Thursday, May 15, 2014

Student Transfer in Senate

The Senate approved the conference committee report for SB 493, the student transfer bill, overwhelmingly 28-3.  It heads to the House today where it’s expected to pass, though not with the same veto-proof majority.

And so the hot question is whether Governor Jay Nixon will veto the bill or not.  I tend to think he will because that’s what he has said.  True, he didn’t use the word veto, but what other message could you get from his press conference?

Lobbyist: “Those who believe that Gov. Nixon won't veto SB 493 because he doesn't want ‘to own the issue’ haven’t paid any attention to the way this governor operates. He was as clear as he has ever been yesterday with a veto threat. They're also wrong if they think that he will sign it out of fear of reattribution from the African American community. Those two members of the Black Caucus voted for it in the House is all the cover he needs.”

And – add to that the statement from the NAACP:  The Missouri State Conference of Branches is opposed to the a bill to fix the problem school transfer law agreed by Missouri Legislators. "Allowing transfer students to go to private, nonreligious schools with public education dollars is not a fix, its a trampling of the public education demanded by our State Constitution" stated Mary Ratliff, Missouri NAACP President. "The fix denies transportation for the 2,200 children whom have transferred into higher-performing schools and equates to child abandonment by the State and should be punishable by law."

MCN and Jami Hammer Nixon

Sens. Maria Chappelle-Nadal and Jamilah Nasheed did their best to put pressure on the governor with a press conference saying that if he vetoed this bill, he’d be turning his back on black children again – an allusion to his attorney general tenure when he took an unpopular position on desegregation. 

And hand-outs with quotes from Nixon’s 1997 deseg debacle were circulating… for example: “In Sum, Jay Nixon’s campaign against desegregation is offensive to fair-minded people of all races.  It is reminiscent of the tactics of Southern political leaders of the 50s and 60s who sought to maintain segregation.” – Bill Clay, October 7, 1997.

Transportation Sales Tax Passes

The transportation sales tax passed the House easily (105-43) as the Democrats who just days ago were pouting came around and voted for the measure.

Now it heads to the voters.  It looks like a $4-5 million campaign, funded largely by asphalt producers etc.  Look for Ken Morley’s Tightline Strategies to run the campaign.  They’ll face opposition from the lefty groups who dislike the regressive nature of the sales tax.  But assuming they don’t incite deep pockets, they have a shot at passage.

Marshall Growls at Diehl

Passing Rep. Nick Marshall in the halls I casually said, “What’s going on?”

He stopped.  “What’s going on?” he repeated, “What’s going on is John Diehl is a liar.”

Seems that Marshall thought he had a commitment that in return for his vote for the tax cut override, there wouldn’t be a new vote on the transportation sales tax.

Perhaps these types of blowups happen at the end of nearly every session as tensions rise and the House tackles big issues.

Schweich Seeks Love From House Rs

I spied Auditor Tom Schweich in the rotunda yesterday yucking it up with lowly representatives.  It’s said that Schweich has been really trying to get support from House Republicans but he is coming up short.  Many of those representatives support former speaker Catherine Hanaway because first, they like her; second, she has done more for the party (which ain’t much in the last ten years) than Schweich; and third, they think she has a better chance against the Democratic nominee, Chris Koster

Some insiders believe that there’s a deal for Schweich to step aside in return for commitments to clear the field for him to run for US Senate in 2018.

Perhaps then, with an eye that Clint Zweifel might be his Senate ’18 opponent, Schweich had to find something in the audit to hit him with… therefore the salary knock.

And

It’s not just Schweich who might complicate Hanaway’s life… Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer is also mentioned as a possible 2016 gubernatorial candidate.

 

Early Voting Ahead

With the passage of HJR 90, the Republicans will be placing their own version of early voting before the voters.  It will compete with the Democratic version which is working its way through the initiative petition process.

The Democratic version would allow for a six week early voting period.  The Republican version limits it to six days.  Signatures for the six week version were submitted and the secretary of state’s office has until the August primary to certify that they meet the necessary number.

The six-week version therefore, if it’s on a ballot, will be on the November ballot.  The six-day version may be on the August ballot or the November ballot.  It is Governor Jay Nixon’s decision, and he has given no hint which he would choose.

It’s hard to imagine that there won’t be robust legal challenges on both sides throughout this process.  

Auditor Tom Schweich still has to create a fiscal note for the six-day version, and that may be the first point for legal challenge, we’ll see… But the mother-of-all-legal-battles will be after the vote(s) occur.  The six-day version contains a provision which nullifies any other version.  This is considered legally “sketchy.”  But if there are two votes – one in August and one in November – the later one would likely be the one that has the final say.

As I like to say, we’ll see…..

 

Free and Fair Elections

A new campaign committee was formed recently.  It’s called Free And Fair Election Fund.  And while there’s no indication yet behind the purpose of the committee, let me guess.  The treasurer is James Thomas III.  He is treasurer for many Jeff Roe-related campaigns.  Between that and the name of the committee, this might well be the Republicans’ early voting campaign fund.  We’ll see, but it does conform to the talk that the Republican establishment fears the Democratic six-week version and will marshal resources to substitute it with their own version.

Nixon Pays NGA Dues Out of Social Services

Post-Dispatch’s Marie French has the story on Governor Jay Nixon spending money allotted to the Department of Social Services to pay for his dues to the National Governors Association. See the article here.

Pull Quote:  Over the past three years, $390,600 from money appropriated by the Legislature for the state’s Department of Social Services paid for the state’s membership in the National Governors Association. The practice was first reported in a report on the Gov. Jay Nixon’s office released in September 2012 by the state auditor…  Budget committee chair Rep. Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood, said the question was not about the value of the NGA but instead the use of funds the Legislature intended for social services being misused. He said the money could have been used for real services instead of membership dues… The membership dues also came under fire during Senate debate Wednesday. Sen. Paul LeVota, D-Independence, called it “outrageous” and said the state needed to be accountable in how money was being spent… Sen. Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, said this was an example of the need for the Legislature to be vigilant over how money was being spent by the executive branch… Nixon’s office released a statement calling the accusations a “desperate distraction.”

House Works Into The Morning

The House worked a long night.  See the fruits of their labor in today 123-page House Journal here.

Cox to ER

Rep. Stanley Cox tweeted this update on his health: I went to ER at St. Mary's because abdominal pain. Having a few tests. Hope to return to Capitol in a few hours. Thanks for concern.

Lobbyist Registrations

From the Gate Way Group website:

Marsha Fischer added University of Missouri.

Ginger Steinmetz added Corporate Security Advisors Association.

$5K+ Contributions

Missourians for Koster - $20,000 from James Lincoln.