Sunday, February 10, 2013

Missouri Lawmakers on the move--Farmers, too

From the Heartland, Margot McMillen writes: One of the best things about politics is the four-day weekend. Marshall and I drove through Jefferson City Thursday evening to find our favorite restaurants closed—the lawmakers had all gone home & there was no business. We’ll find the same thing if we visit the capital on Monday. Some of the General Assembly don’t ooze back until Monday night or Tuesday. In that four-day weekend, the citizens’ e-mail boxes are full of ACTION ALERTS. The Pollution Protection Act is moving. That’s Senate Bill 41. Also, the bill to count energy from old dams as part of the Renewable Energy Standards is moving. House Bill 44. Missouri has 3 old dams, still creating electricity for the state: Keokuk, Ozark Beach and Bagnell. Since these dams have been in existence for decades, far longer than the nuclear plant or most coal-burning plants, they have proven themselves. We should use more water-produced electricity. But they should not be part of the NEW renewable energy standard (RES) count. That was created to bring NEW renewable to the state, like small dams, windmills and solar. We need new production to offset production that’s driving global warming. Final arguments against Medicaid are being heard and arguments for a law to force Missouri electrical consumers to pay the electric bills of consumers of the future. Ameren wants to make it possible to bill consumers to raise money for speculative additions to the grid, like a new nuclear plant. Today, in contrast, utilities have to raise money for new equipment by borrowing, selling bonds or issuing stock. To make our positions clear, we citizens get on the phone and rattle off a message to the legislative answering machines. We send e-mails and faxes, then we write letters to the editor and send copies to our legislators. Even though the fields are resting, this is the busiest time of year for politically active farmers. But there’s still time for fun. Next week, in Auxvasse, there’s the annual loafer’s week at the community center. Every noon, one of the groups hosts a lunch-time fundraiser and folks turn out to play cards, eat, drink coffee and complain to each other. It’s a pretty wonderful tradition. And, last weekend was the annual wagon, draft horse and mule auction in Boone County. Prices are up—way—and I saw a lot of good animals taken out of the ring without selling because the owners opted to keep them rather than take what I thought was an excellent price. I asked one of the good old boys what he thought was going on. He said he thinks demand is about the same, but fewer folks are raising draft horses and mules. So prices go up. I came home with a new harness, but the wrong size. I have to call the dealer and get a bigger one. My neighbor Barb came home with a new, shiny, four-wheeled cart. “You buying that for yourself or your grandchild?” asked the fellow sitting next to her. She said she had to think about it for a long time before answering, “for myself, I guess.” We had a great time yesterday with our equines and new equipment, just trying it out. The critters—a horse, a pony, a donkey—had as much fun as we did. Lucky we squeezed it in when we did. Today, it’s letters-to-the-editor-writing day and, again, it’s raining.

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