Grietens calling special session to deal with potential Bootheel jobs

Thursday, May 18, 2017
File photo Governor Eric Greitens (left) is pictured with State Rep. Don Rone in Portageville earlier this year. Greitens is calling the Missouri Legislature back into session to deal with a bill sponsored by Rone, which supporters say could bring 500 jobs back to the old Noranda Aluminum Plant.

Missouri's governor is calling the Legislature back to Jefferson City for a special session dealing with potential Bootheel jobs. The following is a news release from Gov. Eric Greiten's office.

"Today, Governor Eric Greitens announced that he is bringing the legislature back for a special session on Monday with one topic: the steel mill bill. At the end of the 2017 legislative session, some career politicians in the Senate blocked efforts to bring a steel mill and other projects to the state of Missouri.

Those projects could create hundreds of jobs in southeast Missouri.

Governor Greitens released the following statement, 'We are fighting to bring more jobs to the people of Missouri. Some career politicians failed to do their jobs and then went home. That’s wrong. We’re cancelling their summer vacations and calling a special session to get this done.'

This issue was championed by Rep. Don Rone (R-Portageville) during the 2017 legislative session, and an amendment aimed at addressing the issue was passed by the House (148-2) but blocked in the Missouri Senate.

The special session will begin at 4 p.m.. on Monday."

According to the Associated Press, the proposal would allow the state Public Service Commission to approve special electric rates for aluminum smelting and steel-works facilities, which require a lot of electricity.

The proposal had stalled as lawmakers wrapped up work for their regular session last week. Some senators expressed concerns about creating special exemptions for particular companies.

The Noranda aluminum plant in New Madrid shut down in 2016.

Supporters hope the new legislation will bring up to 500 jobs to the area by making it more cost-effective for new owners to operate the facility.

State Senator Doug Libla did not support Rone's proposal and in his own news release last week stated, "This Ameren supplied amendment would have continued their quest of diminishing the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) oversight, not just a good electric rate for the smelter. PSC is the consumer protection arm that reviews and approves price adjustments to your Ameren electric bill ensuring fairness. Rep. Rone’s intent of providing an economic electric special rate would have had my full support, if not for this . . . Companies, such as Ameren, are a monopoly and enjoy by state law – NO COMPETITION. This is why we cannot afford any deterioration of the oversight capabilities and responsibilities of the PSC."

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