Missouri’s governor addressed numerous topics with reporters Thursday afternoon in Jefferson City, ranging from transportation to sports wagering to the Sunshine law.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson speaks to print, radio and television reporters at the Governor’s Mansion in Jefferson City on January 31, 2019 (Brian Hauswirth photo)

Governor Mike Parson, a Republican, spoke at the Governor’s Mansion during the Missouri Press Association and the Associated Press (AP) day at the Capitol. Parson answered questions from print, radio and television reporters for 43 minutes, and also had lunch with reporters before the question and answer session.

Parson will be in southwest Missouri’s Joplin on Friday morning to tour a deteriorating bridge near I-44 that would be replaced under his proposed $350 million infrastructure plan. Parson says the plan would repair or replace 250 Missouri bridges.

The governor told reporters Thursday that while his plan doesn’t fix Missouri’s infrastructure issue, it will help.

“I’m going to try my best, I’m going to try my best to make sure that that gets through the process to realize that the state of Missouri is doing something,” Parson says.

The governor was a vocal supporter of Proposition D, which would have increased the state’s gasoline tax by ten cents per gallon to help pay for Missouri’s highway system. Missourians defeated the measure at the polls in November by about 173,000 votes.

Parson will tour the Rangeline Road bridge over Joplin’s Kansas City Southern Railroad Friday morning, and will be joined by Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) chief engineer Ed Hassinger. The governor will brief Joplin-area reporters Friday morning at 10, near the bridge.

MoDOT says more than 900 Missouri bridges are in poor condition, while another 1,194 are weight restricted.

Parson also says he believes sports wagering is coming to the Show-Me State. During Thursday’s press event, a reporter asked Parson about legislation from State Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, to authorize sports betting.

“And I think it just depends on what the legislators do, but I think that’s going to be an issue that the state of Missouri is going to have to deal with,” says Parson. “And I’m going to see what that package is, or whatever is that comes out of the Legislature before I make a decision.”

The Senate Small Business and Industry Committee heard testimony on the bill Thursday morning. Hoskins, who chairs the committee, tells Missourinet that under his legislation, you would have to register for a sports betting app at one of Missouri’s 13 casinos. He says after registering at a casino, you’d be able to bet anywhere in Missouri, under the bill.

Hoskins predicts sports betting could raise millions of dollars for education and veterans programs.

The governor is not taking a position on a potential merger between St. Louis City and County, which is a controversial issue. Governor Parson was asked about the proposed “Better Together” proposal.

“Now, how it ends up on a statewide vote or it don’t, I’m not sure what the details of that is going to be yet,” Parson says. “I think it’s early to predict that, there’s a lot of moving pieces of that.”

While he’s not taking a position on the issue, Parson says everything must be on the table, adding that Democratic Mayor Lyda Krewson says there are “serious problems” in St. Louis.

State Rep. Bruce Franks, D-St. Louis, has filed legislation to require the potential merger to be approved by a majority of voters in St. Louis City and County.

Parson also says his office has hired a full-time attorney, just to work on Sunshine Law issues and requests. He emphasizes the importance of transparency.

The governor also spoke about his family and the job itself. He says the hardest part of the job is the demand on the position. Parson says the demands are also tough on his family and his farm in southwest Missouri’s Bolivar.