Rep. Peggy McGaugh (R-39)

JEFFERSON CITY (KMZU) — State legislators will be sworn at noon on January 6 in to begin the 2021 legislative session. 39th District Representative Peggy McGaugh, R-Carrollton, talked with KMZU about some of her legislative priorities.

McGaugh, who represents Ray, Carroll and Chariton counties, is sponsoring House Bill 372 – backed the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office – that cuts through the paper backlog of voter registrations at the DMV by making the process electronic. The bill allows voter registration forms to be sent to election authorities electronically — which is currently not allowed — and within a 3-day period. McGaugh explains the importance.

Not surprisingly, the pandemic is impacting state revenue, McGaugh says, who serves on the House Budget Committee. However, she wants to fulfill the governor’s request to repay county jails that house state inmates.

The state is in debt to counties for prisoner compensation by almost $31 million dollars – for services over the past 4 to 5 years. McGaugh calls State Auditor Nicole Galloway’s recent audit of jail reimbursements as “spot on.”

The state provides $22.58 a day per inmate, but actual costs are closer to $49 daily, meaning counties are bearing most of the financial brunt of housing inmates. The audit found counties subsidized around $41 million in 2020.

Modest gas tax to be considered

Missouri’s fuel tax – the second lowest in the nation behind Alaska – is not keeping up with maintenance and improvements to the state’s roadways. The 39th District representative says bad roads is one of the biggest complaints she receives. A bill by Sen. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, may place a fuel tax increase in front of the voters later this year.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Springfield, told KMZU last fall state legislators had to do their part to help improve Missouri’s infrastructure. For the past 3 years, Republican leadership has resisted a tax increase, but now appears to be more receptive.

Urban versus rural counties

The GOP still holds a supermajority in both the house and senate; however, it’s not “slam duck” as one might expect in getting work done.

Some of the friction is between urban and rural priorities, she says.

Legislators and new leadership in the Missouri statehouse will be sworn in at noon January 6. McGaugh has been asked to do the honor of seconding the nomination of Speaker-elect Rob  Vescovo, R-Arnold, the first speaker from the eastern side of the state. She says she’s optimistic about House’s new leadership.

The ceremony will air live and can be viewed on house.mo.gov.