News from the Missourinet(Four Stories)

New law to strip drivers of licenses for striking a road worker in construction zones

Gov. Mike Parson has signed a bill into law that puts the brakes on drivers who strike a highway worker within a designated work zone. The wide-ranging transportation measure has a provision ordering the Missouri Department of Revenue to revoke the driver’s license of anyone whose “negligent actions or omissions” caused him or her to crash into a worker in a construction zone.

The new law, which takes effect August 28, also increases some user fees and creates more than a dozen new highway designations.

It is named after Lyndon Ebker, a MoDOT employee who was struck and killed by a distracted driver in Franklin County in 2016. Ebker, who was flagging drivers, flew 41 feet before coming to a rest. The bridge along Highway 100, where Ebker lost his life, holds his name to honor him.

After being a MODOT worker for 33 years, Ebker, 55, had switched to working part-time when the crash happened.

The driver, now 83 years old, was not thrown in jail. More than two years after the crash, Norman Haimila had his license stripped for life. He pleaded guilty last November in Franklin County to aggravated endangerment of a highway worker and has been fined $10,000.

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Missouri man takes flooding concerns to Capitol Hill

A U.S. House subcommittee heard testimony this week about river flooding. Tom Waters, Chairman of the Missouri Levee and Drainage District Association, said the flooding is far from over and he wants federal officials to act quickly to get levees repaired.

This is the aerial view of flooding in northwest Missouri taken on March 21, 2019 (photo courtesy of Governor Mike Parson Twitter page)

“We know it’s going to be high – above flood stage – probably through the rest of this summer, fall and into winter. With over 100 levees breached along the Missouri River, flooding is going to continue to be a problem. It’s going to take a long time to recover these levees,” he said.

Waters, a seventh-generation farmer, said the failed experiments must end.

“This was once a highly-engineered system, but over the past 20 years, it’s been used to conduct supersized science experiments for two birds and a fish. These experiments have decimated the flood control system,” he said. “We’ve reached a tipping point and we can no longer continue to conduct failed experiment after failed experiment at the expense of people’s lives and livelihoods. I said lives because people have died.”

Waters thinks the federal government will take several years to rebuild the levees.

Northern Missouri Congressman Sam Graves, whose district cover the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, has been a vocal critic of the federal government’s flood management policies. During this week’s hearing, that was no different.

Congressman Sam Graves

“In 2011, we thought that we had learned our lesson from a historic Missouri River flooding incident. Once again, here we are eight years later and we find ourselves in even worse shape,” said Graves. “From Gavin’s Point dam to the mouth of the Missouri River, we are slated to spend only $13 million on annual levee maintenance. At the same time, we are slated to spend $30.7 million on wildlife reclamation and habitat creation in that same stretch of river.”

Graves, a Republican, said some grounds in his district have been underwater for nearly four months. He said virtually every levee from Iowa to Kansas City overtopped or breached in March, and again in May and June.

“When farmland is flooded for that long, it can be completely covered in sand and in sentiment. What that does it render it unusable for many years,” he said.

Graves thinks the overall costs of this year’s floods will be several billion dollars.

He has released a flood recovery resource guide with information to assist those who are trying to rebuild.

This week, President Donald Trump declared a major federal disaster in 20 Missouri counties damaged by flooding and severe weather since the spring. Federal assistance will be available for individuals with things like temporary housing, repairs, and replacement of household items.

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Missouri’s in-home day cares will have new capacity restrictions

Nathan Blecha

Gov. Mike Parson has signed into law restrictions involving how many kids can be watched at in-home day cares. The businesses will be limited to overseeing six kids with no more than three of them under the age of 2. A loophole previously allowed in-home day cares to supervise four kids, but an unlimited number of relatives.

Under House Bill 397, a wide-ranging child protection legislation, violators face a misdemeanor and fines. The provision was championed for ten years by State Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur.

The bill – called “Nathan’s Law” – is named after Nathan Blecha, an eastern Missouri boy who died from suffocation in 2007 at a Jefferson County in-home day care serving 10 children.

The new law takes effect August 28.

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Missouri loosens vehicle inspection requirements

A new law taking effect on August 28 will change the state’s vehicle inspection rules. On Wednesday, Gov. Mike Parson signed Senate Bill 89 into law, a wide-ranging bill including a provision that will require inspections for vehicles more than 10 years old or with more than 150,000 miles. They’re necessary in order to renew a motor vehicle license.

Missouri ranks last in national safety report

The old law required every other year inspections for vehicles more than 5 years old.

Vehicle maintenance workers are to check a vehicle’s braking, steering and exhaust systems. Lights, turn signals, wipers, seat belts, tires and the horn are also checked.

A nonpartisan fiscal analysis shows fewer inspections will result in up to $500,000 drop in money being deposited into the state’s highway fund. The review also found that the new regulations will account for about 1.1 million vehicles no longer requiring an inspection – more than one-fifth of Missouri’s 5.1 million registered vehicles.

State Representative J. Eggleston, R-Maysville, who sponsored the original version of the bill, says Missouri is one of 15 states requiring the inspections for non-commercial vehicles. According to Eggleston, the inspection costs $12. The car maintenance shop gets $10.50. The state gets $1.50 for its inspection and road funds.

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