Sen. Jeanie Riddle’s Capitol Report for the Week of Feb. 12, 2018

Riddle - Banner - Column - 010715

Providing Transparency for Those Who Suffer from Sexual Assault

Missouri has a transparency problem when it comes to sexual assault testing kits. Following an alleged sexual assault, these kits are used to gather evidence for law enforcement’s investigation into the assault. However, Missouri currently has no system for tracking these kits and their location or progression in the evidentiary process. This evidence is vital in prosecuting predators who commit these heinous acts.

Because of this dangerous situation, I filed Senate Bill 958 to address our state’s inability to track these kits. My legislation calls on the attorney general’s office to create an electronic tracking system that monitors these kits in real-time. Through SB 958, hospitals, law enforcement, crime labs and most importantly survivors will be able to know at all times where these kits and their components are during the investigation.

We must do everything we can to prosecute the predators who commit these acts. My legislation calls for the creation of a commonsense, responsible tool that allows everyone involved in the sexual assault investigation real-time access to the location of the investigation kit and its contents. Individuals who commit these horrific acts should never walk free simply because someone along the way lost the vital contents of the investigation kit.

The Missouri Senate’s Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee discussed the proposal this week during a legislative committee hearing. I am hopeful the committee will approve my proposal, and send it the floor of the Missouri Senate for further discussion and debate.

In other business, the Missouri Senate approved legislation intended to modernize Missouri’s electrical grid and reform the state’s regulatory environment. Senate Bill 564 makes several changes to the state’s laws governing investor-owned electric utility companies. Currently, companies that intend to modernize and improve their electrical grid can apply to the Public Service Commission (PSC) to raise their customers’ electrical rates in order pay for the costs associated with an improvement project on an unlimited basis. Under the legislation, investor-owned utilities, such as Ameren Missouri, can only increase their electrical rates by 2.85 percent annually in order to recover their costs for certain projects, and then can only enter into a general rate case every five years for any other costs. In addition to numerous other measures intended to promote the modernization of our electrical grid, the bill includes a provision intended to put money back in the pockets of utility customers.  As a result of the federal tax cut, businesses saw their corporate income tax rate cut from 39 percent to 21 percent, resulting in companies paying less taxes. Therefore, SB 564 includes language granting the PSC one-time authority to reduce customer rates to accommodate for the savings generated by the tax bill. The rate reduction is expected to be between 3 and 4 percent for Ameren Missouri customers in the 10th Senatorial District, which is the only investor owned utility in our district.

I supported this proposal because I think it is vital for us to modernize our electrical grid. In times of need, we must have an electrical grid we can count on. The utility legislation now moves to the Missouri House of Representatives for further consideration.

It is an honor to be your State Senator and my door is always open to your concerns, questions or comments. Please feel free to contact me at (573) 751-2757 or visit my web page at