After our legislative spring break, my colleagues and I returned to the State Capitol last week refreshed and ready to finish the legislative session strong. I was happy to meet with constituents during that break and hear their concerns and thoughts about the challenges facing our community. Last week, my colleagues and I passed several bills, and I would like to highlight two of those proposals during this legislative column.
Senate Bill 108 would help municipalities expand broadband internet access in their communities. The legislation allows two or more municipalities to form a broadband infrastructure improvement district to deliver broadband internet service to the residents of those municipalities. These new districts would then partner with a telecommunications company or broadband internet service provider to construct or improve existing telecommunications facilities.
Working on expanding broadband internet access has been discussed for several years in the Legislature, but I believe this past year has shown us we cannot waste any more time. Internet access is a necessity in 2021, not a luxury. After schools closed last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our kids were sent home and asked to learn through a computer screen. Many Missouri families did not have reliable access to the internet, and therefore, their child’s education suffered. Missourians deserve reliable, equitable access to internet service, and I believe this legislation is a step toward achieving that goal.
Senate Bill 119 creates the offense of call spoofing, which occurs when an individual calls you from a number you may recognize, such as a local number, but the phone number has been fraudulently used to obscure the caller’s identity. The offense of call spoofing is classified as a class E felony under this act, and the attorney general may initiate legal proceedings on behalf of call recipients if needed.
This legislation may seem like a small fix, but it is a huge problem. I think many people today are hesitant to answer phone numbers they do not recognize due to the increased number of scam calls, and that is what makes call spoofing so tricky. It may look like your doctor’s office is calling you, but it could be a scammer using their number fraudulently. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has provided tips to avoid call spoofing on their website at fcc.gov/spoofing.
Last, but not least, I want to congratulate the Boonville High School Lady Pirates basketball team for winning the Class 4 State Championship. I was proud to host the team and their coaches in the State Capitol on Tuesday, March 23, and present them with a resolution commemorating this incredible achievement. This team has excelled on the court, but they are an even more impressive group off it. Congratulations on making our community proud.