Monday, January 28, 2013

MOScout Poll on Legislative Issues

Missouri Scout conducted its first poll of the year last week…  See the full report here in the Special Reports section.

 

Respondents: Registered voters living in Missouri, with working landline and cellular telephones, who are likely to vote in a general election.  For this survey, 500 Interviews were collected (400 landline interviews were conducted by Interactive Voice Response. 100 cellular interviews were conducted by live operators.) The margin of error is +/-4.38%.

 

General State of Missouri

Question 1: In general, are things in Missouri headed in the right direction, or are things off on the wrong track?

Right Direction           51.9%

Wrong Track               44.2%

Unsure/DK/NA           3.9%

 

For the first time since I’ve started doing statewide polls, a majority of Missourians (52%) say things are moving in the right direction.  The economy drives this question.  But for those imagining the next election battle, jobs may not be the most important issue comes November 2014.

 

Question 2: Which of these four things is the most important problem facing the State of Missouri right now, unemployment and jobs, government spending, education or health care?

Unemployment and Jobs        43.0%

Government Spending            22.4%

Education                                16.1%

Health Care                             17.4%

Unsure/DK/NA                       1.1%

 

Economic issues continue to be the biggest concern for Missouri voters. But what’s interesting is that while still the dominant issue, unemployment and jobs receives significantly less attention than it did just a year ago. Also of note, despite “Obamacare” people over 50 are still worried about how they are going to access healthcare.  Young people aren't as interested.

 

Legislative Issues

Question 3: Which of these two options do you think would do more to reduce gun violence in schools: having stricter gun control laws or having armed guards in schools?

Gun Control Laws      35.1%

Armed Guards            52.7%

Unsure/DK/NA           12.2%

 

After the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, gun policy has reappeared on the national stage. Accordingly, a number of pieces of legislation have been introduced at the State Capitol this year. We decided to test a key contention. When given the option between stricter gun control laws and having armed guards in schools – which would do more to reduce gun violence. A majority of Missourians (53%) preferred armed guards while 35% preferred stricter gun control laws.  As might be expected Democrats and St. Louisans want gun control, but support for control is muted over the rest of the state.

 

Question 4: As part of the new national Health Care Law, the state of Missouri has an option to expand Medicaid health insurance for those living in poverty. Do you support or oppose the expansion of Medicaid health insurance for the poor?

Support                       56.9%

Oppose                        33.1%

Unsure/DK/NA           10.0%

 

One aspect of the Affordable Care Act is that states must decide whether to expand aspects of Medicaid. Legislation about a potential expansion is being considered. When Missouri voters were asked if the Medicaid expansion should be undertaken – a majority of voters agreed (56.9%). The level of support for Medicaid expansion is very similar to what we found in the July 2012 MOScout poll.

 

Question 5: In general, do you think unions are still necessary to protect workers or are unions unnecessary these days?

Necessary                    48.4%

Unnecessary                45.0%

Unsure/DK/NA           6.6%

 

Question 6: Currently, Missouri law allows employers and labor unions to enter agreements that require all employees' to join the union and pay union dues as a condition of employment. Some think this is necessary to have unions protect workers rights. Other people think that individuals should be allowed to opt out of union membership if they want. Which is closer to your view?

Require Membership   28.1%

Individual opt-out       64.8%

Unsure/DK/NA           7.1%

 

We asked two questions about workplace policy and the results were a mixed bag for union supporters and the business interests that typically work to curtail their influence. The results show it is vitally important in how the debate is framed.  When voters were asked if they thought unions were still necessary to protect workers a plurality (48%) thought they were still necessary. But when asked if they thought that individuals should be allowed to opt out of union membership, voters overwhelmingly agreed (65%) that they should.

 

Perhaps most interesting to me is a looming generational problem for unions… because people under 50 appear less supportive.

 

Question 7: The legislature is considering issuing bonds that would be paid off by property taxes to fix aging and unsafe highways and bridges and upgrade outdated school facilities across the state. Would you support or oppose a bond issue to upgrade the state’s roads and classrooms?

Support                       52.3%

Oppose                        30.2%

Unsure/DK/NA           17.5%

 

In order to enhance revenue to the state to address areas of need in both transportation infrastructure and education, legislators are considering sending a potential bond issue to voters. While a majority of voters (52%) said they would support the bond, proponents should be nervous. As other tax elections shows that the level of support expressed in pre-election surveys is typically the ceiling for proponents. Usually, unsure or undecided voters overwhelmingly collapse to join those in opposition to the tax.

 

Question 8: The legislature is considering a bill that would ban all lobbyist gifts to elected officials, their staffs and family members. Would you support or oppose a bill to ban all lobbyist gifts?

