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story.lead_photo.caption A tugboat pushed a barge down the Missouri River past the U.S. 54/63 bridge, as seen in this June 2016 photo. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

It's still early in the legislative process, but local lawmakers are continuing the effort to transfer some state land in Cole County to the Heartland Port Authority of Central Missouri, in the hope of anchoring a Missouri River port for Jefferson City.

Sen. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, presented his Senate Bill 585 on the proposal before the Senate's Local Government and Elections Committee on Wednesday.

Bernskoetter and Rick Mihalevich — who is the chair of the Heartland Port Authority and a Jefferson City councilman representing Ward 2 and who testified in favor of the bill — said the land is unusable for farming.

The land in question is 116 acres just east of the Ike Skelton Training Facility.

Bernskoetter and Rep. Rudy Veit, R-Wardsville, tried to pass similar bills last year.

There was no testimony in opposition to Bernskoetter's bill Wednesday.

Veit also has a Cole County port land conveyance bill filed in this year's session, House Bill 1330. It is scheduled for a fiscal review hearing this morning.

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