chinn said, “There will be 50 states competing for that money from the infrastructure legislation. We need to make sure we’re ready to go quickly when the money becomes available.”
HOUSE BUDGET SUBCOMMITTEE DISCUSS FEDERAL RESCUE PLAN FUNDS
A House committee investigating ways federal stimulus spending may occur in Missouri met Tuesday, Nov. 16, in Jefferson City. The six-member committee is chaired by Rep. Doug Richey, R-Excelsior Springs.
Early in the meeting, Rep. Richey commented, “This is not reflective of any administration. In my opinion the best way to view the ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) dollars are as a ‘line of credit.’ It is not that Missouri taxpayers’ dollars are coming back to Missouri. It is more like a line of credit to the extent that if we spend that line of credit, we are participating in deficit spending, federal debt. We need to steward these dollars effectively as this debt will have to be paid by future generations.”
Rep. Richey said projects that receive a “yes” will be those that are “worth the debt” and provide long-term benefits from a one-time fund since the funds are not recurring.
”If we can spend as few dollars as possible that would be wise and appropriate. I have confirmed with two individuals in Congress that there exists no mechanism in the ARPA legislation that redistributes unspent money to other states.” March 24, 2022, is a hard deadline for appropriations to be finalized, Rep. Richey said.
Persons testifying during the committee hearing included:
Zora Mulligan, Commissioner of the Department of Higher Education, who gave an overview of federal funds the department has handed out. Mulligan said she would be providing overall funding amounts as well as breakdowns by individual institutions.
Paul Wagner, Executive Director of the Council on Public Higher Education, who distributed handouts with capital improvement funding requests. Governor Parson asked that the requests have at least a 50 percent match from the institutions for ARPA funds. Rep. Richey said the list of projects had been approved by the institutions’ governing boards, but not by the committee nor the Governor’s office.
Ryan Rapp, Chief Financial Officer, University of Missouri System, provided an accounting of how the system has spent federal stimulus funding that it has received. Matching project requests of the four campuses include $50 million at Missouri S&T, Rolla; $115 million at the University of Missouri, Columbia; $50 million at the University of Missouri, Kansas City; and $50 million at the University of Missouri, St. Louis.
Margie Vandeven, Commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, who said DESE’s four areas of funding would focus on broadband expansion, teacher recruitment and retention, mental health, and learning acceleration, making sure students are “success ready” when they leave Missouri’s K-12 system.
DESE has a spending plan of $52.6 million if everything is implemented, using the funding in thoughtful and creative ways to recruit and retain teachers. Rep. Richey asked how can we be assured the funding would be effective. Vandeven said Missouri is falling significantly behind its eight adjoining states in teacher salary ranges.
Representatives from the Department of Natural Resources discussed ARPA and the newly passed federal infrastructure bill as they relate to drinking water, wastewater, and storm water funding, providing estimates for Missouri’s need for drinking water and wastewater needs at $20 billion. Drinking water accounts for $8.9 billion of that need.