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Mo. senator expecting appointment to utility board

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 21, 2014 at 5:33 pm •  Published: January 21, 2014
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Republican state Sen. Scott Rupp said Tuesday that he expects to be appointed to Missouri's utility regulatory commission as part of a deal that also could clear the way for one of Gov. Jay Nixon's aides to join the panel.

Rupp told The Associated Press that he has met with Nixon and various gubernatorial staff members about the position on the Missouri Public Service Commission.

"There's no guarantees — they haven't said this in blood or anything like that — but they have said their plan is that I will be their nominee on March 14," said Rupp, of Wentzville.

Nixon spokesman Scott Holste said Tuesday that he could not immediately confirm Rupp's impending appointment.

Rupp said the March 14 appointment date is significant because the commission currently has a vacant seat whose term runs through March 13. If he were appointed before then, Rupp would have to fill the unexpired term and then be re-appointed to a full six-year term. By waiting until March 14, Rupp said he will need only one gubernatorial appointment.

The state Senate must approve all nominees to the PSC, which approves the rates charged to customers by investor-owned electric, gas and water companies, among other things.

Republicans who control the Senate have been reluctant to confirm Democratic appointees to commission if they are not also paired with Republican appointees.

In December, Nixon appointed Democrat Daniel Hall to the PSC. Hall had served as Nixon's legislative director since Nixon took office as governor in 2009. Hall already has begun working at the commission but must win Senate confirmation by early next month to remain in the job.

The Senate Gubernatorial Appointments Committee has scheduled a hearing Wednesday to consider Hall's appointment — an indication that senators are satisfied a Republican nominee will be forthcoming.

If appointed and confirmed for the PSC, Rupp would have to resign from his suburban St. Louis Senate seat several weeks before the end of the legislative session. That would reduce the Republican Senate majority over Democrats to 23-9, the minimum two-thirds majority needed to override gubernatorial vetoes.

Some Republican senators expressed frustration that Nixon appointed a GOP House member to the state Board of Probation and Parole last month, thus reducing the Republican House ranks below the two-thirds majority. But Senate Republican leaders said Tuesday that they don't have any issues with either Hall's appointment or Rupp's potential appointment.

Rupp was first elected to the House in 2002 and won a special election to the Senate in 2006. He is barred by term-limits from seeking re-election this year. Senators earn a salary of about $36,000, though Rupp also works at a bank. Public service commissioners earn more than $105,000 annually.

Rupp said the stable, well-paying job is important for his family and poses a good career challenge.

"I think energy issues are going to be huge in the next 15 years," Rupp said. "You need someone over there that's fair, that will listen to both sides of an argument, do their own research and are not beholden to any of the big power players. I can be independent."

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