Keeping the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission from threatening the rights of lakeside homeowners like it did last year at Lake of the Ozarks is a top priority for U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, this year in the 113th Congress in Washington.
In a phone interview with the Daily Mail Monday, Hartzler said she will also work to pass a new farm bill, cut spending, fight gun control and protect commodities-trading options for grain elevators and farmers and the 4th Congressional District's military installations.
Referring to FERC's 2011 attempt to condemn 1,200 homes at Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri and remove them from shoreline around Ameren Missouri's Bagnell Dam electric plant, she said, "We intervened with legislation and thankfully, they backed off.
"There is no reason why FERC should have to do with anything other than power regulation," the congresswoman said. "Recreation, lake aesthetics, wildlife management, conservation and public access are best left at the state and local levels."
Having filed a similar bill before Ameren's request to exempt the land from federal jurisdiction was accepted by FERC last June, Hartzler said her plan has also gained support in Oklahoma and Virginia.
As a House Agriculture Committee member, she said getting a new farm bill "is a high priority because we need that farm safety net program.
"I will work to keep support for military bases, create jobs, balance the federal budget and get us out of debt," said Hartzler, who also serves on the Budget and Armed Services committees. "It's very important that we pass legislation to stop onerous cuts to the military."
Describing fiscal cliff negotiations as "frustrating," she said the recent crisis "was one of the president's and the Senate's own making.
"The House passed bills last summer to extend the tax rates for everyone, but we ended up having a bill that increased taxes on some people and increased spending by $300 billion," she said.
"We have to address the debt ceiling increase, which I will not support unless we have significant spending cuts to go along with it. We can't just keep extending the limit on credit for our nation and hope to balance the budget."
Asked if critics of the Second Amendment will be successful, Hartzler said concerns about mass shootings in Connecticut and Colorado should not be addressed by more gun controls. "Guns don't kill people, people kill people," she said.
"We need to look at the causes of these tragedies and see if we can address them. Banning any type of guns is not the way to go. A police officer in Warrensburg e-mailed me that most murders are with knives, bare hands and things like baseball bats.
"Eliminating one particular form will not stop people who are intent on doing that. In fact, it makes victims more vulnerable because they won't have guns to defend themselves. It would be the totally wrong approach to this very sensitive issue."
Hartzler said her work on the Ag Committee will include monitoring regulations of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and trying to protect farmers and grain elevators who trade commodities to hedge their risks. "We need to see that the regulations are common sense and not onerous," she said.
With her 4th District including Whiteman Air Force Base and Fort Leonard Wood, she said there are no known plans by President Obama or the Defense Department to curtail or close them. "They might want to move in that direction, but Congress has the ability to stop them," she said.
"These are vital military installations that would be in good stead if there were a BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure Commission). But we don't want to go there. We need to keep them fully funded so they can meet their mission."