Thursday, March 9, 2017

Why is Rehder’s RTW Bill Moving?

The governor has already signed right to work.  So why is Rep. Holly Rehder’s right to work bill moving?  It had a Senate hearing yesterday.  The best theory in the building behind the seemingly redundant action is that Republicans are interested in attaching an emergency clause to this version.

They hope having the law take effect right when the governor signs it this time will throw a wrench in labor’s referendum plan.

We’ll see….

 

Why isn’t Roeber’s Charter Schools Bill Moving?

Rep. Rebecca Roeber’s HB 634 which would expand charter schools seems to have run into some resistance. The bills was initially filed to expand charters to every district in the state, but a compromise in committee limited it to only expand to only districts in 1st class counties.  It was voted out of committee last week, and opponents were walking tall in the halls this week as it hasn’t come to the floor of the House.  They think the reason is simple: it doesn’t have the votes.

We’ll see….

 

Dark Money Habit

KC Star’s Jason Hancock reports on Governor Eric Greitens setting up a non-profit to run parallel to his campaign.  It appears the purpose of the non-profit will be to hide contributors.  See it here.

Pull Quote: [I]ts focus will be advocating for the governor and his agenda, a Greitens adviser said this week. And because it’s a nonprofit, A New Missouri can accept unlimited contributions and won’t be required to disclose who is giving it money….

“If you want to take a massive check and you don’t want people knowing who’s behind it, this is what you do,” said Jordan Libowitz, spokesman for the liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “They call it dark money for a reason.”

[Austin] Chambers said the governor is not directly involved in the nonprofit’s day-to-day operations, but there will be coordination between the nonprofit, the governor’s campaign and the governor’s official state office.

Chambers will be doing work for all three. Meredith Gibbons, the Greitens campaign’s finance director, will work out of the office of A New Missouri, as will Greitens’ sister-in-law, Catherine Chestnut. More people will be hired in the coming weeks…

The group also will cover some of the governor’s travel expenses, Chambers said…

According to the Cole County assessor’s office, the building that houses A New Missouri in downtown Jefferson City was recently purchased by a St. Joseph company with the same address as Herzog Services Inc. Stan Herzog, the company’s principal shareholder, is a major Republican campaign contributor who gave Greitens $650,000 last year.

The Big Picture

It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture here between splitting hairs on whether Greitens’ team is doing things that violate the sunshine law or just the spirit of the law.  The bottom line is that this isn’t good government.  Keeping a second (or third) set of books and not telling the public who’s footing the bill for the governor’s expenses is a bad precedent.  I think both sides of the aisle will regret allowing this to become the new standard operating procedure.

 

Other Bits Along These Lines

First, there are some in the building who say that the FBI has asked questions about the Greitens dark money set-up.  Not a ton questions, not a full-blown investigation.  But the FBI asking questions has been enough to the put the fear of the FBI in Team Greitens.  It’s only a rumor, but it wouldn’t be totally surprising that the fishy arrangement of big unknown donors giving to a sitting a governor leads to an FBI fishing expedition.

Second, it’s said that the Greitens campaign team – not the coordinating dark-money funded non-profit (above), but the regular campaign team – will soon be renting a space on High Street.  One Nixon alum said that it makes sense to have your campaign never shut down entirely.  The Nixon folks set up shop on the less visible, less trafficked Madison Ave.

Finally, the consensus on why Greitens doesn’t talk to the Missouri press is because he doesn’t have a good answer for all these questions: the mysterious $1.9 million campaign donor, the undisclosed inaugural funds, the private plane trips, etc.  But another observer offers a different theory: he doesn’t care about the Missouri press.  According to this big-name Republican, Greitens wants to go to DC “like yesterday,” so the only press he cares about is national press…

 

Galloway to Audit Tax Refunds

Auditor Nicole Galloway announced that her office will “ensure the state is not holding on to tax refunds due back to citizens. Auditor Galloway announced she has started an audit of a state law that requires the Missouri Department of Revenue to process personal income tax returns and send out refunds within 45 days of filing. If refunds haven't been paid within 45 days, the state must pay them with interest… The General Assembly changed the law in 2015 amid criticism that the state was too slow in processing tax refunds. Under the previous law, the state had 90 days…”

I wonder if this is related to my observation on February’s revenue numbers that state refund dropped dramatically – a decrease of about 26%.  Perhaps that decline was from Revenue holding people’s refund checks to manage cash flow?  We’ll see if the audit confirms this suspicion.

 

Bits

Brownback to Rome? KC Star reports that some think the Kansas governor could get an ambassadorship.  See it here.

 

MO lobby trivia….  Decades ago, Drue Duncan went on a date with Kellyanne Conway.

 

In the halls the rumor is that former Rep. Mark Parkinson is making a return of sorts… helping Sen. Bill Eigel with his in-district constituent services.

 

Stephen Webber tweets that Greitens once tried to hire him for his non-profit.  See it here.

 

For the city nerds… See the ward by ward breakdown of the mayoral primary here.

 

Congressman Jason Smith explains his opposition to taxes on tanning beds: it’s anti-woman; and the Sun is the real killer.

 

Dentons (below) registered for Safe and Strong Missouri.  From the website, it appears to be a coalition trying to pass PDMP.  See it here.

 

Lobbyists Registrations

Katherine Casas, Brian Grace, and Rodney Boyd added Safe and Strong Missouri.

 

$5K+ Contributions

Citizens for Steve Stenger - $10,000 from Regional Progress PAC.

Lyda Krewson for Mayor - $25,000 from Regional Progress PAC.

STL Citizens for Safety – $100,000 from Regional Business Council

STL Citizens for Safety – $150,000 from Civic Prgress.

 

Birthdays

Happy birthday Rep. Nathan Beard and Dave Monaghan.