Ameren UE set to try and raise electric rates... again

The Missouri Public Service Commission announced that it will hold 14 local public hearings in February and March in an electric rate case filed by Ameren UE.

On September 3, 2010, Ameren Missouri filed an electric rate case with the Missouri Public Service Commission seeking to increase annual electric operating revenues by approximately $263 million.  For the average residential customer the proposed increase would be approximately $9.30. Ameren Missouri's filing also includes a request to continue its fuel adjustment clause that reflects changes in the cost of fuel used to generate electricity on customers' bills through a separately-identified surcharge or credit outside a general rate case.

The public hearings in the metro are:

February 16-St. Louis. University of Missouri at St. Louis, Millennium Student Center-Century Room A, One University Blvd.  A PSC staff public information/question and answer session will start at 5:30 p.m. with the local public hearing and the taking of sworn testimony to follow.

February 17-St. Louis. Holiday Inn Southwest-Viking Conference Center, Salon 1, 10709 Watson Road.  A PSC staff public information/question and answer session will start at 11:30 a.m. with the local public hearing and the taking of sworn testimony to follow.

February 17-St. Louis. Julia Davis Regional Branch Library, Auditorium, 4415 Natural Bridge Avenue.  A PSC staff public information/question and answer session will start at 5:30 p.m. with the local public hearing and the taking of sworn testimony to follow.

February 22-O'Fallon.  O'Fallon Municipal Center, Multi-Purpose Room, 100 North Main.  A PSC staff public information/question and answer session will start at 5:30 p.m. with the local public hearing and the taking of sworn testimony to follow.

Comments from consumers may also be registered in the case by calling 1-800-392-4211, e-mail at pscinfo@psc.mo.gov or by using the Commission's electronic filing system at http://www.mailermailer.com/rd?https://www.efis.psc.mo.gov/mpsc/Comments.html.


Proposed Fair Tax--Only Fair For The Rich?

I just read a great blog article about one of the proposals that the GOP will try pushing through this legislative season down in Jefferson City. Basically, the proposal as it stood at the end of 2010, called for a state constitutional amendment that would eliminate the state income tax and replace it with a broader sales tax that its proponents call the 'fair tax.'

Amy Blouin, executive director of the Missouri Budget Project, warns that proposal would increase the financial burden on Missouri families. She explains the proposed rate would be higher, and would apply to services not currently subject to sales tax, such as child care, health and dental care, prescriptions and rent. At the same time, says Blouin, replacing the state income tax with the 'fair tax' will not ward off cuts to the state budget.

"When you really dig into it, it's a significant increase for the average person in taxes – but at the same time, it does not increase revenue and could diminish revenue in the state, dramatically."

To make sales tax income match our current income tax revenues, it is estimated that the statewide sales tax would have to be approximately 6 to 7 percent, up from the current 4.225 percent. In the first year of the phase-in, the proposal caps the amount of the sales tax at 7 percent. However, the language within the current proposal would allow the legislature to increase the state sales tax rate above that amount as the changes are phased in, without a vote of the people.

Missouri's new sales tax rate would be significantly higher than neighboring states. More significantly, no other state taxes services such as child care and health care as broadly as Missouri would under the current proposal.

Here is how the proposed tax rate of Missouri would compare with our neighbors:

  •  Proposed Missouri Sales Tax Rate: 7 percent (first year)
  • Arkansas: 6 percent
  • Iowa: 5 percent
  • Illinois: 6.25 percent
  • Kansas: 5.3 percent
  • Kentucky: 6 percent
  • Nebraska: 5.5 percent
  • Oklahoma: 4.5 percent
  • Tennessee: 7 percent
The "fair tax" proposal would raise taxes on 95 percent of Missouri individuals and families without generating any new revenue for services or benefits for families. Most Missourians would pay significantly more under this proposal, because the tax proposal shifts the responsibility of funding state services and infrastructure away from a diversely shared responsibility of individuals and corporations to one that relies entirely on the spending of individuals. Estimates are that in order to replace the revenue lost as a result of eliminating corporate and individual income tax, the increased sales tax rate would have to be at least 12.96 percent. And this does not even take into account people that live in border cities that will go to another state and spend their money (and taxes) in order to avoid spending extra inside the state.


How soon they forget...

So I see that the Missouri Leadership Project has a new bogey man in Jefferson City. Apparently they sent out the following memo to their members without checking to see that they people they helped elect actually helped to push it through the legislature in the first place. Whoops.

