OPINION

Rep. Don Mayhew: Capitol Update, COVID Recovery Funds

Don Mayhew

Missouri should receive a little more than a Billion dollars in stimulus from the most recent federal COVID recovery funds. These funds are unrestricted which means that we can use them for any purpose. However, we should be wise and judicious with this one-time money. 

It would not be prudent, for instance, to use it to establish new government jobs or programs that require an on-going commitment from General Revenue. It would be a good fit for those things that we would normally borrow money for such as capital improvement projects or for equipment purchases. 

It is borrowed money that our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren with have to pay back. Therefore whatever we decide to use it for, our hope is that it will result in those things that will benefit future generations also. Speaker Rob Vescovo and Budget Chair Cody Smith honored me with an appointment to the Budget sub-committee to prioritize the dissemination of those stimulus funds. 

I think that a good portion of those funds should be spent in areas most economically impacted by COVID. That is our rural and out-state areas of the State, where small communities have severe infrastructure needs that have been put on the backburner for quite a while. Small communities have been saddled with numerous unfunded mandates from EPA that will result in extreme increases in water and sewer rates. 

Our county bridges have been ignored due to the unavailability of funding. The Off-System Bridge Program that is administered by MODOT is a joke and that is the kindest words I can use for it. The small rural communities and our medium sized out state cities have been patient long enough. This funding provides a rare opportunity to help our beleaguered rural cities and counties address some of these pressing issues.

I will advocate for this assistance to be prioritized to those areas that cannot afford high paid lobbyist and special interest groups to prepare slick reports and graphics. I also intend to make sure that our medium sized Cities like Rolla, that have plans ready to go for projects that will bring high paying jobs to our area, get a fair shot at these funds.

We approved legislation that protects Missourians against Federal Government overreach by establishing the Joint Committee on Federal Government Oversight. The committee would be made up of five state representatives and five state senators, and would review any executive orders issued by the President of the United States. 

It would then make recommendations to the Attorney General and the Governor whether further examination is needed to determine the constitutionality of the executive orders, or whether the state should seek an exemption from the order. Congress is broken and the executive branch has been creating law by fiat instead of Congress creating law and the President executing that law, as intended by the framers of the U.S. Constitution. This bill makes it so Missourians do not have to take these pen stroke laws masquerading as executive orders lying down.

We also advanced legislation that will enhance our ability to combat cyberattacks by establishing the Missouri Cybersecurity Commission. The commission would consist of eight members appointed by the Governor with additional input from the Highway Patrol, National Guard, and the State Emergency Management Agency. It is a sign of the times that there are nefarious people out there who wish to do harm by hacking into state systems to steal identities and cause havoc on our state’s data systems. The commission would offer a layer of protection that will help keep our data secure.

If I can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office at 573.751.3834 and/or via email don.mayhew@house.mo.gov.

Don Mayhew, a Republican, represents parts of Phelps, Pulaski and Crawford counties in the Missouri House of Representatives.