Wednesday, March 27, 2013

PSC Entangled In ISRS?

On Monday a group of five Republican senators sent a letter to Pro Tem Tom Dempsey and Floor Leader Ron Richard asking that SB207 – the ISRS legislation – not be brought to the Senate floor until the Public Service Commission concluded its analysis of the bill, slated for April 17.

 

The five signing senators were: Dan Brown, Doug Libla, Mike Parson, Gary Romine, and Wayne Wallingford.

 

The letter hints that bill will face a filibuster unless leadership complies with their wish.  “We realize how valuable floor time is this time of year…It only makes sense to wait for this information from the PSC…”

 

This letter is the latest in a series of back-and-forths.  Sen. Eric Schmitt sent a letter to the PSC asking for an analysis.  Dempsey then sent a letter to the PSC asking them to hold off on that analysis.

 

The guess here is that we will get an official statement from the PSC as early as today (but certainly one would assume this week) clarifying the role which they will play.  My guess is that they are increasingly wary of being dragged into this legislative mud-pit.  But having already ordered an analysis, they won’t entirely retreat either.  I’d imagine a “third way.”  We’ll see….

 

 

Meanwhile one Senate observer says not to view those signing the letter as truth-seekers just asking for the facts.  They are trying to delay the beginning of the bill’s debate.  If they could push it off to April 17, that’d be eating three more weeks off the clock.

 

 

Navigators, Health Exchanges and BarnesCare

In Scott Rupp’s Small Business Committee yesterday the tensions of “Obamacare” were once again on display.

 

Since the federal law was passed (and the subsequent lawsuits were settled by the Supreme Court), there have been two main camps of Republican legislators. One still wants nothing to do with healthcare law.  Smoldering with resentment, they remain defiant of the law.  The other has accepted defeat and now is considering how best to live with it.

 

At Small Business, Rupp presented SB401.  It would regulate the “navigators” will help folks determine which insurance plan meets their need.  Rupp envisions the potential for shysters to infiltrate this new field and hurt consumers.  Therefore the state has an interest in licensing this activity.

 

Testifying against was Ron Calzone, unregistered lobbyist with the organization Missouri First.  He thinks that the ObamaCare fight is not over.  In fact legislators should be fighting implementation “tooth and nail.”

 

Will regulating navigators be seen as being complicit with ObamaCare?  It sounded to me like the “adults” (those willing to work within the reality of ObamaCare) were winning the day.

 

If the Senate is willing to address this issue, it could be an important signal to the House as they wrestle with Rep. Jay Barnes’ Medicaid transformation bill.

 

Two years ago, the House passed a bill to set up a state health insurance exchange.  It was savaged by the Senate.  And that has left a scar in the House.

 

They are reluctant to take another healthcare vote that could be painted as “pro-ObamaCare” regardless of its policy good sense, if the Senate isn’t ready to take the bill.

 

 

Workers Comp Ready?

Look for SB1 (the workers comp, Second Injury Fix bill) to come out of committee as early as today.  It’s said that the House’s version will retain the same basic framework as the Senate, while changing some limits and contributions on companies’ liability.

 

One legislator optimistically that the Senate will take the House version and pass it, and the governor will sign it.  Even though it’s not what everyone wants, everyone will be happy with the progress this bill represents.  And no one wants the mess of conference committee.  We’ll see…

 

 

Jacob Acting Director of Employment Security… For A Bit

Rudi Keller reports on our rumor from yesterday that Ken Jacob is indeed the new acting director of Employment Security in the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

 

But the position is subject to Senate confirmation, and there is reason to believe that’s not gonna happen.

 

“Ken Jacob told Sen. Kurt Schaefer before (Jacob’s unsuccessful election bid) that when he got to Jefferson City he was going to f*ck with him daily.”  In other words, (if true) Schaefer’s not bloody likely to let Jacob be confirmed…

 

 

Common Core Funding Survives Vote

The House gave approval to the budget bills.  It was all as expected.  The one interesting development came in the form of an amendment offered by Rep. Kurt Bahr to make sure no funds be “expended for membership or support of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium…”  This is in reference to the Common Core Standards, a rallying point for the far-right.  It was defeated 58-97.  And that portends defeat for similar bills in the House and Senate.

