Monday, July 1, 2013

Bits today, no order…

Jones Golfy Today

Speaker Tim Jones’ golf tournament today will be utilizing two full 18-hole courses in St. Albans to accommodate a crowd of approximately 220 golfers.  The event will doubtless raise six-figures for the speaker’s campaign account.

A More General Problem?

With a burgeoning campaign war-chest and a long track record of energetic conservatism, the consensus (undisputed here) is that Tim Jones has a lock on whichever statewide primary he chooses in 2016.  But the more vexing problem for Team Jones is how he sells himself to Independents and moderates when the general election comes a few months afterwards.

Toward that end, Jones is subtlety attempting to build a portfolio with which he could appeal to a broader audience.  From this past session, Jones might point to the fact that Medicaid expansion “made progress” in the legislature with Rep. Jay Barnes’ “transformation” project getting some debate; he allowed the transportation tax to come to a vote, even if he personally voted against it; and he worked with Rep. Chris Kelly on the bonding program. 

However with all three of these efforts ultimately failing, Jones’ pitch to the middle is still a bit weak.  “Being willing to work with the other side” just sounds more meaningful when something is actually accomplished.

Nixon Withholds

Last week Governor Jay Nixon ordered budget withholds to the new fiscal year as a precaution against revenue shortfalls which would result if the legislature overrides his veto of the tax cut bill, HB253.

See the Beacon’s coverage here.

A few thoughts…

This move by Nixon “ups the ante,” and gives every Democrat clear cover to vote to sustain the veto.  They are now protecting education etc.  That means Republicans have to get perfect unanimity in the House.  And again the prospect of education cuts will weigh heavy on some of the weakest votes there (I’m thinking Reps. Mike Thompson, Elaine Gannon).

Add to this that there are rumors (I think credible) that Nixon’s team is scheming to pick off another Republican with an appointment before September’s veto session.

Democrats were mildly schizophrenic on the news of the withholds.  On the one hand they loved the fact that the governor is abandoning the “risk avoidance” governing practices of his first four years and using his office to push back the Republican majority’s agenda.  On the other hand, some were livid that the governor’s office gave them no heads up on the move.  Nixon just isn’t used to playing on a team.

The wild card in all of this is the Tom Schweich lawsuit on withholds which is still pending before the Missouri Supreme Court.   And one wonders if that ruling will have implications for the governor’s liberal use of the power to withhold.

Lamping and Residence

In the interview that Sen. John Lamping gave last week, the mighty Jason Rosenbaum asks him about the possibility that he will or won’t run for re-election.  Hear it here.

Lamping says it’s “entirely dependent upon my family,” citing his daughter’s gymnastic training regime in Blue Springs. His family now lives in Kansas City, but he says, “The decision (about running or not), we’re going to make as a family, it’ll happen in the fall when we know where our family is likely to live in 2014, 2015.  If I were deciding today, my family would be living in the Kansas City area for the next few years…”

If Lamping does run, I would expect that Democrats would make an issue of his residency.  We’ll see…

Why Jeanie Wins?

The Republican House Caucus will vote on speaker pro tem (replacing Congressman Jason Smith) over their summer caucus, and the race between Reps. Jeanie Riddle and Denny Hoskins sounds like it’s close.  Hoskins rolled up some endorsements during session, and Riddle got a late start.

In Riddle’s favor are a few factors.  First, Riddle to pro tem starts a committee chair domino succession that offer the chance for folks to move up the food chain.  That Rules chairmanship is one of the better ones, so there’d be some shuffling.  Hoskin’s minor Appros chairmanship doesn’t offer that same chain reaction.

Along the same lines, Riddle would only serve one year before leaving to run for Senate, while Hoskins would be in leadership for three years, again occupying a space that others might covet.

Finally, there are some Republicans who are anxious to place a woman in one of the top spots to help the GOP’s visual as they struggle against a “war against woman” image in these Akin Era days.

Quarter Ends

The July quarter ended last night.  We’ll see results in a few weeks, but here are few bits…

The House Dems’ campaign committee “Victory Committee” is said to have raised $40,000 last week with the Sen. Claire McCaskill event.

In Senate 2, Bob Onder is expected to lead the pack, but Vicki Schneider says she netted two $5K checks, so she may beat out Rep. Chuck Gatschenberg.  We’ll see.

From the large checks we’ve seen over the last few weeks, Attorney General has started his 2016 fundraising Chris Koster at a very strong pace.  Obviously projecting out here, but if he enters 2016 will a monster lead in fundraising, he might start dismantling and defining his opponent very early in the election year and put his race away early.  We’ll see, but the way things are starting Republicans have to be nervous.

