Thursday, May 2, 2013

Stenger for Auditor?

St. Louis County Councilmember Steve Stenger is talking with Democratic Party Chair Mike Sanders about running for state auditor in 2014.

One Dem observer remarks: “We gotta have someone run.  I have not seen any polling that says Tom Schweich cannot be beat… If I was Chris Koster’s campaign, I would add money to run negative TV ads against Schweich in case he swings his 2014 win into a run for Governor in 2016.”

Hoskins To Announce Next Week

Rep. Denny Hoskins is readying his formal announcement that he is running for speaker pro tem.  It’s expected to come Wednesday. It’s said that Hoskins will have about three dozen representatives behind him, a solid start to his leadership campaign.

Hobbs Fined

Former state representative Steve Hobbs was fined $10,000 by the Missouri Ethics Commission.  The consent order (see it here) is related to his County Commissioner campaign account.  Hobbs had several late and inaccurate reports.

Monticello Walks Out

At yesterday’s Education Committee Rep. Genise Monticello ended up walking out in protest.  The drama began when she spoke against the speaker’s recent action removing some Republicans from the committee.

Chair Steve Cookson seized a pause in her soliloquy to cut her off with a “we thank you for your thoughts.”  Monticello responded by gathering her things, and saying since her views weren’t welcome she would leave.  Rep. Judy Morgan left as well in what appeared an act of solidarity.

Just Another Day in the Scanning Scandal

8AM – The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules held a hearing to find out why the Department of Revenue hadn’t promulgated rules on the change in scanning procedures.  In what was thought to be unprecedented, the department’s acting director John Mollenkamp refused to appear before JCAR.  His underlings had to withstand the questioning in his place, and their struggle to provide coherent answers was uncomfortable to watch.

Later in the morning – New breaks that amid the thousands of pages obtained by the Appropriations Committee in their investigation is a letter from Homeland Security director Janet Napolitano to Governor Jay Nixon thanking him for his work to implement Real ID.

Speaker Tim Jones jumps on-board the smoking gun by re-tweeting a call for Nixon’s impeachment.  @SpeakerTimJones: “Call 4 accountability. RT @Lautergeist: This shd result in #Impeachment of #JayNixon @SpeakerTimJones @PeterKinder…”

Noon – Senate Appropriations Committee starts a five-hour committee hearing which once again features questioning bobbing-and-weaving bureaucrats.

Afternoon – Nixon’s folks produce letters from Napolitano to governors of other states indicating it was form letter, not some sort of actual thanks from the Security director.  See them here.

6PM – Speaker Jones releases statement, “This is very disturbing. The public’s trust in our state and federal government has been shaken by this scandal, and now we have uncovered yet another inconsistency… Governor Nixon needs to stop stonewalling and tell us the truth. The people of Missouri deserve honest answers about this scandal… It is my hope that General Koster will listen to what the people of Missouri have asked, do his job, and appoint an investigative committee help find the answers we need.”

Bad Timing

With a little over two weeks left, and Sen. John Lamping’s bill to prevent the common core curriculum implementation lost amid the legislative ocean, Commissioner Chris Nicastro may have inadvertently given it a renewed spotlight yesterday by issuing a statement on Common Core. 

“Statement from Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro: Missouri Department of Education Applauds Thoughtful District and State Implementation of Common Core”  See it here.

Couldn’t wait another two weeks?

Yesterday’s Legislative Bits

Yesterday the House worked on its version of SB1 (workers’ comp reform), and it’s expected to pass it today.  That’ll set the stage for conference and final negotiations next week.

Budget conference committees are set to start Monday.  The budget must be sent to the governor by next Friday.

Senate Floor Leader Ron Richard told senators to be prepared to work next Friday.

Yesterday the Senate debated SB78, Sen. John Lamping’s bill to prevent the legislators-to-lobbyists revolving door.   While acknowledging that the issue was not going to pass this year, Lamping described the bill as his “top priority” for 2014…

And then electrical ISRS finally received its first floor debate of the session.  Sen. Brad Lager offered it as a floor substitute for HB 432, and the Senate spent about four hours debating it until it was laid over.

Other Bits

Missourians for Fair Competition – the coalition fighting Major Brand’s liquor franchise legislation – released its radio ad.  Listen to it here.

Springfield News Leader seeks breaking digital news reporter.  “The successful candidate will be able to gather and report information using traditional journalism tools, as well as social media, mobile and multimedia technology.  She or he will have a demonstrated track record interacting with readers on Twitter, Facebook or other social media…” See it here.

Rep. Josh Peters was appointed to the Downsizing Government Committee.

Town and Country Skip Mange and St. Louis attorney Erv Switzer joined the Sue Shear Institute Advisory Board.

We’ve Got the Runs was the winning team in last night’s legislative charity softball tournament.  See the team pic here.

Fine Dining

I strolled through last month’s lobbyists’ gifts and meal to legislators.  These look like the best meals I missed…

March 11 – Children, Families, Persons with Disabilities Committee at Grand Café.  Bill: $1,265.84. Paid by John Bardgett Jr.

March 4 – Small Business, Insurance and Industry Committee at Fuji Japanese Steak House.  Bill $1,515.93.  The check was split between Calvin Call (Missouri Insurance Coalition), Coni Fries (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City), David Monaghan (American Family Insurance Group), and Brandon Koch (Farmers Group Inc).

And… March 4 – Utilities Committee at C.C. Broilers (in Columbia).  Bill: $4,827.11.  Paid by John Bardgett Jr.

Tax Debate in Other States

As highlighted in Politico’s Morning Money: GOP LEGISLATORS BLOCK GOP GOVERNORS' TAX PLANS - WSJ's Mark Peters and Neil King Jr. on Page A1: "Republican lawmakers in several states are blunting plans by GOP governors to reduce or eliminate income taxes. ... Friction over tax policy within the GOP has flared in states such as Louisiana, Nebraska, Kansas and Ohio, as Republican lawmakers raise concerns over projected revenue losses from income tax cuts. Three of those states shelved big income tax cuts that would be paid for by broadening the sales tax, and in Kansas, legislators will return next week to a continuing debate over the size and speed of proposed cuts. ... Last week, the Indiana Legislature passed a plan giving Gov. Mike Pence an income tax cut that was smaller and phased in over a longer period than his original proposal.

"Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin agreed to an income tax cut deal with Republican lawmakers, but they postponed it until 2015 over revenue concerns. North Carolina lawmakers have been discussing a tax overhaul for months but haven’t come up with a plan. What is playing out is a collision of long-held Republican Party ideals as lawmakers want to cut taxes to spur economic growth without running up deep budget deficits. Most of the governors promoting cuts are first-termers who say the income tax damps consumer spending and business creation. The boldest plans, however, can’t be done without expanding the sales tax and eliminating certain exemptions, a shift many legislators aren’t willing to embrace."

Wyatt’s Anniversary

From former Rep. Zach Wyatt’s Facebook status this morning: “Today is a very special day for me! A year ago today I took the final steps of my coming out process and made it known to everyone. Little did I know that I was making it know to the world. The year has gone fast , but I have been blessed with so many great opportunities this year. Here is to many more years and much more work to be done to make sure I and other gay Republicans leave their mark on the Republican Party.”

eMailbag: Tort Reform is Political

“On tort reform, don’t forget that tort reform happened in 1996, 2005 and another round in 2013.  It’s a political issue, not a problem in the system.”

$5K+ Contributions

MO State Council of Fire Fighters PAC - $30,000 from International Association Of Fire Fighters.

Birthdays

Happy birthdays to Scott Dieckhaus (33), and Jac Cardetti.