Support                       75.7%

Oppose                        17.3%

Unsure/DK/NA           7.0%

 

After a significant amount of media attention, legislation focusing on the reform of lobbying rules has been introduced this year. Specifically, there is a bill that focuses on banning lobbyist gifts to elected officials, their staffs and family members. The support for the law is overwhelming. Of the issues we polled, this was the most popular.

 

 

SB 207 - ISRS

As if our world didn’t have enough acronyms…. Sen. Mike Kehoe’s Senate Bill 207 brings us ISRS.  That’s “Infrastructure Strengthening and Regulatory Streamlining.”  This is the utility battle for this session.  It would enable them to recover their infrastructure spending at a faster rate.

 

It’s backed by the three investor-owned utilities – Ameren, KCPL, and Empire District Electric – as well as the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.

 

While the tension between the utilities and their customers has doomed most recent initiatives to a stalemate in the legislature, supporters note the political landscape looks favorable this year.

 

This proposal appears to fit nicely into the broad legislative agendas articulated by Speaker Tim Jones (energy is one of his three “Es”) and Pro Tem Tom Dempsey (infrastructure is the “I” in his BIG).  Like the big bond issue, this appeals to the impulse to encourage infrastructure spending to create jobs.  Proponents are saying this could create “thousands” of new jobs.

 

Electric Utilities are also pointing to the gas and water utilities which already have ISRS provisions in their regulations.  Rather than asking for a new windfall, they say they’re just asking for a common sense accommodation already enjoyed by their brethren utilities.

 

Finally, the largest part of this debate may be the role of the Public Service Commission.  Supporters of ISRS say that SB 207 contains added protections to ensure that the PSC can monitor the utilities’ claims, and they point out that the PSC retains final approval.  FERAF has signaled that they disagree with this assessment and will paint a scary picture of utility spending and billing running amok.

 

Also

The utilities have beefed up the Republican side of their efforts with John Hancock helping out on messaging and Miles Ross added to the lobbyist list (see registration below).

 

 

Republicans: Why Drebes is Wrong About Hubbard-Hummel Hubbub

I heard from a few Republicans who think my analysis of the Hummel-Hubbard hubbub is all wrong.  Their thoughts revolve around a few points.

 

First, in so much as Minority Leader Jake Hummel was sending a message by making an example of Rep. Penny Hubbard, Speaker Tim Jones also had to send a message: he stands by his friends.  If Jones didn’t reciprocate for Hubbard, others would be reluctant to step onto a limb for him in the future.

 

Second, Republicans believe that the moves could drive “a wedge into the heart of the Dem caucus and they are now more fragmented than ever.”

 

Finally, there is the possibility Jones is cultivating his relationship with the Hubbards – and Black Caucus chair Jamilah Nasheed – because they could be helpful to him in the future.

 

 

New HDVC Coming

Look for the House Democratic Campaign Committee to undergo a “re-branding.”  The House Democratic Victory Committee will be the new vehicle to help House Democratic candidates in the 2014 cycle.  The Senate Republicans did a similar re-branding last cycle when they abandoned their long-time “Majority Fund” and became the more vanilla Missouri Senate Campaign Committee.

 

Freshman Rep. Jeremy LaFaver is slated to head the new effort.  It’s hoped that LaFaver’s previous experience around the building will give him a running start in the quest to turn around the Democratic caucuses’ dwindling numbers.

 

 

Barnes to hold Hearing on Quality Jobs Act

Today Rep. Jay Barnes holds a hearing on the Quality Jobs Act (see below for hearing schedule).   The Department of Economic Development will testify, and so will Howard Wall of Lindenwood University.

 

Wall’s analysis looks at the impact of the tax credit not just at the firm that receives them – or even the county where those jobs are located – but at the larger picture.  His findings are that these new jobs appear to be coming at the expense of others.  That is, he claims there is no net gain.  Critics may take this to be yet another case of winners and losers, instead of “growing of the pie.”

 
Pull Quote: “Specifically, in the second year after authorization of a $1 million tax credit, there tends to be 148 more jobs in the recipient county because of the tax credit, but this is partly negated by there being 99 fewer jobs in neighboring counties. By the next year, the job gain in the recipient county dwindles to 41 and is statistically no different from zero. At the same time, there are 77 fewer jobs in neighboring counties, an effect that is statistically significant.”

 

 

This Week

Tonight Governor Jay Nixon gives his state of the state speech and Budget Director Linda Lueberring will unveil the governor’s proposed budget.  AP’s David Lieb previews what to look for in the budget.  Read it here.

 

Pull Quote:  “Nixon already has said his budget will include a Medicaid expansion… Nixon’s budget plan will assume that the recipients of that federal Medicaid money will pay an additional $15.5 million in Missouri income and sales taxes. His budget also will assume $31 million in savings stemming from the Medicaid expansion, because the federal money would decrease the amount the state must pay to cover some mental health services and programs for disabled residents and pregnant women.

