, , ,

The Senate Commerce Committee voted Do Pass last Wednesday on the PACE bill. So this win/win proposal is on its way in the upper chamber. But it’s having a tough go in the House because we live in a state where representatives propose such dim bulb ideas as a bill that would allow for light bulbs manufactured in Missouri to be stamped “made in Missouri”. Seriously. In contrast, PACE is a bill for grownups. It would allow homeowners to get long term loans for energy upgrades by applying to municipalities that have opted in. The bill would enable homeowners to see cash savings from the very first month they upgraded, it would create green jobs, and it would cost the state … nothing. What’s not to like? Twenty-eight other states have already instituted similar programs.

Our job is to make the House leadership notice good fortune when, wearing sequins and a sash that says “GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY”, it jumps up and down waving its arms in front of them. Let me inspire you to take the initiative by reprinting these grafs from a posting two years ago about Jim Trout’s run for the Senate seat in Kirkwood/Webster:

[Trout] told me that in the latter half of the nineties, Representative Sue Shear (D-HD 83) worked for several years to get health care coverage for poor disabled children. At the time, only parents at the poverty level could get coverage for such children. Insurance companies turned a cold shoulder to disabled children whose parents earned more than poverty level, even if the family could scrape together the money for premiums. Shear was proposing MC Plus, a program that enabled parents earning $39,000 or less to insure a disabled child; it guaranteed coverage and gave them some help from the state on a sliding scale.

One spring, Trout called Shear and asked where the bill stood in the legislature. It’s dead, she told him. The chair won’t let it out of committee. Trout asked her who the committee chair was, but he didn’t call the man. Instead, he called fifty of his friends and asked them to call the man–and to keep him on the phone with their complaints. Apparently, a lot of those fifty people did as they were asked. The bill made it out of committee in a jiffy and passed.

I’m writing in lieu of calling fifty people individually. And I can’t ask you to bend the ear of some committee chair, since no committee’s got the bill. You’ll need to call Speaker Ron Richard’s office (573-751-2173–ask for Kristen) and Majority Leader Steve Tilley’s office (573-751-1488). The PACE bill is HB2178.

Tell them that Missouri could save up to 30 percent of its energy costs just by creating more efficient buildings. But don’t come across as some Greenpeace-crazed, granola-munching hippie: they don’t want to hear about slowing climate change. Focus instead on eliminating the need to build another power plant. They still remember what a touchy subject that is. And even those who think climate change is some librul hoax know it’s a good idea to use less foreign oil.

Stress that the beauty of this legislation is that it is not an example of government poking its nose into people’s business. Instead, it’s a bill that simply allows citizens to do good for their state and their country even as they solve their own problems. PACE would let people do for themselves, at no cost to the state in these recessionary times. Think of it as deregulating consumers.

Right now, the leadership is overlooking a chance to gain bragging rights for years to come as the party that created thousands of jobs without spending a cent, merely by offering citizens a chance to do the right thing.

We’re not alone in pushing this project. Members of MAAEP (MO Assn. of Accredited Energy Professionals) have spent several days in the Jeff lobbying legislators. And last week MAAEP members Byron DeLear and Tom Appelbaum went to K.C. to quietly promote it to bankers and other business stakeholders. Here’s hoping DeLear and Appelbaum convinced some of those people to call legislators.

It’s worth the trouble to contact Richard and Tilley. Remember Jim Trout’s success story. But even if we don’t get it passed this spring, we’ll lay the groundwork to get off to a roaring start next January. So make those calls. I’ll be phoning Richard’s office and Tilley’s office later in the week, and I better not hear that I’m the only one. Don’t make me call y’all individually. … Okay, okay, that’s an empty threat. I don’t have phone numbers. But you get the idea.