Saturday, February 27, 2016
Ron Richard co-sponsors bill to allow Empire District Electric to set its own rates
The bill, SB 1028, would keep the companies from having to go through the formality of sending a rate increase request to the Public Service Commission and allowing public comment on the proposals.
Since it has been a rare occasion when the Public Service Commission has stopped a rate increase, the main purpose of this legislation appears to be to allow Empire District Electric Company, Ameren, and Kansas City Power and Light to be able to raise their rates immediately rather than allowing customers to have their say.
While the bill's sponsor, Sen. Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, represents a district that includes Kansas City Power and Light and Richard represents a district that includes Empire District Electric Company, both of them also represent the customers of those utilities.
The difference appears to be that Richard receives far more money from the utility companies than he does from the customers who can ill afford continuous rate hikes and who cannot afford to use their money to pad their senator's campaign account.
Missouri Ethics Commission records show that Richard received $16,500 during the last three months of 2015 from the utilities- $11,500 from Ameren and $5,000 from Empire.
Since October 1, 2013, the senator has received $20,500 from Ameren, $15,000 from Empire District Electric Company, and $11,000 from Kansas City Power and Light, for a total of $46,500.
Is it any wonder that Richard was so adamant recently that no bills would be debated in the Senate that would put any limits on campaign contributions?
Under the limits that were in effect in 2007 when Richard and his fellow legislators overruled the will of the people and tossed out contribution limits, the most any of the companies could have given to Richard over the two-year period would have been $1,300.
The question also remains- why is there a need for Richard to collect campaign money when he is in the last two years of his final term? His campaign account is set up for a supposed statewide race for an unnamed office in 2020, but the odds against that happening are prohibitive.
And no one believes anyone is giving money to Ron Richard so he can run for an office four years from now.
The bill's sponsor, Silvey, the chairman of the Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy, and the Environment Committee, received $10,500 from the three companies during the last three months of 2015, $5,000 from Ameren, $3,000 from Empire District Electric Company, and $2,500 from Kansas City Power and Light.
During the previous two years, Silvey's campaign reports show he received a total of $10,000 from the companies, $7,000 from the local KCPL, $2,500 from Ameren, and $500 from Empire District Electric Company.
Another co-sponsor of the bill, Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, vice-chairman of the Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy, and the Environment Committee, has received $19,500 from the three companies over the past two years with $17,500 coming from Ameren and $2,000 from Empire. Emery built a close relationship with Ameren during his time as head of the House Energy Committee, when he helped shepherd Ameren-approved bills through the committee.
Emery was recently quoted as saying he looks upon lobbyists as extra staff members who can provide research and information on prospective bills.
In 2015, Emery received $371.02 in gifts from his "staff members" from Ameren, including five meals and $250 worth of St. Louis Cardinals' tickets.