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story.lead_photo.caption Rep. Dave Griffith, R-Jefferson City, presented a bill Tuesday to allow members of the Missouri National Guard to drive state vehicles. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

There seems to be no opposition to state Rep. Dave Griffith's House Bill 391, which if passed would allow Missouri National Guard members to drive state vehicles.

That's because the bill makes sense for Missouri and would save taxpayers money, said Griffith, R- Jefferson City.

Griffith presented the bill Tuesday to the House Insurance Committee.

If passed, it would mean Missouri National Guard members could be considered state employees if they drive state vehicles for official state business, according to the bill summary. The consideration as state employees would apply only to driving vehicles and would not apply to benefits and other considerations.

The Missouri Department of Public Safety approached Griffith about the issue in fall 2019, he said.

"There are lot of things we take for granted," he said after Tuesday's hearing. "If we don't fix them, sometime in the future they may affect service delivery."

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased awareness of the services agencies may provide for each other and the state, he said.

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The National Guard has helped throughout the pandemic, Griffith continued.

It assisted with feeding programs, COVID-19 testing and vaccination administration.

"COVID-19 has caused a lot of travel for state employees to be curtailed. There is a fleet of vehicles that could be made available to them," Griffith said.

Otherwise, National Guard members are driving vehicles like Humvees, which aren't fuel-efficient, around the state.

"The National Guard would be saving a lot of money, if you consider the Humvee gets about 5 miles to the gallon," Griffith said. "COVID-19 has shown a light on a lot of things we could change. This is just one example of that. We can adapt and be flexible with what we've got."

Nick Humphrey, director of state resources for the National Guard, testified the Guard is covered under Missouri's Legal Trust Fund insurance policy.

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