Steelman Calls Out Lawmakers for Biofuels Action

John Davis

Missouri State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, who is also running for the Republican nomination in the state’s gubernatorial race, has labeled Missouri lawmakers “cowards” for changing a law that kept those same lawmakers and their family members from investing their own money in ethanol and biodiesel plants in the state.

This AP story posted on the KY3 (Springfield, MO) web site says Steelman oversees a program that provides state money to assist in investing in biofuel plants and has been barring companies from getting the money if there was even just one investor who is an elected state official, department director or a relative of those people:

The policy outrages some lawmakers who are investors in ethanol and biodiesel plants. Senators voted 21-10 about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday to overturn Steelman’s policy by allowing the incentives so long as state officials own less than 2 percent of the business. The provision is an amendment to a larger tax credit bill and was approved on a head-count vote, avoiding a written record of who voted “yes” or “no” that would have been kept had they taken a roll call.

Rural lawmakers, many of whom invest in the plants, say Steelman’s policy is not fair. They argue it punishes Missouri residents simply because they have invested in the same facility as a lawmaker.

The policy has prevented incentives from going to the $82 million Show Me Ethanol plant because its investors include Rep. John Quinn, R-Chillicothe; his wife, Mary; and Andy Blunt, a brother of Republican Gov. Matt Blunt.

“They were cowards, and didn’t want to do what they did in the light of the day, because they didn’t want the people of the state to realize they were protecting their personal interests,” Steelman, a former senator, said later Wednesday.

Some senators say Steelman was out of line by insisting on an unreasonable conflict of interest policy.

Steelman’s actions have ruffled the feathers of many of her fellow Republicans, who invest in the plants. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as she tries to woo those same Republicans to vote for her in her primary race to see who faces presumptive Democratic nominee Jay Nixon for the governor’s seat as incumbent Republican Blunt is not running for re-election.

Biodiesel, Ethanol, Government, Legislation, News