Greitens attacks ‘career politicians’ at special session rally

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Roughly 300 people joined Gov. Eric Greitens at his rally Tuesday afternoon to pass legislation he promises will bring a steel mill to Southeast Missouri.

Young Republicans, local voters, GOP state representatives and a significant number of Missourians from the Bootheel all cheered as he descended the stairs on the north side of the Capitol, as he left his office with Rep. Don Rone, R-Portageville, and Mayor Dick Bodi of New Madrid.

Greitens’ supporters also joined him in the hallways of the Missouri Senate, plastering rally signs and signed notes to Sens. Doug Libla and Gary Romine, the two senators most vocal in their opposition to the measure for special session, which they fear serves as a backdoor way to increase electric rates for Ameren consumers. Rally-goers entered the Capitol through the Governor’s office porch.

Before their march through the halls, Greitens railed at his podium against “career politicians” who he said were attempting to prevent a company from entering Missouri and giving the region up to 500 desperately-needed jobs.

“The problem is sometimes when politicians come to the Capitol… they can forget who sent them here,” Greitens said. “They can forget who they serve. We’re here today to remind them they work for the people of Missouri.”

Greitens was introduced by Rone, who he called a “great Missourian.” Rone worked to get the legislation through the House as an amendment at the tail end of session and has become a rallying figure in the Bootheel region. He gave an impassioned speech on the House floor during the last week of session.

He also spoke at the podium, just minutes after introducing his bill to the House Utilities Committee.

“I don’t see demonstrators. I see need,” Rone said to the crowd, adding that when the people met with senators they should let the bill be debated fairly. “When we leave here, just tell them it should come to the floor, that we want a vote.”

Rone’s version of the bill itself would allow for the PSC to have special oversight to lower Ameren’s electric rate on steel mills and aluminum smelters. Those facilities require massive amounts of electricity to function and a major infrastructural challenge for metalworks is having a low electricity rate.

In Southeast Missouri, an as-of-yet unnamed company (for confidentiality) reasons has pledged to move a steel works facility to Missouri over sites in new York and West Virginia, should the bill get passed this session and should the PSC approve of their rate request. Another business named Magnitude 7 Metal has already bought the old Noranda site and could look to reopen the facility.

Greitens called the first special session since 2013 with the express purpose of passing a bill that would allow those rate changes, but the second part of his call has left some members of the General Assembly concerned it could give leeway to utilities companies like Ameren to effectively set higher rates on regular consumers. Libla and Romine have consistently filibustered such legislation in the past few years of session.

“We need to let politicians know that instead of trying to score political points, they should be trying to win jobs,” Greitens said at the rally to cheers. “Instead of standing in the way of businesses that want to come to Missouri, they need to stand up and fight for the people of Missouri.”

Whether or not they will change their minds after the governor’s rally remains to be seen.

While Greitens has attempted to cast the two senators of practicing “petty, personal politics,” he himself has come under fire for methods a Greitens-backing nonprofit, A New Missouri Inc., have used to lobby for the bill. Over the weekend, Libla was the target of robocalls in his Senate district featuring Greitens’ voice that urged constituents to get his to change his stance.

New Missouri funded the calls, and the nonprofit also bussed in a sizable chunk of those at the rally.