Final Week of Session
Post-Dispatch surveys the scene as the final week of legislative session begins. See it here.
Pull Quote: Major issues remain unresolved in the Missouri Legislature as lawmakers brush up against a Friday deadline to approve their priorities. With lawmakers required to quit at 6 p.m. Friday, the clock is ticking on efforts to reform ethics laws, tweak the state’s municipal court system, change how Ameren raises its electric rates and override Gov. Jay Nixon’s vetoes of parts of the budget.
The Senate also could join with the House in an override of Nixon’s veto of legislation that would alter how public union members pay dues. Lawmakers also have yet to agree on a rewrite of state criminal laws that includes getting the state in compliance with juvenile sentencing guidelines.
And, there also are efforts to loosen state gun laws, encourage the use of police body cameras, tighten abortion restrictions, combat opioid abuse and increase transportation funding through a bump in the state’s fuel tax.
In the Hallways
The biggest fear is a pile-up that obstructs the stream of lobbyists’ work – the fixes, the small changes and accommodations that people pay them to accomplish.
And the item that represents their fear the most is HJR 98, the constitutional amendment to protect the lives of the unborn. The House passed it last week, and it has the potential to log-jam the final week of the Senate.
In general the hallway denizens are convinced that Senate Pro Tem Ron Richard has no intention of letting it or any similar abortion bill take too much time or create a shut down.
Jo Mannies gives a run-down of the initiative petitions that submitted signatures. See it here.
Initiative petitions cost lots of money and marshal huge resources, so they’re all important. However the marquee fight appears to be over the cigarette tax increase. Over the weekend, Raise Your Hands for Kids submitted what seems to be plenty of signatures to comfortably make the ballot (of course, as in all matters, we’ll see), while the Petroleum Stores counter petition is not expected to make it (though I and others could be wrong).
Former state senator Chuck Graham flipped on the issue – ala Post-Dispatch – saying he hadn’t read the whole IP when he first endorsed. And opponents formally rolled out the campaign to beat the cigarette tax increase. It’s called We Deserve Better.
Also on the ballot in November will be the ten-year renewal of the conservation tax. See it here.
WaPo on Blunt: No Seat is Safe
The Washington Post, with a headline says that no seats are safe with Donald Trump at the top of the ticket for the GOP, does an in-depth look at the Roy Blunt – Jason Kander senate race. See it here.
Pull Quote: It remains unclear whether Trump could lose Missouri, a state that, four years ago, preferred Mitt Romney by 10 points. But Democrats believe Blunt is vulnerable in any scenario and have recruited a particularly potent challenger in Jason Kander, the 35-year-old Missouri secretary of state, a former Army intelligence office who served in Afghanistan and is now waging an aggressive campaign targeting Blunt’s longstanding ties to corporate interests and his party’s Washington leadership. “If you were going to go into a lab and build out of spare politician parts what people are angry about in Washington, you would build Roy Blunt,” he said… Public polls have shown Blunt leading Kander in a head-to-head matchup, but the surveys show that Kander is still relatively unknown, while Blunt is both well-known and viewed unfavorably by a plurality of likely voters…. Blunt has nearly double Kander’s war chest, according to the candidates’ most recent disclosures — $5.4 million versus $2.4 million. And he can likely rely on another advantage this year: Major GOP donors dismayed with Trump are likely to funnel money down-ballot that otherwise would have been spent on the presidential race…. Blunt can also take some succor from recent history: Presidential landslides have not necessarily translated into significant Senate swings... Blunt himself pointed to the 2012 result in Missouri — when senior senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, won by 15 points as Romney cruised — as evidence that his fate won’t be tied to Trump’s. But Kander said if tickets were going to be split, they would splitting in his favor: “If Senator Blunt is counting on people to vote for Hillary Clinton and for Senator Blunt, I’ve been to every county in Missouri over the past six months, I’ve met a lot of people, and I haven’t met that person.”
