Missouri Senate advances utility bill

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP)   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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