JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Cities and counties could soon be on the hook to pay for electric vehicle charging stations if they mandate businesses to install them. 

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Missouri had more than 10,000 electric vehicles registered in 2021. As more people convert from gas to electric, the goal of some members in the General Assembly is to prevent local governments from requiring charging stations. 

The House passed House Bill 184 Thursday with a vote of 105-36. The bill sponsored by Rep. Jim Murphy, a south St. Louis County Republican, would protect businesses as more electric vehicles hit the roadways. 

“I don’t think it’s the government’s responsibility to be the marketing department for General Motors, Chrysler, or BMW,” Murphy said. “Unfortunately, my district sits right on Interstate 270 near the JB Bridge going over into Illinois, and we are a prime area for development, and it’s been stagnant, because developers don’t want to spend this type of money.”

He said he filed the legislation after St. Louis County and City required businesses to install charging stations if they redo a parking lot, expand or develop a new building. According to the legislation St. Louis County Council passed, if business violates this law, they could be fined up to $500 or go to jail. 

“Requiring businesses to spend money for electric charging stations is not what we’re about here in Missouri,” Rep. Dean Van Schoiack, R-Savannah, said. “We don’t know 15, even 5 years down the road if something better comes along, an increase in technology.”

Others in favor of the legislation say businesses can’t afford the cost. 

“I’ve had a number of small businesses reach out to me and say I don’t have $5,000 or $10,000 for a government mandate to put in an EV station,” Rep. Brad Christ, a south St. Louis City Republican, said. “It’s crippling their balance sheet; it’s crippling their business and they are already struggling.”

Some argued during floor debate Wednesday, this legislation is overstepping local control. 

“Who am I to sit in this room and make a decision for county government that doesn’t hold true for all county governments, because I don’t like something?,” Rep. Doug Clemens, D-St. Ann, said. “What I need to do is go run for county council or what I need to do is elect someone else to county council, because that is the government that actually has jurisdiction in this particular matter.”

The bill says that any city or county that requires electric vehicle charging stations would have to foot the bill for installation, operation and maintenance. It also would limit local government by only allowing them to mandate five electrical vehicle charging spots per parking lot. 

“I also just think this is a dangerous road to go down of preventing local control about thinks like zoning and building permits,” Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, said. “If a local community decides that one of the things they want to press forward with are charging stations, whether you or I disagree with that, if the community wants it, they should be able to say that.”

Merideth said since St. Louis City has put in the ordinance, residents have been happy with the addition of charging stations. 

Those on the other side of the state said their concern is the blanket this would put on other communities. 

“I think that what’s right for St. Louis County is certainly not going to be right for maybe Greene County, what’s right in Platte County isn’t necessarily going to be right for Clay County which is right next door,” Rep. Ashley Aune, D-Kansas City, said. “We all have different objectives in our communities and one of my concerns with this bill is setting a precedent for stripping local control away from municipalities.”

The legislation also prohibits cities from requiring schools or religious organizations from installing charging stations. The bill now heads to the Senate, where Sen. Ben Brown, R-Washington, has filed similar legislation.