Perspective: State Chamber, job shadows, and a new bill

On Feb. 23, I had the honor of sitting on a nuclear energy discussion panel as part of Missouri Chamber of Commerce Day.

It was a tremendous experience and I am grateful to Dan Mehan and the Missouri Chamber for hosting a forum where both sides of this issue were discussed. I am proud that businesses and local Chambers of Commerce across the state support my efforts to secure an early site permit.

An early site permit will keep open the option of additional nuclear power generation in the state. These businesses and local chambers of commerce recognize that reliable, inexpensive baseload energy is critical for businesses already in Missouri and essential for new businesses that are looking to expand in our state.

After I left the Missouri Chamber event, I had the great privilege of meeting Josey Stevens, Prairie Home, and Kimberlie Koechner, Tipton. These students drew the short-stick and job shadowed me as part of their FCCLA (Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America) experience.

I was thoroughly impressed, and more than a little intimidated, by these two 17 year olds. Both were smart, personable, and articulate beyond their years, and it is no wonder they have been tremendously successful in their academic careers. Josey and Kimberlie are two awesome examples of what makes Central Missouri great, and I look forward to reading about their continued success in college and beyond.

Also on Wednesday, I filed Senate Bill 321. Senate Bill 321 is very similar to SB 50, but strengthens the already robust consumer protections in SB 50.

As noted in previous columns, I have had many, many meetings with individuals and groups on both sides of this issue, and SB 321 represents the fruits of those meetings. I am certain neither side thinks this bill is perfect, but both sides can live with this bill.

I am pleased 19 other senators agreed with the importance of this bill and signed on as co-sponsors. Of those 19 co-sponsors, four are Democrats and 15 are Republicans. Clearly, SB 321 enjoys significant bipartisan support.

Surprisingly, SB 321 was not referred to a committee this week as would have been expected. That it was not referred reveals to me that there remains a concerted effort to keep this bill from being heard in committee and by the whole Senate on the floor. This opposition is led by one or two large corporations, both owned and managed from outside the state, who, to date, have succeeded in holding the state’s energy policy hostage simply to pad their bottom line.

That one of these businesses pays an electric rate two and a half times less than what you and I pay makes no difference, they simply want the status quo and for you and I to continue to pay their fair share.

I am not a career politician, and I have neither the desire nor the inclination to do things that career politicians normally do. Accordingly, I will not back down in the face of procedural maneuverings designed to kill the bill. I will not back down in the face of lies and half-truths designed to kill the bill. Twenty of 34 senators (59 percent by my paper-plate math) signed onto this bill because they understand that securing an early site permit and paving the way for a second nuclear plant is critical for Missouri’s energy future.

Like me, they know that it will put thousands of Missourians back to work and inject billions of dollars into the Missouri economy. No challenge or opposition will force me to back off or abandon this legislation; it is just too important. I will push and fight for it every day of this session.

I am in this office to serve the constituents of Missouri's 6th Senatorial District. Please contact us at (573) 751-2076 if my office or I can be of any assistance to you or if you have questions.

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