From Missouri Digital News: https://mdn.org
MDN Menu

MDN Home

Journalist's Creed

Print

MDN Help

MDN.ORG: Missouri Digital News
MDN Menu

MDN Home

Journalist's Creed

Print

MDN Help

MDN.ORG Mo. Digital News Missouri Digital News MDN.ORG: Mo. Digital News MDN.ORG: Missouri Digital News
Help  


Speed-Limit Filibuster Ends

March 06, 1996
By: Reece Rushing
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - In a surprise move on Wednesday, Sen. Harold Caskey not only ended his filibuster of the speed-limits bill, but voted for it.

"To continue the fight would have killed a lot of legislation," said Caskey, who had been holding out for the pre-1974, higher, speed limits. "So I surrendered."

Upon announcing the passage of the bill, Senate Pro Tem James Mathewson exclaimed, "I never thought I'd get to say that on this bill. Thank you Jesus."

The bill, which has already been passed by the House, will acted upon by the governor sometime early next week, said Chris Sifford, communications director for Gov. Mel Carnahan. Once signed by the governor, speed limits on two-lane numbered highways and urban four-lanes would jump to 60, rural interstates and freeways would rise to 70, and rural expressways would be set at 65.

What speed limits are until then, however, remains in doubt. The governor's order delaying the return to the old limits by 60 days has run out, Caskey said, meaning that the pre-1974 limits became the law on March 3. This, he said, put the fate of Missouri speed limits in his hands.

"I could have kept it at the old speed limits if I had chosen to," Caskey said. "I chose not to."

Until the governor signs the bill, however, Caskey said a driver can only be fined for exceeding the pre-1974 limits because the posted limits are no longer the law.

But Col. Fred Mills of the Highway Patrol said he did not agree with Caskey's assessment, and that the posted speed limits would continue to be enforced until new signs are posted following the signing of the speed-limits bill.

Although Caskey gave up the fight against the bill, he said he still might get his way. One of the major points of contention for the Butler senator had been the speed limit on Highway 71, which Caskey contends should be 70 but the bill makes 65.

The Highways Department has made a commitment to do an engineering study on all expressways, including Highway 71, to determine the best speed limit, Caskey said.

If the study goes the way Caskey thinks it will, the speed limit on 71 would soon be changed again.

"I'm willing to trust the engineering study," Caskey said. "I'm confident that the study will show that 71 should be 70 miles per hour."

In fact, the bill now before the governor gives the Highways Commission almost unlimited authority to set speed limits - as high or as low as the commission desires so long as the commission-set speed does not conflict with local ordinances.

The confusion concerning when the federal limits expire is compounded by ambiguity in Missouri's current speed-limit law.

In the same sentence, Missouri's current speed-limit law gives two times for when the pre-1974 limits would return after expiration of the federal law - in 10 days, which would be in mid-March, and in 30 days, which would be early April.