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The Cole County Commission is pleased with the county's first year with a new lobbyist and economic development specialist, commissioners said during their regular meeting Tuesday.

The commission hired Victory Enterprises/Strategic Capitol Consulting last year. Victory Enterprises is a political and corporate consulting communications firm based in Davenport, Iowa, with many politicians among its clients as well as corporations. Strategic Capitol Consulting represents large companies, professional associations and municipally owned utilities.

Previously, the county's economic development contract was held by the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce.

"This was the most I've ever been involved with state issues since I've been on the commission," Eastern District Commissioner Jeff Hoelscher said Tuesday. "If you think this year was busy, wait until next year."

"We didn't know what we were doing going into the legislative session in 2018, and you got on issues right away," Western District Commissioner Kris Scheperle told Victory/Strategic officials. "Things that help us are great; you were good at heading off things that could negatively impact us and costing county taxpayers more dollars."

Victory/Strategic officials said there were many examples of where they were able to pick up on bad pieces of legislation, as deemed by the commission, and through their efforts were able to get them stopped.

One of the issues they worked on was an attempt in the Legislature to restructure the reimbursement for incarceration of prisoners at county jails. The County Commission said that was something they did not support, and the measure never made it out of the legislative committee the bill had been assigned to.

Another bill opposed by the commission would have changed laws regarding reimbursement of medical costs for prisoners held in county jails, and that too never left its legislative committee.

In the 2020 legislative session, Victory/Strategic officials said they would be working to make sure the bill to get land for a Missouri River port in Jefferson City is passed.

A bill seeking to transfer 116 acres of state-owned land — just east of the Ike Skelton Training Facility in Jefferson City — to the Heartland Port Authority ultimately was part of a larger bill that would have conveyed state property throughout the state. The bill passed the House but died on the Senate calendar.

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