Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Rupp, Richardson Deliver Second Injury Fund Fix

After days of scurrying and ferrying between Rep. Todd Richardson, Sen. Scott Rupp and interested parties like the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys and the Missouri Chamber, a conference committee substitute was produced for SB 1, the second injury fund fix.

The key breakthrough appears to have involved occupational diseases. Specifically this compromise (you can find it here) allows companies to opt-out of insuring against mesothelioma liability.

Amazingly, the Senate – after debating the transportation tax for four hours (see below) – gave lightning fast approval of the new deal.  There were a few congratulations, but no real questions before a 33-1 vote.  Sen. Will Kraus was the lone dissenter.  Next up, the House….

Social Media Follow-Ons

House Minority Leader Jake Hummel blasted the substitute on Facebook: “Well now we know the price of a human life that is destroyed by asbestos thanks to SB1!!!!  I hope that somewhere there is a person that can't sleep at night. Disgusted with the Missouri Senate right now. 33 to 1.  When did it become ok to vote to put a price on a human being????”

Rep. Todd Richardson spoke for all of us on Twitter this morning: “If the Missouri River were full of coffee it wouldn't be enough this morning.”

Clock

When the House and Senate convene today at 10AM there will be 56 hours remaining in this legislative session…

Senate’s Conservative Caucus Awakens

Yesterday was a big day for Tea Party / conservative caucus in the Senate.  They were a meaningful bloc in Sen. Kurt Schaefer’s filibuster of the liquor franchise bill (see below).  And then they filibustered Sen. Mike Kehoe’s transportation tax.

After bumbling around all year on issues that were either of no consequence or that the governor would veto anyway, a clutch of conservative senators have found their power to kill heightened by the dwindling clock and are taking advantage of it.

In Godfatherese… “now people will fear them…”  I mean at least for the next three days.

But

What they killed yesterday isn’t exactly dead… Look for the transportation tax to get more time.  It’s too big of an issue to leave it to a few hours.

Global Tax Credit Coming? And Going?

One strong source thinks that the House is going to give the Senate what they insisted they need on a global tax deal in a conference report on HB 698 but it’s still not going to pass.  Pro Tem Tom Dempsey has personally negotiated the deal. 

But the problem is that he can’t control his caucus. This is evidenced by the weak hand played (see above).  The last week of the session (save for Thursday night) is a terrible time to break a filibuster because while people are talking you can’t do the other important business of the senate like read in messages, name conference committees and take reports from committee. 

Some blame the lack of “a viable plan to break a filibuster all year.  If you don’t dig in and break a single filibuster how in the hell are you going to get zealots to the table to negotiate (not that they would but it might make them consider it if they felt breaking them was a legitimate option).” 

eMailbag: Richard Can’t Tame Conservatives

“Prediction:  The Senate will be log-jammed for the rest of the week on the big issues. One big reason: The Senate has no floor leader who can, or is willing, to drive senators to consensus.  It's Ron Richard’s biggest flaw (besides being terrible at knowing the rules).  He still has a touch of the Speaker mentality, where you don’t need consensus.  You push things through, right or wrong. 

“An example of his Speaker mentality is when Rob Schaaf offered up a substitute motion on the liquor bill, and from the floor Ron said he wasn’t recognized for that motion.  Only the chair can make that determination...”

Jones’ No

The transportation tax passed the House yesterday with a rare occurrence… a No vote from the speaker.  The Speaker of the House may not be able to pass anything he wants, but he has multiple ways to kill anything he wants to die.  That’s why it’s rare that a speaker votes No on a bill which passes the chamber.  If he’s really against it, it never comes to the floor.

This is only the third time this session that Speaker Tim Jones has voted against a bill which has passed.  And the other two were hardly of consequence.

Observers think Jones is attempting to inoculate himself against the 2016 primary TV ads that say something like “Tim Jones was speaker of the House when they passed THE LARGEST TAX INCREASE IN HISTORY….”

Lamping Tea Leaves

The consensus in the halls is now firmly that Sen. John Lamping is not running for re-election.  Last night his filibuster of the transportation tax was only the latest in a long series of rightward steps.  So long is that series that it no longer surprises people.

Add to it this nugget from a lobbyist… In the conference committee on SB17 where legislators were debating a three-year extension, Lamping offered that he wouldn’t “be here” in three years…

And

Scratch Suzie Spence off the list of possible replacement candidates for Lamping…

McCaslin Out

In a surprise announcement Ian McCaslin, director of MO HealthNet, resigned yesterday.  No reason was given, but folks in the building settled on the explanation that “Nixon wanted his own guy in that position.”  McCaslin made his resignation effective immediately as a sign that he was forced out.  McCaslin was originally appointed to the position by Matt Blunt.

Liquor Franchise Debated

The Senate debated the liquor franchise bill for several hours.  The opposition was led by Sen. Kurt Schaefer, but a number of senators stood in opposition.  They were: Dan Brown, Ed Emery, Brad Lager, John Lamping and Rob Schaaf.

Fair Competition’s Statement

“We are pleased with the outpouring of opposition the Missouri Senate expressed today to legislation that would give the state’s largest liquor distributor monopoly protections,” said Ed Rhode, spokesman for Missourians for Fair Competition.

“These Senators are true champions of a free market economy because they know that competition will help create jobs and move this state forward.  We will continue to stand with these Senators against anti-competitive legislation until the closing bell of the legislative session.”

Bits

Allison All In… On Facebook Allison Onder says of her husband Bob Onder’s nascent state senate bid, “I'm ALL IN and the children are too!!”

President Gannon… Rep. Elaine Gannon who took some flack this year for her votes against House leadership’s position on labor and education bills was elected the president of the Republican House Freshmen class.  Apparently they value her independence.

I received a phone call from a veteran Republican who took issue with the idea that the current House Republicans might tout themselves as having the most productive session “since Catherine Hanaway.”  This person ticked off achievements (tort reform, workers compensation reform, and a re-writing of the foundation formula) of the 2005 session when Rod Jetton was speaker, as a high water mark that eclipsed Hanaway, and won’t be touched this year. 

As expected Governor Jay Nixon vetoed SB 350, the bill which eliminates the renters’ circuit breaker tax credit and establishes a new fund for social programs.  See his veto letter here.  The focus now turns to HB 986 to establish funding for those programs. 

Lobbyist Registrations

From the Pelopidas website:

 Larry Dority added Laclede Gas Company.

Kevin Houlihan and Rodney Hubbard added J Harris Company.

Jason Van Eaton added Ameren Missouri.

Miles Ross added Home Builders Association of Greater Springfield.