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Rural Missouri Magazine

Redbuds, dogwoods & D.C.

by Barry Hart

by Barry Hart

Now that I am back in my native Missouri after being gone for three years, this spring has reinforced why I am so glad to be back home.

As I travel the state attending electric cooperative meetings, I am reminded of the natural beauty found in Missouri when I see the redbud and dogwood trees in full bloom, along with the vibrant shades of green found in the trees.

Even though we had a relatively mild winter this year, it always seems like our attitudes change for the better when the temperatures warm and we can spend more time outside whether its hiking, fishing, working in the garden or driving a tractor.

Springtime also reminds me that it is time to prepare for our annual National Legislative Conference in Washington D.C., hosted by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. NRECA is the service organization for almost 1,000 electric co-ops nationwide. They also are your voice in the nation’s capital effectively championing the causes of rural folks and rural communities since its beginning in 1942.

The event they host this month will be one of the biggest grassroots lobbying activities Washington sees this year. The purpose of the event is to impress on Congress that your interest as a consumer-owner of a rural electric cooperative is important when issues are debated that affect you and your cooperative.

This year we have 40 or so Missouri directors, managers and employees who will call on their elected officials and find the doors to their offices wide open. We have an excellent relationship with our senators and representatives, who hold key positions on committees where legislation vital to the rural electric program is shaped. As an example, U.S. Sen. Jim Talent and U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt both serve on the committees that will be shaping a national energy bill supported by President Bush. There are many provisions found in the current version of the energy bill that benefit electric co-ops and we will make sure Missouri’s congressional leaders know this.

Missouri is fortunate to have leaders in Washington who care about the state’s rural way of life. They have a sincere desire to hear about the needs of rural people.
During our visits we will be covering the following issues:• Proposed rate increases (that we oppose) at the Power Marketing Administra-tions, which market electricity generated at federally owned dams.

• Changes to the Rail Competition Act that will ensure fair rates for shipping coal on the nation’s railroads.

• Support for the president’s Clear Skies initiative that would clear the nation’s skies without hurting the economy.

• Ensuring the needs of rural electric cooperatives are considered as Congress debates the energy bill.

• Keeping the Rural Utilities Service loans open to all systems that need them since a strong electric infrastructure is important to the reliability of your electric service.

The Legislative Conference is a critical part of what makes us a strong and respected consumer voice in Washington, D.C. This grassroots approach has been the hallmark of our program and it serves to remind our leaders how unique and special electric co-ops are. It is a pleasure for us to do this on your behalf along with the other 1,000 rural electric representatives.

By the way, make sure you get out and enjoy as much of Missouri as possible before the temperatures warm too much!

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

E-mail Barry Hart

 

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Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives

Rural Missouri
2722 E. McCarty Street
P.O. Box 1645 • Jefferson City, Mo. 65102
573-659-3423

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