dogwoods & D.C.
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.
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
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
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.
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