Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Four Weeks Left

Where we are on some of the big issues...

Right to Work – waiting…. The opponents are cheered by the fact that the clock is clearly in their favor, and every day the scale tips farther in their favor.  There’s talk that Speaker Tim Jones and Floor Leader John Diehl, while not outwardly at war, are ready to move on from each other.  If the two were united in purpose and spirit, moving some big priorities would be easier.  As it is, it appears that Diehl has left right to work in hands of its most ardent supporters, saying something like “go find your 82 votes” if you want a vote.  Chances of passage: 5%

Tobacco Settlement Changes – This issue has gotten stuck in the senate.  Pro Tem Tom Dempsey has been asking questions, and doesn’t seem to be satisfied with the answers.  Now comes the Rudi Keller article (see it here) with Sen. Kurt Schaefer also asking questions.  This issue which seemed like a gimme – easy money, bad tobacco companies, AG pushing for it, has been slowly taking on water all session.   Chances of passage: 30%

Student Transfers – The House should move its version this week.  Like every other big issue the clock is a factor here.  It’ll be important to see what the House vote looks like after the strong bipartisan vote in the Senate.  Furthermore this is one of those issues where there would be very serious points to resolve in conference committee.  And depending what the final product looks like, the team of education lobbyists are never to be underestimated.  Chances of passage: 55%.

Tax Cut – This is the one area where the Republicans appear ready for a fight with the governor.  There are carefully revisions from last year’s HB 253 that give it larger prospects for overriding the governor’s veto. I would still bet on the second floor to corral the Dems to sustain Nixon’s veto.  That’d force the legislature back to pass a revised tax cut late in session.  If this scenario plays out, it sucks a lot of time and energy out of other priorities for the legislature.  Chance of passage: 100%.  Chances of Override: 40%

Criminal Code Revision – Strong bipartisan support will send this to the governor’s desk.  We’ll see whether the governor nit-picks some reasons to veto it, or gives into the effort, and asks for minor chances in the next legislative session – well before it takes effect.  Chances of passage: 90%.

Medicaid Expansion – There’s been a full court press going on all session with the Missouri Chamber, the hospitals, the advocacy groups for the indigent.  But none of this does anything to move the mountains – conservatives who will not touch the untouchable, ObamaCare.  Chances of passage: approaching zero…

Tort Reform - Floor Leader Ron Richard reportedly has been frustrated by twin Republican senators – Sens. Kurt Schaefer and Eric Schmitt – who have been part of the negotiations on the tort reform legislation.  The Democratic minority stands on the floor, but without Republican allies this issue would have a much better shot.  Chances of passage: 15%.

Ethics Reform

I forgot about this issue until this morning Kansas City Star’s Jason Hancock reminded me in this article. Read it here.   Pull Quote:  “Six-figure campaign contributions don’t appear to be going away anytime soon. Free steak dinners and lobbyist-provided box seats to ballgames look pretty safe, too. And the revolving door between a legislative career and lobbying probably will keep spinning. Missouri is the only state with the trio of no campaign contribution limits, no cap on gifts from lobbyists and no policy governing whether a legislator can leave office and go directly into lobbying.”  Chances of passage: limits (0%), lobbyist gifts (25%), revolving door (10%).

 

 

Bits

On Linkedin, Scott Pearson, legislative assistant to Rep. Kevin Austin “has a new job. Now Logistics & Operations Associate at The J. Harris Company.”

Polsinelli registered recently for The Doctors Company.  Here’s their website.  They’re the “largest physician-owned medical malpractice insurer.”

The Missouri Democratic Party announced their 2014 staff… Crystal Brinkley is the new executive director.  And Kristen Self is the director of campaigns.

Lobbyist Registrations

From the Gate Way Group website:

Danny Pfeifer, Gregory Porter and Alex T Eaton added Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

Francis E. Flotron and Richard McIntosh added Red Cloud Digital LLC.

Ginger Steinmetz added Bluebird Network.

Patricia Cannon deleted Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics.

$5K+ Contributions

MBA River Heritage Region PAC - $8,769 from First State Community Bank.

Working Families Committee - $10,000 from Machinists Non-Partisan Political League.

Birthdays

Happy birthday to Sen. Gary Romine (58).