Monday, May 15, 2017

A Tale of Two Sessions

It was an historic session; it was a session of unfulfilled promise.

The General Assembly passed landmark legislation; it was at times a dysfunctional mess.

Elections have consequences; winning campaigns and governing are two different skills.

This is all true.

On the Senate side, the session’s singular buzzword was “dysfunctional.”  After its initial sprint to pass right to work, the Senate was slow and methodical (some would say plodding) during the first half of the session.  It sent a half-dozen priority bills on tort and labor reform to the House, and then… sand got caught in the clogs.  The Senate became mired with in-fighting and lost days here and there.  Weeks evaporated where little progress seemed to be made.

Yet despite the frequent breakdowns in the Senate machinery, it was, by any measure, a momentous session for Republicans.

They passed right to work and had it signed into law.  This is the major public policy change after which they have salivated for a decade.

They fully funded the educational foundation formula – an achievement not desired by the Senate Appropriations Chair, and not even contemplated in the governor’s budget or State of the State speech.

They passed SB43 – which rewrites discrimination law to greatly reduce lawsuits against businesses.

Yet, other legislation languished.  The Republican education agenda of expanding charter schools or creating educational saving accounts withered in the legislative process.  An updating of the regulatory framework for electric utilities again failed to get out of the Senate.  There was precious little debate, much less a proposal, for funding transportation needs, and public safety as an agenda item was compressed into passing a “Blue Alert” system.

How was the session historic and yet the legislature so underachieving?

Uniting these two seemingly opposite realities was the governor.

On the one hand, with a Republican in the governor’s mansion, the Republican legislature was able to finally land some significant victories which had eluded it during Nixon’s eight years.

On the other hand, the governor himself was a catalyst for the Senate’s breakdown.  It’s possible if he hadn’t climbed the stairs to the third floor and belittle senators during the payraise debate, the Senate rebels wouldn’t have congealed.  When Pro Tem Ron Richard allowed Governor Eric Greitens to disrespect senators in his caucus, it gave an opening to dissidents.  They were able to argue that Richard wasn’t willing to stick up for them, that he was not a true leader of the Senate.

Leadership wanted to tell senators when they could or couldn’t recuse themselves from an issue, yet let the governor talk trash to senators.

It started to unravel.

Soon the Pro Tem’s ability to regulate the flow of legislation from the committee was rescinded.  Then the floor leader’s ability to play “traffic cop” was curtailed.  Those who had called for a “decentralized” Senate saw its consequence – an aimless agenda, drifting between mini-filibusters, roadblocks and cul-de-sacs.

When the Real ID bill was finally passed, it was as if a grand legislative triumph had been forged.  That’s how low the bar had sunk.

To rescind the City of St. Louis’ minimum wage hike, the cool efficiency of previous PQs was a distant memory, and in its place was a three-ring circus of barkers, jugglers, lion-tamers, and clowns.

It was a historic session.


Krewson on Cookie Cutter State Policy

Mayor Lyda Krewson’s statement after the legislature passed the minimum wage reversal.  “Today the state legislature overturned the city minimum wage bill by preempting all cities from enacting their own minimum wage. The state has preempted cities from enacting laws on many issues, including guns, cold medicine and now our minimum wage. Every city and town in our state does not have the same issues, needs or economy. A big city frequently has different problems than a very small one. This is a setback for working families. $7.70 is not enough. I will work with others to get an increase in the minimum wage on the ballot since our state legislature won't address it.”


Boyd and the Mayor’s Office

With the close of the legislative session, and the end of Francis Slay’s tenure as mayor of St. Louis City, Rodney Boyd and his Dentons colleagues concluded their 16-year representation of the Office of Mayor. In the registrations (below) today, they’ve deregistered.

In an exclusive comment to MOScout, Boyd stated that “although we are concludin our lobbying services for the City via the Office of Mayor Slay, we have begun a conversation with Mayor [Lyda] Krewson about how we might lend our experience in Jefferson City to her administration.”

