Category: Other Consumer Issues

2022 Annual Report

Consumers Council recently released our 2022 Annual Report! This report includes our 2022 accomplishments especially as they relate to our work  to reduce what communities that have long been the target of structural oppression spend on basic energy, our challenges to banks to conduct business equitably in the St Louis area, and our opposition to the privatization of Medicare and support of Medicaid expansion in Missouri. Read about our accomplishments here 2022 Annual Report

This report would not have been possible without the help of Health Literacy Media Thanks to Catina O’Leary and her staff for their creativity and support!

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Annual Membership Meeting

Mark your calendar for Consumers Council’s Annual Membership Meeting!

When:  April 21, 2023 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Where: Ethical Society of St Louis, Hanke Room, 9001 Clayton Rd., St Louis, MO 63117

5:30 – 6:00 pm – Social Time including beverages and snacks

6:00 – 7:00 pm – Membership Meeting including 2022 overview, election of Board Directors, and Approval and Amendment of Bylaws

RSVP: spadgett@moconsumers.org

 

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Meet the New Executive Director

I am Jacqueline Hutchinson, and very excited to be the new Executive Director for Consumers Council of Missouri. I have also served as a board member of Consumers Council since 2008, and stepped down as board chair to serve our community in this position. I am excited to be able to help fulfill the mission of CCM and achieve equity for Missouri Consumers.

For more than forty years, I have given a voice to low-income consumers by being actively involved in utility policy advocacy, personal finance and health issues that impact the lives of low-income families and the elderly. I have recently retired as VP of Operations for People’s Community Action Corporation of St. Louis.

My work has included implementing programs to protect the health and safety of low-
income families, and advocating for families by working collaboratively with other community leader, provide testimony in utility rate cases, cold weather rule proceeding and any other utility cases; working collaboratively to build affordability programs that decrease energy burden; working for equal access to banking products and services, and educating the public on the health impact on families who can least afford to meet their basic needs.

I haves a BS in Business Administration from Washington University in St. Louis; and MS in Policy Analysis, from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville IL

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2019 Moleg Consumer Report

#Moleg2019: Utility Consumers Unscathed

The 2019 Missouri legislative session has come to an end and while many bills made it past the finish line, utility consumer bills were successfully blocked.

Consumers Council of Missouri, all said and done, had a successful 2019 session with two major victories. We helped stop an attempt in the Missouri House to raise water rates by 15%! And in the last week, we helped prevent a measure to block lower cost environmentally friendly electricity to our state’s energy markets. This bill passed the House but was blocked in the Senate before it could become become law!

Thanks for all your help in ensuring that consumers were heard in the Missouri State Capitol.

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Grain Belt – Action Needed!

In the final days of the Missouri legislative session, a measure that will help bring lower cost electricity to energy markets in our state is as risk of being railroaded.

After 5 years of facing legal roadblocks, the high voltage Grain Belt transmission line is about to become a reality, facilitating the flow of primarily-renewable power from Kansas through to Illinois and beyond. But legislation that would stop it the transmission line project (HB 1062) passed the House of Representatives by 115-35, and is now pending in the state Senate.

Consumer groups have supported the Grain Belt transmission project throughout the legal and regulatory challenges of the past 5 years at the Missouri Public Service Commission. Consumers Council of Missouri supports the project because it will open up more competitive markets for electricity, including significantly lower cost wind power, to cities across the state.

The project could bring much needed competition in electric generation for the St. Louis (Ameren Missouri) area.  It will also benefit many municipal electric systems, such as Columbia Water & Light, that have contracted to have access to the cheaper energy.

Even better for the consumer, the Grain Belt project does not use ratepayer funds to make the investment and there are no state tax subsidies involved. This project is a good deal for Missouri, and will employ many good construction jobs as it is being built.

Help ensure the Grain Belt project can add to the bottom line of Missouri consumers by lowering energy costs in our state. Contact your state senator today and let them know that we need access to cheaper electricity options.

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Knowledge is Power

Consumers Council of Missouri 2018 event – Knowledge is Power will showcase our work over the last year, including successful negotiation of a $1M bill pay program for low-income Spire consumers to help families keep their heat on through challenging winters.

The event will feature New York Times best selling author, Wendell Potter who will discuss the rising costs of health care from the perspective of a former insurance executive. We will also be presenting our annual Alberta Slavin Award to Rev. Dr. Cassandra Gould for her work as executive director of Missouri Faith Voices in payday lending and other consumer issues.

