Politically Speaking: Rep. McCreery takes dim view of utilities-based special session | St. Louis Public Radio

Politically Speaking: Rep. McCreery takes dim view of utilities-based special session

May 26, 2017

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back state Rep. Tracy McCreery.

The Olivette Democrat has represented the 88th District since the beginning of 2015. Her district includes portions of Creve Coeur, Olivette and Ladue.

Gov. Eric Greitens recently called McCreery and her colleagues back into session. Lawmakers approved a bill that could provide lower electricity rates for a to-be-reopened aluminum smelter plant and a proposed steel mill in the Bootheel — as well as other large companies.

McCreery was a part of a small group of House members who opposed Portageville Republican Rep. Don Rone’s bill. In fact, when Rone tried to attach a similar proposal on a bill during the final days of the 2017 legislative session, McCreery was one of two House members who voted against it.

While backers say Rone’s bill could bring needed economic development to a part of the state reeling from poverty, McCreery raised questions over whether the measure will result in higher utility rates to Ameren Missouri customers throughout the state.

In addition to serving as ranking member of the House Utilities Committee, which heard Rone’s bill during the special session, McCreery is also the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Policy Committee.

Here’s what she had to say during the show:

  • The special session is a huge win for GOP Sens. Doug Libla and Gary Romine. Both raised concerns about a provision in the initial special session bill that would have made it easier for companies like Ameren to raise electric rates without approval from the Missouri Public Service Commission. House lawmakers ultimately took that provision out.
  • Right before the special-session began, Libla was the subject of attack ads from a nonprofit run by Greitens’ campaign staff members. But McCreery said Greitens can’t tout that he rolled over Libla or his allies during the special session. “The winners of the week were Sens. Romine and Libla,” she said. “They got exactly what they wanted, which is job creation. And they got the bad, anti-consumer language off of that bill.”
  • She believes the special session was largely a waste of time, adding that the PSC could offer lower electricity rates for large companies without legislative action. “The discussion we need to be having in the Missouri legislature is do we think that it’s right to do economic development on the backs of utility bills, basically?” she said. “And if we do, we do. But we need to be honest about what we’re doing.”
  • Greitens could call more special sessions on other topics over the next few months. McCreery doesn’t like the idea, especially if it costs the state more money. "When you look at all the things that didn't get funded in the budget this year, that money could be so helpful for a diaper bank that provides diapers for the poorest of the poor to make sure babies have clean diapers when they're developing," she said.   

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Tracy McCreery on Twitter: @TracyMcCreery

Music: “Electric Feel” by MGMT