Thursday, January 9, 2014

Senate Issues Statement on Its Agenda

Pro Tem Tom Dempsey eschewed a traditional opening day speech.  Instead the Senate released a statement which highlighted priorities from both the majority and minority caucuses:

Lawmakers in the Senate are eager to begin their work in Jefferson City, and agree tackling Missouri’s school transfer law and revising the state’s criminal code are some of the top priorities for the 2014 legislative session.

 

Numerous bills relating to the transfer of students from unaccredited to accredited school districts have already been introduced, including Senate Bill 493, sponsored by Senate Education Committee Chairman Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, and Senate Bill 516, sponsored by Sen. Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, who also serves on the committee.

 

Senate Minority Floor Leader Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, introduced legislation today designed to address Missouri’s aging criminal code.  Senate Bill 491 is a bipartisan measure co-sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, who also chairs the Senate Judiciary and Civil & Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.

 

Another shared goal for the 2014 legislative session is campaign finance and ethics reform.  Two measures sponsored by Sen. Scott T. Rupp, R-St. Charles, relating to campaign finance (Senate Bill 486 and Senate Bill 487) would provide more oversight when it comes to contributing dollars to political candidates; however one of his measures would leave the decision up to the voters.  Senate Bill 536, sponsored Sen. Scott Sifton, D-St. Louis, would institute a lobbyist gift ban for the members of the General Assembly and their candidate committees.

 

While lawmakers agree on some issues, caucuses in the upper chamber have also set their priorities for the new session.

 

Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, indicates tax and tax credit reform as high priority issues for the 2014 legislative session.  Other measures filed include legislation relating to Second Amendment rights.  The Legislature will also focus on the Fiscal Year 2015 state budget, especially in the areas of education funding.

 

Legislation has already been introduced in the Senate designed to phase in an income tax deduction for business income (Senate Bill 496) and reduce the top rate of tax on personal income tax over a certain timeframe (Senate Bill 497).  Both measures are sponsored by Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale.  Another measure relating to income taxes filed this session is Senate Bill 509, sponsored by Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit.  Numerous measures have also been filed that would create, reauthorize, raise or eliminate some of Missouri’s tax credit programs.

 

The “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” sponsored by Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, would prohibit federal laws from restricting or prohibiting the manufacture, ownership and use of firearms and their accessories within the state, while also promoting responsible gun ownership. Several senators have already signed on to co-sponsor Senate Bill 613.

 

Lawmakers in the Minority Caucus would like to see the Legislature focus its attention on expanding Medicaid for thousands of Missourians.  Senator Paul LeVota, D-Independence, introduced legislation (Senate Bill 661) that would provide for the expansion of MO HealthNet services beginning the first of next year... 

Jones Speech

Meanwhile in the House, things had a much more partisan flavor… You can read Speaker Tim Jones’ opening day speech here.  He called right to work, tax cuts, medical malpractice, preserving student choice, and an “all of the above” energy policy as his top priorities.

From 253 to 1253…

Rep. TJ Berry filed two bills aimed at cutting taxes.  HB 1253 and HB 1254.  These will likely be the starting points for the tax cut debate in the House this year.

Timeline Stretch

In his opening day speech, Speaker Tim Jones threw cold water on any legislation aimed at easing the student transfer pains some districts are feeling. 

“Guaranteeing a great education for all children, no matter where they reside in the state, is, and always has been, one of my highest priorities. Removing the opportunity and choice for a great education that some children have now for the first time in generations is the height of cynicism and should not even be considered.”

Those who want to change the law must start thinking past Jones and working on something acceptable to Speaker-elect John Diehl in 2015…

Eyeing the Calendar

I got some conflicting questions/comments on the ability of the legislature to determine which election – August or November – right to work would go before the voters.

It seems the answer hinges on whether they put forth a constitutional amendment or a statutory change.

Right to work has been generally done as a statutory change. It don’t have to be, but it usually is advanced that way.  For example, HB 77 from last year.

And the legislature has the right pursuant to do referendum on statutory bills according to Article III, Section 52(a): A referendum may be ordered (except as to laws necessary for the  immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety, and laws making appropriations for the current expenses of the state government, for the maintenance of state institutions and for the support of public schools) either by petitions signed by five percent of the legal voters in each of two-thirds of the congressional districts in the state, or by the general assembly, as other bills are enacted. Referendum petitions shall be filed with the secretary of state not more than ninety days after the final adjournment of the session of the general assembly which passed the bill on which the referendum is demanded. 

If the legislature does do a referendum it bypassing the Guv and they can order it sooner than the next general election. Article III, Section 52(b): The veto power of the governor shall not extend to measures referred to the people. All elections on measures referred to the people shall be had at the general state elections, except when the general assembly shall order a special election. Any measure referred to the people shall take effect when approved by a majority of the votes cast thereon, and not otherwise. This section shall not be construed to deprive any member of the general assembly of the right to introduce any measure. 

So the election on a referendum is at the next general except when "except when the general assembly shall order a special election".

