Wednesday, May 31, 2017

First in MOScout: New Lawsuits Aim at Legislative Action

Calzone Strikes Again

Non-registered lobbyist Ron Calzone strikes again.  A few weeks ago, I wrote that he had sued to have an education bill from the 2016 legislative session overturned on a Hammerschmidt violation.

Now comes another suit.  This one is aimed at SCR4, which would call a convention of the states to amend the U.S. Constitution. Calzone argues that the resolution should have been “presented to the governor.”

Another Special Law Suit As Crestwood Seeks Relief from Fire District

The City of Crestwood is suing saying that it’s the victim of a special law that has its residents at the taxing mercy of the Affton Fire Protection District…

“Though the vast majority of Crestwood residents are not serviced by the District, § 72.418.2, RSMo. forces Crestwood to pay from its general funds approximately half a million dollars each year to the District. That money is used to subsidize the District’s operations predominantly outside of Crestwood’s borders. The District is free to increase the amount it takes from Crestwood by increasing its property tax levy, as it did in 2012 and again in 2017, without fear of repercussion from the residents of Crestwood. Crestwood and its taxpayers are without recourse. They are effectively taxed by the District without representation... If Crestwood and the District were located in any other county in Missouri, they would be governed by § 321.322, RSMo., which provides for greater accountability and flexibility for cities and fire districts to arrange for appropriate fire protection. There is no justification for this arrangement. Section 72.418.2, RSMo. is an unconstitutional special law targeting only political subdivisions in St. Louis County…”


Incentives Not a Dirty Word

Post-Dispatch reports on a fresh batch of $6 million of incentives for new jobs in Missouri.  See it here.  It’s “$2.1 million for 3M to expand in Springfield, adding 90 jobs; $2 million for DST to expand in Kansas City, adding 415 jobs; $1.7 million for Envision to expand in St. Louis County, adding 132 jobs; [and] $500,000 for Blue Buffalo to expand in Joplin, adding 46 jobs.”

What It Means

Together with the recent special session for the Rone bill, it shows that the Greitens administration is taking a largely conventional approach – similar to his predecessors – of pursuing specific opportunities. It’s not as some had imagined: a free-market approach to eliminate most incentives and lower the overall tax burden.

This hints that the governor’s commission on tax credits might not be deep-sixing incentives as much as consolidating them, and bringing them into a more ordered process.  Of course: we’ll see…


Greitens’ Bill Review

With special session behind them, and the next one still ahead, its crunch time for the governor’s office to review the bills that Greitens must either sign or veto.

Word is that it’s the Legislative Director Jeanne Neustadt and Todd Scott, Senior Legislative and Policy Advisor, are heading up the review process.

KC Star’s Jason Hancock notes that “only 75 bills [passed] this year — a little more than half of the number approved last year and the fewest since 2000.”  So it should be an easier task for the new governor.


Galloway Watching Refunds

Auditor Nicole Galloway tweeted… “Mo law says the state must pay income tax refunds w/in 45 days of filing. Late payments  >45 days = 0.7% interest.”

June 3 will be the 45-day mark for those who filed on the last day (April 18).

The auditor’s office is publishing the daily tax refunds being processed. See it here.  It’s still a healthy flow: $14.8 million on May 27, $15.7 million on May 26, $15.7 million on May 25…


Greitens Signs PLAs

Governor Eric Greitens signed Sen. Bob Onder’s SB182 which eliminates project labor agreements.  Much of the buzz, though, centered on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s attendance at the ceremony.  To some, it was another sign of Greitens’ eyes wandering to the national scene.  See the Post-Dispatch article here.


NYTimes: Blunt “Integral” to Russia Investigation

NYTimes writes: They are a disparate foursome: the chamber’s leading Republican centrist, a minister who embraces public service as a calling, a seasoned dealmaker and a high-profile presidential contender. These four Republican senators — Susan Collins of Maine, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Marco Rubio of Florida — are emerging as a bloc integral to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election…

See it here.


AG Hawley Announces Amendment 2 Appeal

The press release: Attorney General Joshua Hawley announced that his office has appealed the federal district court's judgment in the Amendment 2 case. That judgment invalidates portions of Missouri's Constitutional Amendment 2 that impose restrictions on political campaign contributions.  Amendment 2 was approved by nearly 70 percent of the voters in November 2016.

The mighty Jason Rosenbaum notes that this is exactly what Hawley said he’d do during the campaign (Listen to the Baum’s interview here). And I would note that it’s also probably what his biggest donors wished he wouldn’t do.


Curtis Contra Middleton

Still catching up on my in-box from the long weekend….

Press release: With the recent news that former UM System Interim President Mike Middleton has been appointed interim president of Lincoln University, State Rep. Courtney Allen Curtis has criticized the hiring and is calling on the Board of Directors to reconsider the appointment. “I am concerned that Mike Middleton is more concerned with cushioning his retirement than the welfare and betterment for student life and minority inclusion throughout higher education.  I implore the board of directors to reconsider this appointment," said Curtis, D-Ferguson.


Chief Standing River Bit

Forgot to throw this in yesterday.  It’s one more story about how Governor Eric Greitens’ dark money habit will dog him for the next four years.  Drip, drip, drip…

This time it’s Tony Messenger who tracked down one of the governor’s inaugural donors.  They apparently did not give Greitens money because of his pledge to clean up Jefferson City.  No, they were trying to establish a “good relationship.”  Read it here.

Pull Quote: In December, the Osage Nation tribe in Oklahoma wrote two checks to the secretive nonprofit organization set up by Missouri Gov.-elect Eric Greitens to fund his inauguration. The first was the largest. On Dec. 15, the Osage Nation Executive Branch gave $50,000 to Committee for A New Missouri Inc. Public records kept by Osage Nation refer to the check, approved by Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear, as a political donation.  The next day, Osage Nation wrote another check, for $2,700.  The donations had a purpose.  “That was me trying to establish a good relationship with the governor of Missouri,” Chief Standing Bear told me last week in an interview. “We thought we would show him respect.” The Osage Nation chief hopes that respect ultimately leads to a casino in Missouri, possibly in Cuba, fronting Interstate 44, about 80 miles southwest of St. Louis… Greitens’ spokesman, Parker Briden, didn’t respond to requests for comment for this column.


Lobbyists Registrations

Ronald Randen added Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC And Affiliates.

Andrew Weber added Stone Chapel, LLC.

Carol Hudspeth deleted Kansas City Regional Home Care Association, and Missouri Adult Day Services Association.

Bryant Lemay deleted Wolf-PAC.


$5K+ Contributions

We Are Missouri - $75,000 from Preserve Middle Class America Inc.



Happy birthdays to former Rep. Joan Barry.


MOScout News

The quest for self-improvement being a never-ending journey… a slight facelift to the website is now live.  You may (or may not) notice the difference.  It’s more pronounced on mobile screens than on laptops (or desktops if they still make those).

The back-end of the website received an overhaul as well which should eliminate the frustrating “morning clog” that often resulted in an error message. Let me know if you experience any bugs or glitches.

Additionally, I’ve decided on a few style changes to the content (which you may or may not notice in the coming days and weeks).

Suggestions always welcome. Thanks!