 

“All told, that’s more than $46 million resulting from the Medicaid expansion that Nixon plans to use for other purposes in state government, said Nixon's budget director, Linda Luebbering”

 

 

Tomorrow (Tuesday) will be a normal day, but then the House is expected to leave early this week, having only technical sessions on Wednesday and Thursday.

 

 

Committee Hearings of Interest

Senate

Governmental Organizations and Elections Committee, Monday 2pm, Senate Lounge.

SB 82 – Schaefer – Requires the Governor to call a special election if the office of Lieutenant Governor is vacated.

 

Appropriations Committee, Tuesday After morning adjournment, SCR2

Overview of the FY 2014 Governor Recommendations

FY 2013 Supplemental Recommendations

FY 2014 Statewide Issues

 

Rules Committee, Tuesday 1pm, Senate Lounge

SB 78 – Lamping – Imposes a two year “cooling off” for legislators to lobby.

 

Commerce Committee, Tuesday 3pm, Senate Lounge

SB 41 – Munzlinger – looks like another skirmish in the CAFO Wars.

SB 121 – Schaefer – changes to wholesalers, brewers and retailers’ relationships.

 

General Laws Committee, Tuesday 3pm, SCR1

SB 75 – Brown – Requires school districts and charter schools to provide training and education about firearms safety and addressing potentially dangerous or armed intruders.

 

EcoDevo Committee, Wednesday 1pm, Senate Lounge

Various tax credit proposals.

 

Judiciary Committee, Wednesday 4pm, Senate Lounge

SB 113 – Schmitt – Modifies provisions of mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse.

 

Small Business Committee, Wednesday 4:30pm, SCR1

The committee, along with the House Health Insurance Committee will meet to hear a presentation related to the changes coming to the health insurance marketplace on 1/1/14.

 

 

House

Government Oversight and Accountability Committee, Monday 10am, HR3

Organizational Meeting followed by public testimony on the Quality Jobs Act.

 

Elections Committee, Tuesday 8am, HR3

Voter ID, and term limits.

 

Health Appropriations Committee, Tuesday 2pm, HR5

Medicaid discussion. Medicaid Fraud detection presentation by Department staff.

 

EcoDevo Committee – Tuesday 5pm, HR7

HB 222 – Zerr – Authorizes a state and local sales and use tax exemption on items related to data storage centers and server farm facilities.

 

Utilities Committee, Tuesday 6:30pm, Jefferson City Country Club

Informational Meeting

 

Utilities Committee, Wednesday 8am, HR7

HB 44 – Korman – Allows hydropower produced in any quantity to be used to satisfy the renewable energy standard.

 

Workforce Development Committee, Wednesday 8am, HR5

HB 64 – Burlison – paycheck protection.

 

 

Bits

Young Democrats of Greater St. Louis announced their executive committee for the 2013 - 2014 term:  President - Jason Growe;  Vice President - David Leipholtz;  Secretary - Paul Sorenson; Treasurer - Brandon Rowland;  and Membership Chair - Elise Miller.

 

 

The peerless John Combest linked to an article this weekend that House Transportation Chair Dave Schatz is okay with the sale taxes increase idea.  See it here.

 

 

St. Louis Beacon reporter Jo Mannies won a “lifetime achievement award.”  Read it here.

 

 

The coalition supporting Medicaid expansion continues to grow.  New endorsees: Missouri State Medical Association, Missouri Psychiatric Association, Missouri Chapter of the March of Dimes, Missouri Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and the American Cancer Society.

 

 

Stan Archie resigned from the State Board of Education.  Last week former senator Charlie Shields was finally confirmed, so it was kind of a wash.  State Board member Michael Ponder has been appointed to the University of Missouri Board of Curators, and Sybl Slaughter is also off the Board now.  So we’re at three vacancies on that board.

 

 

Help Wanted

Riverfront Times is hiring a reporter.  See ad here.

 

 

Lobbyist Registrations

From the Pelopidas website:

 

Jay Hardenbrook added Missouri Child Care Resource and Referral Network.

Miles Ross added Missourians for a Balanced Energy Future.

Greg N Johnston deleted Valueoptions Inc, Missouri Energy Group, Finewell LLC, F.H. Paschen, and Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission; and added Northside Regeneration LLC.

 

 

$5K+ Contributions

Keep KC Jobs Committee - $10,000 from The Civic Council of Greater Kansas City.

Civic Progress Action Committee - $20,000 from TKG Management Inc.

Slay for Mayor - $10,000 from RightCHOICE Managed Care Inc.

Committee to Elect Reed - $10,000 from Gauthier Houghtaling & Williams LLP.

Committee to Elect Reed - $10,000 from Law Office of Bernard Charbonnet Jr.

Committee to Elect Reed - $10,000 from Manning Architects.

Committee to Elect Reed - $10,000 from Robert Romanik.

 

 

Birthdays

Happy birthday to former Rep. Van Kelly (48).