Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Jones Hot for RTW

Speaker Tim Jones has been telegraphing everywhere he can that he’s bringing right to work for a vote in the House this session.

Yesterday on Tea Party talk-pot Dana Loesch’s show, Jones indicated that he plans to get right to work legislation out of the House in a timely manner this session.  Not rushed, he said, but with deliberate speed in order to give the Senate a few months to finish the job.   There is no talk of any statutory change from the legislature which would be subject to Governor Jay Nixon’s veto.  Rather it would go direct to voters in November 2014.


Republicans are conflicted about this development.  First, a clear majority of them in the legislature would prefer that Missouri was right to work.  However, there are some who do not, and will not vote for it – on policy grounds. 

And – there are many more who would rather not have the debate and vote on political grounds.

The political reasons against doing it are short-term, medium-term and long-term.  

In the short term, right to work is a divisive issue that could threaten to “blow up” the Senate.  It’s one of those third-rail issues against which Democrats will be united to stand until the bitter end.  Therefore the only way to get it out of the Senate will be the dreaded “PQ.”  That’s the legislative procedure in the Senate to close debate.   In the past when the maneuver has been employed, it’s only been used on the final day of session.  That’s because once it’s used Democrats would slow all proceedings in retaliation, preventing anything else from passing.

Furthermore the hard feelings wouldn’t end at the end of session.  It would hinder Pro Tem Tom Dempsey’s working relationship with the Democratic minority during his next term in the Senate as well.

In the medium-term, it creates an unknown risk to Auditor Tom Schweich.  Right now, political observers are unanimous in forecasting Schweich as a shoo-in for reelection against Rep. Jay Swearingen.  But you punch organized labor in the nose and suddenly have millions of dollars and man-hours working to turn-out the vote.  In an otherwise low-turnout election, Schweich becomes vulnerable.  Likewise state representatives and senators in swing districts will be hanging on for their political lives in the right-to-work sea swell.

Over the longer-term, the potential loss of seats in the legislature in 2014 would undermine Republican attempts to maintain a veto-proof majority.  That would hamstrings their legislative agenda in 2015,2016, 2017…

Given these negatives, why would right to work go forward and make to the voters anyway?  Consultants.  That’s the one-word answer from one (jaded?) observer.  It’s a very slow election cycle up ahead.  No US Senate campaign, only one statewide race.  Consultants need to eat like everyone else

And Cold on Student Transfer Changes

Missourinet reports that Tim Jones has no interest in legislation which would weaken the student transfer situation.  Read it here.  Jones is quoted in the article, “The education establishment is howling and saying that’s somehow unfair. I don’t know what’s unfair about allowing a child to have an opportunity at a good education versus being forever stuck and mired in a failing school district.”

He then tweeted the article out to his Twitter followers with the explanation point… “Students in failing schools finally have a choice. Protecting that choice IS a top priority”

Martin to State Board of Education

Meanwhile the current focus of the tug of war between “the establishment” and “the reformers” has been DESE Commissioner Chris Nicastro.  From that battlefield comes news of a new player….

“Gov. Jay Nixon has appointed Dr. John A. Martin, of Kansas City, to the State Board of Education. Dr. Martin served for 16 years as superintendent of the Grandview Schools from 1990 to 2006. He then was deputy superintendent of the St. Louis Public Schools from 2006 to 2007 and most recently served as the interim superintendent of the Kansas City, Missouri Public Schools in 2008.  Prior to the Grandview position, Dr. Martin was an administrator in the Montgomery County (Va.) Schools, and a teacher and administrator in the School District of University City. Dr. Martin, a Democrat, obtained his bachelor's degree in education from Harris Teachers' College (now Harris-Stowe State University) and his master's degree in education from Washington University, and his doctorate in education from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. The Governor has appointed him for a term ending July 1, 2014…”

KC Star’s Barb Kelly calls him a good pick.  Read it here.




Keller Starts Consulting Firm

Former Jim Talent staffer Gregg Keller, who recently left the American Conservative Union, announced he’s starting his own consulting firm.  Politico has the story here.

That means we might be seeing him around the building as he hustles up clients for his new biz.  He’s not a day-in, day-out lobbyist, but will probably offer strategic consulting.  That’d put him more the pond with Jeff Roe, David Barklage et al.

MBEF Agenda

Missourians for a Balanced Energy Future – the pro-Ameren, and pro-utility umbrella group which often wars with FERAF (Fair Energy Rates Action Fund), the pro-Noranda and pro-consumers umbrella group – released its 2014 legislative agenda.

One of the items on their agenda is “Clean and Renewable Energy.”  It’s said that Sen. Jason Holsman has been in “conversations” with utilities companies during the off-season, and there may be a compromise evolving concerning the renewable mandates from long-ago Prop C.

The other interesting thing to note is that SMRs (Small Modular Reactors) are still mentioned. “Despite the setback in being passed over for the 2013 Department of Energy SMR grant, MBEF will continue to urge Missouri utilities and elected officials to bring SMRs to Missouri.”

The hope behind this is that Westinghouse and Ameren are companies with enough heft and wherewithal, and the potential market for SMRs is so huge, Missouri shouldn’t close the door on the opportunity simply because they didn’t win a grant.


Interesting to see Adrianne Marsh’s name listed as the contact person.  She was the 2012 brain behind Senator Claire McCaskill’s campaign.


Atkins to MO Chamber

Jay Atkins, legislative liaison for the Department of Natural Resources, tweets this morning that he’s joining Missouri Chamber of Commerce’s team just in time for the session.

Engler: Outlaw Revenge Porn

Re. Kevin Engler has filed a bill to criminalize the practice known as “revenge porn.”  There are websites were people post publicly pictures they took privately after an intimate relationship ends badly.  This is known as revenge porn.  See the bill here.

Barnes Asks for Details on Boeing Bid

Rep. Jay Barnes sent a letter to the Department of Economic Development asking for full disclosure concerning the offer made to lure Boeing’s 777x production.  He disclosed the letter on his blog.  Read it here.

The legislature gave Nixon authority to make the offer of massive subsidies, and now, with that plane having flown, Barnes thinks that taxpayers deserve to know what was on the table.

Wedel, House General Counsel

The rumors are true.  Ted Wedel has started work as House General Counsel.  He held the job years ago, before serving a series of Democratic minority leaders as their chief of staff.  The general counsel job is a non-partisan position.

Retiring in 2014…

Gleaned from the lobbyists registrations over the last few days…

Stephen Murray has retired from Missouri American Water.

David Durbin has retired from SSM Health Care.


Lobbyist Registrations

From the Pelopidas website:

Ben Burkemper added Missouri Attorney General’s Office.

Rodney R Hubbard deleted The Doe Run Company, and J. Harris Company.

Leslie L Farr II deleted The Fathers Support Center; and added Leslie L Farr.

Brian Klippenstein added Protect the Harvest.

Annamarie E Kostial added Concerned Women for America of Missouri.

Heather Lockard added Missouri Association for Community Action.

Jeff Stack deleted Missouri Moratorium Now! Campaign, and Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty; and added Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

Bethanne Cooley deleted CTIA – The Wireless Association.

Neil Ruddock deleted            Excellence in Education National Inc.

Notes on Registrations

There’s been a fair amount of pre-session updating of registrations the last few days.

Brian Klippenstein is Protect the Harvest’s executive director.  He’s a former staffer with Roy BluntSee his bio here.