Wednesday, January 18, 2017

 

The Greitens Agenda

Governor Eric Greitens laid out his legislative agenda in the State of the State speech last night.

Ethics – I also call on this legislature to put on the ballot, term limits for every statewide officeholder. I know that the people of Missouri will vote for term limits, and people are counting on us to put an end to politics as a lifelong profession.

Labor Agenda – [W]e must join 27 other states and sign Right to Work. That’s why we must do away with expensive Project Labor Agreements that drive up the costs of construction and slow down important projects in our communities. We must repeal our state’s version of the Davis-Bacon act (prevailing wage), which drives up the cost of important construction work that needs to get done….

Tort Reform – There are some common sense changes we can make to fix this. We need to move to the Daubert standard for expert witness testimony… We need to change our joinder and venue rules to end these out of state lawsuits. And we must end frivolous lawsuits by reforming the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act.

Regulations - I have ordered a complete review of every regulation in the state of Missouri. We’re going to reduce unnecessary and outdated regulations so that we can get back to creating good, quality, high-paying jobs…

State Workers (look to your left, look to your right…?) - And our best state employees are being hurt by a big bloated bureaucracy. In Indiana, they have 46 state employees per 10,000 people in their state. In Illinois, they have 47 state employees for every 10,000 people. In Ohio, they have 55. And in Missouri? We have 92 employees for every 10,000 people in our state. Because of this, we are 50th out of 50 in state employee pay. We need to change that... I’m committed to civil service reform, with a focus on making a smaller government that works better for all of our people…

Tax Credits - [W]ith a team of outsiders and legislators, we are going to do a thorough, end-to-end audit of our tax credit system—and create a tax code that works not to benefit privileged insiders, but instead is fair to all.

Welfare Reform - We need to build a system based on [the simple principle:] It should always, always, always pay more to work in the state of Missouri.

Crime: I want to establish a Blue Alert system, so that we can find and bring swift justice to anyone who assaults a law enforcement officer.

Additional funds for public defenders? - As a constitutional conservative, I believe, as you do, that the constitution applies to every citizen. I believe in the 6th Amendment, which guarantees the right to a fair trial and adequate legal representation for all.

Reducing Recidivism – [W]e need to engage groups from across society: most importantly our faith community… I will welcome our churches and our synagogues into our corrections facilities.

Education - We need to expand course access programs, so that every child in Missouri can use

technology to get the education they need… I will work with you to implement Education Savings Accounts for children with special needs….

 

Some of these are slam dunks – the “Blue Alert” for example.  Others aren’t gimmes, but I’d be shocked if they didn’t pass – things like right to work, and some of the tort reform measures. Many are still completely vague.  Regulatory reform and welfare reform will be to be fleshed out; the sound bites can quickly turn sour if they’re done incorrectly.

Meanwhile the tax credit reform and education reform will be most difficult.  That’s where there could be very obvious losers depending on the details of what’s proposed.  And that’s two groups that understand how to work the building.

 

Drebes Conspiracy Theory

The most intriguing line to me was: “We’d have a government focused on doing fewer things but doing them well. That’s how we’ll be able to pay our star performers what they deserve.”

This was in the part where Governor Greitens was talking about reducing the state employee headcount and then being able to pay the valued employees more.

More than ever it makes me want to know the source of the millions of anonymous dollars that propelled Greitens into the governor’s mansion.

If you’re going to “focus” government on doing fewer things, you’re not going to leave those things undone.  You’re going to privatize them, right?

The New York Times ran series of articles last year about private equity firms using political clout in state capitals to help their business interests.  In this article, they report on private equity firms taking over ambulance services or fire protection.

Makes me wonder….

 

House Passes Lobbyist Gift Ban

Press release: State Rep. Justin Alferman and his colleagues in the Missouri House of Representatives are again working to ban gifts and meals provided by lobbyists to elected officials. The House took action Tuesday to approve Alferman’s legislation, HB 60, and make it the first bill sent to the Senate this session. The measure was approved by a bipartisan vote of 149-5.

House Speaker Todd Richardson made the gift ban a top priority during his Opening Day address. Richardson said, “Missourians want a government they can trust and believe in. I said at the end of last session the House will pass a ban on lobbyists providing gifts to elected officials and we will fulfill this commitment.  A gift ban will be the first bill out of this House.”

 

Dampf to Hegeman

With Rich Germinder leaving Sen. Dan Hegeman’s staff to serve in the Greitens administration, Drew Dampf will shuffle over and take Germinder’s spot for Hegeman.

 

Blaine Amendment Case

Post-Dispatch reports on a case at that “could prove to be a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case over whether state money can be used to aid religious institutions…”  See it here.

Pull Quote: The court’s eventual decision could call into question the constitutionality of “Blaine Amendments” in 38 states across the country, which religious organizations have long deemed unfair but proponents say are necessary for the separation of church and state….

Some Blaine Amendments are stricter than others, merely barring state money from going toward religious education. Missouri’s goes further:

“That no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect or denomination of religion, or in aid of any priest, preacher, minister or teacher thereof, as such; and that no preference shall be given to nor any discrimination made against any church, sect or creed of religion, or any form of religious faith or worship.”

Koster’s Republican successor, newly minted Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, has said Koster was wrong to defend the case because Blaine Amendments punish people of faith.

Hawley has recused himself from the case, citing private practice work with the plaintiffs. First Assistant Attorney General John Sauer will be serving as active attorney general for the purpose of this litigation, according to a spokesman for Hawley. The court has not yet set a date for oral arguments….

 

Bits

Rep. Holly Rehder continues her quest to get the prescription drug monitoring program across the finish line.  See it here.

 

Presidential Press Secretary and Kansas City native Josh Earnest got a surprise tribute from the boss… See it here.

 

Lobbyists Registrations

Phillip Scaglia added Senworth; and deleted Mammoth Inc.

Richard Crews added Gallagher Consultants Inc.

Sam Licklider added Missouri Association of Cosmetology Schools.

Jeffrey Brooks deleted Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, and Ticketnetwork.

Cynthia Gamble deleted Ticketnetwork.

 

$5K+ Contributions

Jefferson Bank PAC - $10,000 from Jefferson Bank of Missouri.

 

Birthdays

Happy birthdays to Reps. Bill Lant (the big 7-0) and Shawn Rhoads (the big 4-0), Carl Bearden, Bob May and Robert Knodell.