Bills advance to allow food, beverage vendors at Capitol, MSP

Missouri’s Capitol and the state will soon commemorate several anniversaries, and with those milestones, the Capitol Commission wants to celebrate by hosting events that include bringing in food and beverage vendors to the Capitol and the Missouri State Penitentiary.

Bills have been filed in both the House and Senate to allow for such vendors. They were presented to and passed by their respective committees Wednesday.

“To celebrate this 100th anniversary (of the Capitol), we’re asking the body to approve to allow the Commission to enter into contracts with vendors to sell food and beverages at commemorative events in this building,” said Rep. Tom Flanigan, the House bill’s sponsor. “It’s a way for the Capitol Commission to raise funds.”

Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, said the Capitol Commission is in charge of a lot of artwork and decorating inside the Capitol and raising funds would help it fund its projects.

He said one celebration could include in 2019 the centennial celebration of the first legislative session in the new building in 1919.

“It’s an opportunity to invite folks in for things like black tie events, and a way to let Missourians know it (the Capitol) is a great place,” Kehoe said.

Dana Miller, chair of the Capitol Commission, said the group’s goal is to raise money to facilitate projects at the Capitol and raise money for the building and the needs it faces.

The Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau cites the Capitol and MSP as a huge draw to visitors and the CVB supports the efforts of the bill.

“With (MSP), we have a tremendous amount of requests to have events there,” said Diane Gillespie, executive director of the CVB. “That would be significant marketing for the city and the state.”

Tom Rackers, a lobbyist for Jefferson City, believes the bill would give the city yet another tool to work with, especially with development of MSP.

Flanigan said the bill doesn’t cost the state anything. It helps stress the importance of the Capitol building by allowing the Capitol Commission to raise funds for decor.

He said things like decor are important because other capital improvements are already in the planning process.

Those improvements include a remodel of the elevators, updating the HVAC system, ridding the building of mold and reducing moisture in the building.

“These projects are starting because this building is important enough to maintain,” Flanigan said. “It’s a privilege to work in this building and to improve it.”

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