Missouri primary seat belt legislation and a proposed ban on texting while driving have the strong support of Kansas City Mayor Sly James (D), who’s president of the bipartisan “Missouri Mayors United for Progress.”
“And regardless of whether or not somebody feels like it’s an interference with their freedom, they won’t feel that way if it saves them from dying,” James says.
Missouri House Transportation Committee chairman Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho, has filed a primary seat belt bill, which would allow police officers to enforce the law as a stand-alone offense.
The Neosho Republican’s bill has not been referred to committee, and has not received a hearing.
58 Missouri cities and counties have adopted primary seat belt ordinances.
James was recently in Jefferson City for a “Missouri Mayors United for Progress” meeting, where he addressed the Capitol Press Corps during a news conference.
James spoke to Missourinet after the press conference to discuss several key issues, ranging from seat belts to Kansas City International Airport (KCI) to Harley-Davidson’s scheduled closing.
James hopes to see a groundbreaking ceremony for the massive KCI project this fall. He notes the Kansas City Council approved a memorandum of understanding in February.
“Now that we’ve got the MOU done I think we’re heading towards trying to make our date of November 2021 to open up a brand-new single terminal in Kansas City and invite the entire world into Kansas City,” says James.
Kansas City voters approved a November ballot measure for a new KCI terminal. The plan calls for the $1 billion project to be paid for by airlines and user fees.
Kansas City’s website notes KCI is serviced by 14 airlines that fly to about 70 nonstop destinations daily.
KCI, which opened in 1972, was originally known as Mid-Continent International Airport.
Meantime, the aging Buck O’Neil bridge over the Missouri River in Kansas City needs to be replaced, according to Mayor James.
He says closing the bridge for two years would have a big impact on downtown Kansas City business activity.
“Fortunately MoDOT (the Missouri Department of Transportation) is stepping up and they’re going to add more money to the pot, $100 million,” James says. “And the city along with cities around the metro are going to contribute as well.”
The Buck O’Neil bridge was built in 1956, and James tells Missourinet 44,000 vehicles use the bridge daily.
The “Kansas City Star” reports MoDOT and city officials have agreed to a $6 million repair for now, to address the bridge’s most urgent problems.
James also addressed the scheduled closing of Harley-Davidson’s Kansas City assembly plant.
He says Harley-Davidson’s decision was a corporate one, based on sales. James also says city leaders were told after the announcement that there was nothing they could have done to prevent the closing.
“But the good news is that Kansas City is moving forward, we’re creating jobs and we’ll work hard to make sure that the people who are no longer going to be employed there have other options,” says James. “That’s what we’re going to do.”
James tells Missourinet about 400 employees will be impacted by next year’s scheduled closing.
Missouri Senators Claire McCaskill (D) and Roy Blunt (R), along with Missouri Congressmen Emanuel Cleaver (D) and Sam Graves (R), have written a bipartisan letter to Harley-Davidson CEO Matthew Levatich, urging him to reconsider the plan.
The letter notes the Kansas City plant has been assembling motorcycles for more than 20 years.
Harley-Davidson, which was founded in 1903, is based in Milwaukee.
Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet news director Brian Hauswirth and Kansas City Mayor Sly James, which was recorded on February 14, 2018 in Jefferson City: