The plan to change the Missouri Court Plan squeaked by the House yesterday. The 84 Ayes votes – just two to spare – was an amazingly slim when you consider how much hate and venom had been directed at the judiciary just nine months ago over the redistricting process.
Working in opponents’ favor were a few factors. First, lobbyist James Harris is a polarizing figure (in a bad way) and his involvement was used to invite skepticism with rural legislators. Second, local lawyers and judges were mobilized to call their representatives and impress upon them the harmful effects of the proposed plan.
However working in proponents’ favor was the speaker and floor leader and their considerable persuasive powers. Additionally the looming possibility of huge truckloads of Humphreys’ money directed either in gratitude or vengeance might have weighed on representatives’ minds. For example, consider Reps. Scott Largent or Ward Franz. Both face Senate primaries where a large infusion of money against them might complicate their contests.
Likewise some representatives might have been wary of crossing the future speaker as they imagined what committee chairmanship might await them. And Rep. Gary Fuhr, expected to be joining the Republican House staff next year, perhaps offered an early token of loyalty by voting Yes.
Rep. Penny Hubbard was the lone Democratic vote for the court plan change. And while that vote by itself might not derail her reelection campaign, she now is casting enough “bad” votes that her primary is worth watching.
The accumulation of all these different motives allowed the court plan change to eke out a victory.
August or Sometime After
The thinking is that Governor Jay Nixon will put the court question on the August ballot in hopes that the trial attorneys can be focused this summer to defeat it – and then still be in good shape (i.e. their check-writing hands won’t have cramps) to support the Dem candidates in November.
The budget drama evaporated and the legislature sent the budget bills to the governor yesterday – one day before the constitutional deadline.
The Senate won’t convene until the usual 3pm on Monday – a sign of the rather low expectations for the final week. Not a lot of big issues with any momentum.
Lobbyists’ Principals Changes
From the Pelopidas website:
Cheryl Dozier added the Dozier Group.
Whitney ODaniel added Whitney ODaniel.
Happy birthday to IBEW’s Mark Baker.
Sunday: Former Rep. Beth Low (35).