From: Missouri Leadership Project
Date: December 28, 2010 2:58:04 PM CST
Subject: Bill making YOU a felon... Rally at the Capital -- Opening Day of Session
Rally Day: Wednesday, January 5, 2011 -- Jefferson City, MO -- 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.   Join Us at the Consent of the Governed Rally
[NAME], Last spring a bill that would have made you, the average citizen activist, a felon almost became law. On May 6th, 2010, Senate Bill 844, the so-called Omnimbus Ethics Bill, blazed through Missouri's legislative process. In a single day, an unrelated one page bill morphed into 66 pages, passed through a standing House committee, the Rules Committee and then was finally passed on the House floor.  The legislative body had to vote on the bill an hour after receiving it. Some of the many provisions in the bill were designed to effectively squelch citizen involvement in the legislative process. One such provision would require a common citizen to register as a lobbyist if he or she "Attempts to influence any elected official other than an elected official who represents the legislative district where the person resides." (Page 16) The penalty for infraction?  A class D felony. (Page 19) Fortunately, some of the very citizens who would have been made felons raised the alarm and most of the offensive provisions were stripped out in a conference with the senate. The Lesson?  There have been times when some powerful leaders in the Missouri legislature didn't want you in the the way of their plans to manage your life and money. Our message for them? "We're from the People and we're here to help!" Please join us in sending this message on the opening day of the 2011 legislative session. We want to celebrate a revival of political concern and involvement among Missouri citizens, rejoice in the victories we have witnessed in 2010, welcome and encourage our incoming freshmen representatives, highlight strategic legislation for the coming session, and commit ourselves to working with our elected officials for the good of our state.
As we welcome the freshmen legislators we will remind them and the veteran lawmakers alike that they are there at the "Consent of the Governed".
Please plan to attend the rally and please forward this information to your list and invite other groups to participate.  We want more sponsor groups. Let's all help start the new session with a strong message of unity and support for the cause of liberty.
For liberty,
Sponsors of Consent of the Governed Rally Scheduled Speakers & Itinerary
Dave Roland
Rep. Ed Emery
David Linton
Steve Rupp
Bev Ehlen
Mitch Hubbard
Carl Bearden
January 5, 2011
1st. Floor Rotunda, Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO
9:30 - 10:00:  Come Early for Assistance locating your Rep. & Senator
10:00 - 11:30:  Speakers
11:30 - 12:00:  Take your place in the Senate Gallery (4th floor)
12:00:  Watch the Senate floor vote for the President Pro Tem
Visit with your senator and rep in their office. Sponsors Franklin County Patriots Missouri Campaign for Liberty Missouri First Women for America Jefferson County Tea Party Sullivan 9/12 Missouri Sovereignty Project Crawford County Campaign for Liberty Warren County Patriots Branson Tea Party Coalition Eureka Tea Party Lebanon Tea  Mid-MO Patriots K&N Patriots Buffalo Tea Party Capitol Tea Party Patriots Show Me Tea Central Camdenton Tea Party Lake Area Conservative Club Callaway Tea Party Mexico Tea Party Sikeston Tea Party We the People of St. Francois County (more coming)
Yep. The bill the MLP doesn't like and somehow forgot to mention that it was rammed through the House by Speaker-elect Steve Tilley, Rep. Tim Jones and then-Speaker Ron Richard over the objections of everyone who wasn't a member of the House GOP.  Color me surprised that politics in Jefferson City overrides the needs and wants of the population of the state just to make sure a few people (those already elected) get to keep running the state.

Check out the article on Fired Up Missouri


Can a streetcar be the savior for a city?

Streetcars are increasingly seen as boons to local economies. And with a $130 million federal fund aimed at streetcar projects, some are expecting more systems to develop, according to this article. Others, though, still question the investment. St. Charles, MO has discussed in the past implementing a streetcar. Since the city has now sidelined the "trolley", is it time to discuss fixed rail streetcars again?

"[T]here's nothing streetcars can do that buses can't do better, faster, safer and for far less money, said CATO Institute senior fellow Randal O'Toole. 'Even though a single light-rail train can hold more passengers than a bus, a bus route can move more passengers per hour than any light-rail line.'

Portland's streetcar system attracts about 12,000 daily riders at an average ticket cost of $1.47. Its creators credit it with $3.5 billion in surrounding development, including shops, restaurants and 10,000 new housing units."

