House Floor Leader Race
With Rep. Todd Richardson firmly entrenched as a three-year speaker, the next question becomes who will ascend to the Floor Leader position.
Rep. Mike Cierpoit, who served as Assistant Floor Leader during Richardson’s floor leader tenure, is one natural candidate.
However others are expected to toss their hat in the ring as well.
One likely candidate is Rep. Caleb Rowden who is mentioned as a possible future speaker himself someday.
New Media Guy in Auditor’s Office
According to the Missouri Accountability Portal, the office of the state auditor has a new “media director,” David Luther. And he’s getting paid quite a bit. He pulled down $6,025 for the two weeks ending in May 15. That appears to make him the highest paid current employee in the office.
It looks like Luther was hired after Tom Schweich’s death, but before Nicole Galloway’s appointment. Be interesting to see if she keeps him on.
Nixon Hits Aetna on Autism Coverage Violations
The press release: Gov. Jay Nixon today announced that the State of Missouri has reached a $4.5 million settlement with Aetna Life Insurance Company and Aetna Health Insurance Company (referred to collectively as Aetna in this news release) after the companies failed to provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders.
The settlement - which includes Missouri's largest fine ever for insurance law violations - also allows the Missouri Department of Insurance to suspend those companies from doing business in the state for up to one year, if they violate the agreement during a three-year monitoring period…
Motorcycle Gang to Excelsior Springs
KMBC reports that a motorcycle gang – the Mongols – will meet in Excelsior Springs. See it here. Apparently some of these motorcycle gangs are involved in organized crime… And the local police are calling in back-up just in case.
Read Washington Post’s article on the Bandidos here.
Question from one observer: is the governor’s office involved in preparations to make sure Excelsior Springs doesn’t turn into another Waco shoot-out?
Clinton to MO
Politico reports that Hillary Clinton “will visit Florida, Missouri and Texas in May and June, her campaign confirmed Tuesday, as the Democratic front-runner looks to build support beyond the early nominating states…” Read it here.
McCaskill Against Game of Thrones
NYTimes has the scoop here. “A rape scene in Sunday’s episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ has brought renewed criticism to this popular HBO fantasy series, which has previously drawn fire for what some viewers believe is its frequent and callous depiction of sexual violence. The audience members who have expressed their disapproval since Sunday’s broadcast include United States Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, who said in a Twitter post on Tuesday that she was ‘done’ with the show.”
From Post-Dispatch’s Bill McClellan this morning… The next matter will involve Diehl’s employment. He is a lawyer with Husch Blackwell. He was hired by that firm in October 2014 shortly before becoming House speaker in January 2015. At the time he was hired by Husch, he was speaker-designee.
In legal parlance, he was a rainmaker. As far as a law firm is concerned, Diehl had the perfect reputation. He was not considered a morally upright stick in the mud. He was considered flexible, a man who might be willing to do private business in the People’s Hall.
According to the firm’s website, he was assigned to a team of lawyers that works with government entities involved with “public incentives and tax credits.”
A flexible House speaker could do some good in that role.
Jefferson County Leader’s sneak peek says their next issue includes: Patrick Martin offers a theory on why people like former Missouri House Speaker John Diehl do things like sending suggestive texts to young women. Martin ties such terrible errors in judgment to being the Class Nerd in the way-back-when.
Missourinet says that “lawmakers promise review of Capitol intern program.” Read it here. Probably a good idea to broaden the review and look at sexual harassment throughout the building’s culture.
Onder Re-elect Gets Started Early
With his Senate re-election only about three and half years away, Sen. Bob Onder has his first fundraiser planned…
Wednesday, June 17th 5-8 pm
Please join us for a private tour and reception at the fully restored and unique stone estate of Bryan Mill Farm - Femme Osage in Defiance, Missouri. Originally built by Jonathan Bryan, the adopted son of Daniel Boone in the mid 1800's and located just one mile from the Daniel Boone Home and Museum.
Invitation to follow….
Butler Declares Rematch With Vescovo
House 112 looks like it was feature a rematch between Democrat Robert Butler and Republican Rep. Rob Vescovo.
Butler’s press release: Robert Butler announces he will challenge Rob Vescovo and his “wage lowering agenda” for State Representative in the 112th District… Right-to-Work is nothing more than a bill designed to lower the wages of workers in Missouri. Which is why every other Republican Representative in Jefferson County and Senator Weiland joined Democrats in voting against this measure, except for Vescovo. When Vescovo claims it is about job creation he means taking a middle income job with benefits and converting it into two part-time Walmart type jobs without benefits. We need jobs that pay a living wage.”
Adding House 17 and House 20 to Watch List
A western side observer offers two more districts to put on a 2016 Watch List…
“Keep an eye on that Nick King district in 2016, (House 17). He barely held on to it in 2014. (He won by 72 votes. That is, with 50.4% of the vote)…
And also the Bill E. Kidd seat (House 20) that has flipped back and forth (between parties) the last four cycles….”
Again, interesting to note these are both Republican defenses. They will have a lot of seats to defend this cycle with pick-up targets getting harder and harder to find. It’s just a natural outcome of their super stretched super-majority.
Governing: Gas Tax a Problem for Many States
Governing Magazine surveys how many states – not just Missouri – are struggling with their gas tax revenue. At the end of the article you can plug in your state to see how inflation has chipped away at the tax’s funding capacity. Read it here.
The Department of Economic Development released the April Job Report yesterday…
“Missouri’s unemployment rate edged up a tenth of a point to 5.7 percent in April…The state’s nonfarm payroll employment decreased by 5,700 in April…”
However, with about two weeks left, state revenue still seem solid this month, despite the weak job numbers. Individual income tax receipts are up about 8% at the mid-month point.
eMailbag: MRL and PQ
Staffer: “Man, whoever told you about Missouri Right to Life was dead on. They are the worst about getting pissed over not PQing. That is part of the reason Sam Lee personally is much better like than anyone at MRL…”
Nancy Giddens and Shannon Cooper deleted Steve Carroll, and Abbott Nutrition.
Greg Swarens deleted Hallmark Cards Inc.
Bradshaw for Missouri - $5,005 from Strong Garner Bauer.
Greitens for Missouri - $10,000 from Terry Scariot.
Happy birthday to former Rep. Jim Guest (75).