Thursday, January 23, 2014

Education Committee Hears St. Louis County Sens’ Student Transfer Bill

The Senate Education Committee started hearing bills on the student transfer issue yesterday.  Chairman David Pearce started by combining the bills of St. Louis County / St. Charles County senators John Lamping, Scott Rupp, Eric Schmitt, Scott Sifton and Gina WalshSee Schmitt’s bill here.

St. Louis County seems to be looking down the road a few years and imagining that the St. Louis Public Schools may lose their accreditation again.  While the influx of students from a few districts in the county created anxiety, a tsunami of city kids could result in a full-fledged panic.

Their bill aims to make accommodations in the current law, but it maintains the basic framework.  And thus it was supported by the major “reform” organizations – StudentsFirst, CEAM, etc.  Sen. Sifton expressed the situation succinctly: ‎Does every child deserve a public education at an accredited school? If the answer is yes, then you have to do student transfers.

However Mike Lodewegen, in his testimony, observed that senators have yet to grapple with a by-product of the current law: it sends the failing districts into bankruptcy which makes a “turn around” of those districts nearly impossible.

All along the way, Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal was the most active participant.  She has her own bill – SB 516 – and education appears to be the top issue of her legislative agenda this year.

The $300 Million Divide

Governor Jay Nixon’s budget proposal and the legislature’s revenue estimate are separated by a $300 million gap.  Read the Post-Dispatch article here.

For the budget year beginning July 1, Nixon, a Democrat, is counting on 5.2 percent growth in general revenue, the main pot of tax money the GOP-led Legislature controls. House and Senate budget leaders project growth at 4.2 percent.


The different revenue estimates — along with Nixon’s inclusion of projected savings from shifting costs to the federal government by expanding Medicaid — result in a huge budget gulf between the governor and the Legislature.


Legislators will have to cut $214.5 million from his spending blueprint if they stick to their lower growth estimate, according to figures provided by Luebbering on Tuesday.


They also would have to cut $94 million that Nixon’s budget spends as a result of shifting some health care costs to the federal government through Medicaid expansion.

Nasheed Blocks Hall Appointment

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed blocked Daniel Hall’s appointment to the Public Service Commission yesterday to show her anger with Governor Jay Nixon – particularly over his stalling of low-income tax credits. 

One would expect this to be a temporary obstacle for Hall.


One observer thinks that Nixon has multiple motives for his expected appointment of Sen. Scott Rupp to the PSC.  And one of them, according to this politico, is to keep Rupp from primarying Steve Ehlmann as St. Charles County Executive.  “Nixon and Ehlmann are old basketball buddies…”


Former Rep. Sara Lampe also was blocked.  Springfield News-Leader has the story here.

Lampe, a Democrat, was nominated to the commission by Gov. Jay Nixon. The Senate Appointments Committee, which considered a number of nominations this morning, chose not to take action on Lampe, citing too few Republicans on the commission.

Munzy’s Bill and What it Means?

Sen. Brian Munzlinger’s bill – SB 573 – was heard in the Senate Economic Development Committee yesterday.  It’s a non-controversial bill which enables the counties of Shelby and Monroe to ask their voters for an additional property tax.  The revenues would be earmarked for road maintenance.

But the question was raised, and it appears the case, that the need for bills like this are the result of years of rolling back the assessed values on agricultural land.  Every time the State Tax Commission tries to increase the value of agricultural land, the Senate blocks the action.  While a popular, “pro-farmer” action, over time it deprives funding for services – not to mention what it does to the education funding…

Hicks Saves Woman in Rotunda

About 11:15 yesterday morning, in the crowded Rotunda there was a commotion.  A woman apparently had a seizure and stopped breathing.   Rep. Ron Hicks performed CPR and basically saved her life.  Read Eli Yokley’s account here.

Help Wanted

Sue Shear Institute seeks an assistant director.  “This position provides day-to-day oversight of the operations of the Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life, and provides leadership for all of the Institute’s programs, including the annual 21st Century Leadership Academy…” See ad here.


Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Russell in her State of the Judiciary address yesterday said that she’s been doing some undercover work…

Instead of a “suggestion box,” I wanted to go talk to people directly. So this past summer, I became an “undercover judge” by visiting two courthouses – in Osage and St. Louis counties. I talked with everyone there using the courts. Dressed in casual clothes and tennis shoes, I don’t think anyone knew who I was. I sat shoulder to shoulder with people in the courthouse hallways. I could feel their anxiety, their worry and their apprehension as they waited their turn to appear before the judge. For most, it was their first time in any courtroom, and they did not know what to expect. Many did not have lawyers to help them navigate the unfamiliar turf. It is important for us to remember that the courts can be a confusing, daunting place for many who come there. But by listening to those we serve, we can make the court process a little more understandable and a little less scary for the average person.

MO Healthcare Splits Dolan’s Duties

Since the departure of Jon Dolan, the Missouri Health Care Association has opted not to hire a replacement.  Instead they have split his duties between Lorie Towe (Operations & Regulatory Affairs), and Nikki Strong (Government Affairs & Member Services).

Keaveny to EcoDevo

Sen. Joe Keaveny has joined the Senate’s Economic Development Committee.  He fills the vacancy left by Ryan McKenna’s appointment.

Another Name in House 67

Larry Davis is said to be mulling a bid for House 67.  That seat is vacant due to the resignation of Steve Webb.  Davis is, according to the Missouri Accountability Portal, employed at the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.  And according to the word in the rotunda, he’s a cousin of rap star Nelly.

Former state representative Sylvester Taylor has started a campaign committee for the same seat, setting up a potential primary.


Big money is involved in the elections for… World Chess Federation president… yeah, you guessed it… Rex Sinquefield is mentioned… Read the NYTimes article here.

The next frontier of civil rights?... Rep. Tom Hurst has introduced a bill to codify the right to rodeo… Read it here.

American Traffic Solutions has compiled the most frightening red-light collisions and near collisions in St. Louis City in 2013.  Watch the video here.


Lobbyist Registrations

From the Pelopidas website:

Andrew B Blunt and Jay Reichard added Pediatrix Medical Group.

Mark J Bruns and Jim Foley added Kansas City Fraternal Order of Police.

Dee George added The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Paul Scott added StudentsFirst.

$5K+ Contributions

Missourians for Safe Transportation & New Jobs Inc. - $10,266 from Industry Advancement Heavy Constructors.

Missourians for Safe Transportation & New Jobs Inc. - $75,000 from Emery Sapp & Sons Inc.

Missouri Senate Campaign Committee - $40,000 from Silvey for Missouri.

Slay for Mayor - $10,000 from Clayco.


Happy birthday to Libla’s Kyle Aubuchon (26).