About 250 Bootheel residents rallied Tuesday at the Capitol in Jefferson City, urging lawmakers to approve legislation they say means hundreds of jobs in southeast Missouri.
Governor Eric Greitens (R) has called lawmakers back to Jefferson City for a special session on the Noranda/steel mill issue. Greitens and other supporters say the bill is aimed at creating 500 to 600 new jobs in the impoverished New Madrid area.
New Madrid resident Buddy Mowery traveled to the Capitol to participate in the Greitens rally.
“I worked at Noranda (Aluminum) for 14 years and lost my job. I’ve got my kids here with me. I’ve actually had to find work in Kentucky at another smelter, paying two mortgages. You know I’m ready to come back home where my kids are,” Mowery says.
Mowery notes 900 people lost their jobs when the Noranda smelter closed in 2016.
While critics worry it could gut the Public Service Commission (PSC), the rally participants say it will help create about 500 new jobs in the Bootheel. Mowery, who brought his three children to Tuesday’s rally, tells Missourinet he disagrees with State Sen. Doug Libla’s (R-Poplar Bluff) concern about possible rate increases for businesses and families.
“One thing about (Senator) Libla, he’s got his own, I guess, business, I think that’s a lot of his personal vendetta. You know, that’s all he’s worried about, I believe. All these people without jobs, that’s what he ought to be focused on,” Mowery told Capitol reporters.
Libla issued a statement last week, emphasizing that if State Rep. Don Rone’s (R-Portageville) May 11th amendment had not included what he calls a “sweeping deterioration” of PSC scrutiny and only Noranda smelter language, he would have supported it.
State Sen. Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) has expressed concerns similar to Libla’s. Schaaf tells Missourinet that he won’t filibuster “if the bill does not gut the PSC.”
At the end of Tuesday’s rally, Governor Greitens encouraged the crowd to join him in walking to every state senator’s office. Rone encouraged the crowd to ask senators for an up-or-down vote.
Participants taped messages to the doors of Senate offices. The messages included phrases such as “we don’t want welfare” and “bring back American jobs.”
There were so many messages taped to the door of State Sen. Gary Romine’s (R-Farmington) office on Tuesday that a Missourinet reporter could not find the door handle at first.
Senator Romine came outside, telling us that he supports the Noranda and steel mill issue. Romine, however, opposes the PSC language. Romine tells Missourinet he tried to help Noranda get a better rate a few years ago, but that Ameren opposed it.
Rone praises Greitens, saying “we finally have a governor who knows where southeast Missouri is.” Rone says the bill’s economic impact would stretch far beyond his impoverished district.
“If a (Ameren) ratepayer pays a little more and he lives in St. Louis and he’s working on the docks of the port and they start shipping 25 to 30 thousand tons a month down (the Mississippi River) to New Madrid, he’s gonna benefit from it,” says Rone.
Rone tells Missourinet he believes the House will approve the bill Wednesday, adding that he believes rules will be suspended. Rone emphasizes that House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) decides that.
Supporters say Rone’s bill would help restore about 400 jobs at the former Noranda site at New Madrid, and would create 200 jobs at a new Bootheel steel mill.