Missouri Senate Endures Filibuster over Utility Laws

Feb 8, 2018

A bipartisan group of senators spent over 20 hours filibustering a bill that rewrites Missouri’s utility laws.

The hours-long discussion ranged from Amazon’s future headquarters, to Gov. Eric Greitens’ proposed tax plan, to Eminem.

Regardless of the topic, the goal is the same: to filibuster a bill that some senators state will allow utility companies to raise rates on electricity. Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D- St. Louis stated she could not support such a measure.

“I can’t support any increase for my residents at this point because I know how they are struggling,” Chappelle-Nadal said.

Sen. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, stated the claim this bill would raise rates is false.

“Right now, on average, for the last number of years, utility rates have gone up by an average of six percent. This actually has a cap of three percent in the bill, so you’re inevitably cutting the increase in half for the next five to ten years,” Rowden said.

Debate began late Wednesday afternoon and continued through Thursday. Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph and Chappelle-Nadal discussed the bill Thursday morning, with Schaaf stating the Senate could be debating other bills

“We could be dealing with other important issues, but no, no we’ve gotta help out Ameren, we gotta help out the company, the monopoly that’s going to raise rates on everybody,” Schaaf said.

If enough senators were not on the floor, a quorum was called which called for senators to return to the floor.

A majority of senators apparently are for the bill and would pass it, believing it provides a forward-looking way to update the utility infrastructure.

When asked about the filibuster Thursday afternoon, Gov. Eric Greitens stated that he will wait and see what the final bill looks like, but that he respects Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, the bill’s sponsor and supports regulatory reform.