Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Senate Drama

Where to start?....

On Monday a group of senators gummed up the proceedings to prevent event he reading of the journal until their demands were met.  I wrote yesterday that “Assistant Floor Leader Bob Onder apparently worked out an accommodation with them…”  I’m told by a couple sources that’s incorrect.  It was Pro Tem Ron Richard, not Onder.  Richard agreed to hear SB 73 (dark money disclosure) and give it a vote as an amendment on the floor.

Yesterday, the Senate convened and then adjourned.  They didn’t even refer bills, losing a critical day to move legislation if they needed to. In the halls there were rumors that leadership was worried about a possible “coup.”  That is a vote on the floor to change leadership.  Floor Leader Mike Kehoe remained stranded by the flooding, and they wanted all their guns there.

Things got worse from there.

Sen. Ryan Silvey published an open letter to Richard (see it here) “thanking” him for not putting him on the budget conference committee because he didn’t want to defend Richard’s earmark for his hometown airport.

Sen. Brian Munzlinger complained about a group of senators holding up important legislation (see it here).

And the official “Senate Minute” communication took on a surreal sound (see it here) as it spoke about advancing “more priority legislation” and featured the voices of two insurgents: Schaaf and Sen. Jason Holsman.

Today: First, Kehoe is back in Jefferson City.

Second, the word is that the circuit-breaker tax credit will be at the top of the Senate’s agenda. The Budget Conference Committee didn’t meet because they have two options.  One would plug $30M-ish from a circuit-breaker compromise (phase-in); the other is cut everything other open item to a minimum. It’s said that Sens. Silvey and Schaaf have agreed to go to circuit breaker legislation first.

Going to the circuit-breaker doesn’t guarantee its passage.  As far as I know Sens. Jamilah Nasheed and Kiki Curls haven’t signed off on the “compromise.”

After the circuit-breaker, the question is whether the body will allow Kehoe to move back up the order of business, to get back to ethics bills and work on the Schaaf amendment.  They can with unanimous consent.  But will they get unanimous consent, or waste another day?...

 

The Isolation of Ron Richard

There are many events that have led us to this place. One critical decision was to give Sen. Dan Brown the Appropriations Chairmanship over Sen. Silvey.

But another critical moment was Richard letting Governor Eric Greitens disrespect senators in his office.  And again not immediately putting the small battle aside and defending Schaaf when the governor’s political non-profit gave out his cell phone.

In this regard, Richard has not been representing the Senate. Whatever you think of Sens. Denny Hoskins, Paul Wieland, and Schaaf you just can’t let the Governor act the way to members of your chamber. Not a word through that whole mess.

 

Budget Streaming

Right now the budget conference committee is scheduled for Noon.  Famous last words.  Whenever it does occur, you should be able to pick a live feed here.

 

Adam Smith Foundation Against Schaaf’s Dark Money Legislation

The Adam Smith Foundation sent out an email blast opposing Sen. Rob Schaaf’s SB73, anti-dark money bill.  See it here.  It says it might leave donors to non-profits “open to harassment by those who do not share their views, and this is a clear threat to the exercise of free speech.  Make no mistake, the left will use this information to intimidate conservatives…”  See it here.

 

MEC Issues Two New Opinions

The Missouri Ethics Commission issued two new opinions.

First, they said that you can’t take “primary election” and general election” simultaneously.  Some candidates have taken $5,200 from donors, that is $2,600 for the primary and $2,600 for the general all at once.  MEC says that’s a no-no.  Save the second $2,600 check for after the primary.  See it here.

And they issued guidelines for how a public official should report a third-party paying for their travel.  For example, let’s say someone flies the governor to DC, how does he report that?  See it here.

 

More on Mission Continues Donor List

Following up on Governor Eric Greitens’ admission that his campaign received an in-kind contribution of a donor list from his non-profit, The Mission Continues, one reader thinks there’s some risk to the non-profit.

“The Mission Continues is a 501 c(3) organization. If it provided contacts or a mailing list to Grietens, it probably constitutes political activity that could endanger it's 501c(3) status...”

See the guidance the IRS puts out on political activity here.

 

Meet Holly PAC

In the large contributions, there’s a check for Holly PAC.  One assumes this is a PAC to support the Rep. Holly Rehder… perhaps in her speaker’s race?  See the paperwork here.  The treasurer is James Thomas III who I noted yesterday is an attorney with ties to Republican strongman Jeff Roe.  The Axiom folks have been helping Rehder on her prescription drug monitoring program efforts.

 

Notes on Lobbyists Registrations

Quentin Hull, who worked for Nancy Giddens, is jumping out of the game.  He deregistered.  Word is that he’s taking a sales job….

Lou Hamilton deregistered the St. Louis Police Officers Association.  Hamilton is considered to be “tight” with the new Krewson administration.  And the police union is miffed that the new mayor dismissed the chief without consulting them, and hasn’t sat down with them.

Lynn Schlosser deregistered Beleaf.  One MOScouter muses, “Interesting to see Beleaf drop [her] - it indicates a likely pivot for Beleaf investors to the 2018 ballot…”  See the company’s website here.

