Monday evening I joined many in Jefferson City at a prayer service for Bishop Shawn McKnight the day before his installation as the fourth bishop of the Jefferson City Diocese. I am grateful for the opportunity to attend this event and ask God's blessings on McKnight in this important role. The freedom to worship according to the dictates of our own hearts is sacred and demonstrated to me once again here. No one was compelled to go just as no one was prevented from doing so. This is a privilege and a right not shared in every country, and I am very thankful for this freedom. I look forward to McKnight's leadership and teaching for as long as God has him ordained for this position. Similarly, I am grateful for the leadership and teaching of Bishop John Gaydos and wish him the best as he embarks on the new path God has set before him.
The first full week in February saw the House and the Senate considering many bills on the floor. Legislation that was sent to committee, heard, and then voted out in the initial weeks of session is now on the calendar for consideration. As is characteristic, by virtue of its size and design, the House moves legislation quicker and in greater volume than the Senate. That being said, this Senate gave initial approval to nine bills this week, on topics ranging from blasting fees to making Missouri an even more veteran-friendly state.
Just as the House has a specific design and function, so too does the Senate. Where one works quickly and considers a larger volume of legislation, the other works slowly and deliberately considering fewer numbers of bills. This design is a credit to the God-given wisdom of our founding fathers, and the distinction between the two chambers was readily evident this week as the Senate spent roughly 30 straight hours on one piece of legislation.
SB564, sponsored by Sen. Ed Emery, addresses the topic of utility infrastructure. Each year I have been in the Senate, this has been a topic of discussion in a variety of forms, but in that time it has never been able to come to a vote. Senators and interest groups agreed on the need to enhance and improve Missouri's utility infrastructure, but could never reach consensus on how to do so within the confines of Missouri's regulatory model. Due to the deliberative nature of the Senate and the cumulative effect of multiple years of work on the topic, SB564 gained initial approval late Thursday night and will provide rate certainty to residential and industrial customers of investor owned utilities while facilitating infrastructure investment.
Considering the many variables that go into utility rates is tedious and challenging. This past fall, a new variable entered into the equation in the form of federal tax reform. While this reform was welcomed by Missourians and Missouri businesses alike, it also resulted in tax savings for utilities. A great deal of debate and effort on SB564 was spent determining how best to ensure the tax savings from federal tax reform are quickly passed on to the customers of investor-owned utilities. Ultimately, a section in SB564 was added to allow the Public Service Commission to make an adjustment outside the normal eleven month rate cycle. In this, and in all aspects of the bill, I am grateful for Emery's gracious and polite leadership.
Between crafting the state's Fiscal Year 2019 budget and discussing numerous other topics, a great deal of legislative work remains for the coming weeks and months. The House and the Senate are committed to keeping the business of the state of Missouri going forward, and I am glad to be a part of that process. Thank you for trusting me to do so. Please know I do not take that trust and confidence lightly.
State Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, represents the 6th Senate District. He shares his perspective each Monday during the session and occasionally during the interim.