Story and Video on CNN


A Consignment of Tea December 16th, 1773

via Freemasons For Dummies by Chris Hodapp on 12/15/10

By 1770 British troops stationed in Boston were uniformly resented by the public, and the 29th and 64th Regiments were in for special scorn. Street fights were common, and the city was in an ugly mood. Yet, the records of the Freemsason-owned Green Dragon Tavern, ground-zero for the most notorious of Boston's rabble-rousers, show that they rented their meeting room to military lodges from both the hated 29th and 64th regiments of the British Army, and even cooperated with the Masonic troops when they applied to the Grand Lodge of Scotland for a charter. (The lodge purchased the tavern in 1764).

For years, the saying was that if you were in Boston's Green Dragon Tavern and ordered tea, you were a Tory. If you ordered coffee, you were a Patriot. This was a tough sacrifice, tougher than it sounds. The Colonists loved their tea, as syrupy sweet as they could make it, and it was hard to give it up for a mere political principle.

Boston's Green Dragon Tavern was a popular public house with the largest private meeting room in town, and many organizations connected with the early days of the revolution made use of its facilities. The North End Caucus, the Selectmen, the Long Room Club, the Loyal Nine, the Committees of Correspondence, and the Sons of Liberty were all groups engaged in various subversive activities in and around Boston. It was in this tavern that the Boston Tea Party was undoubtedly planned, and with plenty of men who shared membership in St. Andrew's Lodge.

In 1770, the Crown finally responded to the shrieking from British merchants who were losing their shirts from the trade boycott in the Colonies, and repealed all but the Tea Tax. Tea ranked fourth among all of Britain's exports to the Colonies, in spite of the fact that three fourths of the 1.2 million pounds per year of it Americans drank were illegally smuggled in from the Dutch. The tax on tea was a piddling one, but when Parliament had reluctantly repealed the rest of the taxes on the Colonies, King George III had insisted the tea tax remain, as proof that the Crown still had the right to tax its colonial citizens. Americans didn't happen to agree. Benjamin Franklin, in London to plead the case for the Colonies, made no headway.

On November 29th, 1773, the tea ship Dartmouth arrived in Boston. Attendees at a Town Meeting declared that they would never allow the tea to come ashore, but the Admiral of the British Navy announced he'd sink any ship loaded with tea that tried to leave the harbor without unloading it first. The Sons of Liberty sent guards to stand on the wharf to make sure the tea stayed on the ships. In response, the governor called out his Cadet Corps, and gave their colonel orders to keep peace at the wharf. Unfortunately for the governor and the Customs Office, the colonel of the Cadet Corps was St. Andrew's member John Hancock, so there probably wasn't a lot of peacekeeping to be in the offing. But the Sons of Liberty were in a bind, and the clock was ticking. The rules were that cargo had to be cleared by customs within twenty days, or it could be confiscated by the Crown revenue officers and distributed.

On the 15th of December, Grand Master of North America for the Moderns, John Rowe, and Grand Master of North America for the Ancients, Dr. Joseph Warren, met to discuss something other than a disagreement over Masonic rituals. Rowe owned one of the tea ships in the harbor, and Warren was a powerful ringleader in several Revolutionary organizations. Both men agreed that the Governor needed to act fast to avoid the potential danger to ships, cargo or people. Warren knew what was coming, even if Rowe did not.

On the last day of the Customs deadline, Brother John Hancock and Grand Master Rowe, along with the owner of the tea ship Dartmouth, met to convince the governor to step in and find some kind of compromise, but to no avail. The ships were not going to leave Boston Harbor without unloading the tea and paying the tax.

Brother Rowe's nephew John attended the Boston Town Meeting that night and wondered, to the amusement of the crowd, whether tea would mix properly in salt water. The Dartmouth's owner arrived at the meeting and reported the results of the day's meeting with the governor. Seven thousand Bostonians surrounded the Old South Meeting House to hear the news. At the same time, almost one hundred badly disguised Mohawk Indian imposters gathered at St. Andrew's member Johnathan Edes' print shop, waiting for Samuel Adams' signal to come from the Town Meeting.