 

So last year with HB 77 the HCS contained this clause: This act is hereby submitted to the qualified voters of this state for approval or rejection at an election which is hereby ordered and which shall be held and conducted on Tuesday next following the first Monday in August,

2014, or at any other successor primary election date in 2014 as provided by law, pursuant to the laws and constitutional provisions of this state for the submission of referendum measures by the general assembly, and this act shall become effective when approved by a majority of the votes cast thereon at such election and not otherwise.  The strategy here is to limit the issue being used in general election campaigns.

 

Interestingly, for constitutional amendments. The constitution gives the governor the power to determine when they are put before the voters.  Article XII, Section 2(b): All amendments proposed by the general assembly or by the initiative shall be submitted to the electors for their approval or rejection by official ballot title as may be provided by law, on a separate ballot without party designation, at the next general election, or at a special election called by the governor prior thereto, at which he may submit any of the amendments. 

 

So the legislature has the power with one and the governor has the power with the other.  Go figure…

Jones Promises Slots

In a break with the way the House majority has traditionally done business, Speaker Tim Jones is promising each member of the Republican majority a “slot,” that is a bill of their choosing to make it to the House floor.  Missouri Times has the story; read it here.

Lager Vows to Block Fowler Appointment

Sen. Brad Lager and others said that they will block   AP’s David Lieb has the story here.

Pull Quotes: "I don't want to say that he's getting bought off, but that's sure what it looks like," said Lager, a Republican from Savannah. "I just don't think there's a place for that, and I intend on stopping it."

 

Two other committee members _ Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin, and Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph _ also told the AP they would oppose Fowler's confirmation to the parole board because of his vote on the income tax legislation.

 

"Republicans need to act like Republicans, and I'm tired of rewarding Republicans who don't act like Republicans," Richard said…

 

"We can't be allowing our own members to be cherry picked off and destroy our supermajority in this manner," Schaaf said Wednesday. He added: "This is just us policing our own."

Lincoln Hough Whisper #

State Representative Lincoln Hough will report close to $105k raised for the quarter. He has been diligently focused on his reelection in his district. Since it is a swing district, the Democrats could make a play and he is making sure he will have more than enough resources to take whatever they can throw at him.

Bonding Bill Doomed?

Even if the House passes out a bonding bill this year, one observer is certain that it dies in the Senate.  Here’s why: “The Transportation Alliance will kill any bonding bill that could compete with their transportation sales tax increase on the ballot.  Maybe something very small has a shot, but a billion dollar bonding proposal will not get through Senate.  Only hope would be if there is some sort of compromise to combine transportation funding with capital improvements bonding proposal.  But anytime that’s been tried before the MODOT people veto the idea because they really want a dedicated funding stream so they don’t have to keep coming back for more money to the voters/legislature.”

Nixon Makes Downing Appointment

Governor Jay Nixon yesterday announced Mike Downing, who has been acting director of the Department of Economic Development, as his “new” director of the department.

 

 

Synder to Brightergy

Paul Synder, formerly with Kansas City Power and Light, is now with Brightergy.  They are focused on solar power.  See the website here.

Wedel Replacement?  Not Yet

It’s said that Minority Leader Jake Hummel is still interview possible replacements for the chief of staff job.  Everyone’s mum on the short list right now…

Lamping Playbook for Jones?

In the halls the word was that Wesley Jones – the professional investor I highlighted earlier in the week – is a serious possibility for Republicans to run in Senate 24.  If they do, it sounds like they will be attempting to run Jones as they did with John Lamping.  That is, someone with no record, and therefore able to define themselves as a moderate to the moderate electorate in that district.

Shoemyer to Start New PAC?

Former state senator Wes Shoemyer – who lost to Sen. Brian Munzlinger in 2012, was walking the halls yesterday.  It’s said that Shoe is putting together a coalition to oppose the “right to farm” constitutional amendment on the ballot this November.

The group is tentatively called Missouri Food for America.  They question the need for the constitutional amendment.  Stay tuned…

Quick and Expansive Rex Talk

Rex Sinquefield watchers may enjoy this video… See it here.

What’s He Trying to Hide?

Former senate pro tem, turned lobbyist, Mike Gibbons was sporting the winter beard….

$5K+ Contributions

Stand Up Missouri - $23,500 from Security Group Inc.

MO Republican Party - $15,000 from Ameren Missouri.

Lobbyist Registrations

From the Pelopidas website:

Charles "Andy" Arnold added Bus Shield LLC.

James C. Bowers, Jr. added Shoal Creek Valley CID, Balaji Development Corp., Painter, James Jr. & Angela, Buchanan County Ag Expo Center Inc., and Specialty Restaurants of California.

James Harris added L.J. Hart & Company.

Shanon M Hawk added Penman & Winton Consulting.

Michael T. White added Specialty Restaurants of California.

James Atkins deleted Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Dale R Ludwig deleted Missouri Soybean Association, and Missouri Farmers Care.

Phillip P Scaglia deleted Kansas City Explorers.

With Dale Ludwig deleting his registration with Missouri Farmers Care.  Daniel Kleinsorge, their executive director, is the only person with a lobbyist registration for Missouri Farmers Care now.

 

Birthdays

Happy birthdays to Rep. Caleb Jones, and Steve Murray.