Rural Missouri Magazine

Your voice was heard

by Barry Hart

by Barry Hart

In a ritual as regular as the blooming of the cherry blossoms in our nation’s capital, representatives from Missouri’s electric cooperatives traveled to Washington, D.C., in May to take part in the annual Legislative Conference sponsored by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

There have been years when our annual pilgrimage required us to defend the existence of the rural electric cooperative program when it was attacked by special interests wanting to kill the program.

This year was different, however. When our delegation of 46 Missouri managers, key employees and directors called on their members of Congress they were there, in large part, to say thanks. That’s because our congressional delegation has time after time shown tremendous support for rural Missouri and their rural constituents who choose to live there.

This level of support has always been there from folks like our U.S. Sens. Kit Bond and Jim Talent and U.S. Reps. Sam Graves, Ike Skelton, Jo Ann Emerson, Roy Blunt and Kenny Hulshof, who represent largely rural districts. But when our national association asks us to rally support for a cause, even Missouri’s urban congressmen like William Lacy Clay, Todd Akin, Russ Carnahan and Emanuel Cleaver are quick to listen to us and offer their support.

It was nice to meet with these good people or their staffs this year and simply say thanks on behalf of you and your electric co-op.

For Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, the nation’s electric cooperatives had something special to present. At the NRECA annual meeting in February, it was announced that the southeast Missouri representative would be honored with the Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor given by the association.

Her legislative duties prevented her from receiving the award at the NRECA annual meeting, so Jo Ann was honored during the opening ceremonies of the Legislative Conference. For many of us, watching the presentation brought us a great sense of pride that someone from the Show-Me State was receiving such a great honor. For those of us who have watched Jo Ann lead the fight for rural America and have worked with her, it didn’t surprise us that she was getting this national recognition.

The Missouri delegation swelled with pride as we heard her brief and humble remarks, describing her work on behalf of rural people as a “passion” and her constituents as “something special.” Perhaps speaking for the entire Missouri delegation, she said those calling on her later in the week should know, “I’m on your side.” Those comments reaffirmed what we have always known.

As we travel to Washington on your behalf, it’s comforting to know our message falls on friendly ears no matter which office we are in or on which side of the aisle the listener sits. We get this kind of reception because we are there as true, voluntary grassroots representatives of you, the cooperative owner, and our efforts are part of a great American tradition based on each citizen’s right to address our elected officials.

Again, this year, I am pleased to report your cooperative’s views were heard by our elected representatives and support for your cooperative was given.

Hart is executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.

E-mail Barry Hart


Rural Missouri | May 2019 Issue

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