December 7, 2018 at the Nine Network, 3655 Olive Street in St. Louis, Missouri.

Tickets are limited so sign up today!

[maxbutton id=”1″ url=”https://moconsumers.org/knowledge-is-power-fall-2018-event/” text=”REGISTER” ]

 

Live music by Jenna Bauer and Dave Black.
Snacks by Milque Toast Bar
and drinks included

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St. Louis petitions state politicians to restore net neutrality

Last year, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal net neutrality, a set of regulations intended to protect internet users. Now, leaders of eight St. Louis co-working spaces are calling on Missouri congressional lawmakers to join national efforts that could reverse the commission’s decision.

Their call came Wednesday as U.S. Sen. Ed. Markey, D-Mass., filed a petition that would force the U.S. Senate to vote on the future of net neutrality. The 2015 regulations bar internet providers from controlling internet speeds, among other things. The Senate must vote by June 12 on whether to allow or block the FCC’s repeal.

What is net neutrality? Read more.

Nebula Coworking owner Jason Deem coordinated with the founders of T-REX, HIVE44, Nexcore, CIC St. Louis, CLAIM, UCity Coworking and TechArtista to write an open letter supporting the measure.

Repealing net neutrality would hurt co-working space clients including small businesses trying to innovate in technology markets and nonprofit organizations seeking social reforms, according to the founders’ letter.

Deem said he was spurred to coordinate the letter by the concerns of small business owners and activists who are members at Nebula.

“The main issue is that the repeal of net neutrality could put small businesses and start-ups at a considerable disadvantage compared to large businesses that could afford to pay more for services,” he said.

The letter is addressed to U.S. Sens. Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt and U.S. Reps. Lacy Clay and Ann Wagner.

Asked for comment, a representative for Blunt’s referred tothe Republican senator’s  December 2017 statement where he supported repealing net neutrality. Blunt wrote that the net neutrality rules “created a barrier to the investment and innovation we need to grow our economy and close the digital divide between rural towns and bigger cities.”

Democrat McCaskill’s office responded to a request for comment by referring to a statement from January when she co-sponsored a Senate proposal to maintain net neutrality rules. In the statement she said that “consumers should have protected, free, and open access to the online content of their choosing.”

Co-working concerns

The Consumers Council of Missouri is among the concerned Nebula members. The nonprofit group work to inform Missourians about health care, personal finance and home utility issues.

Cara Spencer, executive director of the Council, said the potential for internet providers to block content could jeopardize the nonprofit’s work. Spencer also serves as alderwoman of St. Louis’ 20th ward.

“What happens if the content we put out is not in the best interest of the internet service providers or those that work well with them? Could they block content?” Spencer asked. “This is really a threat not only to consumers but to free speech, or anyone who’s advocating on issues that may not be popular with the folks that can pay for preferential internet access.”

She said net neutrality’s repeal could also make the internet look more like politics, where those with the most money have the ability to exert outsized influence. Spencer said the council is also concerned that if internet providers could charge companies for access fees, those increased costs could be passed on to customers.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai, who voted against the rules in 2015, has argued that repealing net neutrality would instead help consumers by creating more competition and encouraging internet providers to invest in networks in low-income areas.

The letter also urges Missouri’s representatives to reject bills that wouldn’t let states develop independent net neutrality laws and back an amicus brief for a potential lawsuit drafted by U.S. Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., and Markey.

Reps. Clay, a Democrat, and Wagner a Republican, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday afternoon.

http://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/st-louis-co-working-spaces-petition-state-politicians-restore-net-neutrality#stream/0

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Missouri bills deregulating utility rates make headway. Consumer protections? Not so much

Bills that would deregulate how MO utility companies set rates are making progress through legislative committees in both the Missouri House and Senate. Another series of bills aimed at increasing consumer protections, however, have all mostly stalled.

https://www.columbiamissourian.com/news/state_news/missouri-bills-deregulating-utility-rates-make-headway-consumer-protections-not/article_d6de1d28-2c71-11e8-bf32-2f4f0314e123.html

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Consumers are still waiting….

Your utility company got a break at the first of the year — why should you have to wait??

“I think it’s incumbent upon utilities to be forthcoming about the amount of money they’re saving from the tax law, so that we can have a public debate about it,” said Coffman. “You’re a regulated monopoly. I don’t understand the justification for keeping that information from the public.”

http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/questions-still-abound-about-what-tax-reform-means-for-your/article_6c3dd865-cd30-5d56-9fe1-c649964e4ec1.html

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