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Despite being on the job only a few months, the Director of the Department of Revenue resigned this week. The situation surrounding the department continues to become more complex as new information comes to light. Despite repeated denials from department officials that sensitive information regarding holders of Conceal and Carry permits was not released to the federal government, there has been a U.S. government employee identified that was given the information on a computer disc. The disc containing the data was apparently given to the employee by the Missouri Highway Patrol. There have been conflicting reports from the employee’s superiors as to whether or not the information was viewed by anyone.

Protection of private information as it relates to Missouri’s citizens is a serious matter. Several years ago the Legislature passed a law specifically requiring Missouri officials to put a higher priority on protecting privacy than complying with requests for information from the federal government. There is a question of whether this law has been broken.

In response, the Missouri Senate gave final approval and sent to the House a bill specifically prohibiting the collection and release of this type of information. It further requires any information collected after September 2012 be destroyed. Because it contains an emergency clause, the bill would take effect immediately upon the governor signing it.

An issue I have been involved with this session is a proposal that would allow utility companies to more easily charge ratepayers for upgrades to their delivery systems such as wires and poles for electric companies and pipes and pumps for water and gas companies. Commonly called ISRS (Infrastructure Strengthening and Regulatory Streamlining) legislation, the stated purpose is to allow utility companies to keep their delivery systems modern and reliable while not having to wait to recoup their investment from their customers. I have been involved in this issue because of my concern that the rate paying customers weren’t receiving enough protection in the process. I want to make sure utility rates remain as affordable as possible.

Everyone wants the lights to come on when they flip the switch, but since utility companies are regulated monopolies, we have to make certain this is done in a way that is also fair to the ratepayers at both the residential and commercial levels. A bill regarding ISRS for water companies was voted on by the Senate and it failed on a close vote. Several Senators were simply not comfortable that it was in the best interest of the customers. With another bill pending that relates to electric companies, I think we are in a position to ensure the ratepayers will be protected.

‘Nothing is Politically Right Which is Morally Wrong’

If you have any questions or comments regarding issues in state government or within the 28th Senatorial District, please feel free to contact my office. Senator Mike Parson, State Capitol Building, Room 420. Phone: 573-751-8793 or 800-752-8256. Email: mparson@senate.mo.gov