Friday, May 24, 2013

House Grades

Tim Jones: B

As head of the House, the speaker ultimately gets the credit and the blame for most everything that goes on.  But on the criteria of the three E agenda, Jones’ results were lackluster.  Education was a spirited effort with very little in actual gain.  Energy was similarly muted in accomplishments with the Gas ISRS being the only notable achievement.  And EcoDevo rounded out the trio with the sporting events tax credit.  Again, small potatoes compared to the bigger ticket items discussed.

To Jones’ credit, though, there were significant advances which may reap rewards in his second year as speaker.  The billion-dollar bonding program passed the House, the transportation tax and the tax credit reform bill both could find success next year if they moving earlier, and an SMR manufacturing incentive offers an easier prospect if that happens next year.

Meanwhile, outside the three Es, Jones can point to working well with his Senate counterparts to send a number of previously difficult issues to the governor’s desk: Second Injury Fund fix and workers’ compensation, the Kraus income tax cut, and the anti-labor items of prevailing wage and paycheck protection.

John Diehl: B

Diehl attempted to manage the pacing of the House floor this year to provide a more consistent flow.  In the process he kept his head down and laid the groundwork to increase his chances of moving into the speaker’s office.

Todd Richardson: A-

Richardson proved himself as the most capable member of the House.  No one in the legislature can match his ability to navigate complex issues AND get along with everyone.  His Second Injury Fund solution of the “opt-out” was remarkable because it displayed legislative creativity which seems in short supply.  The minus to his A is because of his slow start – do to the congressional campaign taking him out of action for the first couple months.

Eric Burlison: B+

Burlison won early points for surviving a near-death experience – maniac car-driver early in session, but gave them back with a sophomoric video mocking the gun control debate. Ultimately Burlison is a rock-solid legislator, highly regarded by his colleagues and the most consistent handler of Senate bills.

Jay Barnes: B+

Degree of difficulty counts in the judges’ scoring, and in this way Barnes’ losses are greater than most people’s victories.  He did have some losses this year.  His valiant, if futile, efforts on both education reform and Medicaid expansion had the markings of someone who is simultaneously strangely naive and deeply cynical.  But Barnes also had some wins: for example, he changed DSS’ contract on disability after a single hearing, as well as helping make the First Steps fix happen.

Caleb Jones: B+

Very similar to Barnes just not quite as high profile degree of difficulty issues and therefore not as many failures (liquor franchise did pass the House).  Plus he doesn’t have Barnes’ charm for shit-disturbing.  This makes him more likely ascend to a traditional leadership role.


Mike Leara: B

Leara performed his duties with diligence and class, showing neither remorse nor resentment for his summer challenge to floor leader Diehl.

Mike Cierpoit: B

Cierpoit very capably pitch-hit for Diehl, but did not distinguish himself to the extent that there’s clamoring for him to take the floor leader position in January 2015.

Denny Hoskins: B-

In a high-profile spat over education policy Hoskins “fought the law and the law won,” but who knows, he may have secured a better perch for himself in the process?  Meanwhile Wonder Dog bill felled by in-fighting among the cheese-loving crowd…

Doug Funderburk: C

Funderburk gets an A for drama with a floor speech near the end of session that decried leadership’s meddling in his bill.  But ultimately he has to take some blame for the House’s inability to put the pieces together on the ISRS puzzle.

Steve Cookson: D

Cookson, unable to control his education committee, needed the speaker’s intercession to stack the deck even more in his favor.  Another speaker E that ended in disappointment.

Anne Zerr: B

Of the three Es, Zerr was able to have something to show: the early passage of a few smaller tax credit programs.  And if leadership had fast-track the EcoDevo bill after her committee passed it, tax credit reform – along with new angel credits and data center credits – might have had a chance.

Republican Freshmen: B+

There are lots of potentially great committee chairs and future leaders among the Republican majority’s freshmen class: Robert Cornejo, Scott Fitzpatrick, Elijah Haahr, and Kathy Swan win mentions.


Jake Hummel: B

Hummel found his leader legs early this session by ousting Penny Hubbard from her committees.  This move made it difficult to partner with Republican later and gain some leverage with the second floor.  But given the cards he was dealt, Hummel played competently avoiding blunders and finding some opportunities, however few, to be relevant.

Chris Kelly: A-

There are plenty of detractors of the scheming journeyman legislator.  But he hits the A range in grades because he somehow convinced the Republican supermajority with an antsy Tea Party caucus, (not to mention a speaker with one eye on 2016) that borrowing a billion dollars which state doesn’t have and will be paid off when our grade school children are middle-age is “fiscally responsible.”  Genius.

Democratic Caucus: B-

By and large the Democratic caucus had fewer defections than could be reasonably expected given their numbers have been diminished beyond relevance.  The freshmen class holds shimmers of hope, but the real test will be to what extent they take 2014 seriously and work to take some seats back.

When He Says No, He Means Yes?

After few folks were passing around an article from public (read: socialized) radio yesterday in which Speaker Tim Jones points to a study on the state’s infrastructure as evidence that the transportation tax really should have passed.  “In particular, Jones had hoped to pass a one-cent sales tax to fund transportation.”   Jones, contrary to this rhetoric, voted No on the tax proposal.

The article is here. (Thanks to the free (read: communist) service provided by John Combest).

Lobbyist Registrations

From the Pelopidas website:

Debra Hollingsworth added AT&T.

$5K+ Contributions

Missourians for Koster - $25,000 from Davis, Bethune & Jones LLC.

Missourians for Koster - $10,000 from Carey & Danis LLC.

Slay for Mayor - $10,000 from Clayco.


Happy birthdays to Minority Leader Jake Hummel (37), former Rep. Sam Page (48), and Gregg Christian (33).

Saturday: Speaker Tim Jones (42), Sen. Ed Emery (63), MO Budget’s Amy Blouin (44), and Rocket Group’s Gus Wagner (42).

Sunday: StudentsFirst’s Lea Crusey (32), and Chris Weber (31).

Monday: Sen. Bob Dixon (44), and Scott Leiendecker (37).