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  • Writer's pictureAIM Team

DNR "no stricter than" bill receives initial Senate approval

Updated: Mar 26, 2021

March 25, 2021 - The Missouri Senate has given first-round approval to a bill that will ensure Missouri hazardous waste laws are no stricter than federal law. The bill also requires the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to "show their work" when issuing fines and penalties and ends the current procedure for raising permit fees, while allowing those fees to continue until they expire under current law.

Senate Bill 40, sponsored by Senator Eric Burlison, was debated Wednesday and received initial approval after receiving several amendments. Amendments added to the bill would eliminate motor vehicle emissions inspections in St. Charles County, Franklin County and Jefferson County; provide funding for a multipurpose water resource project in north central Missouri; and direct the Department of Natural Resources to acquire by purchase or gift the Antioch Cemetery in Clinton, Missouri, to be operated and maintained by the Division of State Parks within the Department. The Department would be responsible for making adequate provisions for the proper care, maintenance, and safekeeping of the property.

The cemetery has historical significance as the final resting place for many freed slaves. DNR would be required to allow burials to continue until all plots have been purchased. The Department would charge no more than $100 per burial to be credited to an "Antioch Cemetery Fund" and would not be liable for additional costs associated with such burials.

The bill also removes the authority for the DNR to use a stakeholder process to increase fees for the various environmental programs. However, the current expiration date of fees that were increased using the process would remain unchanged and would expire in 2024 under current law.

"The Missouri Department of Natural Resources needs to be responsive to the legislature like all other agencies," said AIM President/CEO Ray McCarty in public testimony. "Elected representatives of the people have control of most other agencies, except those that are supported by dedicated fees, such as MoDOT and the MDNR. These dedicated fees may not be used for anything else. The public loses the accountability that exists with other agencies that must rely on appropriations for funding their activities. This bill would restore the process used before the stakeholder process was initiated, meaning all fee increases would need to be passed by the legislature following open hearings, just like all other agencies. This will make the agency more accountable to elected representatives of the people and the public," said McCarty.

The bill should receive a final Senate vote next week, then be reported to the House for further consideration.



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