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Parson signs off on changes to water, sewer rate adjustment process

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Gov. Mike Parson signed four bills Tuesday, including reforms to the way utilities change water and sewer rates. 

SB 44 from Sen. Bill White allows water and sewer companies to request rate changes more frequently. Under previous law, utilities go to the Public Service Commission (PSC) for a rate adjustment on a three-year cycle. The legislation will allow companies serving more than 8,000 customers to request a slight increase every six months through a water and sewer infrastructure rate adjustment (WSIRA) to keep up with the conditions of equipment and speed up cost recovery. 

“This saves ratepayers money,” White said while the bill was being perfected in the upper chamber. “If you are going to replace a valve and you don’t have the ability to raise the capital to replace the valve now, when you replace it in the future it will cost more money — any amount of putting off will cost more in the future.”

St. Louis County implements its own version of the system, and other states — including neighboring Kentucky, Iowa, and Illinois — have similar programs. The issue drew conversation in the legislature over the possibility of rate increases for St. Louis County customers; a representative for the PSC previously told The Missouri Times the state’s version would replace the localized iteration. 

Another utility-related bill, Rep. Michael O’Donnell’s HB 734, clarifies how wind farms are assessed for property taxes. The bill also allows gas companies to recover costs invested in natural gas programs and allows electric companies to retire coal and other generation facilities and recover the costs. 

Utility legislation isn’t the only thing Parson signed Tuesday: SB 258 creates the Missouri Medal of Honor Recipients Fund earmarking money to repair and replace memorial signs for Medal of Honor recipients. The bill also designates Joplin’s Missouri National Guard armory as the Sergeant Robert Wayne Crow Jr. Memorial Armory, adds four sections of highway to the Purple Heart Trail, and establishes several memorial roads and bridges.

Finally, SB 5 from Sen. Paul Wieland extended the sunset of the state’s advanced industrial manufacturing (AIM) zone regulations. Under the program, half of these zones’ new jobs tax withholdings are deposited into a fund to bolster projects across the state. The program’s sunset was extended from 2023 to 2028. 

These are just the latest pieces of legislation signed into law by the Republican executive this year. Other major bills include a statewide prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP), a controversial gun-rights bill, a Wayfair tax, and an expansion of the state’s protection order policies.