Monday we were treated to a tour of Empire Districts' plant on State Line Road.

Monday we were treated to a tour of Empire Districts' plant on State Line Road.

The plant is natural gas fired and pretty much state of the art. They have huge gas turbine engines to turn the generators, but that's just half the story. The engine exhaust is 1300 degrees. Instead of just venting that heated air into the atmosphere, it is captured and used to create steam to run another generator. Innovations like this are what will keep us in affordable electricity for a long time. The facility was spotless and we couldn't help but be impressed by the plant and the well informed personnel.

We went to Jefferson City Tuesday for the first of several trips to plan for the new legislative session. We elected the new leadership team and they shared with us some of their ambitions for the next two years.

Speaker Jones identified three things that he wishes to pursue. He hopes to make improvements in economic development, energy and education policies for the state. Of course, we will have to address Medicaid funding under the new Obamacare rules. The first objective will be to get some proper interpretation of what the law will require and what options we have. The House passed legislation to set up a state exchange last session, but one obstructionist senator refused to let the senate vote on the issue. Now that our own Senator Richard is the new floor leader, it will be much easier to work together! We have meetings scheduled later this month and also in December to start formulating our plans for the second week of January when session begins. Pre-filing of bills begins Dec. 1 and I have several to start with. I'll report more later when I have them ready.

Friday morning I was pleased to attend a veterans ceremony at Rocky Comfort Elementary. Sgt. First Class Eric Corcoran was the main speaker and he did an excellent job. Many area veterans were recognized and they included men and women from World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Gulf War, and Iraq. Mrs. Burnett was responsible for setting up the assembly and she took special pride in standing next to her granddaughter, Pfc.Christina Webster. The McDonald County High School Band played beautifully and the grade school choir was great! There are ceremonies like this all over Newton and McDonald Counties and I strongly urge you to attend one. Rep. Charlie Davis from Webb City joined me at Rocky Comfort. He will be the next chairman of the Veterans Committee.

I finished up the day delivering the Missouri government workbooks to all the grade schools in McDonald County. It's a great feeling to spend time with the area children and see the wonderful job our local teachers are doing. I do have some serious question about the new guidelines for lunches. If you have a child or grandchild in school, I would advise you to go eat lunch with them. The feds have decided that our children are getting too many calories so now they only feed them enough to keep a sparrow flying!

While I was at Noel Elementary, I was given a copy of Mary Smith's winning essay for the Joplin Globe Veteran Essay contest. Mary won $100 for her efforts and wrote an exceptional essay!

More next week, until then, I am and remain in your service.

Bill Lant represents the people of Southwest Missouri in the Missouri House of Representatives. Contact him locally at 437-8223 or at his Jefferson City office at (573) 751-9801 or email him at