The Latest: Missouri Senate advances utility bill

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The Latest on the Missouri Senate's debate on legislation changing the way utility rates are regulated (all times local):

10:05 p.m.

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The Missouri Senate has advanced a bill changing the way utility rates are regulated after an overnight filibuster.

Senators gave the measure initial approval in a voice vote Thursday. It needs another vote to move to the House.

The legislation would reward utilities making improvements to their infrastructure with more consistent rate increases on their customers, but they would face a 2.85 percent limit on annual rate hikes.

Opponents argued it will result in ever-increasing rates for customers, but backers said it will ensure price predictability instead of allowing periodic surges in rates that could be even larger.

A small group of senators spoke for more than 20 hours in a filibuster against the bill. The measure finally advanced after negotiations that led to limits on some of the benefits for companies, including lowering the annual rate hike limit from 3 percent to 2.85 percent.

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1:45 p.m.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is expressing support for "regulatory reform" while some senators continue to filibuster a bill affecting people's monthly utility rates.

Senators who were blocking the legislation Thursday contend it would lead to higher rates for both residents and businesses.

But supporters say rates are likely to rise anyway, and the bill could provide stability by limiting increase to an average of 3 percent annually. The rate cap is essentially a tradeoff for a new provision that could allow investor-owned electric and gas companies to more fully recoup their costs for infrastructure investments.

Greitens told reporters Thursday that he believes regulatory changes could lead to more jobs and higher pay.

Senators began debating the bill around 7 p.m. Wednesday and went straight through the night into Thursday.

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9:25 a.m.

The Missouri Senate has worked through the night into a new day as a group of lawmakers filibusters a bill changing the way utility rates are regulated.

The legislation being debated Thursday would allow utilities to more quickly recover their costs for infrastructure improvements while imposing a 3 percent limit on annual rate increases to consumers.

Supporters say it will result in ever-increasing rates for customers, but opponents say it will ensure price predictability instead of allowing periodic surges in rates that could be even larger.

The Senate began debating the bill around 7 p.m. Wednesday and worked straight through the night. Opponents frequently made quorum calls to summon sleepy senators who had retreated to their offices to come back to the chamber.

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Utility bill is SB564