Power Profile: Reps. Dave Griffith and Rudy Veit
They were elected to be public servants. That concept recently took on a whole new meaning for two state representatives when the capital city of Missouri was hit by a tornado.
Rep. Dave Griffith (R-60, Jefferson City) and Rep. Rudy Veit (R-59, Wardsville) were busy for days after the catastrophic event tending to the needs of citizens whose homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed.
Thousands lost power that night as utility poles were uprooted and power lines were down everywhere you looked in the affected areas. The elected officials took notice when Ameren Missouri and its partners moved into the area and got power restored quickly and safely.
“I can’t say enough good things about Ameren Missouri,” Griffith said. He was amazed at the number of trucks that came in and, considering the amount of time it takes to install new utility poles, how quickly poles were replaced and power went back on. “The spirit of cooperation was superb, and they just did an outstanding job.”
Veit was also impressed with Ameren Missouri’s response to the disaster.
“The Ameren people came well prepared with gear, water and food. They came prepared to be there and worked all (Memorial Day) weekend,” Veit recalled. “They were in full force.”
Both members of the House of Representatives were elected in 2018. With one legislative session under their belt, they are both pleased with the work that was accomplished during the session.
Griffith sponsored a number of bills and is most proud of the passage of bill that would create Veterans Treatment Courts in Missouri. Similar to special courts set up for family and juvenile offender cases, the Veterans Courts “will give veterans a second chance, and their record will be expunged” if they successfully complete the program. “It gives them a chance to be reintegrated back into society,” he said.
The Veterans Court bill was one of the last bills passed in the waning hours of the session. It still requires the signature of Gov. Mike Parson, but Griffith said he anticipates the governor will sign the bill into law.
Griffith also sponsored bills to create a Capitol Complex Fund and to establish a National Steamboat Museum in Jefferson City. Those bills did not pass, but he hopes to refile them in the next legislative session.
Rep. Veit was a supporter of a legislative effort to establish a Heartland Port Authority in central Missouri. That legislation passed the House but “got tied up in the Senate,” he noted. Veit said he believes the port authority is important because “we have to improve transportation and lighten the load on our highways.” The bill will be introduced again next session, he predicted.
A lawyer and member of the House Judicial Committee, Veit was involved in the rewriting and clarification of bills that came before that body. He notes that he learned a lot in that committee, and in the House in general. “I’ve learned you have to work with other people in order to get things done,” he said.
Both Griffith and Veit are supporters of Ameren Missouri’s Smart Energy Plan, which evolved from energy legislation passed in the 2018 session.
“We have to have an effective and efficient system,” Veit noted. “The recent tornado shows the devastating blow that occurs without electricity. Just look at the loss.”
He also noted his support of wind farms in Missouri and making sure that those facilities are taxed locally. He appreciated Ameren Missouri’s support for that concept.
Griffith noted that energy infrastructure and grid improvements are critical, especially in outstate Missouri. “Often rural communities are not thought of, but they depend upon that grid and that technology,” Griffith said. The freshman legislator said he also supports the idea of a second nuclear plant in Missouri, noting that Illinois has six nuclear plants.
“Another nuclear plant would be a great asset in terms of boosting the grid,” he said.
The two new representatives find their new jobs challenging. Says Veit: “Some days are frustrating, but if it was easy, it wouldn’t be any fun!”