September 8, 2011

Do the EcoDevo

Democracy is Messy – at 12:50 a.m.

At a quarter to one in the morning, Sen. Jason Crowell stood on the mostly empty Senate Floor shouting to the dais trying in vain to be recognized by Pro Tem Rob Mayer.  “Mr. President!  Mr. President!  Mr. President!  I note the absence of a quorum!  Mr. President!”


Mayer played blind and deaf, and moved to take the economic development bill that had passed out of the Jobs Committee ninety minutes earlier.


“Mr. President! I object to changing the order business!  Mr. President!  Mr. President!  I note the absence of a quorum.  This is a privileged motion!”


As Mayer ignored Crowell, the pleads took an angrier turn, “If you have to cheat to win, is it really a win?  Mr. President!  Note the absence of a quorum!”


Tension was high; Sens. Brad Lager and Mike Parson squared off in a brief shouting match.


The EcoDevo bills were read in, and Mayer recognized Crowell who asked for a quorum call.  The chamber – six Democrats and seven Republicans – was lacking a quorum.  The missing members were mostly, it became evident, not in the Capitol.  They were asleep in their beds.


Calls were made to rally a quorum.  Senators slowly emerged over the course of the next hour… some looking less than happy… Sen. Jane Cunningham… Sen. Dan Brown… Sen. Ron Richard…Sen. Mike Kehoe...


From my seat in the Senate gallery I heard one senator remark, “They were trying to isolate Crowell, he just did it to himself.”  And that was the opinion of a staffer as well, thinking that this stalling tactic would serve to piss off senators more than make them sympathetic to the insurgent efforts.


One indication of Crowell’s depleted goodwill.  One senator killing time on the floor, made a joke that this was the world’s longest roll call vote, and received laughter; Crowell emerged minutes later and made the same joke, silence.


But the other side of the coin may be a general – and evident – dissatisfaction with Mayer’s leadership.  The word “clusterf**k” was used several time throughout the evening to describe the special session.  At 1:45 a.m. everyone felt like the Senate was a cluster, even as sleep-deprived giggle broke out among the senators.


GOP Senate caucuses right now (8am), would love to be a fly on that wall but I wasn’t invited…



Hours Earlier

Sen. Eric Schmitt’s Jobs Committee was a hot ticket.  The Senate Lounge was packed (the ageless Jo Mannies squirreling herself a space sitting on the Floor so she could cover the hearing).


Schmitt kept the witnesses moving but gave everyone their full due.  After the testimony he introduced amendments aimed at appeasing critics, and the bill voted out 7-2.  Sens. Brian Nieves and Luann Ridgeway voted No.  Nieves is a Tea Party senator and Ridgeway “loves trouble” in the words of one ambivalent staffer.


Sen. Ryan McKenna voted in favor.  He’s in my Yes column on my vote count spreadsheet because of his strong labor ties and labor’s support for the economic development package.  But he was vocally concerned about the circuit breaker provisions and offered an amendment on that.



The Hallway

The Lounge was jammed, but the hallway took on a reunion-like atmosphere as lobbyists compared tans and caught up with each other and with the various House members who roamed over to catch a glimpse of the Senate circus which provides endless fascination to them.


Speaker Steve Tilley strolled by; Speaker-someday Todd Richardson made small talk; Rep. Tim Flannigan did the flesh-press; Budget Chair Ryan Silvey and Education Chair Scott Dieckhaus chatted up old friends….


Among the lobbyists, sentiment was running negative on the bill’s prospects – and on the leadership of Pro Tem Rob Mayer.  But the savvy old hands were stoic… this is a big bill, and with large bills, there’s a natural progression of stages.  Early on, everyone gets out their objections and says why they can’t stand some piece of it.  It’s the posturing stage before negotiations.   Down the road, it’ll either come together or it won’t.


Why it comes together: Republican legislature called to special session by the governor to pass an economic development bill amid 9% unemployment is too smart to become a mini-Washington caricature of dysfunctional governance.


When Pigs Fly

The quip of the night goes to the lobbyist for the pork industry explaining that China Hub is the answer to when you’ll finally see pigs fly…



Parade of Bits

Redistricting Rumor Mill

Buzz starting to circulate that coming soon: the announcement of the members of the “appellate commission” which will take over the task of drawing state House and Senate district lines.



Meet the New Boss

Tonight at the House Republican Caucus they’ll vote on their “Speaker-elect.”  There’s only one head in the running for that crown, Floor Leader Tim Jones.



Silvey contra Nixon

House Budget Chair Ryan Silvey filed two bills outside Governor Jay Nixon’s call dealing with use of the “Rainy Day Fund” to pay for the Joplin clean up.  Read Post-Dispatch article Here.  Silvey called on Nixon to expand his call to include Silvey’s bills… not gonna happen obviously.



Cynthia Announce Forthcoming Statewide Run Announcement

Former state representative Cynthia Davis says she’ll be running for a statewide office as a Constitution Party candidate.  FiredUp has the story Here.



Feebees Back?

Yesterday the KC Star ran a story that former governor Roger Wilson was under investigation by the Feds for his role in an illegal $8,000 contribution to the Missouri Democratic Party.  Read it Here.  The predominant reaction was head-scratching… in a no-limits environment playing footsie with the rules over what amounts to chump change these days doesn’t make any sense.



Turner Fix Price Hike

The price that the school reformers will charge school districts for a “Turner fix” is going up next session.  


Ever since the “Turner” court case, suburban schools near unaccredited St. Louis City Public School System have wanted to establish some parameters concerning how many students they might have to receive.  School reformers have insisted that any legislation to that end be accompanied by something from their reform menu.  Their argument for coupling the two items is that if one remedy for students in a failing district is being curtailed another must be expanded.


Last session they were asking for “virtual schools” in exchange for a Turner fix.  The districts balked.  This upcoming session, with farther case law and the impending de-accreditation of the Kansas City School District, the reformers will be upping the price and looking for some type of voucher system for those students.



Dems Shuffle SOS?

One big Democratic donor tells me that he thinks Robin Carnahan doesn’t run in the end.  In his words, “every jackass asks me for money but not Robin..”


Into that void may step Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders.  Despite a Political Fix blog item naming him as a potential LG candidate, sources say that he’s declined that option already.


The final name which hasn’t been mentioned lately but might be in the SOS mix again… Rep. Jason Kander who has $100K in the bank and the ability to raise more.



Rove Event

Camp Kinder tweeted pictures from their fundraising event (headlined by Karl Rove) showing that their campaign was alive and kicking.  The problem, according to one agnostic lobbyist, was that there’s not a ton of money in Cape Girardeau.  If the event was in St. Louis they could have filled the boat, but last night’s event probably wasn’t the kind of haul Peter Kinder needs to show a strong October quarter.



One big Republican who’d previously told me he didn’t think Kinder would be on the ballot has turned around.  “The replacement talk has died down,” he says, “I think he makes it.”



Lobbyist Principal Changes

From the Pelopidas website:


Franc Flotron added Syncare LLC.

Richard Wiles added Multistate Associates Inc. 



$5K+ Contributions

Missouri Senate Campaign Committee - $10,000 from Missourians for Mayer.

MO Democratic State Committee - $9,600 from Missouri House Democratic Campaign Committee.




Happy birthdays to Sen. Jack Goodman (38), Rod Jetton (44), lobbyist Jorgen Schlemeier (46), and former state senator Delbert Scott (62).