Thursday, May 7, 2015

Right to Work Coming?

The talk is that the Senate is serious about taking up “right to work” next week. There are a few scenarios being passed around.  It’s unclear if the Senate majority caucus has their path chosen yet or if this is all talk.

It’s said that the Senate will be in session tomorrow – Friday – to prepare for next week’s potential cluster.  The Senate will work to “clear the calendar.”  That is, pass out as much as they can on any remaining priority bills.

Then Monday or Tuesday, they would start with RTW right away and go until the Dems drop – or the Republicans “move the previous question,” PQ.

If Republicans PQ, the expectation is that the bipartisan fabric of the Senate rips.  Democrats will slow down, debate and stall Every. Little. Motion.  Very few bills will pass the Senate afterwards.  And next year will started with a troubled

That would be – in a word from one building denizen with some institutional knowledge – “irresponsible.”  It would sacrifice legitimate legislative progress in order to be able to wave the flag of having passed RTW out of the Senate.  There’s no override possible in that observer’s view.

Now, why not wait until Friday and use the House right to work bill that’s already on the Senate side?

There are two competing theories.

One says that the House right to work bill is stuck in Sen. Mike Parson’s committee. One rumor is that Floor Leader Ron Richard considered trying to extricate the bill from Parson’s committee via a procedural devise, but when other chairmen caught wind of the plan, they put the kibosh on the top-down maneuver to prevent the House-ization of the Senate. And it’s well-traveled talk that there’s no love lost between Parson and Richard since they vied for the same leadership spot.

The second theory says that the legislature has a legitimate run at right to work.  In this view, the Senate wants to pass their bill because after the governor vetoes, it would start in the Senate. And – in this rumor – the House has promised they would “find the votes” if the Senate could deliver an overridden RTW bill to them.  The House would seal the deal.

The first theory makes a lot more sense to me because I don’t see the Senate having an override majority for the bill.  (I even think the 18 votes for the PQ will be tight).

Soon though, we’ll see….


Municipal Courts Bill

The Senate passed SB5, Sen. Eric Schmitt’s reform to the municipal courts’ traffic fee, fines and ticketing system that have conspired to fleece impoverished citizens.  The two chambers found a compromise – half-way between the Senate’s 10% cap and House’s 15% cap.  Now it’s up to the House to pass the compromise as well.  But the field of play is larger than just the legislature, as this bill is already being teed up for a lawsuit apparently.  Read Virginia Young’s story here.

Pull Quote: A lobbyist for the St. Louis County Municipal League said it was unfair to treat the county differently than the rest of the state and that such a law might face a constitutional challenge. Jonathon Dalton noted the original law capping revenue was named for a notorious speed trap in Macks Creek, a rural town. “Why we would be held to a lower percentage is a mystery to me,” Dalton said. “I don’t think our constitution supports that differentiation.” Dalton, an attorney and the mayor of Town and Country, said his city polices the second-busiest intersection in the state — at Interstate 270 and Highway 40 (Interstate 64). He said capping ticket revenue could decrease traffic enforcement, resulting in more deadly accidents.


Budget Line Vetoes?

One observer of the budget process: “Nixon’s camp has been eerily silent about his budget intentions.  Not a peep in 13 days.  Friday will be super interesting.  Maybe he vetoes all of HB 11, or maybe it’ll be a nonevent as he vetoes little to nothing…”


McCaskill: End Government-By-Crisis

From Politico’s Morning Transportation newsletter (see it here): DROP THE MIC: A Tuesday Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing on the transportation reauthorization was looking to be a real snoozer until Sen. Claire McCaskill got on the mic. The Missouri lawmaker lit into her fellow senators at the hearing, chiding them for grandstanding about the need for a multiyear surface transportation bill without actually making the tough choices to get it done. “We are all sitting around here, and we’re acting as if something is going to change as a result of this great hearing when full well everyone sitting here knows we’re talking about another patch,” she said.

We caught up later in the day with McCaskill, who had a unique comparison for the ongoing funding problem: “It’s a little bit like the Stockholm syndrome. When you’ve been captured in an environment where government-by-crisis is acceptable, it’s harder to see your way out of that kind of dysfunction,” she said. “Candidly, I kind of hoped that the Republicans would put their money where their mouth has been for the last several years ... The notion that they haven’t even prepared a bill, other than a short-term patch, is a really bad sign.”


eMailbag on Trish Vincent

Reader #1: Speculation can cease. Trish Vincent is now an employee of the DOR. As a former director she has the requisite knowledge base and skill set to head up special projects, namely administering the new tax amnesty program passed (finally) this year.
Reader #2: Count me as a defender of Nixon hiring Vincent… She was very partisan for Blunt but because of the two suicides there should be some compassion.


HB 42 Bits

Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal added a flourish to her signature on the HB 42 conference committee report, putting the initials FTG in her name.  While no one but the senator herself can be certain what those letters stood for, the whisper chain was pretty sure the last two words were The Governor….


Post-Dispatch’s Alex Stuckey gets two sentences from the governor about whether he’ll sign HB 42 (student transfer bill). Read it here.  Pull Quote: “I’m going to give it a deep and thorough review. I do think that making sure that we’re giving every kid an opportunity for education is important.”  You make the call….


Help Wanted

Missouri Times advertises to hire two Jefferson City reporters to start in June….  See it here.


Lobbyists Registrations

Jay Swearingen added Americans Take Action.

Harry Otto deleted Missouri State Auditor’s Office.


$5K+ Contributions

Operating Engineers Local 101 Political Fund - $150,000 from Operating Engineers Political Education Committee.

Bradshaw Exploratory Committee - $50,000 from Brad Bradshaw.

Friends of Peter Kinder - $10,000 from Larus Corporation.



Happy birthdays to Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (63), and Rep. Don Phillips (64).