Jan 25

Toll Roads or Higher Taxes? What’s The Plan For Missouri’s Highways?

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – The Missouri Department of Transportation has been sounding the alarm for years: the money coming in will soon not keep up with the cost of maintaining our 33,000+ miles of highways.

While the tax on gasoline has not gone down, the amount of fuel we buy generally has because cars are more fuel efficient than in years past. That means we’re driving the same amount of miles but are paying fewer taxes to fund the roads’ upkeep.MWSnap051

MODoT Engineer Greg Horn explains why many of our state’s highways will likely start crumbling soon on this week’s “Missouri Viewpoints”. Basically, much of the highway work in recent years has been surface repairs on old highways. Highways are typically expected to last 50 years and many of ours are near, at or even beyond that. Surface repairs don’t address the foundation issues and are more of a band aid on highways.

The Show Me Institute’s Joe Miller, a policy analyst, says the situation is a very serious issue and additional funding is needed.

Even though few people want to pay more, he says taking a user fee approach – like increasing the tax on gasoline and/or the use of toll roads on highways – should at least be part of the discussion.

MODoT has already completed a study on the feasibility of using toll roads. The agency doesn’t have an official position on which approach the state should take but is saying more revenue will be needed within the next few years to maintain the highways and bridges we have now. That’s before there’s any chance to expand existing highways or build new ones.MWSnap052

Without the extra funds, Horn says some bridges couple be closed as safety precautions and speed limits could be reduced in some areas as well. That’s in addition to the department likely prioritizing which highways will be repaired with whatever funds are available and which may be allowed to deteriorate.

Miller says those who use the highways directly should be the ones paying for them.

What do you think? Should we consider higher taxes for drivers and/or toll roads? Let us know what you think on the Missouri Viewpoints Facebook page.

On the web:

Missouri Department of Transportation – www.MODOT.org

Show Me Institute – www.ShowMeInstitute.org

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/toll-roads-or-higher-taxes-whats-the-plan-for-missouris-highways/

Jan 18

Human Trafficking: Destroying Lives In Missouri

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – Slavery ended in America after the Civil War, right?

Wrong. It just has a different form in 2015. We can use a more polite term like “human trafficking” or “forced labor” but we can also call the exploitation what it is: modern day slavery.

It’s happening in Missouri right now. In this week’s “Missouri Viewpoints”, Nanette Ward from the Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition explains that it takes many forms. While prostitution is one of the best known ways people are exploited and abused through human trafficking, forced labor is another.MWSnap045

You may have come into contact with a victim right here in the Show Me State.

It could be someone working at a nail salon, at a construction site, in a restaurant, in motels or doing custodial work. While thousands of Missourians do these jobs voluntarily, legally and for full pay, sometimes others are doing them because they or their families are threatened by traffickers.

Christine McDonald tells her story on this week’s program. She survived over 17 years of being trafficked for forced labor and prostitution. She was a 15 year old runaway from a dysfunctional home when she entered the world of human trafficking. She explains how she walked into that life, how she sat at the table when she was literally sold to another person, the horrors she was put through and why it’s so difficult to leave once you are ensnared.

McDonald now uses her experience, her story and her faith to help others escape the world of human trafficking. She recounts her experience and why she says there is hope for every victim in her book “Cry Purple”.MWSnap046

McDonald is currently transitioning into the role of Program Director for Restoration House of Greater Kansas City, which helps women escape lives of sex trafficking. The organization takes an encompassing approach to allowing women to heal from the trauma and the related damage of being a victim of trafficking. That often includes substance abuse, medical needs and mental health needs.MWSnap047

McDonald has also had an impact on the lives of sex trafficking victims through her work with Magdalene St. Louis.

January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

On the web:

Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition – StopHumanTraffickingMO.com

Christine McDonald – CryPurple.com

Restoration House of Greater Kansas City – http://restorationhousekc.daretocreo.com/

Magdalene St. Louis – http://www.magdalenestl.org/

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/human-trafficking-destroying-lives-in-missouri/

Jan 11

Business And Labor: Two Views On The 2015 Missouri Legislative Session

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – When it comes to jobs and your paycheck, what happens in the State Capitol could impact you. Business groups and organized labor are already hard at work trying to influence lawmakers in the Legislative Session that is just days underway.MWSnap043

Associated Industries of Missouri President Ray McCarty wants state lawmakers to work on ways to push back against Washington DC lawmakers and bureaucracies, especially when it comes to new ozone and carbon emissions regulations that he believes will harm Missouri’s economy. Among his concerns is that new regulations will increase the cost of power and regulations that could limit the ability of business to expand in certain areas if emissions are deemed too high regionally.

Another proposal that’s likely to make headlines this year isn’t new but may have new life because of an increased number of Republicans in both legislative chambers. McCarty sees that as an opportunity to pass a so-called “Right To Work” law, which would outlaw the practice of requiring union membership for employment.MWSnap044

Joe Mueller is a business agent with the AFL-CIO affiliated Painters and Tapers Union. He says it’s obvious that organized labor has an uphill battle in this year’s political environment but says that won’t stop unions and union supporters from continuing to fight the idea.

