JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – As the issue of changing how utilities are regulated in the Show-Me State continues being discussed by Missouri legislators, a number of organizations are still urging those same lawmakers to pass the legislation.
Associated Industries of Missouri (AIM) and the Missouri Retailers Association this week both called on state legislators to pass the rate cap bills, which would cut and cap electric rates for utility companies operating in Missouri.
The current version of SB 564, which was passed by the Senate in February, would require that the federal tax cuts immediately go to ratepayers in the form of four to five percent cuts in rates. It also places caps on rate increases, which has never been done in the history of the state, in the amount of 2.85 percent, some of the most consumer-friendly caps in the nation.
“We urge Missouri lawmakers to pass SB 564, which will immediately put more than $100 million back into the pockets of Missouri families and businesses,” said Ray McCarty, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri. “In addition, the strict rate caps in this legislation will provide Missouri businesses with exactly the kind of rate stability and predictability they have long been seeking. Passage of SB 564 will benefit all ratepayers in Missouri, including our member businesses that rely on reliable and affordable electricity.”
“Every day that goes by without passage of this legislation is a day that more than $100 million stays with the utilities and not in the hands of Missouri workers and business owners,” said McCarty. “Missourians deserve to get the full benefits of the federal tax cuts right away. Without passage of SB 564, some Missouri customers are unlikely to get these funds back for several years.”
In a letter to lawmakers, Missouri Retailers Association President David Overfelt wrote that “failure to pass this legislation means some utilities will likely be able to hold onto these revenues from the federal tax cut for several years.”
“Whether you were for or against the federal tax cuts, we can all agree that now they have passed, these dollars belong back in the hands of Missourians, not in the bank accounts of our regulated utilities.”
And it seems that their wish is one step closer to being granted.
On Wednesday, the House took up Rep. T.J. Berry’s HB 2265, perfecting the bill. It now needs to be third read and passed by the chamber before heading to the Senate.
Meanwhile, the House Utility Committee was scheduled to hear testimony on SB 564, the utility bill passed by the Senate and sponsored by Sen. Ed Emery, on Wednesday afternoon.
That hearing is scheduled to take place at 2 p.m. Wednesday.
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.