Thursday, March 28, 2013

PSC Wrestles With Role

At their meeting yesterday the Public Service Commission struggled with how involved they want to get in legislative affairs.


The commissioners appears to worry that they were on a slippery slope to holding PSC hearings upon legislative request, and perhaps in this particular case that they were being used for other than informational purposes…


Commissioner Bill Kenney mused as much: “Unfortunately, we’ve been brought into this and we are pawns – it’s a delaying tactic. It pushes things off and pushes things off.”


It’s interesting to note that both Kenney and Commissioner Steve Stoll are former senators, and thus are sensitive to meddling too much in that chamber’s debate.  They said the House and Senate research staffs were more than capable of answering lawmakers’ questions and reaching out to the PSC for any technical queries.


They decided to answer this query as quickly as possible – and avoid entanglements in the future.



One Senate side source cautioned that the PSC has raised its profile a bit too much with this foray.  Just as the judiciary’s bungled involvement in the redistricting process led to unwanted legislative action last session, the PSC could easily wander into a legislator’s crosshairs if they’re perceived as getting involved in the legislature’s business.



FERAF Growls

“The fact that Missouri utility companies continue to refuse to provide information and oppose a full investigation, public hearing and full exposure of this new surcharge legislation should tell Missourians all they need to know about what this new law will do to their electric bill,” said Chris Roepe, FERAF Executive Director. “Utility companies clearly have something to hide…”



Double Standards in Education?

Senate Education Chair David Pearce presented his new model for higher education funding at his committee yesterday.  (See the bill here). It would only affect 10% of the funding stream, but it would move the distributions away from across-the-board raises or cuts.  Instead it would reward those institutions which were demonstrating an ability to serve more students.


Reform advocates elementary and secondary schools wondered whether the chairman would support a similar performance-based model in their arena.


And the only opposition to Pearce’s ambitious bill was based on the fact that its current formulation would disincentivise local communities from funding their community colleges through higher property taxes.


Again, it’s the same argument made by some elementary and secondary school advocates who see the implementation of the foundation formula as dismissing the contributions some districts make with exceptional local property tax support.



The Jami Show

OK so I have no actual experience as a television producer, but I have to believe there is a legitimate hit just waiting… a reality show following the life of Sen. Jamilah Nasheed.


Consider what yesterday’s episode would have included…


It starts with a Post-Dispatch article (read it here) about how she and Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal in a drive-around with St. Louis Police (the po-po, the fuzz, the heat etc…) apparently witnessed a copper “confiscating” some weed from a suspect.  Confiscating as in putting it in her back pocket and forgetting to label it evidence, if you know what I mean.  “Police officials said they do not know where the marijuana went.”  (MOScout tip: send the brownies in the fridge to the crime lab…)


Then in the afternoon, during the distressed land assemblage tax credit hearing, Nasheed took on a witness/constituent who had the nerve to come and testify that she was opposed to the incentive.  Apparently the exchange had the tone and volume usually reserved for the middle of my street at around 2am on a summer Saturday night…


The constituent, by the way, is the client of Eric Vickers, who happens to be Jami’s chief of staff.  Awkward.



St. Louis County Library Fined

It seems almost reasonable.  I have seen the Missouri Ethics Commission fine others tens of thousands of dollars.  And the other day my library account was dinged 5 cents when I was late returning Wonder (by R.J. Palacio. if you have small kids, read this one to them).  So the MEC apparently is applying library rates to the Library for their campaign violation.  They didn’t put the disclaimer on some material for a recent tax increase.  Fined 100 big ones.  See it here.



Nixon Everywhere For Medicaid

Governor Jay Nixon will be making stops in Hermann and in Perryville today as he continues to barnstorm across Missouri making the case for Medicaid expansion.



“Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will became the ninth Republican governor to embrace Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion”



Jesuit-Educated Continued…

Add lobbyist Fred Dreiling and Rep. Kevin McManus to the list.  Both are graduates of Rockhurst High School.



Lobbyist Registrations

From the Pelopidas website:


Nancy Giddens, Shannon Cooper and Jessica Land added Distilled Spirits Council of US.


Mike Grote added City of North Kansas City, and Glazer’s Family of Companies.


Kate Marx added Westinghouse Electric Company.




The registrations continue to show how the liquor franchise bill is heating up again.


Also it looks like lobbyist Mike Grote has signed on to enter the debate on the potential sale of the North Kansas City Hospital.



$5K+ Contributions

Citizens for Good Government - $10,000 Clayton Firefighters Assoc.

Citizens for Good Government - $6,000 from Professional Fire Fighters of Central St. Louis County PAC.

Lewis & Clark Regional Leadership Forum - $12,000 from Murphy Group Holdings Inc.




Happy birthdays to Joe Fallert (60) and Scott Lipke (44).



Secretary of State Jason Kander announced this morning and he and his wife, Diana, are expecting their first child.