Monday, March 27, 2017

Welcome back…

 

What to Look For in the Second Half

As I wrote last week, the number one concern for most building denizens is whether the House and Senate can play nice – or whether each becomes aggravated at perceived slights from the other chamber and things get “complicated.”

Compared to previous sessions where you had real personal venom between the two leaders (remember Rod Jetton refusing to accept a bill from the Senate?), I’m optimistic that things don’t deteriorate.

Also on the radar: prevailing wage is the most volatile bill to watch.  If its handled too brusquely it could blow up the Senate and cause a lot of collateral damage.

Finally, though we’re only in March, the speakers’ race is not really that far off.  Right now there’s three credible candidates in the race: Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr, and Reps. Robert Cornejo and Holly Rehder… watch for elbows and jabs….

 

For starters though, the main focus is the budget….

 

Greitens’ Curious Budget Positions

Scanning through the budget mark-ups one odd thing keeps popping up: Governor Eric Greitens took some unexpected positions with regard to language in his budget.

In HB3 (Higher Education funding) the Governor recommended removing language to prevent money going to “immigrants with unlawful status.”  And later in the same funding bill, he recommended removing anti-common core language – a clear departure from his campaign stance.

Just as startling, in HB7 (Economic Development funding), in the section dealing with the Missouri Technology Corporation, the governor recommended removing language that would prohibit funds from being used for stem cell research.

I spoke with a few folks about it.  The consensus is that Greitens did this by mistake.  A bit overwhelmed at the start of his term, he and his team focused on “the numbers” and not some of the recommended language changes which – it seems – they just cut and pasted from old Nixon budgets.  Or an alternative theory is that because his administration was slow in naming folks to posts, he was still relying on Nixonites who gave him that language, and his team took it without much scrutiny.

In each of these cases, the House position is to reinsert this language. So there won’t be an actual change in policy at the end of the day.

 

Other Budget Bits

House Republicans are most proud of their “fully funding” the educational foundational formula.  While the formula was changed to make it an easier target to hit, they note that they’ve taken huge strides of the past several years to put more money into education and achieve the goal.

Meanwhile Democrats are aiming most of their ire at the circuit-breaker change which eliminates the benefit for renters.  Expect to hear the mantra “budgets are about priorities.”  They’ll be questioning other outlays and wondering if they should be higher priorities.

 

About two months ago I wrote about Jay Nixon appointing “a number of his loyal aides to administrative law judgeships.  They include Joel Anderson – who was legal counsel in the governor’s office; Harry Bozoian – who had been director at DNR; Andrea Spillars – who was counsel to the governor; and Bill Miller – who was acting policy director for the governor.”

It appears from the House budget that they’re leaving this new increase in ALJs alone.  However one source tells me that the Senate may be considering pulling the funding for some of these additional judges.  We’ll see…

 

Prevailing Wage

In HB7 there’s a bit of a tug-of-war going on over funding prevailing wage.  The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations has staffers who compile the prevailing wage data from various counties.  In the House budget there’s a shift away from funding these positions.  It doesn’t appear that there’s a net loss of jobs within the department, but they’d eliminate 6 full-time prevailing wage positions.  Instead they’d add positions to the Wage and Hour Program which “responds to thousands of calls, emails and letters from employers and workers in MO who inquire about their responsibilities and rights under Missouri’s Wage and Hour Laws.”

If the legislature passes a repeal of prevailing wage, then these positions aren’t needed.  And if they don’t, these cuts might work to gut the program by hobbling its support from the bureaucratic apparatus.

And

Yesterday on Meet the Press there was a commercial from Vote Vet asking people to call their legislators and tell them to protect Missouri’s prevailing wage law.

 

Davis for Senate 32

Rep. Charlie Davis revs up his campaign to replace Sen. Ron Richard in Senate 32.  See his twitter here.

Rep. Bill White has also amended his campaign committee to run for that senate seat.  But as the Joplin Globe notes it could turn into a Republican primary free-for-all.

 

Greitens to DC - Again

Governor Eric Greitens does DC again. KC Star reports he’s meeting with President Donald TrumpSee it here.  He’s also listed as a speaker at AIPAC.  See it here.

And – one MOScouter writes: Republican activists are grumbling that Greitens is a consistent no show for county Lincoln Days dinners, but constantly has time to jet out to Washington DC. This seems to be a pattern for Greitens as he by and large skipped Lincoln Day dinners during his 2016 campaign.  These dinners are normally the largest gathering of Rs in each county….

 

Sortino Passes

St. Louis great Peter Sortino succumbed to his battle with cancer.  Post-Dispatch writes about the behind the scenes mover.  See it here.

Pull Quote: Former Sen. Jack Danforth said Mr. Sortino was a master of politics without ever being a politician . In high stakes negotiations with millions of dollars on the line, it was Mr. Sortino who usually had the coolest head in the room. “He saw the humor in politics, no doubt about that,” Danforth said.

 

Bits

Former Sen. Rob Mayer sportin the beard. See it here.

 

The indispensable Mary Scruggs asked me to pass along that Rep. Jay Barnes’ event tonight has been postponed.

 

Help Wanted

CEAM (Children's Education Alliance of Missouri) seeks Communication Manager. “The Communication Manager develops, plans, and executes multi-channel communication strategies and tactics in conjunction with the entire team. The position is responsible for: managing and growing Facebook and Twitter audiences along with other social media, the development of original written content for print and web-based communications, development and production of constituent communications, tracking effectiveness of communication strategies and tactics, and creating new marketing and communications materials and programs…”   See it here.

 

Lobbyists Registrations

David Sweeney added Payit LLC.

 

$5K+ Contributions

Property Casualty Insurers Association of America Political Account - $8,632 from Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.

Make Saint Louis Safe - $60,000 from Great St. Louis Inc.

STL Votes! - $60,000 from Great St. Louis Inc.

Quality Schools for Kids - $10,000 from Mercy.

West Central Missouri Regional Lodge #50 Fraternal Order of Police PAC - $6,500 from West Central MO Lodge.

 

Birthdays

Happy birthdays to Rep. Mike Kelley, former Rep. Mike Leara, and Dave Stokes.