Thursday, April 25, 2013

Liquor Franchise Battle to Spill Over?

Two new campaign committees were formed earlier this week which appear to hint at a prolonged battle over the franchise liquor laws.

Missourians for Responsible Liquor Laws and Missourians for Free Markets both name Charles Heisner as their treasurer.  Heisner’s office lists 6701 Southwest Ave (St. Louis, MO) as its street address, the same as… Major Brands.

According to one source supporting Major Brands’ position, they’ve “had an influx of small wholesalers and retailers from across the state that have asked how they can help. So a PAC was created as a way for them to donate resources to the effort and have their voices heard.”

In the halls this week, the talk has been that count within the Republican Caucus is showing support quite short for the changing the law.  Two different sources put the number around 30.  And a Republican legislator watching the issue noted that if they had the votes it would have been on the floor already.

If the issue does indeed stall this session, the creation of campaign committees offers the prospect that Major Brands – and perhaps others – may become a force in the 2014 cycle.  We’ll see…

Medicaid Expansion Put to Bed

Yesterday Rep. Jay Barnes put his quest to expand and transform Medicaid to rest.  He introduced his innovative HB700 as an amendment and spoke on it – blaming the Senate for a lack of movement on the issue – then withdrew it.

Fingers point in every direction on this issue.  Some blame Governor Jay Nixon for a lack of leadership during the preceding years, his late charge being far too late, and too polarizing within the building; some blame President Barack Obama for giving the hope of more DSH payments when that was the chief point of leverage. 

But the truth is Missouri Republicans are to blame.  For years they have carved ObamaCare as the bogeyman in their totem pole.  The demonizing was etched too deep.  No amount of Barnes gymnastics on the issue could overcome that. 

So now they’ll take the interim to sand down the idol and see if they can make a go of it next year – an election year…

And

Barnes did win a victory yesterday though.  Just days after he held hearings on the Department of Social Services use of a third party, Public Consulting Group, to move Missourians from welfare to federal disability, DSS retreated on the issue.  Read it here.

Schmitt on Education Funding

Sen. Eric Schmitt had a dominate voice on the Senate floor yesterday on education funding issues.

First he stood with other Truman alum senators to amend Sen. David Pearce’s higher education funding bill to give Truman a different “peer group” for comparisons.  During it Schmitt drew an analogy to what he imagines a future debate on the foundation formula will look like – where there’s some give and take and accommodations are made for different circumstances.

Then, when Sen. Joe Keaveny’s bill to expand funding for early education hit the floor, Schmitt once again stood.  This time he railed against the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for their distortion of the funding formula. 

It resulted in a tweet from Commissioner Chris Nicastro promising to schedule a meeting with Schmitt’s office so they could discuss the formula. 

I mean what did we do before twitter?  Oh yeah, we picked up the phone…

House Pass Kraus Tax Cut

The House passed SB 26 – Sen. Will Kraus’ tax cut bill – by a closer than expected 90-68.  Observers noted that this was far below a veto-proof majority.

First Do No Harm

In the HB 698 committee hearing yesterday, Missouri Right to Life testified “for informational purposes only.”  But they might as well have testified “to shoot themselves in the foot purposes.”

Lobbyists in the audience were actually laughing out loud. 

Pro-choice Sen. Jolie Justus mightn’t have had any clue that MRL had substantial input into crafting Rep. Anne Zerr’s economic development bill if they hadn’t testified. 

As a result, Justus made detailed notes of every section which MRL had inserted into the legislation.  It will presumably receive some special attention from the minority leaders and probably not so – as MRL wishes – she can “leave their amendments alone.”

Workers Comp Inches Forward

Sen. Scott Rupp’s workers compensation and Second Injury Fund fix moved out of House Rules yesterday…

A to F List

Children’s Education Alliance published a listing of the grades that the state’s public schools would get if they were to receive a grade as they wanted.  See it here.  (The high school a block from my house is an F, and the elementary school my kids would go to is also an F).

$$$ Bits

I’m told the Ethics Commission was walking the halls the other day because the Senate Approps had cut one of their staff attorney positions from the budget… so much for more teeth to the MEC…

And the “solid waste guys” were in the Capitol yesterday as well, also because of Senate cuts.  See that story here.

Other Bits

The 7th Ward Independent Democrats of St. Louis City published the top city campaign war-chests.  At the top was Collector of Revenue Gregg Daly with over $502,000.  I guess that puts him near the top of potential successors to Mayor Francis Slay in four years…

GE Capital stops lending money to gun sellers.  Read it here.

On Facebook political blogger Randy Turner outlines the allegations that have led to his dismissal as a teacher in the Joplin School District.  They all stem from the books he’s written.  See his profile here.

eMailbag: MON vs AUE

“Interesting about Monsanto. Good for them and Missouri. Ameren wants to create 10,000 jobs with no tax credits.  Maybe Ameren needs to ask for tax credits…”

Lobbyist Registrations

From the Pelopidas website:

Timothy P Green deleted Missouri State Building Trades and added IBEW1/St. Louis NECA.

$5K+ Contributions

MO Democratic State Committee - $20,000 from Enterprise Holdings Inc.

MO Democratic State Committee - $10,000 from Missouri State UAW CAP Council.

MEDA PAC - $10,000 from Laclede Gas Company.

Birthdays

Happy birthdays to Libla’s Courtney Lauer-Myers (23), and Unicom’s Ed Finkelstein (75).