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Sen. Jason Bean’s Legislative Column for the Week of April 12, 2021

Providing Utility Relief to Communities Affected by February Ice Storm

For the past couple of weeks, I have been working with fellow Senators Karla Eslinger, Mike Moon, Cindy O’Laughlin and others to provide utility relief for the municipalities affected by the ice storm we experienced in February. I have had meetings with the governor’s office to bring this to his attention and discuss ways we can help municipalities around the state impacted by the storm. Due to the extreme cold, natural gas prices spiked, causing many municipalities to receive exorbitant utility bills after the storm.

The town of Malden and other places in our community faced this exact problem. After the storm, Malden received a $2.5 million bill for just a week of utility costs. For comparison, the cost of one week of utilities for Malden is normally around $10,000. This put immense financial stress on the town, through no fault of its own. Many other municipalities around the state experienced this same issue, so it was important for me to work with other lawmakers to find ways to provide relief to these communities.

I am happy to announce the governor has proposed an amendment to House Bill 15 to help solve this problem. He is recommending that $50 million be allocated to the Municipal Utility Emergency Loan Program, which is managed by the Division of Energy through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This program provides interest-free loans to municipal utilities to help cover the energy costs incurred during February’s ice storm.

I want to thank my fellow senators for working with me on this important issue. While the calendar may say April, our communities will be dealing with the financial effects of the ice storm for several months. I am also grateful to the governor for his quick actions and willingness to address this problem. As the Senate Appropriations Committee considers this amendment to HB 15, I am hopeful it will be adopted quickly in order to provide access to this important loan program as soon as possible.

Senator Jason Bean proudly serves the citizens of Butler, Carter, Dunklin, Mississippi, New Madrid, Pemiscot, Shannon and Stoddard counties in the Missouri Senate.

Please visit Sen. Bean’s official Missouri Senate website at senate.mo.gov/Bean for more legislative and constituent resources.