Sen. Caleb Rowden’s Legislative Column for the Week of April 19, 2021

With three weeks remaining in the 2021 legislative session, the General Assembly is hard at work as lawmakers try to accomplish their goals before the session ends on May 14. Over the course of the past week, my colleagues and I were able to come to a consensus on a number of issues that I believe will make a tangible difference in the lives of all Missourians.

On Tuesday, April 20, my colleagues and I debated Senate Bill 45. This legislation allows three or more political subdivisions to create a Voluntary Firefighter Cancer Benefits Pool. This pool would provide benefits to certain firefighters who were exposed to cancer-causing agents in the performance of their duty. Participating political subdivisions will be allowed to contribute to this pool and private donations may be accepted.

Ultimately, this bill is about ensuring our brave firefighters and their families are taken care of financially if they are exposed to carcinogens while on duty and diagnosed with cancer. Firefighters risk their lives daily to keep us and our communities safe, and they deserve our respect and our support. I was proud to stand up and support SB 45 because this legislation has the potential to provide a small amount of comfort to these brave individuals and their families during a difficult time.

My colleagues and I also discussed Senate Bill 202 this week. This legislation concerns electric utility securitization and the need to develop cleaner, more efficient energy sources. Coal is no longer the cheapest energy source, and replacing these plants at the end of their lifecycle represents a huge cost to consumers and electric utilities. However, securitization allows electric utilities to issue bonds to cover costs to transition to more energy efficient sources. These bonds will then be paid back by using the savings generated from the new, efficient source of energy. I am hopeful this legislation will result in lower bills for customers, while encouraging electric companies to transition to cleaner, more efficient forms of energy.

This was not planned, but it seems fitting that Earth Day was on Thursday, April 22. As we become more conscious of our energy usage, I believe the way of the future is moving toward cleaner, cheaper, more efficient energy sources. This legislation is a step in the right direction toward allowing utility companies more flexibility as they attempt to provide clean and efficient sources of energy for their customers.

This week, the Senate Appropriations Committee has been reviewing the 13 budget bills that make up the state’s operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Passing a balanced state operating budget is the Legislature’s only constitutional requirement for each session, and next week we are scheduled to begin floor debate on the Senate’s version of the Fiscal Year 2022 state operating budget.