Winners from Session – House Republicans
Speaker Tim Jones was the constant target of slings and arrows, the usual position for lame-duck speakers. But there are two reasons he’s a winner. First, as speaker he gets credit for the productive session. Nay-sayers are fast to give Diehl credit and discount Jones’ involvement, but the bottom line is when you’re speaker you get the credit and you get the criticism. Second, he’s not damaged goods. Yes he’s less popular within the building than he was two years. But there were no scandals, and he still have a million dollars in the bank, and a record which should win him the Republican primary of his choosing.
Speaker-designate John Diehl locked up 109 on tax cut, successfully controlled Dem Caucus, and ran the show. He will be the most powerful speaker the House has seen in recent years. Some in Dem leadership think it won’t be so bad because he’s willing to horse trade. I think it may be the longest two years of many Democrats’ lives.
Rep. Dave Schatz had a very good if not great legislative session that just ended. He (along with Rep. Dave Hinson) helped guide through HJR 68, the sales/use tax for transportation. He also resurrected one of his bills, H.B. 1867, dealing with underground facilities, better known as One Call. The One Call Board of Directors actually had their executive director testify against this bill, their own bill, in the House hearing because they did not like certain provisions. Schatz worked out the difference and guided the measure to passage on the last day. These were in addition to his filing for the state senate seat that was once eyed by the Speaker. Not sure a whole lot of representatives would tackle that challenges.
Rep. Jay Barnes attacked Dems when necessary, but still came out looking like one of the few adults in the caucus.
Rep. Noel Torpey delivered a number of KC priorities, built better relationships with Dem caucus which mean his November opponent won’t get a ton of support.
Rep. Caleb Jones bounced back from losing Speaker’s race to forge a tight working relationship with Diehl. His General Laws committee carried a huge load of the House’s legislation. He was critical in passing the hemp oil bill which demonstrated that he is one of the best in the building at being an actual legislator that understands the legislative process and can pass bills.
Rep. Mike Cierpiot got in the nitty gritty of the education bill and helped keep the divergent personalities of Barnes and Cookson on the same page while at the same time crafting a bill that
could actually pass the House and Senate. Also Cierpiot was the go to person to run the floor in Diehl’s frequent absences.
Rep. Todd Richardson is going to stroll in to the majority floor leader spot after helping a variety of bills over the finish line. How he gets in the middle of divisive issues, and doesn’t make anyone mad? It’s remarkable.