Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 5

RM

| PERSPECTIVES

H A RT TO H E A RT

We're ready to help
by Barry Hart | bhart@amec.coop

Y

ou might remember reading a Guest Column in the January Rural Missouri from
then Lt. Gov. Mike Parson. Due to unprecedented circumstances with Missouri's leadership, Mike is now Gov. Parson.
As I travel around the state visiting with members of electric cooperatives I'm getting a lot of questions about our new governor. They want to know,
"Is Gov. Parson a co-op person?"
To answer that question, I will take you back to
his earliest days as a public servant and a member
of Southwest Electric Cooperative in Bolivar. Polk
County Sheriff Parson worked closely with his electric cooperative to protect the members' assets from
crime, including power diversion and copper theft.
Our new governor grew up on a farm in Hickory County and graduated from Wheatland High
School. You've got to go back to the administration
of Birch Tree native Bob Holden - who was governor from 2001 to 2005 - to find a governor with
rural roots as deep as Mike Parson's.
His constituents recognized his leadership qualities and in 2005 elected him as their state representative. He served here as the chairman of the
House Rules Committee and was the majority whip.
As a representative he sponsored or co-sponsored
several pieces of legislation that are important to
rural people.
These include landmark legislation that strengthened the Second Amendment rights of Missourians
and the Missouri Farming Rights Amendment. The
latter amendment changed the Missouri constitution to guarantee all Missourians will forever have
the right to farm and ranch.

He sponsored legislation
that ensured electric cooperatives could clear rights of way
so that our lines continue to
provide reliable power. He also
helped overturn a tax issue
that would have increased
members' electric bills.
He has been a strong advocate for the Missouri electric
cooperative mission to keep
electricity more affordable
and reliable than other states
to help us attract new business and industry.
In 2011 he became Sen. Parson when he was
elected to serve the people of Missouri's 28th Senatorial District. As a state senator, he continued to
work closely with Missouri's electric cooperatives.
His door has always been open to us whenever we
had an issue of importance to rural people.
As Lt. Gov. Parson, he launched a "Buy Missouri"
initiative that now makes it easy for Missourians to
find products produced at home. He stood up for
senior citizens in nursing homes and became the
chief advocate for tourism, fellow veterans and agriculture.
And all through his political career he continued
to be Cattleman Parson on his cow-calf operation
near Bolivar.
I am excited to see a true rural Missourian in
the governor's office and I look forward to working
with him as he helps us bridge the digital divide by
bringing high-speed Internet to rural communities,
schools, businesses and citizens who desperately
need it.
I also believe Gov. Parson has the desire to work

with both parties for the good of all Missourians.
Already he has invited the House and Senate Democratic leadership to sit down with him and find ways
to end partisan discord in the Capitol.
He also is traveling around the state meeting
with as many Missourians as possible to get their
views on how state government can work with institutions to make improvements. By doing this he
has shown it is the people of Missouri who matter,
not the political party.
So in answer to that question - "Is Gov. Parson
a co-op person?" - I can answer with a resounding
"Yes." You will even find the latest edition of Rural
Missouri in his office.
On behalf of Missouri's Electric Cooperatives, I
wish him all the best and lend our support as he
works to improve quality of life and opportunities
in rural Missouri for our members. We also stand
ready when he needs us to help make Missouri the
greatest state in the nation.
Hart is executive vice president of the Association
of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.

GUEST COLUMN

Rural investment can lift the nation's economy
by Jim Matheson | info@ruralmissouri.coop

high-speed internet access.
Already, there are many examples of how these
ural America grows most of the food, gener- services are changing heartland economies. Seven
ates much of the power and manufactures of Missouri's electric cooperatives are now providmany of the goods that are used through- ing high-speed internet, phone and TV services for
out the country. When the modern econo- their members. These fiber networks are directly
my threatens to leave much of the country on the responsible for new businesses creating hundreds
wrong side of the ledger, that's bad news regardless of jobs. And similar stories are playing out across
the nation.
of where you live and work.
Other sections of the omnibus bill
Today, fewer than 15 percent of
fully fund low-interest government
U.S. businesses are located in rural
loans or enhance the efficiency of perareas and small towns. Bank loans for
mitting for rural electric programs to
amounts less than $1 million, primarimprove grid reliability.
ily to family-owned small businesses
These are positive steps. But there's
and farms, have dropped by nearly
more work to do.
half since 2005. These are warning
As local businesses built by the consigns for the basic building-blocks of
sumers we serve, electric co-ops have
the economy which serve as the founmeaningful ties to America's rural
dation of America's economic stability.
communities. They are making strateA long-term commitment from Congic infrastructure investments to give
gress and the administration is needed
communities the flexibility to adapt
to reverse this trend.
to tomorrow's energy needs, investing
The Trump Administration and
Jim Matheson
$12 billion annually in the areas that
Congress have taken significant steps
to jump start programs that bolster the rural econo- they serve.
That's why co-ops have launched community
my. That's helping turn the tide in many communities. But reversing this trend requires a sustained microgrids, lead the nation in the deployment of
focus across the Executive Branch and Capitol community solar facilities and have invested in new
XPRIZE carbon capture research.
Hill.
But it takes more than smart energy infrastrucThe recently passed omnibus budget bill is providing key resources and tools to foster development ture to rejuvenate rural communities. Co-ops also
of energy, telecommunications and other essential leverage public-private partnerships to enhance the
services in rural America, including $600 million for quality of life.

R

Over the last two decades, co-ops have partnered
with community stakeholders through USDA's
rural economic development programs on hundreds
of projects to construct essential infrastructure,
renovate hospitals, build libraries and expand businesses. Co-ops also use the Rural Energy Savings
Program to work with consumers on energy efficiency solutions to their homes to save money on their
energy bills.
The Farm Bill offers an opportunity to bolster
these important public-private programs while giving rural America an additional boost.
Congress should support a stronger rural America and enhance key rural development programs
through:
* Additional funding for rural broadband grants
and loans. A reliable, modern grid and vibrant rural
communities depend on a robust communications
infrastructure.
* Ample support for proven rural economic development programs.
* A focus on accelerating energy innovation to
build new renewable energy resources and modernize the electric grid.
* Continued funding for the RUS Electric Loan
Program to allow electric cooperatives to continue
delivering reliable power to their members.
The need to invest in rural America is real for all
of us. So too are the opportunities for our leaders
to make a meaningful difference in its trajectory.
Matheson is CEO of the National Rural Electric
Cooperative Association.
JULY 2018 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP

5


http://www.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - July 2018

Contents
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - Intro
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - Contents
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 4
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 5
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 6
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 7
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 8
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 9
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 10
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Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 42
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - Cover4
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