This week the Missouri House put its finishing touches on HB 1125 and sent the bill to the Senate for deliberation. I have mentioned HB 1125, of which I am the sponsor, previously but just to recap, the bill would allow active military members and disabled individuals who are filing for candidacy via certified mail to designate a proxy to take place in the random ballot placement drawing that occurs on the first day of filing. HB 1125 was the first bill to pass out of the House chamber this year, but the floor schedule is quickly filling up with several important legislative proposals to be worked on in the upcoming week.
In addition to a busy week in the Capitol, on Wednesday several agricultural leaders from across the state and members of the General Assembly met for the first ever State of Missouri Agriculture. The event showcased just how vital agriculture is to the state. Even in the urban area of Kansas City 233,000 jobs are ag based and a similar number of jobs in the St. Louis area rely directly or indirectly on agriculture. Speakers at the event included the leaders of the St. Louis AgriBusiness Council and the Agribusiness Council of Kansas City, the director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the director of the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority.
I do not have to tell you that Missouri has suffered from a brutally cold winter; we have all felt the sub-zero temperatures. This unusually cold winter has impacted more than just the thermometer. Just last week, propane prices tripled to in excess of more than $5 per gallon. This sudden spike was the result of multiple logistical factors that stem back to a wetter than normal harvest in some locations of the country which became further complicated by the sustained cold temperatures of this year’s winter.
This dramatic and sudden rise in pricing caused both House and Senate members to call for an immediate investigation to determine if the gas industry is engaging in price gouging. At the state level, the Missouri Attorney General was urged to launch an investigation, which he has announced he will do. His office is coordinating with nine other Midwestern states to get to the root of this problem. In addition, the Missouri Propane Gas Association has requested the U.S. Department of Justice investigate the drastic change in prices.
In the meantime, the U.S. Department of Transportation has issued emergency declarations to allow more propane to be shipped to our state. Hopefully, the additional fuel will help to quell the high prices. The Missouri Propane Gas Association is continuing to work at the request of the legislature to ensure that prices return to a more normal level and that steps are taken to ensure that a similar situation does not arise in the future.
Just a reminder, I am still conducting an online survey for this legislative session. If you wish to participate, please visit the House of Representatives website, www.house.mo.gov. As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Missouri House of Representatives.