State legislators answer Boone County residents' questions

Thursday, February 5, 2009 | 11:13 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — State legislators gathered at the Columbia Public Library on Thursday night to hear what was on the minds of Boone County residents.

Democratic state Reps. Mary Still, Chris Kelly and Stephen Webber, all of Columbia, as well as state Sen. Kurt Schaefer, answered questions from an audience of about 50 residents. 

The Columbia-Boone County League of Women Voters partnered with the library to host the event. The league organized the event to provide an opportunity for citizens to learn what their legislators are doing for them, according to chapter president Elaine Blodgett.

Although the questions were on a number of topics, much of the session was spent discussing mental health care and nuclear energy.

Residents expressed concerns about the state Department of Mental Health’s proposed shift in responsibility of the Mid-Missouri Mental Health Center to MU Health Care.

Representatives assured the participants that Mid-Missouri Health Care, and more specifically its patients, will be taken care of one way or another.

“Our immediate priority is, right now, funding mid-Missouri, protecting it,” Still said. “I know that some of the mental health services throughout the state have been decreased. ... It’s a problem for all of society.”

Other residents had questions the need for a second nuclear power plant in Callaway County and whether it would be safe. They also had questions about legislation aimed at overturning construction-financing laws in order to build the plant.

Linda Green of Columbia worried that the second plant might scare off potential new businesses in the area because of higher utility rates.

Kelly said that though he is not excited for nuclear energy, the proposed plant would be a better alternative than coal.

“I believe that there (are) only two sources reasonable for a large base of power,” Kelly said. “One is coal, which I despise, and the other is nuke, which I despise a little less. The one I favor among the two is the plant in Callaway.”

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