 

It was especially notable because the House leadership team was almost entirely on the wrong side of the vote, a rarely seen occurrence.  Speaker Tim Jones, Pro Tem Jason Smith, Floor Leader John Diehl, Assistant Floor Leader Mike Cierpoit, Whip Sandy Crawford, and Caucus Chair Shelley Kenney all voted to withhold the funds.

 

Caucus Secretary Mike Bernskoetter was the only leadership member to vote with the majority of the chamber on the issue.

 

 

Stream Returns to St. Louis to Be With Ailing Mom

In the middle of the budget debate in the House, Rep. Rick Stream left to return to his ailing mom in St. Louis.  Here is Rep. Jeanne Kirkton’s email to member son the matter.

 

From: Jeanne Kirkton

Sent: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 2:21 PM

To: _Democrat LAs & Staff; _Democrat Representatives

Subject: Budget debate - Urgent!

Importance: High

 

Members,

 

Rep Rick Stream’s mother is gravely ill and not expected to survive.  He has gone to be with her in St Louis.  Speaker Jones will ask for unanimous consent to waive the Rules to allow Budget Vice Chair Flanigan to take over the budget bills.  As ranking member, I ask that we do so.  If anyone feels otherwise, please see me immediately.  

 

Sincerely,

Jeanne

 

Representative Jeanne Kirkton

District 91

 

 

Distressed Land Bits

Mayor Francis Slay will be in the Capitol today to help push for the distressed land assemblage tax credit.

 

 

MOWonk Brian Schmidt was seen passing out a confidential memo on the Paul McKee plan to regenerate St. Louis’ northside.  Inside the report, Schmidt gets an assist from the treasured Dr. Will Ross, who approved of the plan’s holistic approach.  It’s said that Ross will be in the building to testify to this at the Senate EcoDevo Committee.

 

 

Rumorville: Schmitt for County Executive?

While some speculation has slated Sen. Eric Schmitt for attorney general in 2016, there’s another school of thought that sees him running for St. Louis County Executive in 2014.

 

On the one hand, it’s likely that incumbent Charlie Dooley will be weakened after a primary challenge from councilmember Steve Stenger.  And Schmitt gets a free pass as he wouldn’t have to cede his state senate seat to make the bid.  He’s clearly the best positioned Republican to make the move and he has a good start at a campaign warchest.

 

On the other hand, St. Louis County is clearly Democratic at this point, so it’d be an uphill run.  We’ll see if the rumor has any legs….

 

 

Bits

Governor Jay Nixon nominated John W. Maupin to serve on the St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners.

 

 

In the continuing quest to find all the Jesuit-trained in the Capitol… lobbyist and former state senator Franc Flotron was in the third graduating class from DeSmet High School in St. Louis.

 

 

And Major Brands will have people in the Capitol tomorrow putting a “jobs face” on the liquor franchise bill… SB365/HB759.   It’s said that this year’s version has addressed Nixon’s concerns.  He vetoed the bill last session.

 

 

Lobbyist Registrations

From the Pelopidas website:

 

John E Bardgett Jr added DDC Advocacy.

Nancy Giddens, Shannon Cooper and Jessica Land added Fresenius Medical Care, Missouri Whitetail Breeders and Hunting Ranch Association.

Michael R Gibbons and Tricia Workman added Major Brands Premium Beverage Distributors.

Shannon Weber added Hartnett Gladney Hetterman LLC.

Whitney ODaniel deleted Missouri Whitetail Breeders and Hunting Ranch Association.

 

 

$5K+ Contributions

Missourians for Koster - $25,000 from Dollar,Burns & Becker LC.

Missourians for Koster - $20,000 from Smithfield Foods Inc.

MO Republican Party - $16,800 from House Republican Campaign Committee Inc.

Labor’s Education and Political Club Independent Corporation - $7,300 from International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 124.

Teamsters Local Union No 688 PAC - $10,986 from Teamsters Drive Committee.

 

 

Birthdays

Happy birthdays to Rep. Mike Leara (53), and Rep. Mike Kelley (38).