At last, Adams stood and said, "This meeting can do nothing further to save the country." The word was passed to the street, and the "Indians" made for the harbor. Thousands of spectators made their way to the wharf and watched quietly as the raiders boarded three ships and sent 342 boxes of tea into the sea. The crews of the ships stayed below decks and did not put up a fight, and Governor Hutchinson's Cadet Corps moved away from the wharf. The British ships did nothing to stop the raid – a sixty-gun warship was within easy range – but its commanding officer, Admiral John Montague, watched the whole operation from his nearby home.

When the task was completed, the men shook their shoes out over the side of the ships to dump out any possible incriminating tea leaves. They then swept off the decks, and made each ship's first mate attest that only tea had been destroyed. As the weary "Indians" marched up the street, they passed the open window of Admiral Montague, who yelled down at them, "Well boys, you have had a fine, pleasant evening for your Indian caper, haven't you? But mind, you have got to pay the fiddler yet!"

Three months later, Parliament passed the Boston Port Bill, closing the harbor until somebody paid back the value of the destroyed tea, £9,659 and 6 shillings, just to be annoyingly precise about it, plus the lost duty on it. Not everyone was so pleased with the actions of the Sons of Liberty. In London, Ben Franklin recommended Boston pay for the cargo, but got little support. It is said he even offered to pay for it himself.

The original Green Dragon Tavern, known for many years as the Freemason Arms, was demolished in 1854. Boston's current current Green Dragon Tavern is at 11 Marshall Street in Boston's North End, despite its lofty historical claims, it is not the original.

(excerpted from Solomon's Builders: Freemasons, Founding Fathers and the Secrets of Washington DC)


Right to Work is a lesson in failure

Sen. Rob Mayer of Dexter, recently argued that Missouri could spur economic development by adopting a right-to-work law, as several low-wage Southern states have. What he doesn’t point out is the people who live in these same Southern states have the lowest standards of living in the country.

They have higher rates of poverty, fewer people with health insurance, higher infant mortality rates, lower education levels and higher job injury and mortality rates. The number of people without health insurance in right-to-work states is rising nearly 70 percent faster than in other states, 3.2 percent compared to 1.9 percent from 2000 to 2009.

Right to work laws lower wages for everyone. The average worker in a right to work state makes about $5,333 a year less than workers in other states ($35,500 compared with $30,167).[1] Weekly wages are $72 greater in free-bargaining states than in right to work states ($621 versus $549).[2] Working families in states without right to work laws have higher wages and benefit from healthier tax bases that improve their quality of life.

According to the federal census poverty data base [3] the  states with the highest percentage of people under the poverty line (2008 numbers) are:

(RTW)Texas: 15.8%
(RTW)Alabama: 15.9%
New Mexico: 17%
(RTW)Arkansas 17.3%
Kentucky: 17.3 %
West Virginia 17.4%
(RTW)Louisiana 17.6 %
(RTW)Mississippi: 20.8%

The US Average is 13.2% and Missouri is at 13.5%.

Federal law already protects workers who don’t want to join a union to get or keep their jobs. Supporters claim right to work laws protect employees from being forced to join unions. Don’t be fooled—federal law already does this, as well as protecting nonmembers from paying for union activities that violate their religious or political beliefs. This individual freedom argument is a sham.

Right to work endangers safety and health standards that protect workers on the job by weakening unions that help to ensure worker safety by fighting for tougher safety rules. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of workplace deaths is 51 percent higher in states with right to work, where unions can’t speak up on behalf of workers.[4]

Our country and the state of Missouri has a serious unemployment crisis and our state needs to create jobs. With 48 out of 50 states losing jobs, we should be working together to demand a responsible industrial policy that helps grow good jobs and rejects ill-advised trade deals that send our jobs overseas. Corporations are sitting on record profits rather than creating jobs and CEOs make record amounts compared to line-level workers.


[1] Average Annual Pay, 2001 from Bureau of Labor Statistics, State average annual pay for 2000 and 2001 and percent change in pay for all covered workers.

[2] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

[3] US Census Poverty Database http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/saipe/national.cgi?year=2008&ascii=

[4] Workplace Fatalities from Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect. afl-cio. April 2002.


Moving towards the east...

Good time at lodge tonight. We had a Past Masters meeting and had to have a short lodge meeting to conduct some business that could not wait. The installation of officers for the 2010-2011 Masonic year was this past Saturday. I am personally very excited because I will be sitting as Senior Deacon for the next year. Not only do I have my own duties to perform, it is also my time to really dig into the meat of studying in preparation to become an elected officer of the lodge. After this year, it will be a short couple of years until my turn in the east.