LA Times looks at the presidential map. See it here.
Pull Quote: Missouri, with one foot in the South and the other in the Midwest, is another state that Obama lost twice that Clinton might be able to put into play.
MEC to Investigate Schaefer Allegations
The Missouri Ethics Commission will investigate alleged ethics violations by Sen. Kurt Schaefer, a reversal from an earlier decision. See it here. Regardless how it comes out, this is bad news for Schaefer as it keeps the story alive for another month or so, and there’s only three months left until the August primary.
From the Rumorville – it’s said that Schaefer is upset that Pro Tem Ron Richard didn’t “stop” the Humphreys money going to Josh Hawley.
Governing Mag on Fingerprint Checks
Governing Magazine looks at the debate over the ride sharing companies and whether fingerprinting background checks is best. See it here.
Pull Quote: The issue is getting a lot of attention these days, particularly after voters in Austin, Texas, this weekend shot down a law proposed by ride-hailing companies to prohibit the city from fingerprinting Uber and Lyft drivers. The defeat for the companies, which spent at least $8.6 million backing the failed initiative, means drivers for ride-hailing companies there will have to undergo the same kind of background checks as cab drivers do, which includes submitting fingerprints to the city for an FBI search. Fifty-six percent of Austin voters opposed the measure, in what was easily the most expensive race in the history of the city.
After Saturday's vote, Uber and Lyft both said they would cease service in Austin starting Monday to avoid having to change the way they currently do business. Uber uses a company called Checkr to process background checks. Applicants provide their full name, date of birth, Social Security number and driver’s license number, among other things, and Checkr then runs that information through several databases, including sex offender registries and terrorist lists. The city never sees the results. Under Austin's new law, that would all have to change…
Only two cities require fingerprint checks for ride-hailing drivers -- Houston and New York City -- but there’s a push to do so in others, including Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Uber has also threatened to leave Houston -- as Lyft already has -- if the city doesn’t repeal its fingerprinting requirements.
More Obama Commutations
On May 5, 2016, President Barack Obama granted commutation of sentence to 58 individuals. Here’s the only one with a Missouri connection…
Jessie Lee Robinson – Jefferson City, MO
Offense: Distribution of cocaine base (two counts); possession with intent to distribute cocaine base; Western District of Missouri
Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (November 15, 2005)
Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on May 5, 2018.
Politico Influence reports: Scott Brenner and Kyle Mulhall, who recently left Gephardt Government Affairs, formed Rosemont Strategies. At Gephardt, they focused on the transportation sector with clients such as Los Angeles International Airport and the Port of Oakland and in the tech sector with Google and McAfee. They're bringing over clients including New York Air Brake, PODS and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Los Angeles World Airports… Mulhall, the Democrat, spent most of his congressional career as a top aide to House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt focusing on transportation and the environment…. See it here.
Civic Progress is going to announce major contributions to four organizations working on recommendations from the Forward from Ferguson report. See it here.
Missouri Foundation for Health updated its website. See it here.
Kathryn Ann Harness added Northpoint Development.
Greitens for Missouri - $7,500 from Jane and Fred Schmidt.
Missouri Farm Bureau Federation State PAC - $7,034 from Missouri Farm Bureau PAC East Central District.
Missouri Farm Bureau Federation State PAC – $9,566 from MO Farm Bureau PAC SE District.
Missouri Farm Bureau Federation State PAC - $7,970 from MO Farm Bureau PAC West Central District.
Koster for Missouri - $15,000 from Wendt Goss PC.
Eigel for Missouri - $50,000 from David Humphreys.
Missourians for Peter Kinder - $10,000 from Sterling Bancshares Inc.
Slay for Mayor - $10,000 from Centene Management Company LLC.
Citizens for Will Kraus - $10,000 from William Kapp.
Happy birthdays to John Ashcroft, Scott Penman, Gregg Keller, and Don Hicks.