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Emergency fund bill moves in the Senate

April 19, 2006
By: John Amick
State Capital Bureau
Links: SB 820

JEFFERSON CITY - In light of recent disasters such as the Taum Sauk Dam breach in Southeast Missouri and Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast, the Missouri Senate is moving legislation to increase resources available immediately in the wake of an emergency.

"This fund is for the times when the legislature is out of session and the appropriations process is unavailable for immediate action," said bill sponsor Sen. Chris Koster, R-Harrisonville, during discussions on the Senate floor.

The fund, created in 1967, allows for up to $150,000 to be distributed to victims of disasters such as tornadoes. The bill would increase the fund's maximum amount to $850,000, which could be adjusted on a yearly basis depending on the Consumer Price Index, which is the measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by customers for a market set of consumer goods and services.

The fund is alotted to the governor and a selected committee, who have the discretion to wield the resources for legislative offseason situations.

"They would be allowed to send the resources to victims of an emergency, such as state personnel to assist with clean-up efforts," said Koster.

Koster said the fund hasn't been used recently and has been inadequate for the type of previous emergencies in the state.

The bill, SB 820, now awaits a vote on the chamber floor.