Missouri Legislature passes electricity rate incentives

Updated: May. 26, 2017 at 3:48 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KFVS/AP) - Missouri lawmakers have passed a proposal in a special session that supporters hope will bring hundreds of jobs to the southeastern part of the state.

Senators voted 24-5 on Friday to send the measure to Gov. Eric Greitens.

Gov. Greitens said in a statement:

"The people of Missouri sent a loud and clear message: They want to work. They don't want welfare. They want to bring back American jobs.

We fought hard for this bill, and we are proud to stand with the people of the Bootheel. This is a great day for them, and for fighters like Rep. Don Rone and Speaker Todd Richardson, who pushed as hard as anyone for these jobs. When this bill died a few weeks back, some people in Southeast Missouri told us that they gave up hope that industry could return to their region. We won this fight for them, and for all the families who need quality, high-paying jobs. Senators saw the overwhelming support of the people, and I'm glad that they acted to bring more jobs and higher pay to Missouri. Our work isn't over: We're going to keep fighting hard for jobs, because our job is to fight for your jobs."

The bill will allow aluminum smelters, steel mills and other major electricity users to negotiate lower electricity rates for longer contracts than is allowed under current law.

It is designed to lure two companies to New Madrid in southeastern Missouri. It's a region that has struggled economically since a major aluminum smelter closed last year when it filed for bankruptcy.

The bill received relatively widespread support, but some lawmakers were concerned that residential customers could face higher electricity rates to offset the special discounts for big manufacturers.

Senator Doug Libla released the following statement on Friday:

"Great news for the Bootheel and state of Missouri: The Missouri Senate has successfully passed House Bill 1.

"I was honored to be the senate handler of this legislation that will allow new businesses looking to come to our state to apply for a special electric rate, helping them be competitive in today's economy.

"The Bootheel is fortunate to have two companies looking to open facilities, an aluminum smelter and state-of-the-art steel mill, with family-sustaining jobs, and will directly benefit with the passage of House Bill 1.

"Our local communities have been struggling since the loss of NORANDA, but today's success and hard work by many, along with our highly-skilled workforce, gives our region new hope that better times are ahead!"

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Copyright 2017 KFVS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press also contributed to this story.