Wednesday, January 8, 2014

 The Jones Agenda

As he enters the final year of his House career, Speaker Tim Jones will offer an agenda full of the big issues. 

Most prominently, the broad-based tax cut.  It’s expected that Rep. TJ Berry will file the “tax cut” bill today.  It will be very similar to the bill he filed at the start of 2013.  The hope this time around is that they can avoid the pitfalls which befell it last session.  For example, the inadvertent tax hikes that found their way into last year’s bill, and became a rallying point for opponents.  This will give Berry – a potential Senate 12 candidate – the spotlight.

Also Jones has promised a vote on “right to work.”  This would be a landmark moment, and one fraught with dangers – which I outlined yesterday.  I asked around and folks think there are between 88 and 95 votes for the measure in the House.  Also, House Republicans believe that they will be able to control when the issue goes before Missouri voters.  They will aim for August, because “otherwise Tom Schweich would kill us.”

Thirdly, Jones will push for medical malpractice reform.  Really we’re talking about reinstating caps on damages. The Gate Way Group (nee Pelopidas) has produced a “policy brief” on this issue, which they support.  See it here.

Finally, look for the House to once again take up and pass Rep. Chris Kelly’s billion-dollar bonding program.  This is the ultimate legacy legislation for the old-school legislator in his final year of service.

But

The question with all of this is how does it fare in the Senate?  Whereas the House could pass all of this before Spring Break and adjourn for a month without consequences, things don’t move so fast in the Senate.  The Senate has limited capacity because each item may be scrutinized by each senator.

The tax cut will make it through, as it did last year – with changes and compromises.

Right to work will likely be debated, but I don’t think there are enough fired-up bellies in the Senate to push it through.  Expect taunting from the House right-wing to pressure their Senate colleagues, I just don’t think it happens.

Medical Malpractice, like tax cuts, probably happens with compromises.

And the bonding bill could probably make it, but maybe doesn’t when time runs short.

2016 Gossip

Western side politicos are imagining that Congressman Emanuel Cleaver is nearing the end of his time in Washington.  The current best guess is that he runs for reelection this year, and then announces that he won’t seek another term in 2016.

If/when this occurs, it’ll have the potential to create a huge free-for-all among Democrats.  At the top of the list is Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders.  In fact some believe that the possibility of this scenario is what has kept him from diving head first into the state attorney general race.  He wants “optionality.” 

Others who might take a hard look at it: Tax Commissioner Victor Callahan, Jackson County Legislator Theresa Garza Ruiz, and Sen. Jason Holsman.

Diskill to State Board of Education

Governor Jay Nixon made his second appointment in two days to the State Board of Education.  This one was from left field… Joe Driskill.

Driskill, a former state representative, and former director of DED and the Missouri Technology Corp., doesn’t have any expertise on education in his resume.

One source called it “bizarre,” noting Driskill might not have even served on an education committee when he was a legislator back in the 80s.  That’s how thin his resume is on education.

But one observer offers this cold wisdom: “Appointments are hardly ever about the individual and much more about the politics surrounding the position or board they are being appointed to. With so many issues (common core, school transfers, foundation formula, tenure, transparency, ag education) that have plagued the current administration in DESE, several pointed questions from Senators and the possibility for some rocky confirmations should be expected.”

Which gives some credence to this opinion from another education advocate: “I think the Governor wants some more political savvy on the board. Driskill doesn’t come with any baggage with education groups so in many ways he’s got a clean slate.  Also Driskill with his history on MTC during the controversial days can handle some of the extra scrutiny coming DESE and the State Board’s way.”

January Quarter Bits

Speaker Tim Jones’ January quarter whisper number is… $900,000 on-hand.  We’ll see the actual number next week.  Last quarter he had $740K on-hand…

Via Linkedin, Angela Bingaman is “now Finance Director at Dooley for St. Louis County.”  I’m told that she’s been there for a while.  Bingaman is also Mayor Francis Slay’s fundraiser.  Dooley’s been quiet on the $5K+ checks this quarter, but it’s said that he’s “on-track” to make his budget.

Tweets of the Day

Doug Galloway ‏@douggalloway: “Tomorrow I start my 25th MO legislative session. I can remember dark hair, less weight & being naive. Now I'm grayer, heavier, but smarter.”

Rep. Stacey Newman ‏@staceynewman: “2014 MO session begins in less than 5 hours. How many Daily Show mentions this year? #BetsAreOn”

$5K+ Contributions

Missouri Senate Campaign Committee - $25,000 from Grow Missouri.

Midwest Region Laborers’ Political League Education Fund - $5,364 from Laborers Supplemental Dues Fund.

Midwest Region Laborers’ Political League Education Fund - $5,580 from Laborers Supplemental Dues Fund.

Schmitt for Missouri - $10,000 from Ironrock Capital Partners LLC.

Birthdays

Happy birthday to Walsh’s Janson Thomas.