Legislative News: Meet Chris VandeVenter

For many of us, the start of the year means the start to a new legislative session. There is a new section on Basin Electric’s public website, www.basinelectric.com, called Legislative News that is meant to help our readers learn about what’s happening in Basin Electric’s service area. Today’s post is a start to a series introducing Basin Electric’s legislative representatives.

Chris VandeVenter















Tell us about your work in politics. I’ve been in this line of work for 14 years. I cut my legislative teeth working for U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle in Washington, D.C., from 1998 to 2005 and have been with Basin Electric since 2005. I got to know Basin Electric and its members very well during my time with the senator when members would come for the annual National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Legislative Conference. I would also speak with South Dakota Rural Electric Association Youth Tour participants when they came by the office on their trip. I actually spoke on Sen. Daschle’s behalf at the Chamberlain Wind Project groundbreaking. Working for Basin Electric lets me serve those cooperative members in a new capacity as their advocate in Washington, D.C.

What is your focus at Basin Electric? I primarily monitor federal legislation, and assist the other legislative representatives in their various states. I’m sort of the unofficial tech guru in the department, responsible for most bill tracking, issue research, and news.

What are the issues you will be watching for?  At the federal level we’re watching the so-called “fiscal cliff” negotiations over spending and the debt ceiling. We’ll also be watching legislation and committee hearings regarding the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), coal ash recycling, and greenhouse gases. Confirmation hearings for a new EPA Administrator to replace retiring EPA-head Lisa Jackson will dominate the headlines from our perspective in the next several months. I also monitor railroad issues on behalf of the Laramie River Station, Missouri Basin Power Project and the Western Fuels Association.

What gets you excited for the start of new legislative sessions? Watching the new Congress organize and watching the debates on C-SPAN is perfect for a policy wonk and legislative geek like me. I’m seeking professional help.

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