Monday, March 30, 2015

Jackson Dead Also

The political community is shaken again.  The Post-Dispatch has the terrible news… “Veteran Missouri state official Spence Jackson, who was media director for the late state auditor Tom Schweich, was found dead Sunday, sources said. He was 44. A source told the Post-Dispatch his death was being investigated as a suicide… Jackson took a sick day on Friday, the source said… [J]ackson called for the resignation of Republican state Chairman John Hancock, because of Schweich’s allegation that Hancock had conducted an anti-Semitic “whispering campaign” against Schweich. Hancock has vehemently denied that allegation. Jackson was Schweich’s media director for almost four years, starting in May 2011. Before that, he held several key Republican jobs in state government…”

Read it here.

 

Seven Weeks

The legislature returns from Spring Break today… with only seven weeks left, every single week counts.

For example, the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program might be an interesting bill to watch.

Just before Spring Break it looked like Sen. Rob Schaaf cut a deal to let this move forward after years of resistance.  One lobbyist thinks “his back was against the wall and he was convinced that leadership was going to PQ him because of his PQ stunt earlier this session.”  With Schaaf signing off on the deal Perfection was supposed to happen and clear the way for the bill to go to House after Break.

However Ryan Johnson’s Missouri Freedom Alliance dug into the issue.  They almost single handedly organized the conservative groups, rallying grassroots contacts into senate offices, and organizing senators in opposition to PDMP.  On the floor Sens. Kurt Schaefer, Eric Schmitt, and Will Kraus poked enough holes in the debate that Floor Leader Ron Richard had to lay the bill over.

Now with only seven weeks left, is there enough time to resurrect it, or has it been killed?

 

Major Areas to Watch

Budget

The budget bills were fast-tracked in the House.  The baton now is passed to Sen. Kurt Schaefer and his brain Yancy Williams to complete the next leg of the relay before conferencing and hitting the governor’s desk in time to override what they want while still in session.

 

Ferguson Agenda

The turmoil of Ferguson has spawned many different legislative initiatives.  The lead vehicle appears to be Sen. Eric Schmitt’s SB 5 to limit the amount of revenue that a municipality can take in from traffic fines.  The Senate’s deadly force bill (SB 199) has won bipartisan support to bring Missouri’s law in line with constitutional rulings.  But it’s hardly a legislative remedy desired by the protestors.  And others, like Sen. Jamilah Nasheed’s “Ban the Box” bill are making progress but probably moving too slowly to make it across the finish line.

 

Student Transfers

Both chambers have passed versions of the student transfer fix, and most observers expect finding a compromise bill won’t be too difficult.  Both sides of the education debate seem to be playing nicer with each other this year.

 

Ethics

Expectations are so incredibly low for ethics reform, the legislature just might exceed them.  Right now Sen. Ron Richard’s SB 11 looks like the main vehicle sitting in the House.

 

Economic Development

This has been the year for quiet steps forward on economic development.  Already two bills have made it to the governor’s desk: data center tax credit and dairy farmers’ subsidies.  Meanwhile the Chamber has been checking off its list as their items move forward.  With medical malpractice out of the Senate before break, this could be a very big session for business.

 

Anti-Labor

Because the big headline bill – right to work – are presumed dead by filibuster or veto, there haven’t been many fireworks this session.  However Sen. Ron Richard is likely to insist that labor give up something this year.  There will be a slew of bills coming out of Small Business during the second half…

 

Apple Versus Emery?

Apple CEO Tim Cook pens an op/ed in the Washington Post decrying the new wave of bills in state legislatures which are designed to discriminate against certain types of people.  Read it here.

Missouri isn’t mentioned in the column, but when Cook writes, “Legislation being considered in Texas would strip the salaries and pensions of clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — even if the Supreme Court strikes down Texas’ marriage ban later this year,” it sounds exactly like Sen. Ed Emery’s SB 555.

 

Raise Your Hand Issues Report

Raise Your Hand for Kids released their report this morning, calling for an increase in the cigarette tax to fund early childhood programs.  See the report here.

Of note: Page 8 of the report shows the stark disparity of Missouri cigarette tax (17 cents a pack) compared to its neighboring states (ranging between 60 cents/pack and $1.98/pack).

The report details the many community meetings and conversations with stakeholders in which the group has engaged to help shape their proposal.

According to the timeline in the report, the effort would begin the initiative petition process in June to be ready for the November 2016 ballot.

 

Judgeship Applications

The Appellate Judicial Commission released “demographic information” for those applying for the vacancy on the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District.

“There are 16 applicants for the vacancy. Three are women, and two are minority applicants. Five are from outside the St. Louis metropolitan area. Six applicants work in the public sector, nine work in the private sector and one works in both. Of those in the private sector, four work in solo or small-firm practices. Of those in the public sector, six are trial court judges. The applicants’ mean age is 53.”

The applicants are: James M. Dowd, Joel D. Ferber, Gretchen Garrison, Richard A. Gartner, Douglas D. Gaston, Michael T. Jamison, Patrick L. King, Benjamin L. Lipman, Henry F. Luepke III, Shawn R. McCarver, Lisa Page, Rachel L. (Bringer) Shepherd, Erwin O. Switzer, David Lee Vincent III, Stanley J. Wallach, and Carl M. Ward.

 

Bits

The Root profiles Sen. Maria Chappelle-NadalSee it here.

 

House website gets a facelift…. Get ready to say, “Ooohhhh.”  See it here.

 

Raytown Community Alliance makes final push ahead of next week Home Rule Charter vote.  See it here.

 

Dr. Gina Loudon’s provocatively titled column, “Why Do Democrats Hate Veterans?”  Read it here.

 

Help Wanted

Springfield News Leader seeks Politics Reporter.  “The Springfield News-Leader seeks an experienced Politics Reporter who will serve as the main eyes and ears for the Ozarks in Jefferson City. Mixing work from Springfield and at the capital, the Reporter follows the legislature, governor’s office and other state agencies for the effects on life in southwest Missouri. From live tweeting an appearance from the governor to in-depth stories on the state budget to video explainers of what’s on the legislative agenda, this reporter takes dense material and helps readers understand the impact on their lives… Candidates should be able to demonstrate the ability to develop a personal brand…”  See the ad here.

 

Today’s Events

From Mary Scruggs’ indispensable events calendar:

Rep. Paul Curtman/MU Bond Policy Forum – Reynolds Alum. Ctr., Columns Ballroom – COMO – 7am-Noon.

Sen. Mike Parson Reception – Capital City Cork, Jefferson City – 6-7:30 p.m.

Open House of new offices of GibbonsWorkman – 115 East High – 7 p.m.

Reps. Allen Andrews, Nathan Beard, Joe Don McGaugh, Jered Taylor Reception – Gumbo Bottoms, Jefferson City – 7-8:30 p.m. or adjournment.

 

Lobbyist Registrations

Catherine Barrie added Catherine Barry.

Rodney Hubbard added Blue Bird Network; and deleted Missouri Insurance Coalition and Glazer’s Family of Companies.

 

$5K+ Contributions

Missourians for Koster - $10,000 from Western Anesthesiology Associates Inc.

Missourians for Koster - $10,000 from Richard DeStefane.

Citizens for Steve Stenger - $10,000 from John Ross Jr.

MO FOP PAC - $10,000 from Chris Klein.

 

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday to former Sen. Wes Shoemyer (54) and former Rep. Jeff Roorda (50).