“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” Albert Einstein
Two things necessary for attracting businesses and jobs to Missouri are infrastructure and a capable workforce. This week saw advances in both. Even though the week saw significant filibustering, there were notable advances. The Senate perfected Senate Bill 949 which requires school districts and charter schools to establish a reading success plan for students in kindergarten through third grade. The plan will be provided to a student who has a reading deficiency, is identified as being at risk for dyslexia or has a formal diagnosis of dyslexia. The student would then receive an individual reading success plan, and the student’s parent would be notified and involved. Any student not reading at grade level by the end of the second grade will receive intensive reading intervention. Summer reading camps, if necessary, will be provided to third grade students scoring at the lowest achievement level on the third grade statewide English language arts assessment.
The importance of reading cannot be overestimated. Individual success, societal success and business success are irrevokably linked to the skill of reading. The latest data I have (2013), shows 64 percent of Missouri eighth-graders reading below proficiency. Of students qualifying for free or reduced lunch, 73 percent were reading below proficiency. Senate Bill 949 was passed by the Senate with a vote of 33 to 0 and has been sent to the House of Representatives for their consideration.
An unrelated measure was given final approval in the Senate – the Uniform Small Wireless Facility Deployment Act (House Bill 1991). This session, economic development has remained one of the Senate’s priorities, and we are working to make Missouri a more attractive place to live, work, conduct business and invest. As technology continues to advance, it’s imperative Missouri stay competitive.
Current telecom and cable industry infrastructure rules do not incentivize economic growth. The next generation of wireless technology will deliver faster and more efficient service, with 5G service expected to be about 100 times faster than existing wireless connections. However, this technology needs tens of thousands of small towers. These “small cell” facilities are expected to be deployed statewide, but current rules and regulations impose costs that inhibit its success. House Bill 1991 addresses the challenges facing small cell infrastructure.
The measure allows wireless companies to place cell phone facilities (i.e. small radio equipment and small antennas) on existing poles in the right-of-way and place new poles for these facilities where the existing poles are not available. The measure balances the needs of municipalities to manage the right-of-way in their communities while ensuring they work with wireless carriers to deploy this vital new technology. Application fees can be collected for up to $100 per small wireless facility and up to $500 per pole for a new utility pole that will contain a small wireless facility. Municipality utilities are exempt from these regulations.
With revolutionary new technology coming down the pipe, it is important Missouri encourages this technology to be deployed in a cost-effective way without tax credits or subsidies. The bill is expected to create more than 20,000 jobs and attract $2 billion in capital investment leading to $4 billion in economic growth over the next few years. It will create a framework for the next generation of wireless technology. By passing HB 1991, we are helping to enable the deployment of 5G technology in our communities. This economic development bill is good for consumers, good for business and a good investment for the future of Missouri.
Thank you for reading this legislative report. You can contact my office at (573) 751-2108 if you have any questions. We welcome your prayers for the proper application of state government.