Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Few More Thoughts on the Legislative Session

The Art of Being Ed Emery

One of the biggest surprises this session was Sen. Ed Emery.  The ardent free-market zealot was thought to be a natural fit to join the old filibuster four.  (Membership in that group melted away this year as Jim Lembke was beaten, Will Kraus sought to pass his tax cut bill, and Brian Nieves took a lower profile).  Emery did stand and speak from time to time, but he never launched into the filibuster mode with enthusiasm.  Rather he followed an exact opposite path.  He approached senators privately – in their office – outlined the concerns he had and told him where he was.  No grandstanding on the floor etc.

Even though he cast plenty of No votes, Emery seemed determined not to be role-cast as an obstructionist.  As a result by the end of the session he had joined Sen. Ryan McKenna in having thirty-three other senators truly and actually like him as a person.  A rare feat.

Senate Works

I remember the Time Magazine article, “Is New York Ungovernable?”  So it seemed at the time, but Giuliani replaced Dinkins and things started to seem not so bad.  Thus it happened with the Senate this session.  Sure, lots was left on the table, but that’s the process.  The Senate delivered their top priority – SIF fix – to the governor’s desk, along with many other bills.

Of course there’s capacity limits.  Still where the true will of the body, an enough time for the deliberative mechanics to churn their wheels, the Senate works. 

 

House Becoming Less Predictable?

The House is sometimes derided by upper chamber snobs as “the fake legislature” because the majority can shut off debate on a whim.  With scripted control over the amendments, the minority’s place on the floor is almost reduced to wailing toward the press gallery in hopes of landing a sound-bite in the next day’s papers.  But the supermajority had its shares of frays and fractures.  Plus the Freshmen class displayed some independence from leadership at different moments.  Maybe the House is becoming a more interesting place?...

Lembke, Influencer?

It seems that the ghost of Jim Lembke still walks the halls… no, sorry.  Scratch that.  Jim Lembke is still walking the halls.  And some observers blame him for “whispering in the ears” of the “No Caucus,” egging them on.

No Clarity on Nixon

Since his re-election, Governor Jay Nixon has clearly moved from his right-center perch to a center or even left-center position.  But Nixon’s future is murky.  He’s on the record saying that he’ll support Hillary Clinton if she runs for president.  National political articles (like this) suggest she will.  Those who claim to know the brain of Nixon think that he doesn’t relish another US Senate run.  But they also say things like, “Nixon would really like to be the commissioner of Major League Baseball,” so who knows…

Working the Budget

One lobbyist suggested to me that all the drama around First Steps funding this year distracted from an essential truth which held this budget year and every budget year: the second floor dominates the process.  The governor’s initial budget proposal is usually 95% what the final budget ends up.  There are always high-profile clashes – a chef in the mansion etc – which do little to change the real impact of the budget.  If you want to serve your clients, work the budget early in the process with the governor’s office.

Jason: Not the Final Chapter?

You may or may not miss Jason Crowell, but follow his twitter feed and on thing is clear, he misses the being in the mix.  The ones who have it in their blood, they always come back.  We haven’t seen the last of Jason Crowell…

John Q Hammons Passes

Springfield’s larger-than-life developer/businessman John Q Hammonds died yesterday.  Go to Springfield News-Leader site for the full coverage.  See it here.

Bits

Garmin seeks a social media manager.  See it here.

Speaker Tim Jones kicks off another tour of Missouri, showing once again the “fire in the belly” and his desire to cement his place on the statewide ballot three years in advance…

Former Republican state legislative candidate Derrick Good takes to Facebook to vent about the difficulties in running a state license office: “I have been a license office agent since 2005 and I am happy to talk to anyone who thinks I am getting rich on it. There has been no fee increase since 1999 and all costs have gone up since then. I would like to maintain the health insurance I make available for my staff and I would like to pay them a living wage. The time to do a transaction has increased greatly, for instance under the current fee schedule the office gets $2.50 for a title transaction. If that transaction takes 20 minutes, then three get done in an hour. That's $7.50 to pay staff, rent, insurance, etc. The options are an increase or state run offices. I saw the waste in state run offices when we had them, we don't need that.”  He was responding to this AP article about a bill pending before Governor Jay Nixon which would allow increased fees.

Former state senator Jason Crowell sees it differently on Twitter: “The tax and spend MO Senate strikes again for their fee office cronies doubling drivers license and registration fees in SB51#RINO”

Lobbyist Registrations

From the Pelopidas website:

Scott Swain deleted Advantage Capital Partners, and Major Brands Premium Beverage Distributors.

Thomas Val Hagar added Missouri Manufactured Housing Association.

Chris Migneron added HNTB Corporation.

Daryl D. Duwe deleted RKV Technologies.

$5K+ Contributions

AGC-MO-PAC - $7,200 from Ideker Inc.

Dooley For St. Louis County - $7,500 from Husch Blackwell LP.

Teachgreat.org - $100,000 from Rex Sinquefield.

Missourians for Koster - $10,000 from Andrew O’Brien.

Birthdays

Happy birthday to Rep. Elijah Haahr (31).

MOScout News

Today ends my post-session jet-lag.  Updates will be out at a more regular 8am time now…