Missouri Leads the Nation With Passage of Good Neighbor Week Bill
- Published: Thursday, June 30, 2022
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Missouri Governor Mike Parsons signed HB1738 on Friday, July 1, 2022, which includes language designating Missouri Good Neighbor Week starting on National Good Neighbor Day (Sept. 28) and continuing for six days.
The measure is a first for our nation, and it comes at a time when a reminder about the value of neighbors is desperately needed, according to University of Missouri Extension Community Development Specialist David Burton.
Burton worked with his state representative to get the good neighbor week passed, but the fact that a bill had been introduced was at first a surprise to him.
"My state Representative Bishop Davidson asked me to testify before the House Committee on Tourism on Feb. 7, 2022. His invitation was the first time I learned that a conversation he and I had several months earlier at a Republic Chamber of Commerce meeting had resulted in him introducing a bill," said Burton.
At that Chamber meeting, Burton explained to Davidson what MU Extension is doing around National Good Neighbor Day on Sept. 28. This national holiday was first signed into federal law by President Jimmy Carter in 1978.
Even though National Good Neighbor Day is an actual national holiday, not much has been done with it over the years. Other groups like USA Today and Nextdoor have created and marketed their own "neighbor" days at different times of the year.
"But I felt this September date held a unique opportunity," said Burton. "And when Rep. Davidson heard that I had been able to document nearly 6,000 acts of neighboring in and around Greene County during 2021, he became interested in the statewide potential."
So on Feb. 7, Burton went to Jefferson City to testify. Rep. Davidson had already told him that the odds of passing the measure this year were slim, but it was still worth trying.
"I was given five minutes to testify before the committee, but legislators asked lots of questions about the idea of creating a Missouri Good Neighbor Week. The next day, the committee approved the bill and picked up a co-sponsor," said Burton.
The original bill was amended so that good neighbor week in Missouri begins on National Good Neighbor Day and lasts for six more days. The bill stalled until another bill began its legislative journey two days before the term was to end.
Representative Davidson messaged Burton on May 13, the last day the Missouri legislature was in session, to say: "Just wanted to let you know that our 'Missouri Good Neighbor Week Bill' is headed to the Governor's desk. We got the language added to another bill, and it passed! It started as HB1559. It ended as HB1738."
When the Governor signed HB1738 on Friday, July 1, Missouri became the first state to designate a whole week for neighbors. This is the relevant text of the bill:
9.344. September twenty-eighth is hereby designated as "National Good Neighbor Day" and September twenty-eighth and the six subsequent days are hereby designated as "Missouri Good Neighbor Week" in Missouri. Citizens of this state are encouraged to participate in appropriate events and activities to establish connections with their neighbors. Research shows that knowing one's neighbors reduces loneliness, crime, and isolation and leads to safer and more vibrant communities.
The bill is also a good reminder to make plans to celebrate Missouri Good Neighbor Week from Sept. 28 to Oct 4. Learn more online at www.missourigoodneighborweek.com.
Writer: David Burton
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