 

Club for Growth Hits Long On Healthcare Position

The press release:  Club for Growth president David McIntosh released the following statement in response to Congressman Billy Long's (MO-07) newly-announced opposition to the GOP's health care bill:

"Congressman Billy Long has voted at least four times to repeal Obamacare, but now, when it counts, and President Trump is ready to sign the bill, Billy has flip-flopped to defend Obamacare…"

 

Norquist Oks HB433

Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform gave his stamp of approval on HB433, which would reform liquor advertising.  See it here.

“Enacting HB 433 is a simple, commonsense reform that would permit greater competition among retailers across the Show-Me State by allowing them to publicly advertise coupons, rebates, and other discount offers on liquor and beer to consumers. In turn, this legislation enables patrons to compare prices and benefit from market competition.”

Meanwhile

There’s a federal case on this issue.  A hearing is set for the Monday after session, May 15.  And there’s a new federal judge in charge of the case: Doug Harpool.  Old Capitol hands will recall Harpool served as Democrat in the Missouri House for nearly a decade, until 1992. In the House, he was a tenacious sponsor of ethics and campaign finance reform. If Harpool sets the case for trial this year, there could be a ruling before next session. The legislature has eight days left to fix the restrictions and perhaps render the federal case moot. Or roll the dice and let the courts decide the issue.

 

Dogan on Local “Corruption”

Rep. Shamed Dogan – perhaps sounding a theme for a future County Executive run – pointed that “corruption” charge at local governments in his latest email blast.

“There has been a lot of talk about ethics reform in the Missouri Capitol the past few years… But what you don't hear enough about is the need for ethics reform in local governments across the state….  And believe it or not, it's perfectly legal for local elected and appointed officials to take lobbyist gifts worth up to $500 without even disclosing them to the public. But there has been little effort to right this wrong. Until now. That's why I am leading the fight for a ban on special interest gifts to local officials...”

 

Follow-Up on SB313

From a supporter of the bill

Your "education report" stated that a district could theoretically set their tuition rate at $0 in order to avoid paying transfer students’ tuition to receiving districts.  While the $0 tuition rate is a slightly crafty hypothetical, it is not a real world possibility.  If a district were to publicly establish a $0 tuition rate, they would be officially stating that it costs them nothing to educate a child.  More importantly, tuition rates apply both ways.  Specifically, a district with a tuition

rate of $0 would be required to enroll any non-resident student for free without receiving any state aid for such student.  Under this preposterous scenario, any child, regardless of whether they even live within the state of Missouri, could attend the $0 tuition district free of charge and the district could not claim said student for formula reimbursement.

You also asserted that the sending district “could be on the hook” for the difference in their tuition rate and the receiving district’s tuition rate.  This scenario precisely describes the current state of the transfer law, wherein sending districts must pay the receiving district’s tuition rate for each transfer student, a policy that almost bankrupted Normandy.  SB 313 clearly asserts that if the tuition rate of the receiving district exceeds the tuition rate of the sending district, the difference in rates shall be paid from the Supplemental Tuition Fund.

Furthermore, you reported that SB 313 contains the “possible flaw” that any school district with an underperforming building would be “caught up” in the transfer program.  That is exactly the point of this transfer bill: to rescue students trapped in failing buildings.  Under current law, there are literally thousands of students who are attending failing schools in otherwise adequately preforming districts.  It is not a “possible flaw” that SB 313 is directed at giving those students a fighting chance to receive a quality education…

From an Opponent

“Little technical issues”? Some would argue that a bill that either puts the state on the hook for millions in tuition costs or forces local taxpayers to fully subsidize transfers is kind of a big deal…that’s on top of the $25 million the state’s already on the hook for with the tax credit in the bill…

 

Help Wanted

Missouri Department of Natural Resources seeks Legal Counsel. “The ideal candidate for this position will have at least three years of experience in environmental law or similar experience in administrative or natural resources law. Experience in one or more of the following areas is preferred: air, water, or underground storage tanks; cultural resources and historic preservation; premises liability; procurement and government contracts; or real estate…”  See the ad here.

 

Today’s Events

From Mary Scruggs’ indispensable events calendar:

Reps. Houx, Plocher & Rehder Derby Party – 107 E. High, Ste. 201 – upon eve. Adjmt or break.

 

Lobbyists Registrations

Quintin Hull terminated his lobbyist registration.

Mark Schwartz, Angela Schulte, Noel Torpey, Jay Reichard, Chris Moody, and Andy Blunt added Association of Dental Support Organizations

Andy Blunt added Conduent Inc.

Noel Torpey added General Motors.

Daniel Krassner added Represent.us.

 

$5K+ Contributions

Holly PAC - $10,000 from Drury Development Corporation.

 

Birthdays

Happy birthdays to Sarah Steelman, Rep. Sarah Unsicker, Roy Temple, Joe Carmichael, Alvin Brooks, Steve Danner, former Rep. Michael Frame, and Susan Henderson Moore.