To keep a “Right To Work” law off the books, organized labor will have to gain the support of several Republicans. The GOP has a larger veto-proof majority in 2015 than they had in 2014, when Republicans overrode a record number of vetoes. Still, the idea has been proposed in previous years but Missouri is still not a “Right To Work” state.

McCarty and other supporters of “Right To Work” laws say it’s about employer and employee choice and would help the state by attracting more businesses. Mueller and other opponents of the idea say it’s union busting and would harm the state’s economy by reducing take-home pay for workers.

On the web:

Associated Industries of Missouri: www.AIMO.com

Painters and Tapers Union – Missouri: http://www.iupat.org/pages/about/contact-us/MO

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/business-and-labor-two-views-on-the-2015-missouri-legislative-session/

Jan 04

Back To Work In Jefferson City: A Look At The 2015 Legislative Session

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – The 2015 Missouri Legislative Session is just days away and, in some ways, the issues will sound familiar because they’ve been debated before.

In other ways, there will be new debates.

Among the issues making a return to the attention of lawmakers is the push to expand Medicaid in the state. The Missouri Budget Project’s Jay Hardenbrook says he hopes to see a compromise bill passed after the idea has been rejected in past Legislative Sessions.MWSnap040

That plan involved the federal government picking up the tab for expansion for three years and then covering most of the cost after that. Republican leaders have already indicated the proposal is unlikely to pass this year.

State Rep. Paul Curtman (R) is among those who are not in favor of expansion but says more of those who need some kind of help could get it through increased efforts to root out fraud and waste. To him, it’s a matter of not expanding government reach into healthcare.

Tax policy and transportation/infrastructure funding are among the issues discussed on “Missouri Viewpoints” this week – before they are discussed in the state Capitol.

On the web:

Missouri Budget Project: www.MOBudget.org

Rep. Paul Curtman: www.paulcurtman.com/

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/back-to-work-in-jefferson-city-a-look-at-the-2015-legislative-session/

Dec 28

Focus On Veterans In Missouri 2014

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – They serve our nation even at the risk to their own lives.

Many veterans of the armed forces continue to serve after their active duty ends through organizations like the American Legion. In Missouri, the Legion is active throughout the state providing services to veterans, their families and through service to local communities through sports and youth programs.MWSnap038

This week, John Buckwalter from the American Legion’s Department of Missouri branch explains what the organization does, the impact they have and why it’s important to the entire state. Buckwalter is the Zone 1 Vice Commander.

Also, too often, those returning from active duty find readjusting to civilian life harder than expected. Homelessness among veterans happens throughout the state. In Columbia, there’s an effort to find homeless vets, get them back on their feet and help them build a productive life after hanging up the uniform.

Ross Bridges, a Marine Corps veteran, is the Board President of Welcome Home, Inc. which is making a difference in the lives of many veterans each year.MWSnap039

He explains the emotional challenges some veterans face, why their program works, why it’s important to support veterans after active duty and why the entire state benefits from helping veterans in need. The Veterans United Foundation provides a special video report on this effort as well.

On the web:

American Legion in Missouri: http://www.missourilegion.org/

Welcome Home, Inc.: http://welcomehomelessveterans.org/

Veterans United Foundation: http://www.veteransunited.com/about/foundation/

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/focus-on-veterans-in-missouri-2014/

Dec 21

Ferguson, Protests, Race and the Big Question: Where Does Missouri Go From Here?

* note: this program was recorded prior to the tragic shooting deaths of two New York City Police officers on December 20th.

By Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – To some, it’s a demand for justice and anger in response to both racism and a corrupt judicial system. To others, it’s senseless violence, anarchy and a show of support for criminals who fought with police and lost their lives as a result.

Regardless of the perspective one has toward the recent events following the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice, the impact of the divides within our culture and state impact everyone.MWSnap036

This week, On Point! Communications President Patricia Washington, who is also the Communications Director for the Office of the St. Louis County Executive and Move On Up founder Christopher Arps offer differing perspectives on the protest tactics and what needs to be done to bring peace, healing and public safety to a better level.

While Washington isn’t officially speaking for the County Executive’s Office during this interview, she says critics of the protests should work harder to understand the emotions and the reasons for choosing tactics that disrupt the lives of others by forcing temporary closures of shopping malls, highways and even government buildings.

MWSnap037

She also takes issue with the way the media has – and continues to – portray the Ferguson community and related protests.

Arps disagrees with Washington when it comes to the protest tactics being used. He also believes healing, culturally and personally for those involved, cannot rely only on governmental changes. He discusses a faith-based effort that’s in the organizing stage right now that he hopes will do what political and legal conflicts cannot.

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/ferguson-protests-race-and-the-big-question-where-does-missouri-go-from-here/

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