Thursday, May 8, 2014

Parade of bits…

House GOP Hearts Keith

Rep. Keith English reportedly walked into the House Republicans’ end-of-session party Tuesday night and received a standing ovation.

Dems Not So Much

Minority Leader Jake Hummel yanked Rep. Keith English off his committee assignments in retaliation for English’s defection on the tax cut override vote.  David Lieb has the story.  Read it here.

Very little happens in committee at this point, though Hummel won’t be putting English on any conference committees either.  And who knows Speaker Tim Jones may respond with the equally symbolic creation of Special Committee to place English back on, ala Penny Hubbard.

English Did It All for RTW?

Nope.  Sorry but that rumor going around that Rep. Keith English had traded his override vote for assurances from Speaker-designate John Diehl not to bring up right to work (heard three versions of this rumor… one saying for one-year, one for two-years and one for five-years) is not true.  Diehl gave English nothing.  Or as I like to say “future considerations.”

Missouri Club for Growth: We Did It

In a fundraising email yesterday Missouri Club for Growth explains how their recruiting resulted in the override vote…

As you may recall, last September, 15 members of the Missouri House of Representatives' majority party failed to support fiscal conservatism when they sided with Governor Nixon and his veto of an even larger tax cut proposal: House Bill 253.

 

 Immediately after that failed override vote, the MOCFG PAC dubbed those misguided representatives "The Flimsy Fifteen," and got to work recruiting true fiscally conservative candidates to run against them in this year's upcoming primary election.

 

 Our efforts to hold those legislators' accountable ultimately paid off yesterday, when every single one of last year's majority party defectors voted to override Governor Nixon's veto of SB 509.

 

 Winning the first income tax cut for Missouri taxpayers in almost a century is a shining example why MOCFG PAC matters and why your continued support is so essential…

Shhhh.  Don’t tell the would-be donors that only four of the fifteen even had primary challengers file against them… and only one is a legitimate candidate. 

Give Us Money and We’ll Take Back the Majority Sustain Vetoes

The email fundraising blast from Minority Leader Jake Hummel on the heels of the override defeat shows how the bar for Dems has been lowered:

I write to you with disappointing news. Today the Missouri Legislature voted to override Governor Nixon's veto of a dangerous tax scheme that will cut education funding up to $800 million every year.  Help us take back the veto power…..

The Talk: Nixon Didn’t Work the Rs

One Dem says that Governor Jay Nixon’s team didn’t really work the Republican House members hard like he did last summer.  The speculation is that Nixon was less vigorous because the phase-in means that he won’t have to deal with the impact of the cuts.  Who knows if this is reliable information or not, but it shows the lingering distrust that House Dems have for their governor who stereotypically looks out for #1.  If true, they should be very afraid what the next two years hold…

Is English the New Hubbard?

Will Rep. Keith English be Speaker John Diehl’s go to Democrat when he needs an extra vote?  Will English take Rep. Penny Hubbard’s office on the third floor?  One lobbyist cautions English against thinking that he’s in the club… “You gotta keep playing their game or they yank that membership card…”

What About Roorda?

While English’s treachery has been the focus of Democratic anger and angst, what about Rep. Jeff Roorda?  What does his flip on the override vote mean?  He went from being an Aye on the original tax cut bill to being a No and sticking with his caucus.

Will Rep. Paul Wieland’s camp attempt to use his No in their Senate 22 campaign?  Or will the support of the educational leaders off-set any negatives he might accumulate from it?

Missing the Utilities War?

This legislative session has been characterized by a lack of a significant utility bill and its usual knock-down, drag-out fight.  It seems like every previous session in recent memory has featured a bill from Ameren and other utilities to support plans for infrastructure or expansion.  Noranda then rallies the opposition.  And the building moans under the weight of a fight which seems to suck up a lot of energy and effort.

This year there was no big initiative from the utilities.  And Noranda’s Public Service Commission complaint might have displaced some of their attention.

But already the speculation has started on whether “the war” will be back next year.  And part of this talk revolves around who will head up those critical committees that control the flow of legislation. 

On the Senate side, Sen. Mike Kehoe’s name seems to be rising to the top.  He’s the current vice-chair; and he’s in leadership now.  Sen. Ed Emery then becomes the potential vice-chair.  But nothing is certain of course.  Also mentioned is Sen. Will Kraus, and Sen. Mike Parson – even though he’s not currently on the Commerce Committee.

The House side is very difficult to handicap.  A great deal depends on the grid of committees and where fits are most natural.  It’s said that Reps. Rocky Milley and Holly Rehder both have an interest in taking the Utilities gavel.  However both would be sophomores, so John Diehl might go with someone with more seniority.

