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Compromise Offered for Speed-Limit Fight

February 20, 1996
By: Pablo Hernandez
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The House and Senate are expected to take up today an attempted compromise in the speed-limit controversy that's dominated much of the legislature's attention this year.

But even before debate has begun, one of the chief architects of the compromise was predicting a filibuster when the proposal reaches the Senate.

Scheduled for House debate today will be a version of the bill drafted by House-Senate conference committee appointed to resolve differences between the two chambers.

In general, the House has gone along with the governor's proposal to allow speed limits to rise only on rural, multi-lane highways. The Senate, however, has voted to boost speeds in the urban areas as well.

The compromise version would set a variety of different speed limits:

  • 70 mph on rural Interstate and freeways which are defined as limited-access, multi-lane highways.

    But the slightly higher limits the conference committee adopted has not won over the bill's chief critic, Sen. Harold Caskey, D-Butler.

    "It's virtually identical to the House bill. The Senate conferees did not attempt to uphold the Senate position," Sen. Caskey said.

    The bill's House sponsor, Rep. Larry Thomason, D-Kennett, conceded that Caskey could cause a problem for passage of the bill.

    "Sen. Caskey is going to filibuster in the Senate to try to get the Senate to vote it down," Thomason predicted.

    Caskey would not have to filibuster very long to get his way.

    The legislature must pass the speed-limit bill before April 3 or the limits will return to those in 1973 before the federal speed limit law -- 70 mph on multi-lane highways and 65 mph during the day on all other state highways.

    Those old, higher speed limits do not bother Caskey who said that he prefer those limits to the ones in the conference committee bill.