Thursday, January 2, 2013

Lawsuit Hits Sinquefield IPs

Stinson attorney Chuck Hatfield filed a lawsuit last week arguing that the summary language on Grow Missouri’s initiative petitions regarding tax credits and reducing the state income tax is misleading.  The lawsuit asks that the ballot summaries and fiscal information be declared invalid and thrown out by the court.

One of the more potent allegations in the lawsuit involves the word “cumulative.”

“Both the first and second bullets of the summary statement state that the limit on tax credits that state government may issue, authorize or approve is ‘$200 million a year.’ This is not what the measure states. The measure states state government ‘shall not issue, authorize or approve a cumulative amount of tax credits in excess of $200 million per state fiscal year.’ The word ‘cumulative’ is extremely important and must be given meaning. The summary statement gives it no meaning at all, which makes the summary statement misleading… This is not an issue of simply suggesting greater specificity would result in a better summary. How the $200 million is calculated is a critical component of the measure and stating the wrong method is grossly misleading…”

Hatfield also challenges the fiscal note.  In particular Hatfield takes issue with the calculations submitted by Grow Missouri’s Aaron Willard.

“Mr. Willard is a proponent of the measure, is biased, and it is in his best interest to submit a fiscal note that shows savings to the state and to avoid any calculations that would show a cost to the state. In the Fiscal Notes for both Versions 1 and 2, the submissions from Mr. Willard include in his fiscal impacts the assumption that the general assembly will act in a manner that maintains the current individual income tax rate. But the general assembly cannot be reasonably expected to act as assumed…  Mr. Willard’s submission for Version 1 fails to address the cumulative nature of the $200 million ‘cap’ in its fiscal impact analysis… Mr. Willard’s submissions state that they are based on the Legislative Oversight analysis in the Appendix A fiscal note, which states it used the amount of tax credits issued to estimate savings, but Mr. Willard substantially deviates from the actual methodology in the SB 185 fiscal note…”

Finally the lawsuit asks that the auditor’s office be require to promulgate rules regarding the fiscal impact of proposed ballot measures.

“Plaintiff prays this Court find the processes and procedures by which Defendant Schweich assesses the fiscal impact of proposed ballot measures is a rule, that Defendant Schweich has not promulgated such rule pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 536, and declare that the Fiscal Notes and Fiscal Note Summaries are void and invalid…”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Carol Weatherford, a retired Blue Springs teacher and member of the Missouri National Education Association.

A press release states that the “lawsuit is supported by Missourians for Fair Taxation (MFT), a coalition of statewide professional organizations with tens of thousands of grassroots members, led by the Missouri Association of REALTORS® and the Missouri National Education Association (MNEA). MFT and MNEA are also part of the Coalition for Missouri's Future, a statewide coalition of business, labor, education, healthcare, and civic organizations united for Missouri’s progress.”

Missourians for Fair Taxation has well over 50,000 “boots on the ground,” (figure 35K from MNEA and 18K from the Realtors).  They bedeviled Sinquefield in the past by challenging his “fair tax” proposals, and appear to have re-upped with their team: super-attorney Hatfield in court and old-hand Scott Charton on media and messaging.

It’s hard to view this as anything that the opening volley in a lengthy war challenging possibly every Sinquefield initiative on every possible front.

Asides on MFT Team

Scott Charton

Charton recently won the equivalent of China’s Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for his documentary about The Joplin Globe’s coverage of the 2011 tornado, “Deadline In Disaster,” a project he produced for the Missouri Press Association – just one indicator of the retired AP Capitol Bureau Chief’s deep ties with Missouri news media.

Chuck Hatfield

As of yesterday, January 1, Stinson Morrison Hecker is now Stinson Leonard Street.  SMH merged with Minnesota powerhouse firm Leonard Street to form the 75th largest law firm in

America, with more than 525 attorneys.  Hatfield was named to the board of directors of the new law firm and will chair its Government Solutions Practice group, which will also include six lobbyists in Minnesota.

And Who’s Got Rex’s Back?

As noted earlier in the week, one of the recent income-tax reduction petitions in the mix involves an increased cigarette tax.  That would seem to be a poke at the powerful convenience store and tobacco lobby and their capitol watchdog Ron Leone.  With Missourians for Fair Tax remobilizing, it brings the Realtors and the teacher/educrat powerhouse onto the battlefield.  As one old pol is said to have advised  Claire McCaskill when she was state auditor and stepping on everyone’s toes – “Hey, don’t piss everyone off – you’ll still need six friends to carry your casket!”

Follow-Up on Lucas

I’m told, for those with a curiosity in Forrest Lucas, a major player in the state’s argicultrual policy, political consultant Dave Hageman (Victory Enterprises) is Lucas’ trusted Missouri guide.

 

Last Minute Contributions

See a fair number of big checks (below) which came in on the last day of the quarter.

Forrest Lucas sent $50K to Missouri Farmers Care, as did the MO Soybean Association.

Steve Stenger finishes up strong.  He recorded $143K in large checks this quarter.  The incumbent, Charlie Dooley, didn’t record a single large donation this quarter.

Rex Sinquefield puts another $250K into his newest vehicle, Grow Missouri.

John Diehl recorded some final checks of the year.  Since he has vowed not to run for another office after his speakership, all checks to Diehl may be viewed as good news for the House Republican caucus.

Tracy McCreery is the likely Dem successor to Jill Schupp in House 88; Lauren Arthur is the likely Dem successor to Jay Swearingen in House 18.  And Swearingen’s auditor bid has yet to pick up steam; he only recorded one large check this quarter ($5,100 from IAFF Local 42).

Maria Chappelle-Nadal continues to build her war-chest ahead of 2014.

Gary Grigsby, the Democratic candidate in House 51 (Dean Dohrman incumbent), lands check from JOEPAC.

$5K+ Contributions

Committee to Elect Lauren Arthur - $10,000 from Lauren Arthur.

Committee to Elect Ron Richard - $10,000 from HealthPAC.

Citizens for Steve Stenger - $7,000 from H2 Logistics.

Friends of Diehl - $10,000 from Howard Wood.

Friends of Diehl - $20,000 from Grow Missouri PAC.

Missouri Farmers Care - $50,000 from Missouri Soybean Association.

Missouri Farmers Care - $50,000 from Lucas Cattle Company.

McCreery for Missouri - $30,000 from Tracy McCreery.

Grow Missouri - $250,000 from Rex Sinquefield.

Citizens for Maria Chappelle-Nadal - $14,000 from Sandy Tsai.

Grigsby for Missouri - $5,001 from Joseph C Kleeman Memorial Democratic PAC.

Lobbyist Registrations

From the Pelopidas website:

Trent Ford added Mid America Chapter of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc.

Travis Brown added Gate Way Group.

James C McNichols added Hawthorne Consulting LLC.

Chris Doyle deleted Allergan Inc.

John W Kuebler deleted Missouri Retired Teachers Foundation, and Missouri Primary Care Association.

Brian Schmidt deleted American Federation of Teachers, and Missouri Budget Project.

Neal English deleted Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation.

Richard K McCullough deleted Jefferson City Area Board of Realtors.

Birthdays

Happy birthday to Rep. Lyle Rowland (the big 6-0).