Quote of the Day

“The things I’ll do to suck up…” – grown man in a seersucker suit.

Master Settlement Legislation = Dead

SB820 is dead.  Despite the lobbyists’ law that “nothing is ever dead until 6:01pm on May 16,” it’s dead.  Last Friday’s ruling by Judge Jimmie Edwards was a fatal blow.  Here’s Rudi Keller’s story to recapping the ruling.

Holsy Holds the Floor for Fickle Friends

Tuesday night Sen. Jason Holsman and other Dems held the floor for hours to stave off the paycheck protection legislation.  Holsy has repeatedly stood up for labor issues despite organized labor staying neutral when he needed them – in his 2012 Democratic primary. 

PQ Talk Starts Again

The behavior of the Senate yesterday had some observers speculating that they are preparing for the use of the “previous question,” the legislative maneuver in the Senate to cut off debate and squash Democratic filibusters.

Senate Republicans have trotted out some of their remaining priorities, and established, in each case, that Democratic filibusters are preventing them from coming to a vote.  The four issues that might rank high: Paycheck Protection, Voter ID, Abortion Longer Wait, and the Weaker Early Voting.

Yesterday the Senate ran through a lot of non-controversial items, as if leadership was beginning the process of clearing out stuff that might otherwise be easily passed on the final day.  This looks like a classic pre-PQ move.

However I have multiple sources who have looked at this closely.  They say with conviction that this Senate doesn’t have the votes – 18 of them are needed – to move the previous question.  This has been thought to be the case for some labor legislation as there are Republican senators who are sympathetic on that issue.  But these sources think that there aren’t 18 votes on any PQ – pro-life or otherwise.

Chappelle-Nadal Puts Epilepsy Awareness Month On Ice

Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal derailed HB 2028 yesterday as the Senate was cranking through the calendar.  It’s a non-controversial bill which would designate November as Epilepsy Awareness Month.  What’s her beef?  Maybe that the House sponsor is Rep. Josh Peters who got crossways with her last week during the student transfer debate.

Frame Stressed

From Rep. Michael Frame’s Facebook: “I went to the Emergency Room (Tuesday) night after experiencing some dizziness (vertigo) on the House Floor, which became more severe during a reception later in the evening. Blood pressure was 226/146 when I arrived at Capital Region Medical Center, but the outstanding doctors and nurses soon had it stabilized at 120/90. Diagnosis: stress-related hypertension, so tell those Republicans to quit upsetting me!!!”

Capitol Access

Shawn D’Abreu of Missouri Centers for Independent Living is circulating a report, Access for All, which looks at ways which the capitol building can become more accessible.

“Preparation for the 100th year anniversary of the Capitol Building, to be celebrated in 2017, gives us a wonderful opportunity to dismantle these barriers, thus encouraging participation and fostering even greater appreciation of our beautiful Capitol.”

Some of the recommendations in the report:

All lifts should be independently operable by the person using that lift.  The Senate and Library allow for autonomous use whereas the House does not.

Implement the many recommendations from the 2014 ADA survey of the capitol.  This includes making the drinking fountains, toilets and urinals ADA complaint, as well as door handles, doorway widths, and making sure all stairs have adequate handrails, and ramps. 

Missing from the Winners List

In my hurried list of folks who had worked long and hard on passing the tax cut, I left off a few obvious movers, shakers and cajolers like MO Chamber’s Traci King, and Speaker Tim Jones who stayed mostly behind the scenes.

eMailbag: Remembering the MEL Carnahan Years

For historical significance the first 2 years under Carnahan were a deep recession.  He raised taxes to help stabilize a tough budget environment.  Then the economy exploded in the mid 90s.  And the tax cutting and refund issuing began.  Boy was it fun.

eMailbag: Don’t Blame the Victims

I certainly have appreciated Sen. Ryan Silvey's leadership on Medicaid reform – even if I don't like all parts of his proposal. Still I hope that his Tweet yesterday is incorrect – that the civil disobedience killed chances for Medicaid reform and expansion this year. If that is true, it sort of proves the point that the protestors were trying to make, doesn't it?

One of the women I know who was arrested sent me this message: "We expect human dignity to be made a part of public policy, and we are prepared to refuse to continue cooperating with a mean spirited, unjust government system." A legislative body is drunk with power and living much too insulated from reality if they will refuse health care to 300,000 hard-working neighbors with low-incomes, simply because some men and women of faith (many of them elders, walking with canes) chanted and prayed and sang in the gallery of the chamber…

$5K+ Contributions

Missourians for Children’s Education - $12,307 from Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Birthdays

Happy birthdays to Sen. Tom Dempsey (47), and Rep. Jeanie Lauer (60).