The list is a worthy compilation: drought mitigation and response, transportation infrastructure, economic development and education.
These are the priorities outlined by the steering committee for Great Northwest Day at the Capitol. No doubt about it, the four areas of emphasis are core issues for the 18-county region. They also could apply to every other county of Missouri and just about every community across the entire Midwest.
As volunteer leaders continue to shape the message to deliver during the annual visit to lawmakers Feb. 5-6, we urge them to hone it to a sharp point to cut through the rhetoric of the capital.
The issue of drought mitigation is a new one on the legislative goal list. The coalition’s initial talking points speak to a general need for the legislature to expand programs providing access to water in times of shortages.
Given the near state of emergency some communities faced this summer and the enduring strength of the drought, this would be an opportune time to lobby for specific measures. An example might be planning funds for the Great Northwest Wholesale Water Commission to connect with the Kansas City or St. Joseph water systems to distribute water to rural areas across the region.
As for transportation funding, we urge the delegation to consider identifying specific road and bridge projects of priority need to the region. On economic development, it would be great if we could reference specific, concrete projects that could boost the region with the help of state programs targeted at retaining and attracting businesses.
The annual trek to Jefferson City is a powerful force to raise awareness of the issues in Northwest Missouri. Turnover among legislators and shifts in the political balance of power make it even more important for the region to continually bring its message before policymakers.
About 350 people from the region are expected to take part in this year’s face-to-face meetings with lawmakers. We encourage our advocates to continue to speak with a united and powerful voice for the Great Northwest.