A bill sponsored in honor of former Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) employee and Franklin County resident Lyndon Ebker is just one step away from going to the governor’s desk.
After being passed by the House in late March, on Thursday the Senate Transportation Committee approved House Bill 499 by a unanimous 5-0 vote to send the bill to the full body for a vote next week.
The bill requires automatic driver’s license revocation when a driver strikes a highway worker in a construction or work zone or a first responder in an emergency zone.
It was sponsored by State Rep. Aaron Griesheimer, R-Washington after the 2016 death of Ebker who was hit and killed while working with MoDOT on the Highway 100 bridge over Boeuf Creek not far from his home in New Haven.
The elderly driver who hit Ebker was able to keep his license until pleading guilty to aggravated endangerment of a highway worker in early November 2018.
After surviving five votes from four separate House committees and then a 149-5 full passage from the lower chamber since being filed in early January, Griesheimer said the Senate Transportation Committee hearing moved swiftly.
Testimony was kept brief including that of Ebker’s daughter Nicole Herbel, who has advocated for the bill since its inception.
“We tried to make it as short and sweet as we could,” Griesheimer said. “They were moving fast and heard several bills in a short time.”
He said for the bill to make it this far concessions have been made and the overall scope may be a bit different than just focusing on highway workers.
“The bill now affects more than just Lyndon’s circumstances,” Griesheimer said. “We had to make some accommodations, but now the bill will be able to help more people than we originally realized.”
Griesheimer said the bill will be carried through the upper chamber by Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan.
“I’ve been told the bill will be put on the Senate calendar for House bills for third reading on Tuesday,” Griesheimer said. “I assume there will be some discussion on the Senate floor. Sen. Schatz has asked me to send over some talking points.”
He added he feels optimistic the bill will pass and will meet the criteria of some of the more conservative members.
“I don’t see any issues or surprises on the floor,” Griesheimer said. “I just keep wondering if there is an issue that’s going to arise that I don’t see coming. That’s always a possibility.”
Griesheimer is concerned with only a month left in the legislative session many lawmakers who have not had success in getting their issues through the legislative process will begin tacking amendments onto his clean bill that has a good chance of passage.
“This is pretty ripe to become an omnibus bill,” Griesheimer said. “It’s not a bad thing, it just slows down the progress.”
If the Senate makes changes or amendments are added, the bill would have to go back to the House for another approval vote in its new form.
If the bill gets clean Senate approval it will then make its way to the desk of Gov. Mike Parson for signature.
“I haven’t had any contact with the governor’s office, but I think he would be in support of it,” he said. “I have no fear of the governor vetoing it.”