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Springfield, MO

Council approves 2018 legislative priorities

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Springfield City Council last night approved a resolution setting in place its 2018 legislative priorities.

Council documents identify five priorities: retaining local control, avoiding unfunded mandates and promoting public safety, economic vitality and fiscal sustainability.

“Each year, the city of Springfield adopts a legislative priority list,” City Manager Greg Burris told council members. “We do this so it will allow you as elected officials, us as staff, and also lobbyists or anyone else representing the city, to endorse the legislative priority when dealing with state legislature or even congressional legislature.”

The first two – retaining local control and avoiding unfunded mandates – Burris explained, have been part of council’s legislative priorities for years. It means the city opposes reducing or removing local authority and any bills that would result in a new net cost to the city or its residents.

The next three priorities include support for education and workforce development, public safety funding, seat belt requirements, public health funding, immunization funding, protection of Springfield’s natural environment, affordable housing, a statewide tobacco tax and Medicaid transformation.

Other priorities listed include capping the amount of interest charged for payday loans and car title companies that may prey on low-income residents, according to council documents, establishing a statewide prescription drug monitoring program and implementing a sales tax on internet sales. Burris earlier in the meeting reported November sales tax revenue came in below budget. It’s the third month of the fiscal year that came in below budget on sales taxes.

Council documents pointed to the average interest rate for payday loans in Missouri in 2014 — 451 percent, according to the state commissioner of finance’s report to the governor.

Faith Voices of Southwest Missouri Congregational Coordinator Susan Schmalzbauer spoke on behalf of the nonprofit in support of the priorities.

“We are heartened by the council’s unremitting support for predatory lending and meaningful ethics reform,” she said.

The resolution passed 8-1, with Councilwoman Kristi Fulnecky in opposition.

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