Gas ISRS could face tougher time in House than Senate

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Gas ISRS passed the Senate during the initial weeks of session 26-6 before opposition to electric ISRS began to define the session in the Senate.

The bill would expand the use of ISRS financing for gas companies.

“The magnitude of infrastructure that has to be replaced is overwhelming,” said the bill sponsor, Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah. “When there is a failure on gas or water, that is the highest possible costs of repair and they always get funded. I believe that we need a methodical plan to replace this old infrastructure in the most cost effective manner. The federal government is pushing companies to replace infrastructure, and their needs to be tool in place to facilitate those repairs.”

Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah
Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah

Missouri currently has gas ISRS, and to date, Laclede Gas has received nine ISRS rate increases since January 2008, and MGE has received seven. The current legislation increases the cap on ISRS rate increases from 10 percent to 15 percent.

However, Senate Bill 240 could face a stiffer time in the house. Conversations are underway to decide whether house leadership will force the bill through without entertaining amendments from their own members or go through a normal debate process.

There are several amendments being proposed — such as Rep. Gatschenberger’s that would add some consumer protections to the bill — that may be looked-over in an attempt to ensure the bill does not have to go back to the Senate.

“I am going to offer and amendment that would place some consumer protections in the bill,” said Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger, R-Lake St. Louis. “There is an easy fix to this bill, and it can be very easily fixed with a simple amendment if I am allowed to offer it.”

House leadership has told other bill sponsors that it is too late in the session to pass bills out of the chamber without amendments. However, leadership might make an exception because of the growing opposition to the ISRS concept.

After the gas ISRS passed the Senate, water ISRS failed on third reading. Water ISRS was the first bill to fail on third reading since 2005.

Electric ISRS was brought up as an amendment Wednesday night in the Senate and was withdrawn after a three-and-a-half hour filibuster by Senators Parson, Libla, Romine, Brown, Wallingford and Schaaf.

“For all intents and purposes electric ISRS is dead,” Lager told The Missouri Times.

With opposition to the ISRS concept growing in the Senate, gas ISRS might not be able to pass if it has to return to that body this session.

“Gas ISRS passed out of the Senate before opponents of electric ISRS decided they were going to kill everything,” Lager said. “It was literally a function of timing.”

To contact Scott Faughn, email scott@themissouritimes.com, or via Twitter at @scottfaugn.