Wednesday, March 11, 2015

House Trips Through the Budget

It was the messiest floor routine anyone can remember as the House worked through perfecting its budget bills.  Confusion on amendments reigned; amendments were added to the wrong bill; it appeared a previously cut deal was uncut on the floor leading to a brief standstill; and Speaker John Diehl often employed leading questions (Gentleman, would you like to yield….?) to help the befuddled navigate the process.

For all the confusion, it was a good day for Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick who emerged as the strongest voice among the Republicans to spar with Democrats on budget matters.  And it establishes Fitzpatrick as the clear favorite to succeed Rep. Tom Flanigan as Budget Chair in January 2017.

See Alex Stuckey’s article here.

Pull Quote: The chamber's about five hours of debate was far from smooth, punctuated by long silences as confused members consulted budget experts and, once, the wrong bill was amended.

 

Tort Reform in the Senate

Yesterday was tort reform day in the Senate.  It brought an interesting coalition of senators to the floor at various times.  In addition to the usual Democratic stalwarts standing up, asking questions, offering amendments and attempting to modify the legislation, there were also Republicans.

Sens. Kurt Schaefer and Eric Schmitt did a fair amount of heavy lifting.  They were holding the floor at midnight when the second bill – one changing the process for expert witnesses was laid over.

That bill was Sen. Mike Kehoe’s, and Schmitt insisted that it would add to the cost structure of Missouri businesses.

Another bill, reinstating limits on medical malpractice damages, passed earlier in the evening, after a fair amount of back and forth.  The House has also passed a medmal bill, so the two chambers will have to reconcile their versions.

 

GOP Senators to Weigh In?

Some Republican senators are planning to hold a press conference on Thursday morning to call for the resignation of John Hancock as the party’s chair.

The concern seems to be the silence and lack of leadership; they want a clear change in direction and tone.

 

More Greitens Money

In the large contributions below, there’s another $50K headed for the coffers of Eric Greitens’ exploratory committee.  He’s presumably “exploring” a gubernatorial bid, and that brings his total to $250K since he formed his committee two weeks ago.

 

Koster Cameos in Kaplan Soap Opera?

St. Louis Business Journal reports that “a soap opera is playing out in St. Louis County Circuit Court, giving an intimate glimpse at a struggle over a real estate magnate's millions. At stake in a three-week trial set to end next week is the fortune of Robert Kaplan, who ran Kaplan Real Estate Corp., based in St. Louis. He died in April 2013 at age 77, setting off a fight between his widow, Christine Murray-Kaplan, and his children, Michael Kaplan, Julie Salomon and Elizabeth Wright.”  See it here.

Buried in the article is this nugget… "Murray-Kaplan even flaunted her personal relationship with a particular well-known politician, such that it oftentimes became the subject of publicity, inevitably causing deep hurtful embarrassment to Bob," the petition to invalid his trust amendments states.

A Google search indicates that the “well-known politician” is likely Attorney General Chris Koster.

Two large contributions were recorded from Christine Kaplan to Koster’s campaign committee in 2012.

 

Follow-Up on Ameren Rate Case

The Ameren rate case continued with a new proposal from the Office of Public Counsel which would apparently make economic development a part of the rate design going forward.

See Jacob Barker’s article here.

Pull Quote: An Ameren industrial customer could save as much as one year’s worth of electric bills over five years. The incentives would be available to businesses building new facilities or expanding them, as well as those that say they will leave Ameren’s territory without the electric rate cuts… The economic development proposal was submitted to the Missouri Public Service Commission along with a package of other proposals and agreed to by several customer groups. Among other provisions, they include a specific electric rate reduction for Southeast Missouri aluminum smelter Noranda that is similar to those it proposed last year.

And

My “snarky” bit yesterday on the amount that Noranda’s owners – Apollo Global Management – make produced the usual zip from both sides.  Those favorable to Noranda noted that Ameren also pays out millions in dividends to its shareholders.

Fair point.  Still it’s hard to compare that to the staggering numbers the hedge fund owners are pulling down.  The top three guys earned $331 million, $182 million, and $169 million last year.

 

Bits

In father fall-out from the Department of Justice’s report, the Ferguson City Manager, John Shaw, resigned yesterday.  See it here.

 

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed’s bill to “ban the box” stalled in committee yesterday.  The bill would regulate when public employers could inquire about an applicants’ criminal record.  The committee tied 4-4, preventing it from moving forward.  Sen. Doug Libla spoke passionately against the measure, apparently flipping Sen. Wayne Wallingford from joining Republican Sens. Paul Wieland and Brian Munzlinger from supporting the measure.

 

There was a jam-packed crowd again at the latest right-to-work hearing.  This time it was Sen. Dan Brown’s bill.  Among the many testifying on the bill were Mayor Francis Slay (against) and former state senator Jane Cunningham (in favor).

 

And….. “Last September, while playing in an elite tournament in St. Louis, Mr. Caruana said he was approached and offered a large sum to switch federations.”  You can guess who figures in this article.

 

Today’s Events

From Mary Scruggs’ indispensable events calendar:

Missouri Podiatric Medical Assn. – Bone’s Banquet Room, Jefferson City – 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Missouri Democratic Party Reception – 231 Madison St., Jefferson City – 5:30-7:30 p.m.

 

Lobbyist Registrations

Joseph Treadway added St. Louis Economic Development Partnership.

Jonathon Dalton and Shanon Hawk added Coalition For Responsible Ground Transportation.

Jeanette Mott Oxford added Empower Missouri; and deleted Missouri Association For Social Welfare.

Annette Driver added Driver and Associates; and deleted Bennie Lewis And Associates, and Missouri Association For Social Welfare.

 

$5K+ Contributions

MBA River Heritage Region PAC - $9,313 from First State Community Bank.

Citizens to Elect Kurt Schaefer Attorney General - $10,000 from The Bukowsky Law Firm.

One Springfield - $6,000 from National LGBTQ Task Force.

Greitens for Missouri - $15,000 from Monu Joseph.

Greitens for Missouri - $10,000 from Gray Arch Income Property.

Greitens for Missouri - $25,000 from Eric Karlovic.

 

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday to Jay Reichard (43), and Schupp’s Violet Marcel.