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MO Senate votes to make utilities pay for consumer advocate

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By AP/KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – Utility bills in Missouri could soon include another charge. This one would fund the office in state government that fights for lower utility rates.

The Office of Public Counsel has for years been paid for with general tax money. The office was created in the mid-1970s.

The Missouri Senate on Thursday passed a plan to make utility companies pay for that office. That fee would likely then be passed on to consumers.

Critics fear the consumer advocate would lose independence if utilities are paying the bills. But supporters argue the plan would provide a stable funding stream for an office that has seen big budget and workforce cuts in recent years. Personnel have been cut by a third and the office's budget has declined by a quarter.

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