Union Weeding Out Bad Teachers?

The Post-Dispatch ran an article yesterday about how the district is getting rid of bad teacher even under the current arrangement.  

The lede: “Critics of tenure say it creates an untouchable class of teachers who can become an impediment to improving public schools. But in St. Louis, that protection hasn’t been enough to spare several dozen teachers from losing their jobs.”  Read it here.

Call me cynical, but why do I imagine some smart PR flack placing this article as a closing argument ahead of Governor Jay Nixon’s action on SB 125 which would weaken teacher tenure in St. Louis City?

New Medicaid System

Post-Dispatch’s Virginia Young has an article this morning about the new Medicaid sign-up system that’ll be implements in Missouri.  Read it here.

Pull Quote:  “Missouri is getting a late start on the computer upgrade, which has been a lightning rod for opponents of the Affordable Care Act. Last year, the Republican-controlled Legislature refused to accept the federal grant… Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, led the opposition when legislators derailed an earlier grant they thought was linked to a state-based exchange. He said Friday he hadn’t noticed that the computer money was approved this year… For the budget year that begins Monday, legislators appropriated $68.9 million, of which $7.2 million is state general revenue and the remainder is federal money.”

Time for a Video Stream of MO Legislature?

Is it time for the Missouri legislature to video stream their proceedings?  This NYTimes article highlights the importance of information communication infrastructure to state democracy.

“In nearly a dozen states, there is no live video of legislative proceedings, only audio; in some other states that purport to provide video, the Web streams barely work. Even the audio, though, is of value to reporters, activists and ordinary citizens. As journalism organizations continue to cut back on the number of reporters stationed at statehouses across the country, state-level equivalents to C-Span on television and online are supplying new ways to bear witness to the machinations of state and local government.”  See it here.

Farm Bureau Starts Campaign Committee

The Missouri Farm Bureau has started a campaign committee to support Constitutional Amendment 1, the “right to farm,” which will be on the 2014 ballot.  The name of the committee is “Missouri Farm Bureau’s Fund To Protect Farming & Ranching.”  The treasurer is Harry Thompson who serves on the Farm Bureau Board of Directors.

Nieves to Speak

From Sen. Brian Nieves’ Facebook page: “For those who've been after me to announce when I'll be speaking in advance of the date... First let me apologize for not doing a better job of that! Julie and I have sunk our teeth DEEP in to a movement to stir up an American Turn Around and Thank God, I mean that, the response has been almost overwhelming! We are helping fill stadiums around America with literally TENS of Thousands of people at a time who are hungry to be a part of what we are doing! People are drawn to our cause and we are indeed Launching a Leadership Revolution! Now that session is out, I've actually figured out what I'm doing and where I fit in to the Leadership Revolution and it's exciting! I'm having Fun, making Money, and making a Difference! This project has already made me a better senator and I know in the months to come I'll grow even more so I may better serve the true principles of Freedom, Liberty, and the American Dream! The work is Real, the Cause is Just, and the Results are Meaningful!  This coming Tuesday, July 2nd, I'm speaking specifically on the subject of Entrepreneur Leaders gathering together and forming Leadership Teams…”

$5K+Contributions

House Republican Campaign Committee Inc. - $25,000 from Friends of Diehl.

House Republican Campaign Committee Inc. - $6,250 from UGas Inc.

House Republican Campaign Committee Inc. - $20,000 from AT&T.

Missourians for Koster - $20,000 from Burns & McDonnell.

Missourians for Koster - $6,000 from Cori Manor Healthcare & Rehab Center LLC.

Missourians for Koster - $6,000 from The Cedars of Town & Country LLC.

Missourians for Koster - $8,000 from Grand Manor Nursing and Rehab Center Inc.

Missourians for Koster - $12,500 from Western Missouri and Kansas Laborers’ District Council PAC.

Committee to Elect Tony Miller - $7,500 from Davis, Ketchmark, McCreight & Ivers PC.

Dooley for St. Louis County - $12,500 from 3100 South LLC.

Dooley for St. Louis County - $6,250 from Larry Chapman.

Missouri Senate Campaign Committee - $12,500 from Express Scripts Inc.

Missouri Senate Campaign Committee - $17,500 from Anheuser Busch Companies.

A Better Missouri With Governor Jay Nixon - $10,000 from Salem Village Nursing And Rehab Center LLC.

Birthdays

Happy birthdays to Rep. Charlie Norr (69), former Sen. Maida Coleman (59), and former Reps. John Bowman (57) and Connie Johnson (44).