JEFFERSON CITY - A House committee voted Tuesday, May 7, to create a temporary fund to help Joplin repair streets, bridges, and roads destroyed by the 2011 tornado catastrophe.
Rep. Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, presented the bill to the House committee on Tuesday in place of the bill's sponsor, Sen. John Lamping, R-St. Louis County. Flanigan said the bill was put together specifically to help with areas in Joplin.
Rep. Lynn Morris, R-Nixa, thanked Flanigan for presenting the bill and said the additional money this would give Joplin was needed.
"Although we've made progress in Joplin, it's still nowhere near what it used to be," Morris said.
The House Economic Development Committee voted 22-0 to pass the bill, which would create a temporary "Rebuild Damaged Infrastructure Program" that would expire on June 30, 2014.
The program would provide money to Missouri areas that have been declared a natural disaster by the U.S. president. The money from the program would only be used to repair infrastructure needs such as streets and roads that were damaged from that particular natural disaster.
The temporary rebuild program would be funded using money from other, nonrelated funds, such as the Lewis and Clark Discovery Fund and the Missouri Health and Educational Facilities Authority Act. Total funding would amount to about $14 million for natural disaster areas in Missouri. The money from the current funds would be transferred to the newly created rebuild program on July 1 if the bill is approved in the current session.
On a Sunday afternoon two years ago, Joplin was hit with a tornado moving 200 mph. The tornado resulted in 158 deaths and over 1,000 injured people according to the National Weather Service. The tornado is ranked as the seventh deadliest in U.S. history.
Joplin City Attorney Brian Head said the city has miles of streets that were destroyed by the tornado. Head said this fund will help to replace a lot of infrastructure throughout Joplin that was damaged by the 2011 tornado. Head said one of the primary areas in need of repair is the 20th Street corridor in the southern part of the city.
"It's a tremendous boost," Head said, referencing if the city received the money.
Testifying before the committee Tuesday, Gary Burton, a lobbyist for Joplin, thanked the state of Missouri and volunteers that have helped repair Joplin.
"There's a lot of stuff to still be done, but we'll get there," Burton said.
The bill, which the state Senate passed last month, now moves to the House. If the House passes the bill without changes, it will go to the governor.