In January of 2009 the utility company AmerenUE brought a proposal to the Missouri legislature that would overturn an important consumer protection law and allow them to charge customers upfront for the cost of constructing a $6 billion nuclear power plant. This proposal shifted most of the risk away from the company and its investors, and placed it on Missouri ratepayers.
AmerenUE was putting substantial effort behind their bill and most thought it would easily pass both houses of the legislature. In the fight against this legislation, Missourians Against Higher Utility Rates enlisted the help of Matthew D. Parker & Associates (MDPA) and Victory Solutions’ state-of-the-art phone technologies and services.
MDPA put together a Campaign Plan that identified supportive constituents in targeted legislative districts, educated that group of people, and mobilized them to telephone their legislators. The campaign started as the bill was being debated in senate committee and continued as it made its way out of committee and onto the senate floor for debate. MDPA waged a three-step campaign for both the committee hearings and the floor debate.
The first step used Victory Solutions’ Automated Voter ID. This product identified the position of over 8,000 people during the committee battle, and over 17,000 people during the floor battle. The next step used the Voter ID results to conduct large telephone town hall meetings to further educate this same group of constituents. The first town hall meeting had 3,800 attendees and the second hosted more than 10,000. Finally, the day before the bill was up for discussion Victory Solutions was used to provide highly targeted Patch Through calls to the targeted legislators. A Patch Through call is an automated phone call to targeted constituents. The call contains a message from the campaign and the option to “Press 1” to be patched directly through to their legislators’ office.
As a result of this campaign, Victory Solutions successfully patched through 4,357 Voters directly to their legislators’ offices. These constituents personally urged their elected officials to vote against raising the electric rates.
While the bill initially had very high prospects for success in both chambers of the Missouri State Legislature, AmerenUE found their bill stalled in the Senate after days of constituent complaints and filibustering by Senators opposed to the rate hike. In the end, AmerenUE completely dropped their legislative campaign, choosing not to bring the House version of the bill to the floor for a vote.
Former Missouri Speaker of the House Rod Jetton was working with MDPA on the campaign and had this to say once the dust settled, “When we started our campaign no one gave us a chance since the leaders of both Chambers and Party's were in support of this bill. But the phone program MDPA developed for us flooded the capitol with calls and stopped the bill in its tracks”.