A bill that would authorize a public-private partnership for a “tube transport system” like the proposed Missouri Hyperloop passed its last legislative hurdle Thursday.
The Missouri Senate voted to pass SB 782, which included wide-ranging provisions about many kinds of travel. The bill is pending Gov. Mike Parson’s approval.
SB 782 was originally proposed by Sen. Justin Brown, R-Rolla. It dealt with boating identification cards. After COVID-19 condensed the legislative session, the bill encompassed a web of related legislation and swelled to more than 70 pages.
One of the major components of the bill was the authorization of a potential hyperloop system. The bill would modify a previous public-private partnership act to authorize the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission to form a such a partnership to create a “tube transport system.”
In October, State House Speaker Elijah Haahr and other state officials released a Blue Ribbon Panel report on the potential for using a hyperloop in Missouri. The report estimated that it would cost $7 to10 billion to create a hyperloop that would connect Kansas City and Saint Louis, according to previous Missourian reporting. The high-speed, efficient transportation system would cut the time of the trip down to about 30 minutes. Each hyperloop “pod” could hold about 30 people.
Haahr’s panel also looked into the feasibility of a 12-15 mile test track, which would cost between $300-500 million, according to previous Missourian reporting.
Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, expressed fiscal concerns about including the hyperloop authorization in the bill.
“I want our dollars to be well spent because our budget reflects our priorities, especially during COVID-19,” she said.
The bill also specified that eminent domain, or the government’s right to take private land for public use, would not be applicable to “tube transport” construction. The authorization would automatically expire in 2025 unless renewed by the General Assembly.
The transportation omnibus bill also included provisions for less exciting forms of travel.
The bill included protections for motor vehicle dealers against inaccurate motor vehicle history reports provided by third-party companies like Carfax. Under the act, dealerships would not be responsible for inaccurate reports unless they had actual knowledge of the vehicle’s accident or service history.
The bill also offered options for identifying medical conditions on driver’s licenses. People with post-traumatic stress disorder, diabetes, heart conditions, epilepsy, drug allergies, dementia, schizophrenia, autism or other conditions would be allowed to add that information to driver’s licenses and non-driver’s identification cards.