R M | C O O P E R AT I O N Above: Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe commended co-op leaders for their approach to issues facing rural Missourians, including the role they've played in increasing the state's broadband infrastructure. Below: Missouri's Youth Leadership Council delegate Makenna Baker visited with Gov. Mike Parson during the conference. She's a 2019 Youth Tour delegate from United Electric Cooperative. From the grassroots up Co-op leaders stand for rural Missouri at State Legislative Conference A grassroots army from electric cooperatives around the state visited legislators in Jefferson City Feb. 3-4 for the State Legislative Conference. The annual event gives Missouri's elected officials an opportunity to hear about the issues that affect electric cooperatives and their members back at home directly from those they represent in the state Capitol. Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe welcomed attendees, saying, "In my time in the Senate, the issues you worked on were always good common sense issues, and the way you approached the legislature was always respectful and passionate. It represented Missouri values." Co-op directors, managers and staff met in a grassroots workshop to review the issues that would later be shared with legislators and emphasized the importance of grassroots advocacy. The group discussed supporting bills that would con- 4 RURAL MISSOURI | MARCH 2020 tinue funding for rural broadband deployment in Missouri, ensuring adequate broadband speeds are delivered by Missouri Broadband Grant Program recipients and promoting electric provider fairness. Lt. Gov. Kehoe applauded the co-ops for the role they have played in expanding broadband in the state. "That's a big deal for us to be able to keep young people on the farm," he added. "One of the big things we've got to do is improve high-speed internet. It is key to Missouri going forward." Another issue advocated for deals with neighborhood and community improvement districts. Proposed legislation would allow neighborhood improvement districts to use funds on the improvement of broadband infrastructure. Missouri's electric cooperatives support legislation being considered in the House and Senate that would allow for more ways to improve quality of life in rural communities.