Perspective: Welcome home, first bill passed, energy need remains

Thursday afternoon, I had the great pleasure and tremendous honor to once again help welcome home a group of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

For almost a year, these men helped defend our freedom as part of the 4175th Military Police Detachment Criminal Investigation Division. While in Iraq and Afghanistan, these soldiers conducted criminal investigations for the Army.

Their return is certain to make families from across the state happy, as these soldiers hail from Jefferson City, Columbia, O’Fallon, High Ridge, Hannibal and St. Charles.

I truly enjoy every aspect of being your senator, but being able to take part in these ceremonies, which recognize the service, sacrifice, and hard work of soldiers and their families is an honor that humbles me to the core, and one for which I am exceedingly grateful.

Spring recess for the Senate and House began Thursday upon adjournment.

Accordingly, we will not be in session next week, but will resume on Monday, March 28. Traditionally, the pace of session has increased after spring recess as appropriations bills and other legislation really begin to hit the floor for discussion.

While I am hopeful that spring break will afford me the time to sell some cars and trucks, I will also use the time to meet with folks in the district and host a workshop on the redevelopment of the MSP site in Jefferson City — a critically important issue for me.

When session resumes on March 28, I’ll be ready to work hard on these and other issues for the remainder of the session.

Thursday, I achieved another milestone by getting my first bill passed out of the Senate. Despite some good-natured teasing by my fellow senators, as is tradition when senators pass their first bill, I am pleased to send Senate Bill 250 to the House for their consideration.

This is a common-sense bill that requires incarcerated sex offenders to complete the Missouri Sexual Offender Program (MoSOP) in order to be eligible for parole or conditional release. I am proud that this is my first bill to pass out of the Senate, and I look forward to it being passed by the House, signed into law by the governor, and, ultimately, making Missouri safer.

Since the terrible earthquake in Japan, and the devastating tsunami that followed it, I have been asked repeatedly by the press, other senators, and Central Missourians about the viability of nuclear energy, safety at the current Callaway site, and the impact that events in Japan will have on the nuclear industry in the United States.

My first response is that we as a nation need to keep the people of Japan in our thoughts and prayers. It’s also important to keep our priorities straight. Even though this event was historic, tragic, and very sad to witness, it will ultimately have no impact on the fact that we will need new baseload electricity production capabilities in the very near future. Increased demand, an aging coal fleet, and imminent federal regulations guarantee this fact.

I still believe that nuclear energy is not only viable, but critical to our future. It is also important to remember that the plant in Japan performed exactly as it was designed to do when the earthquake hit — all of the proper automatic shutdown features worked, and the plant was well on its way to a safe “cool down.”

However, the 30-foot wall of water that hit it three hours after the earthquake did exceed the design criteria and the water created the problems we are now seeing in the press.

So that members of Missouri’s General Assembly could get a better explanation, on Wednesday evening I brought in nuclear experts from the Callaway plant to discuss the imperiled Japanese plants, safety features of the Callaway plant, the requirements of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in licensing, the seismic designs of the Callaway plant, and a variety of other topics.

I was pleased that many senators and representatives from both parties attended this briefing, and I am confident in the safety and security of the current Callaway plant and any subsequent plants at that site.

In an effort to help you understand what happened to the reactors in Japan and the safety features at the Callaway plant, I will post the information from Wednesday night on my senate website in the coming days at: www.senate.mo.gov/kehoe.

My next two coffee stops will be Friday, March 25, at the all-new Denise’s Diner in Holts Summit and Friday, April 15, at the Coffee Zone in Jefferson City. Both events will go from 7-8 a.m.

I am in this office to serve the constituents of the 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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