Friday, April 21, 2017

Can Senate Play Nice with Itself?

At Spring Break I peered toward the second half of the legislative session and wondered if the House and Senate would be able to “play nice” with each other.

The Senate had spent its first half methodically focusing on its two big priorities of labor reform and tort reform.  This rankled some in the Senate who had other items they wanted to move, and it bothered some in the House who wanted the legislation they had advanced to be given time as well.

There was concern among folks in the building that the two chambers might start fighting with each other.  While there is still inter-chamber tension, this week the center ring was all about the tensions within the Senate.

Sen. Rob Schaaf, with a rotating cast of allies, slowed down the chamber.  He’s started eating up half-hours and hours at a time, reading from a favorite book or study, and talking about his favorite topics: prescription drug monitoring program (bad), managed care (bad), gift ban (good).

Finally it was almost as if Sen. Caleb Rowden had just had enough of it.  Yesterday afternoon he rose and started asking questions of Schaaf – about his friendship with a lobbyist and how that might be influencing his legislative activity.  Sen. Bob Dixon tried to cool tempers, but Schaaf was indignant that the lie of questioning and let Rowden know so.

It was reminiscent of when then-freshmen Sen. Kurt Schaefer (Rowden’s predecessor) made accusations about the motives behind Sen. Jason Crowell (who like Schaaf was obstructing the Senate’s ability to move legislation).

After the dust-up Sen. Mike Kehoe quickly moved for the Senate to adjourn.

The plan had been to work today – a plan which Sen. Gary Romine disparaged earlier in the day – but perhaps the Senate needs some cooling off time before next week…


Next Week

Next week the budget is to move to the Senate floor.   The budget is a tangled mess of conflicting priorities now.  The Senate has been unable/unwilling to follow the House’s elimination of the renter’s portion of the circuit-breaker tax credit.  That creates one more hole to patch.  The Senate will muster every effort to move the budget along, knowing that the conference committee – and final passage – will be difficult regardless of what their initial product looks like.

In some sense, Schaaf’s railing against managed care is almost a sideshow from the larger conflict of budget: Budget Chair Scott Fitzpatrick making the full funding of the foundation formula his top priority, and the Senate balking at it.


The Big Picture

As dysfunctional as the Senate appeared this week as it confronted the budget and dealt with the internal conflicts, don’t lose sight of this: if the House passes all the labor and tort bills the Senate sent earlier this year, it will still be a historic year legislatively for Republicans.

Yes, there’s a huge list of bills sitting on the Senate calendar, and many of these bills are important to individual legislators, lobbyists, districts, and special interests.  But the labor and legal stuff are big tickets the GOP has talked about for a decade.



Celeste Bott reports on the House voting down Rep. TJ Berry’s HB306 which would change the bidding process for weigh stations. See it here.

Pull Quote: While the House debated bills on Thursday, some lawmakers expressed frustration that senators hadn’t moved forward on policies they’d passed on to the opposite chamber. The weigh station bill is being carried in the Senate by Sen. Rob Schaaf, a St. Joseph Republican who has filibustered House interests this year. “The senator from the St. Joe district, the Schaaf district, has the companion bill,” Kolkmeyer said. “Mr. Speaker, with everything going on in the senate today, this week … why are we helping forward anything on the senator from St. Joe’s agenda?”


Aphorism of the Week

“Under peaceful conditions, a warlike mind sets upon itself” – Friedrich Neitzsche.  It’s almost as if the Republicans having beaten the Democrats into a super-minority submission, now must do battle amongst themselves…


Dept of Revenue Turns Over Records

Auditor Nicole Galloway’s statement: One day after Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway issued a subpoena, the Department of Revenue has delivered a stack of documents to the State Auditor's Office.  "After weeks of my staff requesting the information and after taking the unprecedented step of issuing a subpoena, my office has received the Department of Revenue's response. I am hopeful that in the future the issuance of a subpoena will not be necessary for my office to do its job protecting taxpayers," Auditor Galloway said…

Governor Eric Greitens called the subpoena a stunt (see it here.)

Maybe. But it was a stunt that got results from a slow-motion department, and the not-so-veiled threat in Galloway’s statement means the stunt may be employed again in the future…


Nixon ALJ Appointees Get Targeted

This was rumored to be in the works.  KC Star’s Steve Kraske gets the story that the Senate Appropriations Committee is reducing the funding for Administrative Law Judges – where several Nixonites were given landing spots near the end of his term.  See it here.


House Knocks Two Senate Bills Off Consent

A bipartisan group of House members objected to two Senate bills on the consent calendar, thereby knocking off that calendar and making their passage a bit harder.  The bills are: Sen. Mike Kehoe’s SB329 which regulates warranty service repairs, and Sen. Dave SchatzSB411 which would add Franklin County to the Bi-State Metropolitan Development District. The members objecting were: Reps. Rick Brattin, Jered Taylor, Bryan Spencer, Jim Neely, Courtney Curtis, and Tracy McCreery.


Lobbyists Registrations

Gary Burton and Chris Liese added Missouri Trucking Association.

Evan Fitts added AREP Fund II Acquisitions Sub LLD, KC Hotel Ownder LLC, BBT Joplin LLC, WWB Inc, Watts Mill Community Improvement District, White Oak Community Improvement District, Development Associates LLC, Spring Venture Group LLC, E&F Development LLC, Farmer Holding Company, Capital Mall Community Improvement District, Stone Ridge Transportation Development District, Mirason Properties LLC, M150 Echelon Land Development LLC, HMA Inc, Hollis & Miller Architects and Engineers Inc, and Westwood Partners LLC.

Chad Moore deleted Children’s Mercy Pediatric Care Network.


$5K+ Contributions

Committee to Elect Reed - $10,000 from Eubank Storage LLC.

Committee to Elect Reed - $10,000 from United Here Union Local #74.



Happy birthdays to Dan Mehan, David Barklage, Rep. Paul Curtman and former Rep. Maynard Wallace.

Saturday: Sen. Gary Romine, and Dana Rademan Miller.

Sunday: Minority Leader Gina Walsh, and Rep. Jeff Pogue.