Staff members from four area U.S. Congressional offices – Sen. Roy Blunt, Sen. Claire McCaskill, Eighth District Rep. Jo Ann Emerson and Third District Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer – attended the Jan. 10 meeting of the Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) board to share ideas and insights with board members.
The legislative staff members and MRPC board talked about a number of issues including the fiscal cliff deal, gun control, funding for mental health, sequestration, unfunded mandates and implementing an Internet sales tax.
Many of the discussion items, like the Internet sales tax, are part of MRPC’s priority list for federal legislators. This list contains 21 issues MRPC would like to be addressed by Congress.
Other issues noted on the MRPC federal legislative priorities list include funding the Federal Highway Trust, providing more assistance for public infrastructure, concerns with the Affordable Healthcare Act, continuing to work toward energy independence, ensuring rural regions receive equitable access to homeland security and emergency preparedness programs and supporting technical training for the workforce.
“I really enjoyed getting to talk with the staff of the representatives and the senators, and I look forward to talking to their bosses one-on-one,” MRPC Chairman Gary Brown said at the close of the discussion.
That one-on-one visit will come in March when Brown visits local federal legislators in Washington D.C. with MRPC. While there, Brown and other MRPC representatives will present the legislators with the organization’s legislative priority list and discuss the items on it.
The list was compiled through a survey of MRPC board members and the final version was approved during the Jan. 10 MRPC board meeting.
In other business, the MRPC board:
• Welcomed 10 new board members including newly appointed Gasconade County Presiding Commissioner Nicholas Baxter, eight new members representing the for-profit sector and one new member representing health care.
• Approved a revised budget that decreased revenues by $51,296 and expenses by $42.026, anticipating an $8,664 surplus at the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2013.