When Boyd first started lobbying, the Mayor’s Office was his very first client. Since then his client list has grown.  He and his Dentons team now represent other civic groups like Civic Progress and Missouri Growth Association, as well as corporate clients, like Major Brands and Lyft.


Greitens to RGA

Looks like Governor Eric Greitens will be at the Republican Governors Association Corporate Policy Summit tomorrow.  See it here.

It takes place at Trump National Doral Miami golf resort.  According to the schedule the West/Midwest contingent which includes Missouri will have their breakout in “Ivanka C.”


Alcohol Advertising Fight Goes On

With dust in the Capitol still settling from Friday's legislative adjournment, a federal court hearing Monday afternoon is a reminder of a bill that didn't get across the finish line. The hearing is on a long-running challenge by the Missouri Broadcasters Association and other plaintiffs to state regulations governing alcohol advertising. The Prohibition-era regulations prohibit TV, radio and newspaper advertising of the actual prices of alcohol. This year, HB433 sponsored by Rep. Robert Cornejo would have repealed the restrictions and put Missouri into compliance with 40 years of U.S. Supreme Court rulings on commercial free speech. The bill passed the House and got a Senate hearing, the greatest distance the legislation has reached since being filed at least the last four sessions.

Coincidentally, Saturday was the 21st anniversary of a SCOTUS ruling relevant to the Missouri case: On May 13, 1996, the justices unanimously struck down Rhode Island's ban on ads that listed or referred to liquor prices, saying the law violated free-speech rights. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cited this and other pro-free speech rulings in January, when it reversed a lower court and reinstated the Missouri case for trial. The 2:30 p.m. hearing before newly assigned U.S. District Judge Doug Harpool is for "case management." It'll be at the Kit Bond Federal Courthouse in Jefferson City.


New Committees

Keri Ingle formed a committee to run for House 35 as a Democrat.  The current incumbent, Republican Gary Cross, is termed. See her twitter here.  According to LinkedIn, Ingle is a social worker at Saint Luke's Health System.


Anton Luetkemeyer formed a committee to run for Senate 34 as a Republican.  The current incumbent, Republican Rob Schaaf, is termed.  Luetkemeyer is an attorney and was president of the Mizzou Student Association back in 2008.


Help Wanted

Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri (PPMO) seeks Missouri Manager of Public Policy and Organizing.  “The Missouri Manager of Public Policy and Organizing is responsible for assisting in the development and implementation of the statewide public affairs plans and goals, and serves as the lobbyist representing PPMO to Missouri’s governmental entities.  The Manager builds and solidifies relationships with pro-reproductive health legislators in the Capitol and works with state agencies to ensure the protection of Planned Parenthood’s interests.  In addition, the Manager provides strategic planning and resource development assistance to PPMO and is responsible for building political and grasstops relationships throughout the state with a focus on the Columbia and the Mid-MO region…”  See the ad here.


Lobbyists Registrations

Brent Evans added Diamond Game.

John McGurk added Polsinelli PC, and Plaza Hotel LLC.

Chase Simmons added Plaza Hotel LLC.

Chris Moody, Angela Schulte, and Noel Torpey added Lathrop & Gage LLP.

Jason Zamkus added Recorders Association of Missouri.

Julie Murphy Finn deleted JBS LLC.

Aaron Griesheimer deleted Site Improvement Association.

Ryan Johnson terminated his lobbyist registration.  His clients were: United for Missouri, Missouri Century Foundation, State Policy Network and Exemplar Public Affairs LLC.

Rodney Boyd, Brian Grace, Kelvin Simmons, and Katherine Casas deleted Mayor’s Office, City of St. Louis.


$5K+ Contributions

Give Missourians a Raise - $15,000 from SEIU Missouri/Kansas State Council.

New Approach Missouri - $10,000 from Missouri Essentials LLC.

Find the Cures - $16,000 from Bradley Bradshaw.

We Are Missouri - $6,000 from United Union of Roofers AFL-CIO Union No. 2



Happy birthdays to Rep. John Wiemann (the big 5-0).


Coming Tomorrow

Legislative Grades… send me your input…, or call or text 314-255-5210….